Category After R2I – To do list

Cost of living in India – monthly expenses after R2I 2010-2011

Rent + $2100 per month

Cost of living 3

August, 2011

  • Domestic travel – Meenal and I took a vacation in Ladakh. May be one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen.
  • Clothes – we didn’t take enough warm clothes to Ladakh thinking that it’ll be warm. Surprisingly we found good American and European brands for outer wear at very good prices.
  • Groceries – My mother-in-law started giving us lots of fruit every time we visited and she refuses to get paid for it. So it won’t be happening any longer.
  • Utils – I started using a smaller room for hanging out and the air conditioning bill went down. Also, we made fewer international calls since we were traveling for 10 days.

See the expenses between November, 2010 – May, 2011

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Gurgaon, India – An introduction to daily life

Many of you think that Meenal and I are having a great time in India. You won’t understand a city until you live in it and after 6 months in Delhi, we identified with this article in the New York Times: In India, Dynamism Wrestles With Dysfunction, June 8, 2011.

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Buy furniture in India or Ship from USA before R2I?

Furniture shopping in IndiaFurniture shopping in India: Study Table for $225/Rs.9,900Furniture shopping in India: Bed frame for $850/Rs.38,000

I don’t actually know that if there is a ‘furniture mafia’ but how else can you explain such astronomical prices? Furniture costs roughly twice as much as they do in the U.S. and are half as good in quality. If I had known, I would have shipped the big items from America (except the mattress).

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Drinking water in India

After R2I, we found 3 choices for drinking water in India. We chose the 3rd option in this list.

1. Tap water with Reverse Osmosis (RO) filter

This is the most cost effective of the 3 drinking water choices and is widely used in India. Most households, restaurants, bars and hotels claim to have working RO systems. RO technology relies on a membrane filter that should have no cracks for the system to be effective. Worst of all, there is no way of knowing if the membrane develops a crack except repeatedly testing the water. Since workmanship and maintenance is frequently suspect, we’ve chosen NOT to use this system.

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Speed and reliability of internet after R2I, moving to India – broadband cable and mobile data card

20101225-IMG_7551PHOTO: Airtel is a major telecom provider in India. Advertisement in a ‘dhaba’ (street fast food joint).

Update April 26, 2011

Very slow internet – tech, customer and email support. 5 days of pain. Airtel sucks but internet providers run monopolies in most areas. Details

Update March 11, 2011

Slow internet, tech support, speed returns. Details

Original article

Given internet’s crucial place in the continuity of civilization, you can imagine my internet concerns before moving to India. Is broadband going to be fast enough? Will the connection in Gurgaon be reliable or will I spend all my time on the phone with Bob from Bangalore? Do they sell data cards so I can get my fix when I’m on the move?

Worry not. All your fan mail will reach me at lightning speed…

Continue reading: Speed and reliability of internet after R2I, moving to India – broadband cable and mobile data card

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Cost of living in India – Car mileage for 2011

We drive a small/mid-sized sedan (Chevy Optra). Since the beginning of March, air conditioning is used regularly. Not aware of any pilferage.

Cost of living in India 2011 - Car mileage

Economist.com ran a story on car ownership costs across some big cities. Delhi is pretty high up there.

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Terry Gross, Ira Glass and Peter Sagal – my car in India has NPR!

National Public Radio in IndiaPHOTO: Prashant Jeloka worships these NPR shows, even in India!

I can say with confidence that I will give up many food items before I give up NPR. Thankfully, my lean (and sexy) body will not need to become leaner (and sexier). My car in India now plays National Public Radio!

How can you do the same (even though World Space went bankrupt)?

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Ship mattress, comforter from USA or buy in India? Our story…

20101023-IMG_6574PHOTO: Meenal trying out mattresses in Sikandarpur Market, Gurgaon, India

Mattress

Surprisingly, buying a mattress after returning to India was quite straight forward. All of the major brands- Kurl-On, Sleepwell, etc.- can easily be found in most major markets with same day pedal-rickshaw-delivery and cash-on-delivery payment terms. This was a pleasant surprise after our mattress shopping experience in Boston (the entire industry is shady and worse than used car dealers).

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Defeating the rats of Mahabharata

A few years ago, Surya of New Hampshire had done a business out of India. He had many tales, one of which included an army of rats, his cables and Surya shouting with such frustration that you could see his blood red esophagus (Surya likes to use fancy words). Such a tale would have awed anyone, and it made me fear for my internet kingdom.

Since I am softer spoken than Surya and too modest to show my esophagus in public, I have encased my internet in 2000 pounds of pure stainless steel. If the rat armies manage to break my defenses, it will be the crowning achievement of their civilization and deserve a movie to celebrate it: The Rats of Mahabharata versus the cunning defenses of Jeloka ji.

A new stainless steel boxMy equipment and the perforated boxThe equipment insideOnly rats with balls of steel beyond this point

See BIG pictures of my kingdom’s defenses

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Cost of living in India – setup expenses for 2BR apartment after R2I

Last updated: December 6, 2010January 17, 2011 | US$1 = Rs.47

Setup expenses in India

$12,000

(Rs.5,65,000)
2 bedrooms used in a larger apartment in Gurgaon, India

Setup expenses
Our apartment came with an exhaust over stove $150 (Rs. 7000) and water heaters (Geyser): $160-$225 each (Rs. 7700-Rs.10,000).
Your landlord may or may not provide these.

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Please don’t compare New York’s cost of living with New Delhi or Mumbai

Meenal expressing herself in NYPHOTO: Meenal expressing herself in New York, November 2008.

Alright, I’m quite tipsy now. Can you repeat what you were saying. Oh yes, I remember now: the cost of living in New Delhi or Gurgaon is high and that makes sense. Something something New York something something. Your drink must be better than mine. Even in my current state of intoxication, hearing New York as justification or explanation for the cost of living in Delhi sounds like a stretch. Why?

Gross Metropolitan Product in 2008

  • New York: $1466 Billion
  • INDIA GDP in 2009: $1240 Billion*** 
  • Boston: $338 Billion
  • Mumbai (Bombay): $209 Billion
  • Phoenix, Arizona: $200 Billion
  • New Delhi:  $167 Billion

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers list of world cities economies

*** Shockingly, New York’s metropolitan product is more than all of India’s GDP. There’s a 9 fold difference in wealth between New Delhi and New York. But 2008 is dated. New York and America have suffered an economic ‘situation’ since. New Delhi and India, on the other hand, are growing at 5-10% per year. Fair enough, let’s fast forward …

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Nonstop repairs at home after R2I India

Things break all the time in India. Things come out of their factory boxes broken, or are found to be faulty on first use. Things break that you’ve never seen broken. Things that you couldn’t even fathom had anything to break in it will break. We Sherlock Holmed this and found 2 obvious reasons. First, the stuff itself is of a lower quality – This is understandable in a poorer country. We’ll make peace with this. Second, the workmanship is very irresponsible. I’m not sure why people don’t take pride in their work but the constant repairs are frustrating.

examples

Example 1: Faulty light wiring

The ceiling light was installed 2 weeks ago. This was the first time I tried to position it according to my taste and it short circuited blowing the main house fuse. Lesson learned: If it works in any respect, thank your stars and don’t touch it.

PHOTO: I’m up on a 30 pound workman’s ladder shit scared of getting electrocuted:Prashant fixing a new light fixture

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We painted our walls green and caffeine for $100

20101120-IMG_685718 YouTube videos later, we felt that we were ready. So off we went to the paint store. That’s when we got caught.

Shopkeeper: Which paint do you want?

Us: Umm..um..which ones do you have?

Shopkeeper: [confused look]. Asian Paints Royale, Premium and the cheapest distemper.

Us: [thinking we should come clean since the YouTube videos weren’t making us look like pros] Ok. So we’ve never painted before. Can you help us choose? What’s the difference?

Shopkeeper: [smirks that we came clean and just rewords his last comment] The luxury is the most expensive, the premium is less, the distemper is the cheapest.

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The mother of all moving to India (R2I) checklist

Meenal and I moved to India at the end of October, 2010 and into our apartment in Gurgaon on November 1, 2010. Divided into 5 sections, this post will be a guided tour of Delhi Ledger R2I blog.

PART I     Long ago – September, 2010

Before moving to India or Returning to India

July 4th in Washington DC

  1. Emotional – what’s the point of moving to India or R2I?
    • Why and when we moved to India
    • The heart-to-heart with the spouse before moving to India
    • The talk with family about returning to India
  2. Immigration – Uncle Sam, can I come back to USA if I hate living in India?
    • US Citizenship before moving to India
    • US permanent residency/green card – maintenance requirements while living in India, I-131 re-entry permit BEFORE moving to India
    • Indian permanent residency – Overseas citizen of India visa before R2I
  3. Emotional – What will it take to make us like India?
    • Money and personal finance in India
    • Material things in India
    • Health and sports while living in India
    • Relationships after moving to India
    • Working in India after R2I
    • Intellectual stuff and hobbies after moving to India
    • Emotions and wisdom (touchy feely stuff) after moving to India
  4. Your stuff – sell them before moving to India
  5. Financial – taking care of personal finance before moving to India
    • Banking – U.S. bank accounts, Indian bank accounts – NRE and NRO, linking accounts
    • Credit and Debit cards – charges, exchange rates, setup for international transactions before moving to India
    • 401 K – Adjust deductions, move to IRA after quitting work
    • Vacation balances – using them or cashing out before moving to India
  6. Work
    • Talk to your current employer – pending promotions, yearly salary increase, etc. before setting a date to move to India
    • Moving to India with your current employer
    • Network with Indian employers even before you move to India
  7. Healthcare
    • U.S. health insurance and coverage after moving to India
    • Physical and dental exams before moving to India
    • Local health insurance in India
  8. Other
    • Get an international driving license before moving to India (AAA)

Continue reading: The mother of all moving to India (R2I) checklist

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