Category Good things about India

R2I Return to India 2010 – 2012: Prashant’s conclusions

I’m glad that we returned to India (R2I) and have a verdict on the R2I experiment. In the summer of 2012, we are moving to America.

Why R2I didn’t work out – the important stuff

Work

Corporate client visit, KolkataClient way too happy while I work in the background, Delhi

Immediately after returning to India, I started and ran a web design consulting company and helped startups with their product definition, branding and design. One of these was listed as a top 10 startup to watch in India by a major publication. Another one is getting good traction with VCs. We are very proud of them. Starting and running a consulting business in India was challenging on 2 fronts:

Hiring

Finding people with the right skillsets was extremely difficult. We spent 2 hours daily looking for candidates. Mostly, they failed in having usable domain skills. We tried several permutations – hiring from other industries (print, advertising), hiring from universities directly, poaching seniors from competitors. We got a strong team together but at some point I realized that it would be increasingly harder for us to find more talented people. This was the single biggest obstacle to scaling the business and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

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Emigration and Returning to India (R2I) in big media

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Many U.S. Immigrants’ Children Seek American Dream Abroad

New York Times, April 15, 2012 by Kirk Semple
This article is interesting in highlighting the increase in emigration. I would have found it more informative if it had talked about the people’s daily lives – new home, work place, friends, etc. It’s a bit simplistic but worth a read.

I’d written about Akshay a few months ago. Coincidentally, he works with Samir and Nehal (featured in the NYT article) at Gateway House in Mumbai.

Economics Journal: Who’s Returning to India and Why?

Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2012 by Rupa Subramanya
A great follow up article that puts the emigration trend into perspective and worth reading after the New York Times article.

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Yes, I was there to witness Anna Hazare in New Delhi

I had never experienced a popular civil uprising before. So glad to have witnessed it.

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Vacation in Ladakh – Leh, Hunder, Pangong, Rafting, Hiking

Having heard so much about it, we vacationed in Ladakh in August. It may be the most beautiful place we’ve ever seen. If you go, please don’t litter – a big problem even in the remotest areas.

7. Ladakh, India Time Lapse (a bit short & amateurish)

If you are in India, instead of a video, you may see a note: Access to this site has been blocked as per Court Orders. You can read more about the Indian Government’s internet censorship.

Continue reading: Vacation in Ladakh – Leh, Hunder, Pangong, Rafting, Hiking

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Qawwali – Nizammudin Darga, New Delhi


Which tools did I used to make my 1st audio slideshow?

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Fresh fruits and juices – the best of Delhi summer

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Delhi summer is in full swing – 110 degree oven like temperatures with dusty winds blowing over the city.

That also means that the best fruits are in season – watermelons, different types of mangoes, succulent melons (promise never to use the word ‘succulent’ again), lychees, papaya, peaches and apricots. You have no idea what you are missing.

Thank you Raina for gifting your best mangoes at 7:30 in the morning on a Saturday. Totally worth it!

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State parks near Delhi, India – Meenal’s beautiful gift to me

Sultanpur Jheel / state park near Delhi, IndiaSultanpur Jheel / state park near Delhi, IndiaSultanpur Jheel / state park near Delhi, IndiaSultanpur Jheel / state park near Delhi, IndiaSultanpur Jheel / state park near Delhi, IndiaSultanpur Jheel / state park near Delhi, India

You remember me bitching about not seeing any Earth. And you remember me crooning about my geyser romance for Meenal. But Meenal is a goddess – she showed me Earth and one upped my cheesy love with her gift.

She took me to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary (Sultanpur Jheel), about an hour drive from Gurgaon with all the ingredients of perfection: a semi-cloudy day, trees as far as the eye could see, water, birds of all sizes, deer, peacocks, fancy cheese, baguette and Fullers London’s Pride beer. On the way out, it started raining and a wild rabbit crossed our path.

See 6 big pictures from a wonderful day out

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Kickass home food and cooking after R2I – again!

Fancy food after R2I

King Jeloka has been served – again. My queen Meenal has found a way to my heart through my stomach.

Prep time

5 Meenal minutes immediately after returning from the gym

1. Five spice vegetables medley

Roasted squash, zucchini, eggplant, and onions sautéed in olive oil and with whole red chili pepper and a hint of fennel and honey. Salt and pepper to taste.

2. Couscous

Every whole foods visiting yuppie knows how to make this.

3. Stuffed green peppers

Boiled whole green pepper, cut in half, stuffed with corn and tomatoes, baked with cheese.

4. Sweet and spicy cucumber salad

Raw cucumbers with a sweet and spicy Thai dressing

 

Beverage of choice

Clean water

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Signs of progress – Delhi Police towed and ticketed us

Traffic in India is not pretty. However, there are some instances when the Police actually do their job. Never before have I been overjoyed at being towed or ticketed.

R2I - Getting towed in Lajpat Nagar
PHOTO: Our ‘tourist taxi’ getting towed in Lajpat Nagar in December – one of the few places where parking rules are enforced. They let us go after we paid $9 (Rs.400) on the spot and got an official ticket (no bribe).

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Home food and cooking after R2I

Home food cooking in India after R2I

Please address me as Maharaja Jeloka. Organic this and sautéed that, whole grain something with Spanish something, and a drink that’s got New Orleans and Assam!

Our R2I home meals are indeed more lavish than in Boston.

The good

Meenal calls ahead so the cook can have most things prepared. The first time, she shows him how its done. Every time after that, dinner takes 15 Meenal minutes! I make the cocktails.

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Quality of life is good inside our bubble after our return to India (R2I), January – March 2011

Waiting to enter the Jahan-e-Khusrau outdoor music festival in Humayun's Tomb PHOTO: Waiting to enter the Jahan-e-Khusrau outdoor music festival in Humayun’s Tomb

I’m going to do something in this paragraph that’s a strict no-no for husbands. But I’m going to break the code. I have to – she was always less skeptical than me but I had stuck to my guns before moving to India. So here goes – I was wrong Meenal. You were right.

What did I do so wrong that I feel compelled to ruin it for all husbands? Before shipping out, I was convinced that our quality of life after returning to India was going to suck. In fact, I was so convinced that I bought the best noise cancelling headphones that money could by. I was naïve, what can I say?

Here are some of the things of 2011 that makes our quality of life not just better than crap, but pretty darn good.

Music, art and theatre after we R2I Delhi

  • We watched 8 plays and enjoyed 4.5 of them. All of them were screened in the central Delhi area, about an hour from our home in Gurgaon.
  • The idea of attending a real Sufi Qawwali concert in a Darga has always sounded very cool to me. So 10 days ago, we left our expensive shoes at Meenal’s parents house and wore cheaper footwear through the depths Nizamuddin. Attending the qawwali concert at the Nizamuddin darga was fantastic and we are planning to go again in 2 weeks. Watch the audio slideshow of our visit.
  • We attended the Jahan-e-Khusrau outdoor music festival for 2 evenings in the beautiful Humayun’s tomb. The yearly festival celebrated the 14th century poet Amir Khusrow and featured some of the best Sufi artists from India and Pakistan!
  • I found myself thoroughly moved by the Anish Kapoor exhibit at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi. I’d never seen anything like it before – accessible, clever and scientific art. A business idea for Mr. Kapoor – please mass produce your smaller sized works and sell them to poor souls (like me).

Continue reading: Quality of life is good inside our bubble after our return to India (R2I), January – March 2011

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Delhi Airport has the best restroom signs in the world

New Delhi has a fantastic new airport. And someone there has a sense of humor (or a funny non-humor personality). I love it!

4 FUNNY pictures of the Delhi airport restrooms

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Healthcare consulting feels meaningful after 3 weeks of working in India

Badami, Karnataka 2002As healthcare consultants in India, we work a lot with the government and institutions such as the United Nations to bring basic healthcare facilities to the poor. And by “basic” I really do mean basic – 24×7 support for deliveries, care for newborns, immunization clinics, emergency care, blood storage units, etc. Next week, I will make my first business trip to a village to assess a public hospital that serves thousands of people but may not have the ability to do c-sections.  Our deliverables – assess the hospital, develop a plan to offer the various kinds of care expected from district level hospitals, and finally execute the plan over the next few years.

In the U.S., our contributions felt more indirect and due to a mature market, the problems we attempted to solve were more “first world”. Our solutions probably affected fewer people and were incremental and evolutionary. In India, our contributions have the potential of being very impactful – bringing healthcare services where there weren’t any or dramatically raising the quality of care provided. The large population exponentially multiplies the effect of our successes or failures.

India is so different from the U.S.

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Momos (Tibetan Dumplings) are everywhere

Aah, Momos. Brings back memories of my childhood.

Every kid was served a fixed amount of food in my boarding school in Darjeeling. If a kid didn’t want to east something, he’d trade it with another kid – I’ll give you 3 bananas if you give me a mango next week. The king of all food items were Momos – Each kid got 8 momos for dinner on Saturday night. The going rate for a single piece of Momo on Saturday night?

1 Momo = 8 bananas or equivalent!

Now Momos are everywhere in Delhi and I’m loving it! The best I’ve had so far are from the Big Bazaar (local equivalent of Wal-Mart) stall in Gurgaon.

PHOTO: Big Bazaar Momo stand
CJ's Big Bazaar Momo stand

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Diwali in India is a reminder to celebrate

Shweta lighting diyas in her rangoliI’m not religious and don’t celebrate religious holidays. And yet, this Diwali I’m struck by the festive mood – decorating, wrapping gifts and socializing. It is a reminder that celebration is worth the effort. Whether its doing rangoli and pujas for Diwali or a barbeque with your spouse and friends with whom you enjoy living life.

Life’s successes seem almost inevitable after the fact. In about 10 days, Meenal and I would have settled into our new place in Gurgaon. Meenal will start her new job in India on November 15th. I’ll start working full time on my business this month. And we’ll start spending more time with family, old friends and new people we meet. This is a milestone for us. Diwali has reminded me to celebrate this milestone.

Seasons greetings and Happy Life! And lookout for our party invite…

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