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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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Meenal and Prashant were on NPR!

Sounds from this India experiment were aired on public radio in the US! Sangar ki sabzi, noisy kitchen, our opinion on renting vs. buying – it’s all there.
Read the 2012 article on WBUR and Listen to the 2012 story on WBUR.

Meenal's parent's place, Delhi, 2012. Meenal's mom is center left in Red Sari.Celebrating Meenal’s 2 week old niece. Delhi, 2012.

2 years ago, NPR (Morning Edition) had done a story on couples who were choosing to rent instead of buying a place. See 2010 pictures of our Boston apartment on WBUR and Listen to the 2010 story on WBUR.

Thanks to the very talented storyteller Curt Nickisch for seeking our wise words.

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Making new friends in India after R2I

Making new friends in India PHOTO: Party at our place for friends of friends we’ve met after moving to Delhi and Gurgaon. July, 2011.

No, it’s not like your grandmother told you. You can’t just drop by anyone’s house at any time. People work, tend to kids, go shopping, do household chores, catch up on Bollywood movies, travel for work, get stuck in traffic and have family obligations like any other place in the world. Organizing a party or a meet up with friends isn’t much different than America – you have to set a date and let people know in advance (texting is preferred). In some respects meeting up can be harder – people work longer hours, have really long commutes and have many family obligations. Additionally, the city either doesn’t offer many activities to do (outdoors, walking paths, etc.) or we don’t know Delhi well enough. Still, we have started having regular parties …

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Mini R2I case study: Akshay

Akshay in his 'luxury' apartment in MAAnyone who returns to India after a long stint abroad needs to answer this: What will you do for work when you get to India? Continue climbing the corporate ladder? Start a business? Join politics? Inherit a cushy lifestyle? Bum?

Akshay moved to India from Boston in 2010 and has had to answer these and many other questions. Over the course of the last year, we have seen Akshay be there for his family during a very difficult time and shuttle between Ajmer and Mumbai to establish a new career in India. Last month, he moved permanently to Mumbai to become the Senior Geo-economics Research Fellow at Gateway House think tank. He also published his first editorial in the prestigious national newspaper – MINT/WSJ. We are extremely proud.

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What will it take to make us like India after moving back?

Relationships: Sailing with family in Mumbai harbourPHOTO: Sailing with family in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai Harbor, India

Meenal and I are experimenting living in Delhi for a year. At the end of the year, we’ll decide if we want to commit to India longer.

HOW will we decide if we like India or not?

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