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First day at work after R2I in Deloitte India

November 15th, 2010

My first day in the Delhi office. A little anxious, a little excited…I was ready to meet new people and begin my professional experiment in India.

7:15 am – 9:00 am: Commute

I finally understand why office hours start late in India. The typical commute to work:

  • 7:15 am – take a rickshaw to the company van service stop
  • 7:30 am – board the ‘company shuttle’
  • Snooze for 1.5 hours with head bobbing violently
  • 9:00 am – arrive at the office

The company shuttle – Most companies contract with private van services to ferry all their employees to work from most parts of the city. For some companies, this is their second biggest expense after real estate and ahead of wages. The shuttles carry 4-8 people from each area and are feared on the roads because of their rash driving – by the other not so gentle drivers of Delhi!

Thankfully, my commute is a tad better than this typical commute.

Traffic jam with a thousand company vans waiting in DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon, HaryanaPHOTO: Traffic jam with a thousand company vans waiting in DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon, Haryana

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Sort and scan all your documents before moving to India

2 Annas was legal tender in Bihar, 1945 PHOTO: Inherited document from 1945 in unknown language

You think you have too many files? Don’t challenge me – I have documents from the early 1900s. My father got it from his mother and I got it from him. And that’s just my fathers side. My mother has evolved a philosophy about this – you don’t know when you’ll need it again so best to save it. Yes, my family has been at this for generations. I had to put an end to it – my imaginary children could not inherit a mountain of paperwork from another century.

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Uncle Sam, can I come back to USA if I stop enjoying curry?

Music outside the Obama pad in DC, 2009After we decided to return to India and give living and working in Delhi a try, my first question was predictable:
Can I come back to the United States if I hate the Delhi experiment?
Clearly, this was an expectation setting discussion between Meenal and me. But this was also a LEGAL question – will Uncle Sam be happy to have us back or is this really a burn the boats strategy that’ll force us to make India work at every cost? I was only comfortable doing this if we were able to keep our options open. I considered Boston and New England home.

U.S. Citizenship

I had thought of becoming a US citizen a year earlier but wasn’t comfortable with the idea and since there was no urgency, I didn’t pursue it. After a year of sleeping over it, I was eager to take the oath. My American immigration story had come a full circle.

4 months after making up my mind, I raised my right hand in the historic Faneuil hall of Boston and became a part of the Ellis Island history.

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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)

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