Tag Quality of life

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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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.

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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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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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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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Bad things about India and what I miss about America after R2I

Prashant in Smoky Mountains in the deep south, 2006
1. Earth

Life should be oozing from every nook in the Indian subcontinent with it’s rich soil, warm temperatures and yearly monsoons. But cities, towns and villages in India have long defaced this natural order. I miss tree lined streets, the daily walk home from the subway station and the state parks of Massachusetts.

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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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Quality of life after R2I – Single car crash inside our luxury bubble

We were driving with the air conditioning brushing against our silky hair. Suddenly, we hear a BOOM CRANK HISS and we were stalled. WTF?

Quality of life after R2I - car crash

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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 after returning to India is challenging outside our bubble

Quality of life in India after R2IPHOTO: Driving in India’s capital after R2I Delhi. Usually, there is no caution tape.

Today is Sunday. That means that the driver is off and we need to drive everywhere. The romance of the great quality of life after moving to India seems naïve today, even foolish. What if that guy had run into me? What if I hadn’t seen that pile of concrete in the middle of the highway? We can’t dial 911. The rawness of the Delhi experience outside of our bubble is dangerous and I am feeling scared. I miss safety. After re-entering the bubble of our new Gurgaon home, I sought intellectual solace on the New York Times – where wise people talk about wise things. And I found Mr. Joseph.

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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).

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