Monthly Archives: February 2012

Baby Lockout

Just yesterday, Vipul and I were talking about all the things we didn’t get to experience  in US – visiting New Orleans, enjoying southern style BBQ, hiking up Mt. Rainier, driving down the East Coast to Florida, going fishing etc.

What we didn’t want on that list was calling 911.

This morning, while Vipul and I were meeting a few contractors; Varun was getting antsy. He was whining and constantly kept saying ‘out-out-out’. Our nanny was out as well due to car troubles and it was difficult to pay attention to him and talk to the contractors.To top it, we both were meeting our old team members for lunch and we were running late. The plan was to wrap up the meetings, drop Varun at day care , drop Vipul to his lunch meetup and then drive and meet my ex-team mates for lunch.

To speed up things, I asked Vipul to change Varun clothes, put on his jacket and strap him in the car seat; while I packed his day care bag and put together snacks for the ride home.

Vipul put Varun in the car and came upstairs to get a co-sleeper that I was returning to my colleague. When I went back into the garage, I saw all the doors locked with keys in Varun’s hands. I quickly realised what had happened. I tried to open each door in a hope that maybe somehow one of the doors was unlocked.

Varun was oblivious to what was happening and continued playing with the keys. I tried telling him to press the unlock button on the car but he thought its a game and kept on smiling. I ran upstairs  to warn Vipul who surprisingly in such situations can panic easily.

Vipul came running down and tried to talk to Varun into pressing the unlock button. A couple of times Varun did move his finger to unlock button but he couldn’t press hard enough to unlock the door. Now the key in these situations is to keep calm and pretend that it’s a game and continue making silly faces/noises, jump up and down etc to entertain the kid while you figure out what to do.

Vipul called the rental car agency to ask for backup keys while I called 911. They asked us basic information about the car, age of the child, state of the child ( agitated, crying, calm etc) address and sent out a Sheriff. They also asked us to call a locksmith simultaneously.

I looked up a locksmith in Redmond and called them – their response: they are not liable if anything happened to the child while we wait for them to come. I couldn’t really say much other than to ask then come nevertheless and accept the responsibility if anything should happen.

By this time probably 10 mins had passed and Varun was crying. He probably was cold inside the car and was tired of being inside while we were outside. His incessant ‘mamma-mamma’ chants were heartbreaking. And then he dropped the key to the floor. He tried to reach out to the door handle to open it, but since he was strapped in the car seat, he could barely move. I have never felt so helpless.

Luckily, the sheriff car pulled up at around 12 min mark. He came around to look at the car and asked us few questions on how the car handle opened ( does it open from inside when it is locked from inside, does it auto lock, etc). Varun was intrigued by the new face and the flashlight  as he examined the car door and its handle to figure the best way to open the door. He saw that Varun was doing ok and not hysterical, so he wanted to try to open the lock and not break the window. Though he did warn that he would do that if necessary and that we would have to pay to get the glass fixed on the rental car.Then he got a screw driver, a few wooden triangular pieces and a wire to pry the door and loop the wire in to unlock the door.

I have never seen a car door being unlocked – it’s not easy, you have to get the angle right and in those tight quarters its difficult to do it in first attempt. Vipul assisted in pointing the flashlight on the handle as the cop attempted to open the door. After what seemed like a long time, the cop could move the handle partially, the door lock ‘popped’. The door was still locked and wouldn’t open. With some brute force, Vipul opened the door while the cop tried to move the handle even more. A minute later, Vipul searched for the dropped keys and unlocked the car.

I quickly opened the door and removed Varun from the carseat.He was simply happy to be out and be in my arms. He didn’t cry much once he was out. Vipul and I were relieved.As he seemed to be doing fine, we dropped Varun at the daycare. He slept on the way – no doubt due to the stress of being trapped – but he was fine the rest of the day. I am actually proud that Varun handled this pretty well and was not hysterical.

For about 20 mins Varun was locked in the car. It seemed forever. Luckily it wasnt too hot or too cold, so we didn’t have to worry about that. I don’t know what I would do in India if such a thing happened there short of breaking the glass.Hopefully this is the last time we ever experience such an ordeal.

P.S. I learnt later about a service called pop a lock for such emergencies. Insist on a second key for rental cars. Also, keep a spare key in your wallet for your cars to prevent this from happening. Lastly, pay attention to how you open the handles  – is there space from above or below; does it open from inside when locked etc – it will help a cop trying to open the door for you in an emergency.

A million things are happening

We are moving in exactly 2 weeks!

Fortunately, Microsoft takes care of relocation. It would be next to impossible to move on our own on such short notice without this benefit.We are assigned a relocation co-ordinator who is our primary contact. In our initial meeting, he walked us through the relocation benefits and gave us an overview of all the things we have to take care of before we leave, from immigration consulation, tax consultation, actual move consultation, sell the cars, rent or sell the house to getting reimbursements for approved expenses/losses. Also he gave an overview of the things he will take care for us, like booking flight tickets, rental cars, accomodation on arrival to introducing us to MS approved vendors for the move ( packers and movers, house rental agency, real estate agent, tax consultants etc).

Even with so much taken care of, it seems like we have a zillion things to do before we leave.

This is our To do List:

  • Meet with couple of real estate agents to discuss selling the house ( probable price, market trends, sales strategy etc)
  • Meet with rental agency to discuss rental option ( possible rent, fees, expenses etc)
  • Number crunching spreadsheet – Rent or Sell
  • India Tax consulation
  • US Tax consulation
  • India immigration checklist
  • US immigration checklist
  • Pre-move survey – to figure out how much more we can take with us 😉
  • Schedule the move
  • Needs analysis – to help figure out what we need on arrival in Hyderabad ( driving lessons, language lessons, schools/daycare, housing etc)
  • Investments analysis – Figure out what to do with 401K and other retirement investments
  • Furniture Shopping
  • Staging the house/ making it market ready  – Meet with couple of agencies to get quotes on staging as well as repairs/painting etc
  • Research rental lease agreements ( this is so personal, you cant just copy someone elses!)
  • Lookup how to transfer utilities
  • Look into mail forwarding
  • Sell the cars, pay off loan, transfer the ownership/ register the sale in DMV
  • Put stuff for sale on Craigslist/ MS Classified ( follow up in timely manner)
  • Sort/ Donate/ Throw
  • Talk to folks in Hyderabad about their move experience, do’s and dont’s
  • Get Varun’s health records
  • Print photobook (of our time in Seattle)
  • Help our nanny find another position ( follow up on questions/ give reference etc)
  • Plan meals around persihable food stuff that we cannot take with us
  • Give away house plants
  • Organize a party to finish all the booze in the house 🙂

True to my profession, I have an Excel spreadsheet with details on things to sell, buy, donate; their costs, where I have put it for sell etc as well as status of these things and follow up actions.

Most of the day is spent on finishing up on current work items, transitioning them to new owners as well as following up on this ginormous To-do list.

Luckily, it will be over and done with in 2 weeks and we will be able to finally breathe a sigh! Till then, back to the spreadsheet, flurry of emails, phone calls and txt messages.

A Brown Bottom cupcake on a Blue Table

In midst of India relocation excitement, it’s very natural to think about the future: new job, new city, new house etc as well as reminisce about Seattle and our life here and ponder over what we will miss.

But for my little baccha Varun, life is all about the present. Will mamma – dadda (as he calls us) stay at home today? Will I get to go out along with them when they leave for work? And probably will I get cheese or avocado for snacks? Or so I think that he thinks 😉

We have heard that moves are heard on kids and we are determined to make it as seamless as possible for him. We spend as much time as we can with him and are outsourcing everything that we can afford to.If we were not moving, we would have a little celebration for his 18 month milestone. But with everything going on, we didn’t plan one – but it so happened, we spent the day with some of our dearest friends.

However, I did make a couple of homemade ‘mini birthday gifts’ for him. Chocolate bottom cupcakes , a blue table and a cardboard play kitchen. He seems to be enjoying making ‘pretend’ food in his kitchen. And when he bit into the cupcake, he said ‘Nice’.

If I had work working skills, I would have loved to make a table from scratch, but for now a spray painted blue table will suffice. Varun has dragged the table to the center of the living room and sits there playing by himself (for few mins here and there), while we watch TV. Nothing is sweeter than having your toddler play by himself while you watch TV! I can see parents with active kids nodding as they read this 🙂

But, mostly he plays with his new cardboard kitchen.

Removing little plastic containers of food, putting things back into the cupboard, opening and closing the ‘oven door’  and sauteing in the sauce pan above keeps him tinkering around for a while.

Anything that keeps him busy, makes me happy!

Tiny Lot is Moving!

Yes, Tiny lot is going to be a lot more tinier!

By early March, we are moving out of Seattle…actually, we are moving out of the country. Moving closer to home! Vipul and I have both accepted an offer with Microsoft India Development Center, Hyderabad.

There is a lot going on here and we are buried  trying to get everything sorted out before we go. But I know you all have a lot of questions from Why, When, How;  to Immigration, Work- Life balance in India etc. This is a brief post on our current thinking.

Why this change?

Firstly, like most desi’s, we have always wanted to move …someday. After every India trip, we miss home, we miss our family and we simply want to take the next flight back. Sometimes, Vipul thought the time was right and other times, I thought about taking the plunge. But after coming back this time, we missed home more than ever. Varun started asking (in his own way) about ‘Aaji-Aaba’ , ‘ Kaka- Kaku’ and ‘Mama-Mami’ every night as part of his sleep routine. Plus, when in India, the delight that was on my mom’s face when she was around Varun was something that I couldn’t push out of my mind.

We had reached out to a few folks in India before the trip and also visited Hyderabad on the trip to scope it out. It looked like we could get to work on quality stuff (similar to Redmond) and plus enjoy the life in India. At least in Microsoft, it doesn’t seem to be a one way path back to India, and we always have the option of coming back if we want to.

But more importantly, we saw this as an opportunity to travel in and around India. All our India trips are booked with visiting family. Now that they will be around, we can use our vacation to travel. Dubai, Lakshadweep, Maldives, Bali, Leh- Ladakh, Rajasthan, Kerala…We were sold!

Did we like Hyderabad ? I think its OK. It’s not Sydney but it’s not Baltimore either 😉 Chala lenge! It’s an inside that only our close friends will get.

How about interviews and offers?

That was the easy part. Vipul and I reached out to a few managers through job postings on internal career site as well as through our MS Network. Informational meetings were scheduled over Lync meetings. Once we notified our respective teams about interviewing, the actual interviews were scheduled very quickly. We both went through a full loop of interview. Vipul interviewed with Office Mobile and Application Experience team – so had two full loops. Most of Vipul’s interviews were with India team, but some were also with Redmond team. I interviewed with CRM and Lync team which are under same GM in IDC and I only had to do one loop with both teams.

We both got offers from both teams. And it was tough deciding which team to join. They are all doing interesting work. Vipul was woo-ed by both teams with nightly calls from Dev Managers and PUM’s- which was amusing to watch.

In the end,  after days of deliberation, Vipul is joining the Application Experience team and I am joining the Lync Web App team.

You have Greencard right, to come back?

Well, no. We don’t have the coveted Green card yet. And it doesn’t matter. If we want to come back, our thinking is we can come back on L-1. Just having a greencard doesn’t make sense unless we can keep it valid. Although we know about the 2 year re-entry permit , we didn’t go that route as we are not sure we will come back in two years – all those places will take more than two years to visit ;).

When’s the move party?

We are still working on our move date – but we are joining office on March 12th and are thinking of taking a few days off before then. Will keep you all posted.In the meantime, we have movers to schedule, travel to book, cars to sell, house to sell, things to sort out/donate.

This is still a bit surreal. I really can’t believe we are moving back. After 11 years in this country, I think about this as home.Leaving home is hard – but I guess with Vipul and Varun onboard – making any place home, should be an adventure. So stay tuned and join us on our adventure!

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