Category Archives: India Relocation

Hello From Sunny San Francisco & Happy Thanksgiving!!

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Finally, we have a laptop that I can use to post.

After a frenzy of packing and physical logistics of the move, wrapping up things at Microsoft and a short vacation in Dubai, we are here in sunny San Francisco. Our temporary accommodation overlooks the SF downtown skyscrapers and it’s simply mesmerizing to watch the city lights come alive at night. Bay Bridge to the right, skyscrapers in Financial district in the center and stunning sunset to the extreme left.

Varun is happy to watch the CalTrains and the MUNI run by. That has kept him occupied for a couple of days though he keeps asking to go back home – to Hyderabad – the only home he actually remembers.

This move has been a bit hard on him. He wants to go to school so he can meet other kids and play with them. He is missing his bed and his toys. Hopefully it will get easier once we set him up with a routine.

We are using the next two weeks to settle in and catch up with friends.

To find him a preschool and daycare, find a midwife for me, and tons of other things that need to be taken care of ( cell phones, apartment hunting, pediatrician for Varun, primary care physicians for us to name a few).

I promise to resume blogging once things are a bit under control here.

Till then, Happy Thanksgiving. Have a great time this holiday season. Stay safe and warm.

Shop a little and share the cheer ūüôā

See you back in a couple of weeks!

California Dreamin’!!

Tiny Lot is becoming a lot more tinier. We are moving to San Francisco. Soon.

Lot of questions that we have been asked since we announced it to our group of friends and at work.

Didn’t we just move to India?

Do we hate Hyderabad?

Do we love US more than India?

Why San Francisco and not Redmond?

For the record, we don’t hate Hyderabad or our life here. Infact, Vipul and I think there is no other city in India we could have moved to and have a good life. We can afford a large house fairly close to work; have a cook/maid/driver and can go to any good restaurant/pub in less than half an hour. The city is mostly safe. A luxury by Mumbai or Delhi standards. Sure the weather is a challenge in April, May and October but with most of days being spent cooped up in air conditioned office it barely makes a difference.

Then why leave this all and move?

We moved here to be closer to family. Both sets of parents visited us fairly often when we first moved. But over time they visit only if Varun is not well or if we need help. They don’t really want to uproot their lives and move here. Also, due to our fast paced work schedule, we barely get much time to spend with them when they are here. Even when we visit them, Vipul is glued to the phone/email/laptop.

Also,we miss US Рthe open parks and gardens, libraries, museums, trails etc. I know lot of people who miss these aspects of life in US. They get hang of everything else Рproducts, traffic, commute, social commitments, dressing etc but this is something we reminisce about.

But most importantly, we are expecting another baby and I want to deliver the baby in US.

Varun¬†had a natural un-medicated birth with the aid of midwives. It was a wonderful birthing experience ¬†(as far as birth stories go) and I want the same again. I don’t want to go with traditional OB model but go with midwives. Certified trained midwives operating out of a hospital is not possible here. Plus the rate of Caesarean birth is very high.

The care offered by midwives in my first pregnancy is incomparable to what I am getting here now. The hygiene level, the empathy, the long wait times for appointments, scans etc is not up to the par.

Why SF and not Redmond?

We were actually all set to move to Redmond. We both had offers from our teams. We reached out to our midwives and set an appointment with them. We had started looking for a house. We knew which daycare to send Varun too.

Everything was lined up, when Vipul got an offer that he could not resist from Sony.

Luckily Sony offers a comprehensive relocation package on par with Microsoft.

So, here we are off to Sunny California.

Excited!

We are very excited to move to SF.

New city, old friends, new challenges.

Cant wait to be there!

Reality Bytes:One Year Later

I know this post is long overdue but we have been so busy the last few weeks between our Seattle trip, Holi,¬†birthday celebration with mom; not to mention Varun’s annual day and of course work; that I didn’t get time to¬†collect my thoughts.

In fact the Seattle trip and the trip to Lonavla played a big role in my thinking. When we came back from Seattle, I missed everyone so much. Even Varun missed Vivaash and kept asking “Where is Vivaash, mama?” I also met a friend who recently moved to Redmond and simply loving it there.

On such days I dearly wish I was in Redmond.

And then there are days such as last weekend where we all made an impromptu trip home to celebrate my mom’s milestone birthday. The entire family was in town and we had fun. Last minute, no pre-planning, no scheduling. Just hopped on the train that we booked that afternoon and were with family the next.

How on earth would such a thing be even possible in US?

This pretty much sums up our one year here.

Weather, driving, traffic, dust, heat, pollution Рwe have got used to it. Work -regardless of how or how little it is, we have to deal with it Рlate night meetings, long work hours etc.  Maids, cooks, drivers ;when they come;  are a great help -so you can focus on life. On a good day its like an icing on top. On a bad day, we lament over moving to India.

But family, oh dear family, what can we do without you? And friends, my dear friends, how I miss you so!

A Short Trip To Seattle

Sunrise

Last week, Varun, Vipul and I headed to Seattle for a quick trip. We had some personal work to take care of while Vipul had some work to deal with. So, off we went on a long flight to Pacific Northwest. Its been a year since we left Seattle and it was sweet to return!

Spring is in the air and we enjoyed a couple of days of sunshine before the weather returned to classic Seattle pattern of overcast and drizzly.

Crocus in bloom

Enjoying the cold and the flowers

Almost Spring with Hellebores

On overcast days, our day started with a hot chai tea latte РTall, non fat, extra hot with four pumps of chai for that perfectly hot and sweet energizing start at the corner Starbucks.

Chai Tea at Corner Star bucks

Followed by playtime at Kids cove in Bellevue Square Mall. Varun used to love this as a baby and seemed to love it even more as an active toddler climbing, running and generally having a ball.

Playing at Kids Cove in the mall

We shared a love for Sun Chips and cheesecake. While Vipul was at work, we met with my friends over lunch at Blue C Sushi.

Sharing my love for Sun chips

Lunch at Blue C Sushi

Rainbow Sushi

Or at Med Kitchen when Vipul could sneak out for lunch with us.

Med kitchen

The six days we were there, we caught up with friends, shopped a bit and enjoyed our favorite restaurants. The dinner table at Din Tai Fung was so full that the servers¬†didn’t¬†have space to set the dishes while we ate.

Food and Fun at Din Tai Fung

Juicy pork dumplings I miss ya so

Red Robin burger

Trophy cupckae

The best part was seeing the toddlers play together. Giggles as they chased each other, cries as they wanted the same exact toy and high squeals when they met each other in the evenings (after being away at daycare during the day!)They copied each other and it was fun to just watch them.

moments of fights and love

Missing you vivaas

Vinay and Ashvin

The flight took forever to reach US and since Varun and I were travelling by ourselves it was hard to get any sleep on the flight. Plus it was a challenge to get him to sit in his seat with seat belts on during take off and landing. And with potty training in progress, every hour we were making trips to the restroom where Varun attracted by the red button would end up calling the attendant! I think they were annoyed after the second false alarm. And once at London airport, all he wanted to do was run up and down the escalators. Somehow we managed to get to US without losing each other or our sanity.

I experienced all the things our parents do on short trips to USA – unfriendly flight attendants who don’t understand your accent, delight over the cleanliness of the place and size of the cars, the variety of produce, crispness of salads and the convenience of life in US while being so close to nature. Varun loved seeing squirrels and deer in the backyard with birds flitting around. We even went on a short walk bundled up¬†against¬†the cold picking twigs, leaves and pebbles.

I guess the cold weather was a welcome change from warm and trending to hot Hyderabad. I doubt we would have taken a walk if we were actually living in Seattle.

A visiting deer

Varun and I was jet lagged most of the evenings and by the time we got over jet lag it was time to head back home. It was comforting to be back in Seattle but weird to see some other folks live in our ex-home. When we drove by in the neighborhood after some shopping at Target, it almost seemed natural to take the left turn and pull into our driveway. Vipul’s hand naturally reached for the automatic garage door opener that we had in our car when reality hit us.

Oh, the home cooked goodness by my friends was pure delight. Peach roll with fresh fruits and cream, smoked salmon omelette with avocado and olive bread. Varun loved things that his buddy was eating РCheddar bunnies, strawberries and french toast while he outright rejected snacks he used to love as a baby Рstring cheese, blueberries and avocados.

Peach roll with fresh fruits

Smoked Salmon and Avocado on Olive bread

A trip to Costco and Target was nothing short of awesome.I stocked up on clothes, books, toys for Varun, condiments and baking supplies, even a brand new stainless steel set. I love Costco and just going in the giant warehouse made me skip!

Back home, we are still jet lagged. And are missing the lovely time spent with friends. Soon, we will make another trip. When its warmer! Real soon!

Reality Bytes: Ten Months Later

Vipul came back from his 10 day long trip from US and reminded me that its been 10 months since our big move. Wow. The last two months have gone by swiftly. It’s no surprise given that we did a little bit of travelling ( Andaman islands and Hampi) and also¬†met with friends in Lonavala.

We made an impromptu road trip with friends which was exciting as it was our first road trip in our car. We ( as in Varun and the car) fared well  so we are looking forward to more road trips. Luckily, per Times of India,  there are more long weekends this year that 2012 to allow us to explore around Hyderabad!

Over the last couple of months, we have met at least 5-6 other folks at work who have moved back from Redmond to Hyderabad Рit is comforting in some sense. One of our dear friends from Redmond, Sushil РAthika  have moved here and we met them over dinner one evening and just chatted Рlike old times in Redmond.

The best thing that happened in last couple of months was my recent stay in Mumbai – thanks to the relatively easy workload. It was fun being in Mumbai. Familiar places, shops, restaurants,¬†language, mode of transport. I knew where to go, what to do – unlike in Hyderabad where I have to always find out my bearings. It made me wonder if we had moved to Mumbai ( or any city where you have lived in the past) would it have been an easier transition? On one level that would have been awesome but I don’t think Vipul would have loved it one bit. He hates Mumbai, its traffic, pollution and is allergic whenever we visit ūüė¶

Working at IDC

On work front, there have been several changes at Microsoft, including folks moving back, charters changing and new opportunities coming up – some exciting and others ho-hum (IMHO). Some of the charters that moved back were the ones Vipul and I were considering to opt for when we moved so we felt relived that we didn’t choose those teams then. Else, we would be back in US by now without much of a choice.

The trips and dinners with friends and family offer a way to not think about the day-to-day life and just chill. Vipul’s work¬†continues to be¬†crazy. He barely has any energy left to do anything other than plop in front of the TV which drives Varun and me crazy! Varun wants to play with Vipul, Vipul wants to watch TV and I want both of them to leave me in peace for a few minutes – which rarely happens ūüėČ

Life with Varun

On top of that we had to go through Varun’s nasal procedure, change his day care, find a school for him. Its stressful on the school front. Almost every one tells us to enroll him in nursery next year in a school and curriculum of our choice as its easiest to get into in nursery than in later classes.¬† We were trying to defer this to next year but seems like at least in a couple of schools that we are interested in, we may be in for a surprise if we defer. In fact, I met a little girl on the flight from Mumbai who was about 3-year-old and attends a pre-school in US. It got me thinking that if Varun was in US, I would have probably enrolled him into a structured school there, so shouldn’t I be doing the same here?¬†Lets see, we will think about it for one more week and then decide.

To Stay or not to Stay

Being here for so long, everyone wants to know about our plans. Be its friends, family or colleagues. Some are more discrete than others. Will we stay here? How long will we stay? Will we return back after two years? Will we go back to Redmond or some place else?

Will we buy a house here? Apartment or villa? When will we know when we are ready to commit to India? We have received advice to move back as schooling is better in US, lifestyle is better, savings are better. Yet, we see more and more families moving back here. Sigh.

At face value, all of this makes it hard to want to stay here. But I don’t think things are much different from what would have been in US. Except for less traffic on the roads and more variety of food/ wine, and frequent meetings with friends, things would pretty much have been the same. Additionally, we would have had to do housework and cooking. So yea, some days we are all in favor of moving back and others we want to stay put.

In Two Minds

We are constantly in two minds – which makes it real hard to live in the present and be at peace. That manifests itself in squabbles over little things or in fleeing away from it all. I really envy people who actually had a solid reason to move back to India ( practice a religion, being closer to family and family moving in with them, moving to the same city where they lived and easily adjusting). They have moved on with their lives buying a home, customizing it and enjoying it. Or the ones who realized this is not right for them and moved back.

It takes us months to commit to buying a piece of furniture. Design, style, color, pattern, height, firmness …the reconciliation of what we both agree on takes forever.¬†This is much more complex than that – we have Varun and his future to think about, save for our retirement and plan rest of our lives!

All I know is that whatever we decide, will be binding. We are not moving again after this decision. I had my share of¬†change. I think I am craving constancy now.¬†And¬†a house with a white picket fence.¬†I wish we could make up our mind as well. But it’s so freaking hard!Lets see what choices we make this year – either ways will keep you all posted!

Reality Bytes: Eight Months Later

Diwali is around the corner. Family is in town. Lights, lanterns, festivities, shopping, sweets and delicacies and fire crackers. We celebrate Ganesh festival, Dusshera and even smaller festivals like Kojagiri Poornima.This truly encompasses what being in India is all about.

Our last two months have been more on adjusting to life in India.The usual suspects are still lurking around.

Traffic

Traffic is bad. I feel even more now that I have started driving. With our small car, we had to take the¬†car seat out when we had family in town for a month. Now Varun refuses to sit in the car seat though¬†he¬†usually sits only on backseat.Once a valet¬†didn’t come forward on seeing us as he suspected Vipul was a driver as he saw Varun and me in the backseat. Since then Vipul insists on all of us sitting on front seat at least when we go out dining. We even did a long road trip recently ( though Varun was on back seat on the long¬†drive). Most of our long distance¬†driving is restricted to-day¬†time; but I must confess I have been on one trip with colleagues when we drove at night with kids on laps. But in our defense, these friends are used to driving in India at night and the highway was divided as well as lit – so its didn’t feel as dangerous as I would have once assumed it to be.

Lifestyle

The temperature has become more bearable. We have made several trips making most of the good weather. Mumbai and Lonavla for Gauri and Ganapati,¬†Kochi and Kumarakom with my brother and SIL, Kurnool with colleagues and Srisailam with parents. ¬†Only one regret we couldn’t visit a waterfall and have a good soak this monsoon. Maybe next year.

We visited several in Hyderabad as well РLotus Pond, Shilparamam, Jagannath temple Рphotos will be shared soon!

We have shopped a fair bit – Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle, Promod, Marks and Spencer’s, Pantaloons. Cant always defer to US or Mumbai trip for shopping. Next up is a quest for a tailor.

One good part about Hyderabad is that there are several Sunday brunch places around the town. Westin, SO, Taj Krishna, Novotel¬†– have a buffet style brunch that you can indulge in. Varun runs around, tries his favorite pasta and chicken, bread sticks, juice and ice cream and dozes off on the way home. We don’t¬†have to worry about what to order. And as we eat early, almost always are first ones on the scene. Fresh food, attentive service, happy Varun- what else can I ask for.

Working at IDC

Finally with release of Windows 8, Vipul is now a bit free and relaxed. We went to Ramoji Film City for his Ship party and made a movie – It was insane. Varun and I went along with him ( family was invited) and we stayed overnight and had a custom ‘Nizam night’ hosted to celebrate the team shipping and watched the movies made.

This past month was also a month-long Giving campaign at Microsoft. At IDC, this takes a new dimension as one of the goals is to ensure everyone participates. So variety of events were planned at team, division and at Microsoft IDC level. On our team we had a sports tournament (where I was named MVP as I had most points..hahahah!) , Talent show (where all girls on the team performed a medley), Auction and a Family event (where we invited families and hosted them for an evening with Bingo, food, music and fun!)

It was a fun way to bond with team mates over the month.

We had our ship party as well as released in October as part of Office 2013. Our ship party was in Leonia Resort where we spent the day and then did the Gangnam Style performance.

Yea, its been most fun at work with manageable work loads. The atmosphere is more college like with all young recent grads actively participating and leading these events.

Chores and Help

Our honeymoon phase is definitely over.  Our cook left us for some unknown reason and we had to scramble to find another one. This new cook is getting used to our taste and schedule. She comes twice a day and prepares better food than the previous one Рalthough charges a lot more money than the previous one.

Our maid is still the same Рthough she sometimes skips work and we are stuck with a pile of dishes to clean. I am seriously considering getting a dishwasher. And a dryer is on the list as well since our existing one died on us.

The guy who cleans the car comes regularly though does a poor job of cleaning the interior of the car. Vipul or I go down once in couple of weeks and deep clean the car. Varun loves this part as he can make a mess, play in water etc.

A lot of folks ask us if we will stay or return. We still are on the fence. I have seen quiet a few folks return due to work reasons, charter changes, reorganizations etc. I have seen quite a few folks not move back but find another role in IDC. I have seen a steady stream of imports as well ( as our PM directors calls us ;)) in management positions. Returning to Seattle will be very hard. I don’t¬†look forward to the rainy drizzly overcast winters. And living with out all this basic help outsourced¬†will be harder now that we have had a taste of good life. But we are nowhere near to rushing out to buying our own house and settling here.Lets see. Time will tell. We had decided to try it out for couple of years before we make up our mind.

I have heard about 12 month mark being a true life changer. Onwards to that. Till then I have Diwali, sweets, shopping and fire crackers to think about!

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