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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 GanapatiKochi 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 – Lotus Pond, Shilparamam, Jagannath temple – photos 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 – although charges a lot more money than the previous one.

Our maid is still the same – though 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!

R2I – What NOT/TO Get

Quite a few folks asked me to send them a list of things to get from US while returning back to India.

The below is the list I had emailed a friend who moved back a couple of weeks ago to Hyderabad. You may need to tweak it a bit if you are moving back to Mumbai , Delhi or Banglore where generally  more things and variety of NRI friendly things are available. You may leave out a few things if you are returning back to your hometown (as Facebook calls it ), as you would be familiar with shops/quality/services available. Lastly, I knew that the apartments/condos in Hyderabad are typically bigger than in Mumbai, especially the kitchens. So I didn’t worry too much of getting things back and being worried about lack of space. Even then,we knew we would be moving into an apartment here and downsizing from a single family home to an apartment is not easy – you don’t have that giant black hole called a ‘garage’!

So we sold all our outdoor furniture ( patio furniture, sun umbrella and grill), sports gear ( cycles, ski’s) and whole bunch of stuff that was generally in the garage.

Also, we were not able to get any liquids ( oils, paints, thinners etc), batteries (even rechargeable ones), alcohol ( no vino or beer either) as part of the shipment. So we had to give those away.

WHAT TO GET:

Furniture: Bedroom and Living room furniture ( especially if it is contemporary and sturdy stuff that will not accumulate dust in its nooks and crannies).

TV’s:If getting them , check to see if it supports PAL signalling. Else geta TV signalling converter as well. The ones available in US is of better quality/reliable.

Other electronics: Printer, Professional grade stand mixer, Home theater system, Phone

Small electronics:  Iron, alarm clock, kitchen electronics such as toaster/blender , slow cooker, crock-pot, immersion blender etc. If you are willing to use a converter, bring it along. Else best to donate it.

Latest  gadgets – Cell phone, tablets, DSLR (with its lens, filters, diffuser, cleaning kit etc)

Baby Diapers:  Especially if you use ‘Sensitive’ or any ecofriendly ones due to irritants issue. You do get Pampers and Huggies in India but you will not get larger package sizes and so will need to stock often.

Baby Needs: Diaper cream, infant/toddler safe sunscreen, baby toothbrush and training toothpaste, mosquito or bug spray like OFF

Baby Clothes , Shoes and Toys: Daily wash and wear clothes that are 100% cotton, age appropriate toys, Books, starter puzzles. Generally you will get more age appropriate, kid safe and non toxic versions of toys in US for cheap. If shipping is not an issue, stock up on these for 6 months.

Baby Feeding needs:  Kid safe forks/ spoons, sippy cups/bottles etc. Avent brand is available everywhere but I haven’t seen Dr. Brown’s. So if you do use that then best to stock a few extra. Non perishable snacks like Cheerios, teething biscuits etc

Baby swimming gear: Do get SPF swim clothes, pool toys, sand toys, inflatable arm safety bands, inflatable pool ring etc. We didn’t have this in our list and to get a size 0 swim ring was such a pain in Hyderabad. Oh, and don’t forget swim diapers if your kid is not potty trained.

Other baby gear: Small foldable stroller, a good diaper bag, potty and car seat.

Food: Any artisanal food item that you love ( cheese, chocolate, hot sauces, mustard, dressings, balsamic vinegar) or specific brand you or your kids like (especially for chocolate and cheese, pancake, waffle, cake mix that you swear by) or even specific version of standard product ( aluminium free baking powder, sodium free soy sauce, low sodium spice mixes etc). If you love cooking, trust me, you will miss US.

Kitchen ware: Non stick cookware, baking pans and molds, cupcake liners, measuring cups, knife set, non-Indian spice mix etc. They make great gifts as well.

Party supplies: Michael’s and Party City–  I miss you. Also get paper plates, disposable spoons and forks – the quality in India is pathetic ans they droop in hot food. when the maid doesn’t show up second day in a row, you will thank your stars for having good quality disposable stuff.

DIY supplies – My pinterest board is full of  arts and craft activities that I can do by myself or with Varun if only I had small canvas-es, glitter, non toxic glue, non toxic paint etc. You can get them here, just not in one store.

Perfumes and Makeup – Again, based on our brand of choice you may find that with a 15% luxury tax here.

Other stuff – Curtains, fitted sheets, contemporary frames etc. We got what we had and didn’t buy anything new. But I know folks who stock up on fitted sheets, quilts, frames etc before moving back. They make great gifts as well.

WHAT NOT TO GET

Electronics – Fridge, Washer, Dryer , microwave, Cooking range – Some folks who did bring them back experienced issued within months of bring them here. Best to sell them. Fairly decent variety available here for almost the same price.

Other electronics – Fans, Lamps, vacuum cleaner

Woolen Rugs – Unless they are expensive which you want to save for future use. Most likely you will end up storing them to protect them from dust.

Baby food – Gerber bottles are yuck. Having a cook to make fresh baby food everyday is so much easier.( Other than sweet potato and berries which you don’t get in India, but can’t really bring back either ). Also string cheese, yogurt puffs melt in the heat here.

Diaper pail and liner – Everyday garbage collection makes it easier to dispose diapers.

Formula – I have seen Similac at most medical stores.

Baby Wipes – After much trial and error, we have settled on Johnson and Johnson ones. Single packs, no economy or costco sized versions here. But pretty similar to Kirkland baby wipes in texture and ahem…wetness.

A lot of this may vary by your hobbies, family needs, kids age ,willingness to adapt to Indian versions and by the city where you live. For now, we still miss US and have got a few parcels thanks to generous friends. Over the months we hope to adapt better. Else, we know who to ping 😉

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