Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Beginning ...

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since we moved to Bangalore. Last year, we were on a plane flying over Bombay when the clock struck midnight on December 31st, 2006. This year, we celebrated our entry into 2008 by moving into a new apartment. We spent the day moving and the evening having dinner with our dear friends, Ira and Sherry.

2007 has been a good year and we have enjoyed every moment of our transition to India. Ayaana and Aanish have settled down in school and enjoy the new education system. We have made many new friends here and have been enjoying the good food out here. We have also become fans of Bollywood (you must check out Chak De) and enjoy IndiPop!

It has been a long time away from close friends and family in the US. We remember all of you a lot and want to wish all of you the very best for 2008. Hope the new year brings you everything you want and all your dreams and wishes come true. We hope to see some of you in India in 2008.

Here's to another chance to get it right!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

It is Christmas day in Chennai and I am sitting at the airport waiting for my flight to Bangalore. The airport has Christmas decorations, there are carols playing from a loudspeaker and the boutique store is selling Santa caps. Christmas has arrived in India!

The office (yes, unfortunately I was working on Christmas day) had Christmas art and decorations all over and a Christmas tree sat decked up at the reception. The employees cut a cake to celebrate the occasion. Street vendors in Chennai and Bangalore are selling the latest rage – musical Santa caps with twinkling lights. Indian children have found another excuse to demand presents. And of course, every major store in town is having the inevitable Christmas Sale!

This reaffirms my belief that Indians love to party and celebrate. They will cross cultural and religious boundaries when it comes to getting together with friends and family, eat, drink and exchange presents. Thirty festivals and holidays a year are just not enough. Need more!!!

Let me see where I can find some eggnog and sugar cookies.

Till the next time then … ho, ho, HO!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


It was another typical day at a crowded Bangalore mall. Mona and the kids were heading off to Bombay for winter vacations and Ayaana wanted to buy gifts for everyone - with her own Money! Yes - she had collected over Rs. 2000/- ($50+) during the course of the year and was going to generously spend this cash to buy gifts.

We found ourselves at the ever popular Landmark store at the Forum where one can find anything for anybody. Ayaana had a blast selecting gifts for each person on her list. As we stood in the check-out line, she realized that she had lost her money somewhere in the store. Her excitement vanished and she couldn't hold back her tears. One look at the hordes of people in the store and you pretty much knew that there was no hope of finding the lost cash.

We made a last ditch attempt and I went with her to the help desk to inquire if the money was found and returned to the lost and found. Unfortunately nobody had turned in the money. Then I walked with her to the section of the store where she had lost the money and asked the store personnel if they had heard anything about any money being found. One of the employees tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to follow him to one of the counters in that section. He spoke in rapid Kannada to the guy behind the counter while I explained our predicament to him. He took out the money from his pocket and handed it to me. The employee who took us to the counter had found the money on the floor and had turned it in to the manager!

I thanked the man and offered him a reward which he refused to accept. And Ayaana - she was in seventh heaven. The excitement was back and she was once again happy.

And my faith in the human spirit and the goodness of man (and woman) went up another notch.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

In Search of Efficiency

Taxes wait for no one and they caught up with us last week. The property tax on our home was due last week and we realized it a few days before the payment deadline. I called the number listed on the tax bill for credit card payments. I had made the payment using our credit card and was done with the transaction in less than 5 minutes. A few days before, we needed to check the balance of Mona's credit card, make payment and transfer funds. Another 5-minute call to Wells Fargo got everything taken care of.

These interactions made us realize how much we miss the high degree of efficiency that is common place in the United States. The other day, I had to transfer funds from an account in one Indian bank to another and we spent half a day visiting the banks, writing checks, filling out complicated deposit forms etc.

Complicated procedures exist here to conduct simple day-to-day activities. These are compounded by difficulty in reaching people and lack of clear instructions.

You eventually get used to the system but occasionally when you are exposed to a highly efficient interaction, you do long for high degrees of efficiency!!!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Bangalore Unwired!

The state of Karnataka has started an ambitious project to turn Bangalore into a wireless city. A pilot project is underway and scheduled to launch in early first quarter of 2008. This is supposed to Wi-Fi enable the region around M.G. Road (the main drag in Bangalore). Wireless Bangalore will minimize location dependency and allow adults and children to work and play from anywhere in the city.

I dream about the reality of this vision as I am standing in my thirteenth floor apartment trying desperately to locate the one spot where my cell phone might pick up it's signal. There are two such spots (thankfully allowing both Mona and myself to use our cell phones at the same time) in the house. One spot is a circle with a diameter of 2 feet at the border of the kitchen and the living area right next to the refrigerator. The other is a 1ftx2ft rectangle in the bedroom next to the dresser.

Even the landline is not 100% reliable. Most of the times it works ... but it conks out right before I have an important conference call with a customer!

There lies the irony of a place called Bangalore (and India!).