Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The countdown begins ...

It is my last day in our apartment in Bangalore. The place is completely empty, with the exception of two chairs, a table, a phone and a mattress. My bags are almost packed up.

This has been an incredible journey and one that we will never forget for the rest of our lives. I had the opportunity to live the dream - of coming back to India, starting and building a company and catching up with all things Indian. Mona created a vital role for herself in the Bangalore society and in her own inimitable style made an impact to many lives through her charity work. Aanish and Ayaana had a memorable experience at Indus International School which helped them grow in more ways than they realize today. Hopefully I have also regained some portion of my Indian-ness that I may have lost during my 20 years in America.

It was wonderful to be closer to family during these few years. We had a blast traveling to interesting destinations in this part of the world. The food here has been just amazing. And the conveniences (car wash in the building, laundry service at your door etc.) really help in making life much simpler out here.

Most important of all, the people here are one of a kind. Open, warm and welcoming. Always helpful. Kind. We have met and connected with many wonderful people here and will really miss them when we are back.

Obviously, this is not a goodbye to India as we will be back many times in the future. I will continue posting for some time on our experiences in re-settling back in the US. So stay tuned!

Monday, August 22, 2011

End of the journey

Nearly five years after I landed in Bangalore (October 2006), we are packing up and getting ready to move back to Los Angeles. Our exciting journey in India is coming to an end. We plan to be back in the US by the end of this month. And as most things happen in India, this one also just happened, without a lot of notice and planning. In fact, our move became a reality for me last week when I returned from work and walked into the apartment to see most of our stuff packed up in nice big brown boxes. Five years of our life in India = approximately 70 boxes and packages!

We have mixed feelings about the move. We are excited at the next chapter in our lives and are looking forward to moving back into our home and reconnecting with friends and family. We are sad to leave India (the second time in our lives for Mona and I). We were closer to our immediate family. We made new friends. We loved traveling and rediscovering India. The food was absolutely magnificent. Bangalore has become home over the past few years. We will sorely miss all of this.

But one thing is for sure. This will be a memorable time of our lives and we will always remember this time with great fondness. And hopefully we have made many strong connections that will remain in place for years to come.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Highway signs in Ladakh.

The Border Roads Organization (Indian army) has the responsibility for building and repairing roads and bridges in the Ladakh region. Somebody out there has a real sense of humor. This is evident on the road signs scattered across these perilous and difficult to drive on mountain roads. We started noticing these signs after a couple of days and started compiling a list. Here it is for your reading entertainment:

- Be gentle on my curves
- I am curvaceous but go slow
- Feel my curves slowly
- I love you dear but not so fast
- Better mister late than late mister
- You are not being chased by anyone
- This is a highway, not a runway
- Driving risky after whisky
- Safety on the road means safe tea at home
- Drinking and driving makes a lethal cocktail
- Drive like hell and you will soon be there
- All will wait, better too be late
- Don't mix driving with alcohol
- Speed thrills but kills
- If you are married then divorce speed
- Life is short, don't make it shorter
- Have another day by being safe today

Reading these signs got our creative juices going. So during one of our long drives (returning from Pang Gong lake), we started making up our own road signs to augment the above list.

- Speed up and you'll be in time for your own funeral
- If you can read this sign and translate it in mandarin using google translate, then your driving speed is just fine
- Slow down; where you are going will still be there when you get there
- CRASH! Boom! Crunch!! Sounds you will make if you don't slow down
- Slow down - this is not the highway to hell
- Keep driving fast and I guess we won't see you again
- Where there's a will, there's a reckless driver
- Congrats! You are now qualified to fly a broom
- Road of the brave leads to the grave
- Faster than a speeding bullet? Leave that to superman
- Your undertaker called. Drive faster.
- Calm down … nobody likes an early comer
- Leave the racing to the pros
- Stupid People Ending Everyone's Days (SPEED)
- There's a reason the monk sold his Ferrari
- Drive too fast and this will be the last thing you will see
- Life's not a rehearsal - so no do overs
- Speed is better as a drug
- Enjoying the curves? Take your time
- If we were meant to go this fast, we would have been given wings
- To prevent unwanted accidents .. use protection
- Enjoy Leh … it's ok to be late
- If you overtake, then death will take over
- There is no need for speed in real life

There were a few more but unfortunately they were unsuitable for publication.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Hamlets & Lakes tour to Ladakh

We just returned from a memorable trip to Ladakh and what an experience it was!

Getting to the capital Leh was a bit challenging. Our flight from Delhi to Leh left Delhi at 5am and we landed in Delhi around 11pm. So we had to spend the night at the Delhi airport catching a few winks in the waiting area. i expected all of us to be completely exhausted during our flight in to Leh. But within 15-20 minutes into the flight, we found ourselves flying over gorgeous ice-capped mountain ranges that provided a glimpse of what we would experience over the next nine days.

Leh is situated at an altitude of over 10,000 feet and you feel it from the time you step out of the airport. The thin and dry air can lead to severe altitude sickness and we had to take steps to acclimatize ourselves. These included drinking lots of water and eating well during our entire visit and minimizing sleep during the first full day. All of us did fairly well and barring a few headaches we got adjusted to the altitude by the second day.

The landscape of the Ladakh region is magical and you feel that you have been transported to a different world. You are surrounded by gigantic mountain ranges with mostly brown sandy and rocky mountains with occasional patches of greens and lined with the taller snow covered mountain peaks. The mighty Indus river cuts through the mountain ranges and is usually within sight as you travel through the region. Deep patches of green within the valley create an extraordinary contrast in the landscape. The sky was a clear blue during the week of our visit.

During our trip we visited several Buddhist monasteries including Hemis, Thiksey, Diskit, Alchi and Lamayuru. Most of these are over a thousand years old and each one of them is unique. Our favorite was Alchi - one of the oldest monasteries and the only one that is built on flat ground. Another highlight was a visit to the world's highest lake, Pangong - a magnificent salt water lake that spans India and China.

A trip to Ladakh is not complete without the appropriate dose of adventure and we had our share. We bicycled down 14 kms from a point close to Khardung La (claimed to be the world's highest motorable pass). We did white water rafting on the mighty Zanskar river. We trekked through the 12,000 ft high pass called Prinkti La. Another highlight was a ride on double humped Bactrian camels on sand dunes in the beautiful Nubra valley.

Here's another one off the '100 things to do before you die' list!