charankanya on September 15th, 2008

While browsing I came across this very well written article by Mahipal on Ten things one must be ready for while living in India.  It’s a must read for those of you who are thinking of moving back to India.  Mahipal is planning to return to India in 2010 with his family, and some of the insights have hit the nail on the head.  He writes that:

Quality of life is not just decided by the inside of your house or office…it is a sum of every thing that you face and come in contact with on a day to day basis.

  His blog Return to India in 2010 has many articles that deal with moving back to India.

I returned to India two years ago (after spending 14 years in the US), and everything Mahipal writes about in his “Ten Things One Must Be Ready For” are very true.  Just a few things I would like to add to his list:

1. Traffic: Not just the number of cars….but be prepared for complete chaos.  The traffic in cities like Mumbai and Delhi (I don’t know about the other big cities) is very well structured compared to Pune.  In Pune there is completely disregard for any traffic rules.  Can easily solve this by getting a driver.

2. Customer Service: Non-existent. Get used to it. Whether it’s a bank where you have your millions or a store where you want to spend your millions ….. customer service is  Threatening to switch banks or service providers has no effect…..and the next one will be just as bad (if not worse) than the first. Anything you want done….give in writing – where possible – (keep an acknowledged duplicate for yourself).  Its the fastest way to get your work done.

3. Family: What I’d like to add here is that very often some of us move to be able to spend more time with family.  What I’ve found is that more often than not family is too busy involved in their own lives and will not visit you as much as you had hoped for.  It was very different when you visited India for a few weeks…..everyone would make time for you, and very often you’d be fed up of all the dinners and lunches you had to go to.  But once you move, the attitude is more like “now you’re here, there’s plenty of time”. So don’t get bent out of shape if parents and grandparents and cousins and siblings no longer make time for you.

4. Unreliable help, lack of time sense:  You will eventually get used to it.  Given enough time, you too will start being a little flexible in your time.  When it comes to domestic help….just be happy if they show up and do the work.

5. Food: I agree with Mahipal on this as well. Though when it comes to eating out, I’d say that after the first 8 months or so we got rather tired of eating at the “regular” or “ordinary” restaurants, which we used to love initially.  While we still eat out very often, we now tend to go to the slightly more expensive restaurants, where you roughly have the same choices as restaurants in NYC.   I don’t know about other cities….but in Pune there is a fair amount of healthy choices available.  One has to look for them….but things from fresh organic lettuce delivered to your home to excellent organic breads to an immense variety of tropical fruits (& juices) … it’s quite easy to eat healthy at home.

6. Safety on Roads: Very true.  But it’s not like you are never going to visit India.

7. Medical Care: Was probably my biggest reason for NOT moving to India.  But then again, it’s not like you are never going to visit India.  For routine medical care, just do your research and find good doctors and clinics. 

8. TV: It’s funny….a friend recently told me that when he lived in the US, he watched all the Indian channels and their “serials”. Now that he is in India, he watches all the US shows on TV. 

9. Hygiene: Bring your hand sanitizer for yourself.  Keep anti-bacterial soaps at home for all the domestic staff, and insist they wash their hands the minute they walk into the house.  Accept the rest (unless you are willing to start a public awareness campaign….in which case we will all be much obliged to you).

10. Greed: Very true….but I’d say it’s the same anywhere in the world you go.  Some places just more obvious than the others.

I would appreciate any other insights, opinions or comments that you may have……Feel free to post any questions as well, especially if you are still trying to figure out if you should return to India or not.

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12 Responses to “What To Expect When Relocating To India”

  1. With things like Sling box and actually pretty good health facilities, I think an American is just fine. Considering the arm and leg that we pay here for checkups even when covered by insurance.

  2. Unfortunately, bandwidth (an enabler for slingbox) is still not cheap out here. Rough order of magnitude, $90 – $100 for 1Mbps download speed, not always reliable.

  3. Charakanya, thank you for this post and your comments. Looks like you and I agree on almost all things. Thanks for the tips.

  4. Last month, we returned to india after 7(10 for hubby) yrs of living in US. Currently I am really frustrated and am ready to board the first flight to US. Your posts are very helpful in understanding that I am not alone in with these issues.
    Things I dislike in India:
    1) Stupid Saas-Bahu serials. I dont watch any TV here and dislike it when my kids get exposure to serials like ‘Balika Vadhu’ because of the grandparents who watches them intently.
    2) Traffic… the less said the better
    3) Hospitals – Horrible
    and I do miss the public library…. 🙁

  5. Hi Soya,
    Hang in there. Set down your “rules”, limits and expectations while you can still get away with the “just returned from US” label. What city are you in? The British Council typically has a pretty good library.
    Good luck.

  6. charankanya – I like the way you write the articles, highly professional..Did you take any course in english literature? I truly admire your articles. Thank you.

  7. Kumar – thanks for the compliment.

  8. Charankanya:
    I was looking up stuff on R2I (still in the To Be or NOT to be phase – Any ideas on how to get in touch with SW Product companies in Pune, BLR) and came across your article. Good one, pointing the down side and ways to bypass it. w/out that attitude or sense of humor, one will be toast soon I guess.

  9. Vivek: Thanks and good luck with the “to be or not to be” decision. Try contacting NASSCOM..they might be able to be of help.


  10. I think its silly to complain about the hospitals. The 5 years I was in US my biggest worry was I’d fall sick – luckily I didn’t. Its a big relief that in mumbai at least, I have a doctor who I can call even at his home number in an emergency if any of us are not well, as well as the ability to go straight to a top specialist on my own decision, not because I was permitted by a GP or the insurance company.

    Most people, once they live long enough in one place and make friends, have some sort of personal contact with a doctor.

  11. Many thanks for the tips!
    “…fresh organic lettuce delivered to your home to excellent organic breads to an immense variety of tropical fruits (& juices) … it’s quite easy to eat healthy at home.” YEY!
    We are relocating to the Pune area and would like to find organic products, especially fresh fruit and vegetables. Any contacts would be greatly appreciated!
    Also, we are looking for schooling tips for our third standard 8 yr old English speaking son.

  12. Another fantastic article. I enjoy reading your posts. Additionally, maybe Kerala has another set of rules!

    Here going out to eat is kind of interesting. At the more ‘safe’ hotels, we can easily find North Indian, continental and even American and Italian, but finding South Indian and Kerala stuff can be challenging at times! For lunch we can get ‘meals’ of course, but at most of the restaurants we been to finding south Indian for dinner is a big challenge, even dosa. Then some restaurants will serve some kinds of foods only at particular times. Some dosa varieties only for lunch, others only between 3-6. Then they give you a full menu of 100 items, but only a very few are available on any given day or time. Going out for breakfast is not the same as U.S. too….seems most of the hotels we have tried only open after 12:30 for lunch. Lunch time is also different here of course. The other irony- seems harder and harder to be a veg in Kerala where it seems so many love mutton, chicken and even beef!

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