The much-anticipated Xbox v.Next is going to be revealed at Microsoft campus on May 21. #XboxReveal event will be streamed live.
Microsoft has finally enabled 2-step verification for their Microsoft account across all properties.
Microsoft has updated their Android app for Outlook.com – it is beautiful and a must-have!
After a very long wait, Outlook.com Calendar is finally Metro-ized.
SkyDrive app on iOS is finally updated, paving the way for Office on iPad maybe?
Now that we have decided to move back, I have been thinking hard, really hard about what could have been done differently, what could have changed our experience, and in general, how I can help anybody else in our place.
So here are some tips, tricks, suggestions and gotchas. If you are reading this and have any additional points to add, please let me know and I will gladly update the list.
- First and foremost, find a place to live close to the person you are closest to in that city. If not in the same complex, find something that is less than 15-20 minutes of drive time. Ideally, walking distance. You may not pop into their home all the time, but it sure is a huge help when you need to find the nearest/best hair cutting place or a reliable plumber or grocery stores to avoid, etc.
- Be ready to become dependent. I am not talking about losing independence because you may have to move in with parents or in-laws. I am talking about being dependent on domestic help of various kinds – full-time/part-time servant, driver, the guy who presses your clothes, grocery delivery, etc. All these service persons are available, for relatively low cost too (esp for “IT” salaries), but most of these tasks are not doable without them. Usually there is no dishwasher, so if the maid does not come, you end up having to wash each thing by yourself. It is very dusty, so there is no way you can go more than a day or two without dusting the whole place. Driving is extremely stressful, so you do need a driver for most of the day. And so on. So be ready to give up your independence (in that way).
- Even though cities like Bangalore are “built for the expat” as in they have communities catering to expats, services built to address expat needs, etc., I would strongly urge you not to live life in India as an American (or any other country person). You decide to move to India, live like an Indian. You will get extremely frustrated if you live life like an American. Don’t get fooled by the setup. Underneath, it is all Indian, no matter what the façade looks like.
- Related to the above point, don’t try to live in a bubble too much. Don’t protect yourself by living in air conditioning, drinking only bottled water, etc. After the initial few weeks of transitioning, just let go. Roll down the windows and take in some of the diesel smoke. Have normal “RO” water at good restaurants. Let the kids into the community swimming pool. The sooner you blur the line between “there” and “here”, the better. Of course, you need to use discretion like eating at roadside stalls but not drinking their water, but in general, live outside the bubble.
- If you have a choice between an extremely large complex with plenty of amenities and a small complex with basic amenities, choose the latter. I know it may seem counter-intuitive because if you live in a big complex, the chances you will make more friends are higher. However, what we noticed was, the bigger the complex, the easier it is to not meet the same people more than once or twice, ever. If you are in a smaller complex, I feel there would be a better chance of actually getting to know the neighbors.
- Service providers are not responsible. Just keep that in mind. They have no sense of ownership, no attention to detail, and most importantly, no sense of responsibility. A plumber may say he is coming at 10am but won’t show up all day and will never even call you that he cannot make it, and worse, won’t apologize for either of those issues. Just know that the biggest issues will arise when you set up various services. Typically you won’t need to interact with these guys on a day-to-day basis. However, as I experienced, it is extremely frustrating when pretty much every single service provider repeats the same crime – being late or not showing up, doing an incomplete job, providing incorrect updates or instructions and in general doing what would be considered an unsatisfactory job. Just be ready for it.
- Give up your politeness. When dealing with any service provider including servants, drivers, waiters, parking garage attendants, watchmen, etc., don’t be afraid to be what you may consider borderline rude. Being bossy is always better than being polite. If you notice that the other person is someone who can handle politeness, you can turn down the volume on the bossiness. The general rule of thumb is if you don’t indicate that you are running the show, they will. And you don’t ever want that to happen. I must admit, this was one of my biggest challenges. I simply could not behave like that.
- Some logistics – get proof of residence established early. Address verification is a big deal and if you don’t have a local address it would be hard or impossible to get any service started. Keep 100s of passport-sized photos of the entire family ready. Well, not 100s, but dozens at least. You need them everywhere, just like the proof of residence. Make sure you have an ID proof that shows residence too. California driver’s license did not fly in some cases for me, because it did not have proof that I am an Indian. Finally, make many photocopies of these various proofs.
- Save yourself the trouble and get an automatic shift car. I know there are advantages in a manual shift, biggest being a cost advantage, but my left leg is screaming for rest after maybe 10 minutes of driving in a stop-and-go situation. Which happens all the time. An automatic shift car will give you the much needed relief when driving around in traffic.
These are just some of the thoughts that I could collect. I may keep adding to this list over the next few weeks.
I realize that this may be something every person who returns to India may write, but I didn’t want that to stop my contribution. Hope this helps :-)
I wrote something earlier about how I felt frustrated with the lack of attention to detail with most Indian service providers (and software developers).
Our elevator recently got new wooden/laminate flooring. All good, except it seems like the goal was to “cover most of the floor” and not “do the flooring”. See how they have left about an inch off the edges? It’s not like they are going to put some sort of cover there. The flooring has been like this for 3 days now.
Here is my attempt at using Data Explorer in Excel. I used it to extract Sachin Tendulkar’s runs by ground/location from ESPNCricinfo’s excellent Statsguru feature.
It was such a breeze to bring up the stats, get the URL, import it into Excel via Data Explorer and get running right away.
Then came the complications – there are some grounds like The Oval which are not really cities or locations. Also, there are some places like Surrey that default to US cities with the same name.
With some help from Dan English (@denglishbi) I was able to clean it up by concatenating the opposition name to the ground to at least get the country right.
The next issue was that since I was using the opposition name to derive the country, and since ESPNCricinfo does not distinguish between home and away, or include that as a column, all the matches showed up as “v “. So I had to run two queries on Statsguru: one for home where I then hard-coded “, India” and another for away where I added “, ” and .
Then I used “append” in Data Explorer to merge the two data sets and then threw in a Power View Map on top of that data.
Sorry, the sexier part of this experiment, the Power View report is not visible on Excel Web App, so you will have to download it.
Overall, I came away quite excited and pleased with Data Explorer and how easy it is for business users to build compelling analytics. Find more info at the Data Explorer for Excel blog.
We are on a small vacation. At this resort, one of the service staff asked my son where he is from. Without batting an eyelid, he said “America”.
I was a bit stunned, actually. We have not told our kids about our decision to move back, so it is not like he had a hint at all.
This does reinforce our hunch that the kids are not settled here at all, and are reacting negatively in their own ways (being more cranky, being different in behavior than they were, etc.).
Again, just wow at what happened.