I would not qualify my return as a complete return to India, but rather as a experience before you really start living.
After my last trip in May 2010, I have finally relinquished US and headed back to India. It has been now around 45 days that I have been here now. I got a chance to travel across couple of cities, many of which were of my preferred come back cities in India, once I come back finally to settle.
As is customary for Indians living abroad, we often store a perception of the cost of living, when we leave from the airport, only to come back and, evaluate the existing cost with the one, which, we kept in our mind till we were away. This serves as a mild surprise, which you tend to discuss everywhere you go. India’s inflation has not been missing the global trends, just like it’s double digit GDP growth was.
Real Estate Shocker !!
If you are in country and scouting for a home (flat essentially, unless you can afford a land in city with the astronomical prices going about), it gives you a feeling as if you just touched a live wire, hair raising experience literally. Depending upon which city you research, the value for money calculation never hits your mind so hard, as it does when you physically explore the potential property with your own eyes. The Real Estate market is something similar to what a villager would react when reading the coffee rates at IGI Airport’s T3 Terminal. You get the drift.
I personally was treated to experiences where the builder should have thrown his architect from the topmost floor of the apartment building, then should have jumped himself in view of the “nominal price” being offered for such apartments. But RE as they call it, is the “in thing” to do, no wonder, many stalwarts of the IT industry seem to be jumping ship to latch on to the wave as long as it lasts.
USD to INR
This is so called reverse calculation which your brain performs for few weeks of you stay in India. You would be disheartened to know that, Indian prices now compete with US prices for most of the every day food and grocery items sans the need for quality. This is an essential fact, when you bring in the disposable income you’re left with in US vs. India.
I pretty quickly got over with my developed habit of grabbing a coffee on the go. The coffee if not drunk in Chennai style at home or the popular coffee houses across the cities, should generally be avoided. Tea and sugarcane juices are highly recommended.
However, the happier part is that medicines and standard laboratory tests in India, would cost you the equivalent or lesser than your average “Co-pay” of the most premium health care plan. The customer service might be non-existent, but the quality is on par.
This has been the major highlight of the current trip. It has involved travel through Air, Train and city buses. Air travel is as painful as in US, the required additional time is ridiculous when you find out that the reason behind it is due to a single window of security clearance by the airlines whereas, CISF roams in majority at each and every airport. Thank god, you do not have to remove your shoes and get personally attended as the TSA does it.
Train availability through Tatkal has greatly improved, after the government killed the touts and their advantages in the booking business. I was in fact, able to book all my urgent travel through Tatkal online without sweating it out and breaking into heated arguments with fellow passengers. The trains are also generally on or before time, which sounds reasonable, due to the fact that train drivers do not get overtime anymore, but get rewarded for prompt arrival and departure instead.
Metro Train of Delhi is worth noting here. If you happen to be in Delhi, try it out. It is quick, convenient and worth for long distances, where you don’t want to sell your soul to the devil which resides in the “Autos” in Delhi. Current project in Chennai has high hopes from me, I would love to see the declining control of the “Auto Raj” which Chennai Auto rickshaws are so notoriously infamous for.
The EMU trains in Chennai is a boon for those looking to travel to the IT corridor which sometimes can be a deterrent to relocate there. My couple of trips from Chennai Beach to Velachery without changing trains was great gift.
City Buses are a hit or miss depending on which city you decide to explore them. I have been a long time commuter of Chennai and like them, but Chennai’s one way traffic patter deployed temporarily due to the Metro project plays havoc with patience of even the most calm drivers and passengers as well.
(to be continued. .)