Wednesday, March 28, 2007

R2I - Tips for an R2I move

In my previous post, I made a list of things that you can take and some that you don't need to take with you if you are winding down and returning to India for good. On the same lines, here's another post with some pointers for your move back home. Some of which maybe useful to you.
  1. Do you have kids? Would you be carrying back diapers for them? If so, use all the diapers that you will be taking back for future use as fillers in packing. They keep everything in place and provide good support! :) That's what we did, and everything came back in perfect shape, almost exactly like how we had packed it back home.
  2. I had already mentioned the shipping service that we used here. They are called WorldWide Ocean and Air Shipping Lines Inc. We didn't have any issues either in the US or in Bangalore. When the boxes arrived in Bangalore, they called hub. He went to the warehouse where custom officials checked the boxes. All this was very easy and there were no problems whatsoever. I have also heard from others that all shipping companies do a good job and typically make it all very easy for the customers.
  3. It took exactly 2 months for the boxes to arrive in Bangalore. So, definitely pack the stuff you need for the first 2 months in your suitcases.
  4. Do see if you can ship your stuff a little ahead of your flying out. The reason is, if the boxes are shipped out, then you can focus on your suitcases. Will contain the chaos. :) We shipped almost 2 weeks ahead of flying out.
  5. I took care of most of the selling and giving away of the stuff in our Calif home. I used 'Craigslist' tremendously for selling things. You almost get buyers for everything.
  6. I was also a member in the local 'Freecycle'. So anything that I wasn't selling and that my friends also didn't need or want, I gave it away to people in the Freecycle mailing list. Very useful!
  7. Another helpful tip: We sold both our cars on Sulekha. Initially, we tried selling them on Craigslist, but that didn't work. Dealers list their cars for selling on Craigslist. This clogs the listings on Craigs Autos a lot. However, on Sulekha it was very easy to find Indian buyers who were honest and who made it easy for us. Typically, they also let you keep your car till the last day and arrage for picking it up only when you are completely done! Awesome, eh?
  8. It will get pretty hectic over the last few weeks; especially the last couple of days. However, do make time to visit your friends and relatives for a goodbye. I think we enjoyed that the best. :)
Anything else? Do let me know.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

R2I - What to take and what not to take?

If you are planning on an R2I, one of the things you will find yourself wondering about is what to take back and what not to take back. Though I may not be able to provide a comprehensive list, I can paint a picture of what is available here and what is not.

What to take
  1. Definitely toys. The same toys here cost you double of what it would cost you in USD there. For example, a Fisher Price magno-doodle board costs about $15 (Rs. 690) in Calif, but costs about Rs. 1500 here! So, I really put toys over and above everything else! Really, it is a great deal for you to shop there and ship, than to buy them here! I would also recommend getting Ryan's Room's toys only because they would be very unique here, and I have not seen anything like that here.
  2. Stuff from Ikea, if you like Ikea things. Please limit it to smaller things, like useful things around the kitchen (place mats, heat pads, spice racks etc) or for the bathroom. Some knick-knacks maybe. As for furniture pieces, you can get them custom made from an Ikea catalogue!! It is sad, but true. You get lots of Ikea furniture replicas here.
  3. If you like and use the reusable kitchen towels, then definitely those because I haven't seen any of those here. I find those VERY useful to keep all the counter surfaces clean.
  4. Branded clothes for the whole family, if you want. The same stuff is more expensive here. You do get Dockers, Levis, and the like, here. However, you are so much better off shopping at an outlet mall there.
  5. Good quality children's clothes are expensive here, compared to the US. You can consider buying a few bigger sizes of clothes for the kids from Mervyn's, The Children's Place etc when they have a sale going on. Clothes here are cheaper compared to Gymboree. :) Just trying to give an idea about the pricing here. But the quality of clothes there is definitely so much better for children.
  6. You do get varieties of microwavable and air-tight box containers here for the kitchen. However, just for style, maybe you can get a few from there.
  7. Branded perfumes. I have seen some malls carry branded perfumes here. In fact, I have seen Hugo Boss here. However, I have not seen Chanel, Burberry, Prada, etc.
  8. If you have cell phones that will work in India, definitely do not leave them behind.
  9. If you like anything in particular from Bed, Bath and Beyond, Cost Plus, Discovery Channel store, or any of those specialty stores.
  10. Bedding sets. We liked the comforters and fitted sheets, so we got a few of those. But otherwise, you do get some lovely bedding sets here. However, I am yet to see any fitted sheets anywhere here.
  11. Medical and dental records. Typically, you will have to apply for them at your doc's office. The offices will need about a week or so to process your request.
  12. Consider taking back with you a US phone number. It will be especially useful for the first few months after coming to India. You can get a VoIP service such as Vonage, which works with any broadband service in India. You get a US telephone number and calls to any number in the US are free. Calls to Canada, UK, Italy, Spain and a few more countries are free too. This helps you "feel" connected even after the move. The usage of such a service itself is in the grey, here. Some say it is illegal. So, please do it at your discretion.
  13. Lastly, all things that are close to your heart. If you are sentimental about anything, please pack 'em and don't think twice. You may not forgive yourself later. :)
What not to take
  1. Furniture. Bangalore has really come far in terms of style and variety. There are tons of fantastic furniture stores and you get tons of really good pieces. You can skip bringing furniture from the US. By skipping the furniture, you can keep the volume of your shipping down.
  2. Kitchen pots and pans. You get tons and truckloads here. You can skip the Corelle kinds of tableware, cause you do get those right here.
  3. Mattress - I wanted to very badly lug ours across the globe. But we didn't. I am glad, cause we got to choose from some very good ones here.
  4. If you are paying for the shipping, I would suggest you skip carrying back TV sets, refrigerators, washing machines, dish washers etc, because you do get all kinds and varieties here. If the shipping is paid for, then carry back anything you want. I must add though, you do get very good plasma and LCD televisions here.
Hope this helps. And if you are wondering about anything in particular, let me know and I will add it to this list.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Help stop the stray dog killings in Bangalore

Reproducing a mail forward from Usha. PLEASE READ and do what you can! PLEASE! Yes, 2 kids were mauled to death by dogs, but the killings is not the solution!! We cannot let this happen.

I just want to give the links to a couple of posts that I have written about the stray dogs in Bangalore.
On Bangalore Metroblogging - New Kids on the block
Earlier on my Blog - Street dog menace

Please help to save the stray dogs of Bangalore from indiscriminate killing ... Here's how you can help:
  • please read the email below to understand the issue, and to see why Animal Birth Control is the only strategy that is both humane and effective in controlling the stray dog population.
  • please sign this Online petition
  • please read these related blogs - savebangalorestrays , catsofbangalore (note: they describe the cruelty being inflicted on the dogs, and they are not easy reading)
  • please take a few moments to blog about it and spread the word...
  • please write to the media expressing your protest.

Dear Friends,

Excuse me for taking your time - but this is a shocking tale of how an inefficient administration unable to do its job well can recourse to barbarism to find short-term solutions to its problems. So please, please read - and pass on the message to anyone who cares that the BANGALORE LOCAL AUTHORITIES ARE BRUTALLY MURDERING THOUSANDS OF DOGS ON THE STREETS!

I would begin by regretting deeply the two incidents of children getting mauled in Bangalore. For those who are not from Bangalore, allow me to bring you up the curve - these were two unfortunate incidents of children being mauled by stray dogs recently in semi-rural Bangalore. Anyone living in a city would be familiar with such incidents - an urban "Man-Animal Conflict" phenomenon which is sad and avoidable. Both incidents have happened in peripheral areas where the CNVR program (Catch Neuter Vaccinate Release/ABC) has NOT been implemented.

Obviously, the media of this city went to town over this, glossing over the menace and pointed fingers at the local authorities. The authorities passed the buck on to the NGO's, without any compassionate or scientific understanding of the problem. What followed was a diktat of the worst kind: a death sentence to all dogs on the streets of this so-called advanced technopolis.

This solution suggested by the Bangalore authorities to KILL EVERY STRAY DOG (numbering in hundreds of thousands) is the most primitive and barbaric one can imagine, and only points to their ineptness and apathy to the real problem at hand.

In a knee jerk reaction to unwarranted hype, thousands of animals have been subjected to death by strangulation, crushing their skulls with boulders after bleach thrown in the eyes to make the animal blind and docile. After living and working in 4 metros, I cannot recall any city ever coming up with such a solution to the challenge of strays.

We followed a dog-catching vehicle (KA03 9906) this morning to the KR Puram CMC Office where we were brow-beaten and forced to retreat. The secret information was that the animals would be taken the same night for execution in a village outside Hosakote. The sentence: To be beaten to death or crushed with stones.

But what I saw will live in my memory forever: The physical abuse that the white female was going through was horrific: I stopped one catcher from beating her with a Plank embedded with two nails - you can see the blood spouting and staining the catch-leash.

In the cage we have seen two animals had died of strangulation and the bodies dumped inside. Other dogs were on the on the point of suffocation: the atmosphere was dreadful with howling and wailing, possibly with the knowledge of impending death.

Here I must mention that I petted many of these so called ferocious animals without any problem.

The insane aspect about the entire exercise is that the tame dogs who have no fear at all of humans are the ones being caught as they come willingly to the dog catchers when called, who are getting paid Rs.50 for their "fearless" acts. These animals have no fear of man, but an understanding and a relationship with man, which is often their undoing. Hence, like the tame animal with the red collar and Clipped ear we saw being caught, they can be easily caught and tortured to death.

Tragically almost all the dogs have already been neutered and vaccinated. Their absence will allow potentially dangerous animals to penetrate into the area from rural surroundings where there is no control on disease or Rabies.

The rational solution, which any person with an iota of sense and sensitivity will see, is not by eliminating every dog but by scientifically controlling the population to keep out the real strays that have not been neutered and vaccinated. As mentioned earlier, in many peripheral areas around Bangalore, where the CNVR program(Catch Neuter Vaccinate Release/ABC) has NOT been implemented, there is a problem. But this Hitleresque "Final Solution" is definitely not a step in the right direction.

The situation can best be termed as barbaric and deplorable. We request all to appeal to the CMC's and put pressure on them to immediately stop catching dogs if they are Collared or have been Vaccinated and Neutered.( Identified By Clipped Ear). All un-neutered dogs should be caught and sent consequently for the CVNR program.

We have taken photographs of what we saw this morning. But they are disturbing, and we decided not to include them in this mail. If you want to see how "man's best friends" are being treated in this city, please write back and we can forward them to you. Please forward this message to all you know who care. Especially those in the media - please help by bringing this news out to the public as you can make a difference and stop this bloodbath.

Jeremy & Anirban

Jeremey D'Souza: +9198450 72484, 28516894

Anirban Bhattacharya: +9199456 89828


"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between dogs and men." - Mark Twain