Friday, July 27, 2007

If you are into flowers or plants,

then Bangalore is a lovely place for you.

A splash of carnations

Bangalore has been big on cut-flowers and traditional flowers for many years now. The market for flowers is huge here and florist kiosks abound the city. You see beautiful, colorful, fresh flowers just about anywhere - Gladioli, roses, chrysanthemums, orchids, lilies, carnations, asters, and dahlias are a sight to behold.

There are many nurseries too in the city. In fact, every locality has at least a few of them. Right in this neighborhood, there are 3 nurseries that I know of. I am sure there are many more that I am not aware of. My mom used to be big on gardening, not so much anymore. It was fun to visit the nurseries with her, carry back plants, and grow them at home. These days, there are many workers available to work on your gardens. You don't even have to soil your hands! The gardeners do a fantastic job of maintaining your plants/gardens for you and offer their services regularly by planting, pruning, and maintaining your plants for you!

When in the US, my hub and I managed to have a decent number of plants. But of course, we did the entire thing ourselves from bringing home the plants, to potting them, watering them, taking care of them etc. We loved buying plants at garage/estate sales. It was fun meeting the owners of the plants; some of them would gush about their plants before selling them. We hated buying plants at stores, it seemed too commercial! Also, with experience, we realised that the plants from homes survived much better than plants from the stores. Some of our weekends were planned around getting home plants and working on them. It has been 9 months since our return and all that already seems so far away. Sigh! Beautiful memories.

Like the vegetable vendors in Bangalore, you have plant vendors too. They carry potted plants on push-carts and bring them right to your door-step! Similarly, the flower vendors bring the traditional flowers like the jasmine, chrysanthemum, crossandra, etc right to your door step as well.

It is a pleasure to visit the local florist and the local nursery. The colors and the smells are enjoyable, espeically if you are a flower lover like myself.

PS: The much awaited Lalbagh's flower show is right around the corner. It is around the time of India's independence day, Aug 15th. We plan to head out early one weekend morning to avoid the crowds.

Some pics of flowers for your visual delight straight from the local florist/nursery. Each flower pic is clickable and can be viewed large.

Have a great weekend, my friends!
You are welcome to let me know the pics you liked! :D



Yellow Daisies

Baby pink carnations

Red rose

White gladioli


Orange Gladioli

Double shaded carnation



Monday, July 16, 2007

When can a child start LKG?

I have had many queries about the age group for Kindergarten children here in Bangalore. Typically, each school has its own cut-off for when a child can start Kindergarten classes. On a broad scale, what I can say is that a child must be 4 to go to Lower Kindergarten, 5 to go to Upper Kindergarten, and 6 to go to First Standard.

The only thing is there are some schools that are extremely particular about their cut-off dates. For example, at Viday Sagar, the child MUST have completed 4 yrs as of May 31st, to start LKG on Jun 1st of any given year. But, there are lot of schools where they are not very particular and take in even 3 and 10 month olds into LKG. So, if you have a Jun born child, you do have to figure out how to go about the admission process; some of the schools may take in your child for LKG even if your child is completing 4 only in Jun and other schools may not.

In our case, our older one was born on Jun 1st '03. One of the reasons we moved in Oct '06 was to start her schooling here from Jun '07. The process in Bangalore is fairly long, what with schools giving out applications as early as Oct/Nov. Most of the schools are done with the admission process in Dec/Jan. And the important thing to know is, it is easier to get seats at LKG level than at any other. All of the seats are available, unlike for other standards when only a few seats are available for 'outsiders'. A lot of the good schools also restrict the number of students per class, so unless some kids choose to leave school, typically there aren't any seats available at higher classes. First Standard would be next bet, since some schools open up another section to accommodate more students. But from First Standard onwards, the kids have to go through aptitude tests etc to "qualify". So, R2Iing for LKG seemed like a sane choice. Please do share your experiences if you have gone through something similar.

PS: I have been so flickred, it is unbelievable! I have avoided flickr for a long time, because I knew how addictive it could be for the likes of me. But, now with the DSLR, flickr is such a default hang out. Sheesh!
I have not been active here, but I will. I promise I will.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Today is my Birthday!

July 4th - I am 33 today. Typically, I do not write anything at all about myself on this blog, but today I am making an exception to that rule.

My birthdays mean nothing much to me. But, my husband makes it special and I like that. My parents are very happy, and I am happy for them. I understand now what it means to have a child and to know that your child has completed yet another year on earth. My kids wish me and have no clue what it actually means, but I love that! So, at the end of it, the day would have meant absolutely nothing without these people in my life! I love 'em and I thank God for having them in my life!

Some random 10 things about myself, and in no particular order:
  1. I love the movies! They have defined a lot of things for me. I 'get' some of life's important lessons from the movies. Yes, there is the Gita, but give me the movies anyday! I must add that I cannot watch any and every movie. I am extremely choosy, but when I like a movie, I appreciate it whole-heartedly. I love some of the artsy/indie type, and of course I like an out and out romance or comedy movie. As long as they have a message, they have an audience in me. Some of the movies that I have truly enjoyed are listed in my profile, and of course the list doesn't cover 'em all.
  2. I totally believe in love, marriage, togetherness, romance, growing old together, going all out to follow your heart, and all that jazz. People who know me will vouch for how much this is all true for me. That said, it does not mean that I am not pragmatic; in fact far from it! Go figure. :)
  3. For a long while now, I have enjoyed the passing years. The teens and early twenties were turbulent! I have enjoyed the late 20s and the early 30s much more. The maturity and the feeling of contentment have been the big pluses.
  4. I love taking pictures. Dorothea Lange once said "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." That is so true. If you look at things through the imaginative lens of the camera, everything will look beautiful. Of late, I have begun playing around with a Canon DSLR. Don't know how far that will go, but I am enjoying it right now.
  5. I did my B. Arch in college. I chose Archi after my 12th for a variety of reasons; one of them being the creativity and the other being the ability to practice it independently and at a pace that I wanted to. I enjoyed the design aspect of it immensely as a student, but by the end of the 5 years, I kind of figured I had lost interest in the field. Sad! I did practice it for about 2 years, and I am glad I gave it up when I did. I then went off to the US and after doing computer courses, chose to work in the IT industry as a writer.
  6. I love writing. I have enjoyed it all along, but now I know it; thanks to this blog!
  7. I love colors! I appreciate all shades that are in nature. I have always wondered how the blind perceive color!
  8. As for my future plans, I have a couple of ideas, and will slowly start working towards those. And as and when the kids are in school full-time, I will have something going on in parallel.
  9. Selfishness, insensitivity, and apathy are a put off. I am a tad too sensitive about the world around me and can't digest injustice, oppression, harassment, and the rest of it. Sometimes, I avoid news if I have to. Most of the times, I wonder what I will tell my children in the years ahead?!
  10. I am thankful for being a woman. I could have neither experienced pregnancy nor become a mom without being a woman! And I am thankful for both of those, especially because I started appreciating life only after becoming a mom!
When I started with this post, I had no clue that this was what I was going to write! But, I did. And you are welcome to ask me questions. :)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

R2I - Work life, a sneak peek!

Please Note
  1. The following points cannot be generalized; they are just based on my discussions with my husband + a few interactions with some of his friends who have also R2Ied.
  2. All of them work for American tech companies in Bangalore. So, most of the points mentioned here only cover such a typical set-up.

Age: One of the aspects that stands out is the average age of the employees - much younger when compared to the average in a typical US office. Hard to say if this is good or bad, but certainly different! The slightly experienced (3-5 years) software professionals are still aiming for opportunities abroad. In an MNC, it is quite common to find the bulk of the middle management to be an R2I crowd, i.e. a crowd that has spent a significant portion of its work life outside of India.

Work Hours: The good thing is that there are really no "working hours". Most of the employees typically start coming in at around 10.00 AM and end up staying late, whether it is required or not. However, based on what I hear, sticking to your preferred work hours is doable if you are disciplined.
In general, if you are particular about spending quality time with your family, you can communicate with your team about your preferred timings, so that they can plan for meetings etc during the hours that work for you. Typically, it is up to you to convey that you will not be able to attend meetings or discussions that are outside of your preferred work hours.
Sticking to your time is more doable if you are an independent contributor than a manager working in tandem with a team. The good thing is a lot more companies are opening up to the value of individual contributors.
Late night or early morning conference calls that you can attend to from home are a given; a majority of the work at middle-senior level will almost always involve working very closely with partners, colleagues, or clients in other countries.

Commute: On commute, less said the better! You have the choice of living close to your work place, which will work well. And if you cannot do that, you can choose to commute during off-peak hours - before 8.00 AM or after 10.30 AM and before 5.00 PM or after 9.30 PM. My husband leaves home at around 7.30 AM and starts from work at around 5.00 PM and it seems to definitely be working for him, since we cannot live close to his work for other reasons.

Work Culture: Apparently, things are more "casual" at work in general than in the US. People seem to chat and “hang out" more than in a typical office in the US, where people are a lot more focused. This may be relaxing or distracting, whichever way you choose to look at it.
For people who have not worked in India before: Typically people do not address their seniors as ‘Sir / Madam’ in this industry.
In general, there seems to be an eagerness to want the title of a 'manager'. It looks to predominantly be a cultural issue; it is kind of considered that you have “arrived” if you are a manager and have people reporting to you. However, this is slowly changing - where some of them seem to be opting for the role of individual contributors and are also more comfortable with the responsibilities that come with it.
And if there's a cricket match going on (especially an interesting one), things are a lot more flexible. You know how it is with cricket!!

Travel - Overseas/India: Travel of some sort is always a given. And if you are back with work experience from abroad, you are very likely going to be traveling overseas to meet your teams, clients almost on a regular basis. This cannot be avoided too much, and is part of the deal!

Interiors & Facilities: On the whole, very nice office spaces and interiors. In most of the offices, the cubicles are designed to seat 2, 3, or 4 people. Some companies do provide individual cubicles, however these are few and far between. Many companies provide gyms, pool tables, ping-pong tables, carrom boards, fooz ball tables, etc.

Cafeteria: There is good food for lunch in the cafeteria. Usually, you get really good Indian food. Some offices apparently have 3 different counters - one for North Indian, one for South Indian and the another serving "diet" food! (My husband wishes that they serve desi Chinese at his place of work! I am quite sure there are companies where they do this too.) In certain campuses that house multiple companies, there are food courts where different cuisines are served. In general the peak lunch hour is between 1.00 and 2.00 PM.

Please add your own experiences/thoughts in the comments section.

Going forth, I will be writing about work opportunities for R2Iers and also taking a general look at the market salaries for the returning Indians. Watch the R2Blore space!