India 2017- A Trip in Review

First in a series of posts on my Big fat Indian Wedding in India and random thoughts of my trip to India in December of 2016

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In the last month of 2016, My daughter and I went to India for the first time in o
ver6 years. We went for an Indian wedding and to say we had the time of our lives would be an understament.

India
India 

To see India as a native is also an experience that was eye opening. There is no country that is more diverse and has sense of pride than India. This country is a super power and you see this everywhere!

As many of my readers know, my writing is infused with a sense of humor. Over the next few postings, I’ll convey to you my views on what I saw during my vacation in Mumbai, Goa, Pune and back to Mumbai. Many of my opinions will invoke responses (hopefully). Much of what I saw and my thoughts should be just considered my views and treated with the humor and realism, I try to inject into my postings.

When I go to India, I am a foreigner.

  • I’m what they refer to as an IBCD (Indian Born confused Desi (slang term for a person of Indian Origin)). This year when I went to India with my beautiful 24 year old daughter, I went with an open mind and went without the normal prejudices I bring to the table when I visit India.

My experience in India was amazing! The changes in the lifestyle of the people that call India home (regardless of whether they live there or are NRI’s like myself), has progressed tremendously.

Some ramblings to start:

  • Be prepared to walk – When you get off the plane, the huge rebuilt terminals are just that.. huge and spacious.. your walk from your plane to immigration and customs will be at least 10 to 20 minutes. The vastness of the international airport in India is a sight to behold. The same holds true for the aiport in Goa.  What you experience in these terminals is for another posting.
  • Your Dollar goes further – If you are coming from United States, you are already at an advantage as you are getting a favorable return on currency. One dollar equals $67 Rupees. This number might make you feel rich, but the fact is that even with this favorable returns on currency exchange, it is quite expensive to get around (be it by taxi or other mode of transportation).
  • Currency and De-Monitization: 2016 was the year of demonitization of the 500 and 1000 rupee note.. this made getting money via ATM, via currency exchange an adventure. Empty ATM machines and Limitations on how much you can exchange for currency for me was quite restrictive. At the airport, I could only exchange $40 for local currency!
  • Change Anyone? Make sure you have plenty of cash on hand and change. Due to de-monitization and the basics how things run in India.. Don’t expect to get change easily.. So everytime you get change for currency you are using for payments, treasure it. You will need it!
  • Rules of the Road: There are none.Forget the concept of normalacy and organized traffic patterns  when it comes to automotive traffic and travel. The law of the land is “If u are in a car, Look Forward only, and lane indications are just for sake of having them“.  Remember that when you cross the streets.. you need to always look “right-left-right” and if you are an NRI, for the first few days, you are always looking the wrong direction when crossing ANY street!
  • Traffic is a mess, but rarely do you see any car that has dents or has been damaged due to an accident. The patience and skills that drivers in India show is amazing.. I have to applaud the patience of every single driver that is in a car, motorcycle, scooter, bus, taxi, rickshaw… and any other vehicle that is on the road!
  • Technology in India is at par with what we see in the US. In certain thing we have been left in the dust. Can you get a dual Sim phone in the US for less than $80?
  • Travel is divided into multiple categories: Pedestrian, Car, Public Transport, or Taxi (can be rickshaw, or taxi). Yes there is even Uber in most cities in India!
  • Travel Light: You can literally go to India with a carry on and get everything you need within 24 hours! With Malls and markets readily available buying d Clothes is not a big deal.. be they Indian or western (for me that’s Jeans, shorts and short sleeves).. So my suggestion is pack light and leave lots of room for souvenirs and clothes that you MUST buy!
  • Family is family – For me I met I attended my first real “Big Fat Indian Wedding”. The size of my family is huge and to meet them in one fell swoop is not only overwhelming, it’s touching. Considering I have 17 first cousins and each of them have a few kids, the family in attendance at the wedding was huge!
  • Curb your apppetite – With India comes food. You get the best variety of food in the world. Be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian. If you are looking for beef you are out of luck! Cows are sacred in Hindu religion, so you will not get any beef (or at least I didn’t find any) in Mumbai). Friendly advice… if your stomach is weak, make sure you take enough meds to settle your stomach, otherwise you will be making constant trips to the bathroom.. Most of these will not be pleasant as you will be running there! I was lucky.. I only had only 24 hours of this unpleasantness, but the symptoms were around constantly!
  • Security – India is very secure. With all the threats of terrorism, you will see plenty of armed military from the time you land to the time you leave. You will not feel insecure when it comes to this. At times this is overwhelming, but you will see that this is absolutely necessary with the world we live in.

There is so much more that I can write about my trip. I’ll use the next few postings over the next few days to give you my spin on my trip. 

 

Dad’s words to remember

Dad, where does money come from? Will I lose it all?

My oldest just got graduated from college (yeah me and yeah her!)…

Today I came across a posting that made me think.. hmm.. how much of my advice about money was truly useful.  Take a look at this article in Money Advice.

Now why did I like this article? Well growing up, only gave me one advice and I think it was the worst advice any father can give to his child. He told me:

If you don’t save your money, one day you will lose it all“. Can you imagine the impact of that kind of harshness it has on the long term psyche of a maturing teenager? Well because of these wise words, I grew up being always afraid that I would become poor if I spent money and didn’t enjoy life.. I tried to squirrel away as much money as possible. This was good and bad..

I did manage to save money, but it didn’t stop me from getting into debt..

I always wanted to enjoy life, but had to reel myself in.. Instead of encouraging me to be cautious.. he just flat out said “you will lose it, with your desires“. Again a double whammy

So I as grew up and earned more and more money, I became even more afraid of losing all of my financial independence.. It affected all parts of my life.. I was determined to overcome this personality glitch and it took me a long time, but I think through my kids, I’ve turned the tide on this.

My kids were always taught to be in balance with spending and saving.. Yes they do what they want no mattr what Dad says.. but overall they are quite well adjusted when it comes to money..

 

Gas Money

Dad’s taxi is

Updated on 02/13/12: I figured that I’d go back to this topic since we had another implosion on this issue at my home today. Of course the conversation ended the same way as always.. Everybody stomping off in their respective spaces and being furious.

What is the right balance? Should a Dad just bite the bullet and accept the fact that his almost 20-year-old just doesn’t get it?

Maybe I am wrong. I should just accept the fact that until the “circle of life” comes around and bites someone in the a*%, they just will not get it. Getting a part-time job for a few hours a week is pretty un-reasonable (As working at McDonalds, is a step down in the social status).  Yes even as I sit here in front of my computer screen, I realize that me being a staunch supporter of the work ethic and responsibility is truly unreasonable.

For now, I’ll just continue to provide full and absolute maintenance and caring of the car and P will continue to use it to her benefit.. of course until it breaks down and Dad has to get it fixed.

When I sit back, I think I am being pretty logical to expect today’s x/y generation child to behave in this manner  Things just are given without actually earning it.

The words still reverberate in my mind when she was 13 and I first bought my “New Car”: “Dad, thanks for buying the car. Of course you know,  this car will be mine when I turn 18”. Hmm. I should have seen things for what they were at that time. Almost a sense of deja vu, but into the future. I even offered my “other car” my Oddessy but no way, that care was way “uncool” for a teenager to drive. Gosh, when I was growing up, if my dad would have offered me his Dodge Dart for Free, I’d have done the happy song.  But as the kids say today: “That was then, this is now. We just cannot be seen in an un-cool car Dad!”.

Oh well, tomorrow the brakes, then soon after the tires… After all Dad’s Taxi (My old Highlander” is no longer my tax)i, but something that I watch coming in and out of the driveway.

Am I being unreasonable? Let me know what you think..

 

*****Original post is below.

Last night I had an extensive and animated conversation with my older daughter about gas money. Specifically whose responsibility is it to pay for Gas for the car SHE drives to and from college and to drive her BFF’s around in. Needless to say.. Dad was the bad cop because he insisted on that his daughter pay for gas since he paid all the other expenses related to the car..

What do you think? If Dad pays for everything (maintenance, insurance, registration) isn’t it fair to ask the her of the car to pay for Gas? Especially when the driver does have a job which can pay for gas? Yes she doesn’t make a lot of money.. but as I remember, when I was growing up (in the ancient 70’s), I financed my car including all maintenance! Yes that 1972 Plymouth Duster should could eat up gas!

Of course many people can say “That was then, this is now Dad”, but as part of a parents responsibility is to teach their children fiscal responsibility and being able to properly determine which are fixed expenses (gas, utilities, RENT) and which are discretionary (Gifts and entertainment).

Don’t get me wrong.. my daughter is a great kid, but when it comes to money..the buck stops there. Literally!

See when she was unemployed, I paid all the expenses for my car which she uses. Now that she has some income coming in, I felt it’s time we had some equality with expense sharing.. Again, Dad is the bad cop for even asking for this!

What do you think? Am I being unreasonable? I won’t ask this question in my household in near future as my daughter now has gotten her gas funding from her… Mom..

Blogging For Gifts – A teenager’s Lesson

A teenager taking a bribe for a writeup on TechCrunch and it’s ramifications.

As I was sitting this morning watching the snow accumulate from my office window, I came across this article that made me think.. “Is it bribery or is it capitalism to get compensation to Blog as an intern?”

Techcrunch (Excellent covering technology news, Web 2.0 )is a well respected blog that I subscribe to and I was reading the aplology they  issued issued about the teenager (I will only use the intern’s initials here (DB)) they fired when DB admitted to taking compensation  (gifts) for blogging about a startup he was doing a write up on.. The intern in question was of course suspended and terminated, but it raised for me a moral dilemma.

Question: Are we as  bloggers are morally obligated to NOT accept compensation in any form, or is it acceptable get compensated for our write ups?

When I used to blog on Blogger, earning money from my blog was encouraged.  I know here at WordPress this against the “rules of usage”.  I totally respect this principle

DB was wrong with what he did, but have you googled, blogging for revenue? You will get thousands of ideas on how you can make money from blogging. I think DB took this idea to an extreme and as I can see from his posting, he truly apologetic for his error in judgement. Yet, for me as a teenager (I’m role playing here) being offered (requesting) compensation, I think the temptation to be compensated for my writing would be too great.

As parents we teach our children “to do the right thing” yet we also encourage them “to reach for the stars”,  be it via achievements,  financially or  socio-economicallly.

Yes what DB did was wrong.. Yet, I would think that society’s morals need to be questioned here. What would you do?  When I sit back and think, this answer is hard for me to answer.

On one hand I applaud DB for making the most of his opportunity. On the other hand, I think what DB did was reprehensible. I’m actually torn between these two emotions.

Have I gone off my moral compass? I probably have, but after what I see in the corporate world on a day by day basis, the rewards for being diligent and hard work is at times highly suspect.  In many corporation, it’s not what you know or how you do it, it ‘s the perception of what you do to reach your objectives.. Yet this is a topic for another day.

DB’ s apology on his site is genuine no doubt. Yet in this capitilistic society, did the punishment fit the crime?

From DB’s Blog entry:

This is the first day of the next learning stage for me. Yes, I am young, but from here, I can only learn more. To my family, friends, colleagues and especially, TechCrunch, I am sorry. I am taking this entire experience, learning and moving on.

I’m sure that this is one of the most controversial postings I’ve made AND I’m leaving myself open to flames from my readers..