After having stayed in the US for nearly 15 years, Peeyush Ranjan and Mallika recently decided to shift base to Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, along with their two kids.
Peeyush is now the head of engineering (R&D) at Google India while Mallika continues to work with Microsoft. Read their experiences after moving back home:
Why did we return to India?
After talking to a lot of people it seems apparent that moving to India is harder than moving back to US (when people do return). We all know the pros and ease of living in the US, things are way more streamlined, so I guess the question is why voluntarily leave it in the first place. The reason that has struck most to me is - to try something new and gain a few more experiences in life. Hopefully these experiences are enriching to your career, your kid’s outlook of this world and to your parent’s/relatives’ relationship with you.
We had a very easy move in many ways and have settled in with few issues here. I am the one with most problems adjusting amongst the four of us but after seeing how my kids perceive the world now, how amazing Diwali was with my parents and how much my spouse is growing and learning at work I have little doubt this was a good decision.
I have jotted down some pros and cons and also some things that surprised me a little.
Pros of moving to India:
- Can be great career move and an opportunity to try new things at a lower cost – India is just a different ball game and even I am hyper excited about startups and the market here.
- Closer to family – can’t stress the benefit of this enough.
- Children see a different world – can make them have a more global outlook and be more charitable.
- Help at home – allows you to do more and have better vacations.
- Certain luxuries are very affordable - personal trainer daily, photography workshops, getting a home theater setup.
- Celebrate festivals like we did when we were kids.
- Travel more in and around India – amazing places are 2-3hr flight away - Sri Lanka to Dubai to Macau and rest of Asia.
- Food – I loved the food in US but am enjoying the diversity and availability of my favorite foods here.
Cons of moving to India from US:
- India is expensive if you want to live like an American. On the other hand money can get most things done for you easily.
- Lack of parks, good hiking trails and things for kids to do on weekends.
- Attention to detail and reliability is missing in work and people here.
- Pollution (not so bad in Bangalore), noise, traffic and general dirtiness.
- Bureaucracy – knowing people who know people. US is more straightforward in how we deal with people and things.
- Being nice is not the way to go – you need to toughen up.
- Kids can get spoilt with help and get impervious to poverty. They can also imbibe the above mentioned cons rather easily - throw rubbish out of window, etc.
- Easy availability of everything is missing – HDMI cable to cookie dough to latest iPhone. You can get a lot in India these days but still it is nothing like walking into Frys or Costco or Trader Joes in the US. Same goes for internet reliability and bandwidth – so if you are someone who thrives on being on the cutting edge of tech. it can be issue at times.
Things I thought would be cons but are not:
- Relatives visiting all the time – I love it now. I am not the one cleaning up the rooms or figuring out dinner. They come, play with kids and it all makes me feel closer to them.
- Weather and bugs – Bangalore is actually rather pleasant weather wise and bug free.
- Noisy neighbors, etc – People are busy and not interested in gossiping about you.
- School and education – I was unsure if it would be good or the style would suit my kids but there are plenty of schools here and we found one that works great for us. Kids are learning a lot and loving it.
Things I did not worry about but are cons:
- Long work hours and travelling – this maybe the nature of the work you do but you do end up syncing up more with US and thus your nights are pretty busy regardless of the day schedule.
- Managing domestic help – I have great help but still keeping health, emotions and working dynamics of some seven people on a daily basis is management overhead.
- Lack of independence – not driving, knowing the place. It is hard to be dependent and feel lost in a city but this is something that will go away with time.
- Making new friends - after living in Seattle for 13 years it is hard to let go and after a certain age it is harder to make friends.
- Being nice is underrated – people will take advantage of you, you will not get things done.
The other big problem I hear about is getting sick. If kids get sick in first few months it spoils the move for everyone. Then the whole family wants to return and that feeling engrains itself in the family for a long time. Also, if you do plan to move make a rule that, regardless of how miserable you may be feeling at that moment, you will never say that you want to return in front of the kids.
There is good and there is bad but once you decide it is the attitude that matters. Keep it positive and enjoy the good that each place has. US or India they both have pros – make the best of it.