Leaving Paradise for India

#1 Apr 21st, 2006, 15:16
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  • Kazi is offline
#1
So we are thinking about moving to India. As you know, air travel in India is booming and my husband, a pilot for a popular plane flown in India, has several job possibilities in the works at the moment. So we are considering giving up our relaxed island life (we literally live in paradise) with mango, coconut, lemon, mandarin, and papaya trees scattered about our yard to come to India for what? Money and adventure for 3-5 years. Throw into this mix, a newborn baby. What to do what to do?

So the facts, or as close as I can get to them:
* We would either live in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bangladore, or an undisclosed city in the northeastern part of India. Where would I want to live? I would like clean air and green space or India's best approximation to that.
* We have a house and animals in paradise that we could leave for a few years in the care of good friends. Our jobs we can probably walk back into after 3-5 years abroad. BUT we have two small animals whose happiness depends on our presence in their lives. Can we take them? Is it fair? Will it drive me crazy?
* Husband and I are a mixed race couple. He is SE Asian and I am caucasian American. I have seen references made to race relations and wonder how we would fare. Discrimination or just curiosity? The little guy will be a beautiful blend of course, how will he be treated?
* Little guy is due in September and we would probably move in November. (Just found out he's a boy too!)
* Our days currently consist of working a few hours (5 or 6 usually) a day, then off to the beach or a pool or coffee with friends or TV in bed with air con or book and hammock or squash or walk outside with siesta time always free and most afternoons from 2 onwards totally free for us. Very chill existence. I get the impression, India will be anti-chill.
* The money in India is more than twice what we could hope to make here even with me not working unless I wanted to and the cost of living is 1/2 or 1/3. Paradise is expensive! With the $$ in India we could pay off our house in paradise in 1-2 years, fix it up, have some grand vacations, start saving for retirement, Little Guy's uni... Vacation time is better too. The perks of his job are much much better than here except for the fact that there is almost no air traffic here so flying is a joy, not a job. India will be quite different with almost double the hours. Our lifestyle will be very cushy in India, but it ain't so bad here either (nanny, house help, etc. in both places).
* I have traveled around the world a few times and lived overseas long term in China, Taiwan, Mexico City, and paradise (as a Peace Corps volunteer). Husband travels to Fiji, Bangkok, Australia, China regularly but has never lived anywhere but paradise, and a year in paradise's neighbor, French speaking paradise. He is an island boy in love with sunshine and saltwater and outdoor sports. I have to admit I love that stuff too.
* We probably won't have the opportunity to visit India before we have to make a decision.

So the questions:
*Is India worth it?
*Will I survive? Will WE survive?
*Would you do that to your newborn baby?
*How much is money worth?
*What about my pets? (Ok, maybe I am more attached to them than they are to me... but they are the cutest little dog and cat...)

Now I am just trying to workshop my feelings by getting them out...

Life here is good in many ways but disparity between classes is growing and resulting not in annoying ways like begging but in violence. Slowly but surely we are heading towards PNG like crime. It is also a small place with lots of ghosts and small town mentality. There are weird little "cliques" that as a relative newcomer, I don't have any idea about but will suddenly be ostracized or talked about for associating with the wrong one. It is a social minefield. And finally, I loathe my job. The only job I have ever liked less was being the "shot girl" at a college bar because it was degrading and I had to clean the toilets.

So I know no one can tell me what to do. I just want something to chew on. What do I need to consider that I am not? Give me some words of wisdom. From people who have been there and done that, would you regret making a change such as this, if only temporary? Are we crazy for thinking of giving up paradise? Are we crazy for not jumping at this opportunity in India? My sense of adventure is not dead for sure, and were I a single lass of 25 again, I would jump at the chance to live and work in India (and indeed was begging for this opportunity only 3 years ago when I went to China). But with Little Guy to think about and Husband's happiness to consider too, I hesitate to jump in with both feet. Husband wants to get out of this place he has lived in for 30+ years to see the world, but I am afraid he doesn't fully grasp the difference between here and there. And definitely underestimates the throes of culture shock. Patience is not his strong suit and something like India could either help him develop it or drive him mad. His ultimate dream is to fly in Africa so this could definitely be a step in the right direction for that.

Any advice would really be appreciated. I have read some insightful posts and feel comfortable on IM already. Thanks in advance.
#2 Apr 21st, 2006, 15:40
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  • Indojingai is offline
#2
Hi: welcome to IM.

I havent read thru all the writing but I think if you take a short trip to India before deciding which city to live in it will set your expectations right. Cos India is no paradise. Its a developing nation full of warm hearted people.

If there's a bun in the oven, this option will be difficult though.

Best luck.
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#3 Apr 21st, 2006, 15:49
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#3
Wow.

What a decision to make.

Toss a coin. See how you feel immediately after it lands. If the outcome brings relief or elation, you know that's the right choice. If it is disappointment and you wish to toss the coin again, you'll also know what you really want!

Ok, more seriously, you've got so many issues to think about, it's impossible for any outsider to give them the kind of relative value only you can. I understand you won't exactly be burning any bridges if you do leave, so why not go for it? Besides, paradise seems to have its own share of snakes slithering around...

India will give you chance to stretch and transform your sense of self and life. That is the most rewarding experience I can think of.

Just a few thoughts. All the best to you and your family! And as Indojingai says, it's definitely a good idea to check first if you can...
#4 Apr 21st, 2006, 16:30
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#4
There is an acute shortage of pilots in India so many foreign pilots are coming over. I hope ur husband speaks English fluently... all ATC's talk in English... route checks are difficult takes long time because of the distances ... does he fly Boeing or Airbus? Is he trained on CAT-IIIB?
#5 Apr 21st, 2006, 17:15
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#5
After going through your post I must say that it will be quite difficult to adjust here in India specially in Metro cities. Pollution , dirt , noise , lack of greenery will be difficult to handle . So think seriously before taking any decesion. If you like to settle in india then consider the coastal area specially the western side.
"If you smile at me I will understand, because that is something everyone everywhere does in the same language"
#6 Apr 21st, 2006, 17:34
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#6
So you are considering taking your pets to India. DON'T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!

The flight and transfers are hard on pets. The airlines do not report how many pets are injured, lost or die in transit. I have flown with pets twice. Once to Germany and back to the US, and another time for a short trip during which my cat was in a soft carrier under my seat. The flights overseas were stressful for the cats - they had to be tranquilized, which in itself is dangerous because there is no monitoring of the pets during the flight. I watched in horror when my pets were left on the runway on a blazing hot day in Texas. Of course, this is against airline policy....all pets are to be hand carried from the airport loading area to the plane. On the occasion that my cats were left to bake in the sun, I noticed what was happening and raised hell. They were taken inside (as if that were a difficulty for the flight staff) until the flight was ready to load. There was a large furry dog waiting with my cats suffering in the hot Texas sun. Fortunately, I got to my pets before they were injured.

Flying with pets is never easy. If the pets are crated in the belly of the plane, they can still be injured or lost. Just recently, a prized Whippet was lost at JFK Airport because of mishandling by the airport crew. The animal has not been found yet.

Are you willing to put your pets in jeopardy? Leave them in the states with friends or family, Please!!!!!!!

Lindakka
#7 Apr 21st, 2006, 19:16
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  • Nick-H is offline
#7
Wow. From paradise to paradise

Depending on how you like India! You certainly won't be getting much clean air in the cities here.

What a decision to have to make. I guess most of us here would go for it, because most of here love India and most of us don't have such a wonderful life in paradise already!

Just looking at the financial aspects I think you should do it ---- how much more fun would it be than being offered a contract with similar possibilities, say in cold, horrid London?

Now, the baby. Hmmmm...... Get proffesional advice. about things like maleria. My off-the-cuff totaly-uninformed and unqualified guess/opinion is that baby's immune system will fit in quicker and better than yours will.

The pets.... Another vote for leaving them at home.

Your post is fascinating, and I'll come back and read it again tomorrow ---must go out now.
~
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#8 Apr 21st, 2006, 20:03
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#8
Well, everyone has a different idea of what paradise is. We gave up a rented cottage in a forest to come out to India, ok not much I guess but to us it was our paradise and the only place I ever lived in UK that I really would look forward to going home to. It was a tough decision and we even tried to figure out a way of keeping up the rent payments whilst away or even subletting the place but it was not possible.

I still miss the place and dream about it and it would be just ace if the current tenant happened to be vacating when we return in September.

as for India though, not a single regret, I call it the most frustrating fun you can have in a country, I've become more educated about culture, the world, people and my own self being in 2 years in India than the whole rest of my life, there are too many pitfalls and sacrifices to mention at first but it does get easier and you learn to live with things and accept them but I really believe that anyone who has a year or more of their life living India will return to their home one day a much better, stronger and confident person than they ever dreamed they would be!

My advice would be to just do it, I would agree about leaving the pets home though, that just wouldn't be fair although I do know of people who have done it but they never really had an idea of the welfare of their pets on the journey.

As for the new baby, strangely enough there must be at least a dozen babies born in India every day As Nick said, being born here he will develop a much stronger immune system than you or your current family will but you need to make some further investigation into that yourself.

If its a city you end up in then it is gonna be polluted but that doesnt mean you have to live in a heavy polluted part of the city, I dont see smog from my balcony but 3km up the road it is thick with it.

Once you get accustomed to how to live and get your own place as comfortable as possible then life will surely become a whole lot better even though this may take a few months and the spare cash you'll have for internal holidays here will be well spent, get on a plane every weekend for a few dollars and see somewhere new, thats what we do!

If you hate the place you can always return but if you stay put you'll never know how or whether India might really enrich your life. Friends here with two young kids that arrived last year have regretted nothing and have no desire to return to the UK, ever!!

Enjoy!

Malc
#9 Apr 21st, 2006, 21:17
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#9
dreaming of a hell? even before arrival.
Hmm I think u enjoy when u have a open mind and better feeling of the place u visit.
#10 Apr 21st, 2006, 23:13
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#10
The only thing I'd STRONGLY recommend would be to leave the pets at home.

We're working our way towards a move to South India. My wife grew up there and I've visited 4 times out of the last six years. It's still a very difficult decision . If you're keen on having a life altering experience and willing to take the bad with the good, I'd say go for it.

We're planning to initially move to Bangalore in spite of the terrible pollution problems there. The climate of Karnataka is much more agreable than the other cities you've tossed out. If you live with mango trees now you'll probably be much more adapted to the heat than myself. I find the South more relaxed than the North.

We decided that for many reasons it would be best to start our family in the US before moving. Our little boy is due in about 46 days. Education is something worth paying close attention. Schools can be quite good there but not necessarily well rounded. Also, we are looking to live in a more rural environment which will make schooling much more of a challenge.

I think some of your questions like "How much is money worth?" are too vague to be answered.
#11 Apr 21st, 2006, 23:50
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#11
i would definitely do it for 2 years from what i read from your writeup. i am leaning towards recommending that undisclosed city in the north east (unless its calcutta ~ if this city in the northeast is far from it~ then you are living in lusher lands~ laid back life and some really charming people. not that this additional tidbit is of any matter but your husbands SE Asian features will blend in well with the north easten indian folks who have similar features.

you husband patience would be tested for sure in a indian setup especially with overcrowded indian airports (and worse to come)~ but the experience in my opinion would be good transition to african skies (that he wants to be in)~ and the financial security that this job provides in a couple of years that you say.

its not like halliburton offering a friend of mine to go to iraq couple of years ago...you know; with that high six figure tax free salary and other freebies!
#12 Apr 22nd, 2006, 00:00
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#12
Forget India . Stay in paradise.

I have known india deeply for a long period of time, and the recommendation does not come easy, but in life, it's more important that you go from a happy place to a happier place. If you're not doing this with a sense of adventure (but rather as someone walking into an uncertain abyss, ) it may not be worth the trauma of adjustment.
#13 Apr 22nd, 2006, 00:19
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#13
I've only lived in India for six months, and in Vanuatu for never (it does always sound like paradise), but one thing you should do before considering further is perhaps consider carefully what living in India actually is.

That is to say, except for the pollution, I would say its as pleasant if not more pleasant to live in than anywhere else. For one thing, as "foreign" as it may be at first, I don't know if there are many places that are more welcoming and easier to explore for a foreigner than India (but I'm saying this after a truly excruciating effort at buying groceries in Moscow, so I may be biased.) Any amenity you need can be easily and affordably obtained, and the possibilities for local travel are, more or less, endless.

And, by the by, I'm not sure if this is feasible yet, but is commuting to Bangalore from Mysore an option? It's about two hours (maybe three) by train, and a beautiful city.
#14 Apr 22nd, 2006, 04:55
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#14

Thanks for thoughts...

I appreciate the thought and time people have put into responding to this. Between thoughts of the baby and thoughts of India, my mind is racing all the time! To answer jyotirmoy's questions, Husband is completely fluent in English and flies an ATR of which there should shortly be about 50 in the country. He would do domestic flights and therefore short haul.

I realize it must have sounded like I was preparing myself for hell, but I think that came from reading through this forum and LP's India thread (where I was advised to check out IM) and being reminded of all the hassles that are out there while traveling. I got a little scared, I must admit. (And I hadn't even read anything about the SNAKES in your HOME yet!!) I have India YES! days and Vanuatu YES! days and rarely an India Noooo! or Vanuatu Noooo! day. I like the poster's suggestion about flipping the coin and examining my gut reactions. Will probably tell a lot.

Gut instinct has told me to leave the pets in paradise. I do love them too much to uproot them and we will be back for visits.

Wherever we live, we would like it to be near the airport. 2 hours getting to and from work each day sounds draining. From what I have read, the increase in air travel will be putting quite a strain on India's infrastructure. Sounds like the country is in for some BIG changes in the next 5-7 years with regard to roads, airports, travel, etc. And I think there will be major growing pains.

Regarding the baby, it will probably adapt fairly quickly. We have Malaria here in Vanuatu and Husband has had it a few times. I take Chloroquin because I am pregnant but before that, nothing. We don't have to worry too much in the city. I'll have to research which strains they have in India and all of that fun stuff. Breastfeeding will be a great way to keep Little Guy healthy. We'll plan on doing that the entire 5 years ... but really for the first year we should be pretty much ok. There have been some other helpful posts regarding keeping infants happy and healthy in India and tips for food preparation as well.

I think the biggest adjustments will be leading a busier life with less "us" time (gonna be that way with the addition of Little Guy anyway) and a life lived more indoors.

We have about 6 weeks to decide, and they do too so it is not a sure thing either way. Husband will try to get to India within that time to check it out. Wish I could go too but may not be possible. Just wanted to start gathering my info now to try and make an informed and well thought out decision. I would say the sense of adventure and "can do anything!" attitude is beating out the play it safe, take the easy road right now. Husband is ready to take on the challenge of facing his "patience" issues too.

Gonna flip that coin and let you know...
#15 Apr 22nd, 2006, 05:17
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#15
Seems like you are busy taking a realistic and healthy approach to this decision.

It's good that you are already familiar with malaria concerns. One quick note, Chennai reports the majority of malaria cases for the entire state of Tamil Nadu. Not aware of the statistics for the other cities you are considering.

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