Friday, July 26, 2013

Change of Plans

I originally started up this blog as the third in a series of blogs I have written since moving to India. The first was American-in-Calcutta, then American-in-Delhi, and now here at American-in-Pune.

I have gotten a lot of pushback since posting my "We've Moved to Pune" post on American-in-Delhi, so I will be returning to posting on that blog only.

To that extent, since moving to Pune, I've been working on a cool new e-commerce initiative called iPlace Connect. To read more about becoming an entrepreneur, launching an e-commerce web site, with cross-culturally, etc., read my latest blog post "So You Want to Be an Entrepreneur?".

Let me know what you think - about iPlace Connect or my blog post. Enjoy. :-)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Hey, there's the a**holes from the train!

We went to Darjeeling in November. On the way, we stopped in Kolkata to attend Chanchal's wedding. Chanchal is a gifted writer, someone who started working for me at my first job in India in 2008. I liked him. Yu Yu, his team lead, liked him more. She said he was perfect for the position, even though he had minimal experience. What I liked about him was that, although naive, he could be taught. As a group leader, I needed staff that had potential. He had that in spades. I wanted him to work for me. He agreed and I can say that he never disappointed me. His work was good. The longer I knew him, I was encouraged that he could really progress as a writer. An international writer. I left the company and he continued to work for them, but eventually Yu Yu left and he as without a leader. Any leader. No team lead, no marketing group lead. He was a ship without an anchor or sextant. 

I really like him, so we decided to ensure we made it to his wedding on our way to Darjeeling. A Bengali wedding is a sight to see. There are several days involved in an Indian wedding. We showed up on the wrong day -  a bride's day, when the groom's invitees are not to come. We didn't know this, but the bride's father was very gracious, walking us down to eat dinner and being wonderfully accepting of us foreigners who showed up on the wrong day.

The next day, we were to board the overnight train to NJP, the last stop before the toy train, a UNESCO world heritage site, that takes forever to travel up to Darejeeling. When we arrived at the train station in Howrah, we were eager to get on the train. Once on the train, we were unhappily surprised to find out that our train did not offer private sections - we were stuck with the first class AC people en masse. That meant bad behavior from me. The unfortunate family to be mixed in with us had children. Teenagers, middlers AND infants. F*ck me. 

I don't like children. Doesn't matter what country, what culture, I can't deal with them. This family had them in spades. The teenage girls were okay, quiet, focused on their phones… but the smaller children were running around, shrieking - this, I could not stand for. After a few minutes, I yelled at the family to keep their kids quiet and seated. They were insulted and made that painfully clear. They were horrified by my language, even though I apologized for the infrequent F-bombs. I expect children to be easily ignored. It's not difficult. I did this with my own child. He was socialized from birth to be able to interact with adults. He was never an issue on airplanes or trains - I always insured that he had plenty of toys and quiet distractions to keep him busy for a few hours when he was little. He's been flying since he was six months old.

I've dealt with numerous Indian children on trains and airplanes, some on 13 hour flights, where the parents couldn't care less how their children affect the other passengers. I'm not one to let that pass. This train went south quickly. I was stuck with a young mother with her infant and a small child sleeping with her mother as well. We hated them and couldn't wait to arrive in NJP to depart. Such unruly children, I will never forget. We got into our rented car and headed up into the Himalayan foothills. After a few hours, we arrived at our destination.

A few days letter, we decided to have lunch at a local eatery, where, suddenly, I heard, "Hey, there's the a**holes from the train," from Yu Yu. Now, Yu Yu is not one to pipe up with a snarky comment. One of the gents replied, "Yes, you're the a**holes from the train." I didn't recognize them at the time. They were seated in number of tables, so the group was split up. They left soon after. I never spoke to them, so hopefully their day improved.

Darjeeling was amazing. The last time I had visited, I was 16. Tiger Hill was a different experience back then. We came as a large group of international students, part of the ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) who sponsored over 50 foreign students to travel to Darjeeling to encounter a number of different cultures over a two week period. I had changed completely by the time I returned to Mumbai. The experience exposed me to many different cultures and I was completely transformed. When I die, I still want to have my ashes spread from Tiger Hill. It's that important to me. HOWEVER, the experience this time was far different. While we still woke up at 4AM to trek uphill, by the time we got there, we were only offered a middle floor ticket as they were full upstairs. I wasn't ready for what as to come to pass. There was a new building. Instead of the tower that you had to climb up numerous flights of stairs to reach the top, now there were lines for each section. We were subjected to the middle floor, where a number of chairs were set up. It was still dark. While all the foreigners took their chairs, the Indians didn't.

They stood up in front, blocking any view, videotaping a sunrise that would take over an hour. Everyone, especially the foreigners, were yelling at them to sit down. As my seat was in an aisle, I moved it to effectively block anyone moving forward. It was a horrible experience. Before the sun ever appeared, all the foreigners except us had left. Once the sun was fully up, we went downstairs to the ground level to really see the majesty of the Himalayas. It's that inspiring to see.

We were in a wine shop on the mall and while we evaluated the prices of vodka and rum, a Nepali woman came in and asked the the man behind the counter something. He looked around, then brought up a bottle of something from below the counter. Yu Yu asked the man what it as. He looked around again and brought up another bottle. It was wine from Nasik. It was very cheap compared to the domestic liquors we were looking at. We bought a bunch, hoping it would be as good as the Goan Port we'd had when we last visited there. It was pretty decent... and we managed to keep a few to bring back with us on the plane to Delhi.

Darjeeling will always have a place in my heart. We revisited many of the same places I had seen so many years before, and it was much more special having Yu Yu and my son there to experience it with me. Now, it's time to head south and see the richness of South India and places we haven't yet explored.

William and I at Ghoom Monastery

William and I at breakfast in the Hotel

Bhutia Monastery with William

William and I at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute

Yu Yu and I at the Japanese Peace Pagoda

William and I at the Japanese Peace Pagoda

William and I at Ghoom Monastery

William, Yu Yu and I at Tiger Hill above Darjeeling

William and I

Ghoom Monastery

William and I

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Restaurant Review: Malaka Spice

We visited twice, once during a Pune Expat Wine Festival and a second time for a simple weekend lunch.

For the first visit, a Wine Festival, the waiters should have been trained in discussing the wines and not just in how to pour the stuff. We tasted the local Vallonne cabs, merlots, chenin blanc and suavignon blanc. Of the four, the merlot 2009 was the most drinkable, luscious full fruit with a slight astringency. Lovely for sipping, but even better with food. We bought a case and when we got it home, we realized that the merlot purchased were 2011, NOT 2009. If I didn't think it was simple lack of training on the part of the serving staff, I would have returned them. You never taste one year and purchase another. That's just totally and completely wrong.

The place was packed with foreigners, all slurping down copious amounts of wine and sampling the menu. We started with duck momos (okay) that came with a decent dipping sauce, then branched out to  try the crispy prawn tempura and squid rings, both light, and tasted of seafood, not batter. The dipping sauce that came with the prawns had a citrus base and matched well with the prawns. The squid was just slightly overcooked, but still very tasty.

We also had the duck salad. Not memorable.

This past Saturday, we visited a second time, with Will in tow. When I bring him, with his voracious appetite, we can easily order a number of plates with me sampling and him finishing them all off. Good tactic. :-) I remembered to take photos this time.

White Sangria at Malaka Spice, Pune - YUM!
I ordered the White Wine Sangria, which comes with mint, demarara sugar and cucumber. A light, refreshing tipple to start the meal. Unfortunately, mine came with a free ant, cheerfully floating on the mint leaves. The second one was without ant.

We started with the Bulgogi, a Korean meat preparation that is usually folded into fresh lettuce cups like a burrito or wrap. The thinly sliced mutton was grisly, dry and powdery. While the spice level was perfect for me, it came with no lettuce and was pretty much inedible with all the gristle.

Second came the duck momos. Will wasn't thrilled with them, and my tastebuds were still smarting from the bulgogi sampling. They tasted off in flavor, even with the dipping sauce. Made me wonder how long they'd been sitting in the kitchen. They were steamed perfectly, though.

Duck Momos at Malaka Spice, Pune
The prawns were lovely again. The batter is light  and the flavor of the very fresh seafood came through. If you like prawns, I highly recommend this dish.

Prawn Crispura at Malaka Spice, Pune
After the prawns, we were served Pad Thai, my Garlicky Tiger Prawns and Will's potted or stewed lamb dish. None of these dishes were very good. The Pad Thai seemed to be missing numerous ingredients, particularly any fish sauce (nam pla), and while covering the pad thai's ball of noodles with the egg omelet into a packet was cute, it must have been sitting a while since the ball had congealed into a mass of sticky noodles. The prawn dish had too much mint and far too little garlic. There seemed to be 3 small whole cloves in my dish, but they fact that they were there, did not prove to add any garlic flavor. I did not like the dish at all. The mint was overpowering while the sauce had no flavor whatsoever. I didn't even bother to try the lamb since I was already full from tasting everything else and seriously, it did not look very appetizing to me. 

Overall, I may give Malaka Spice another try, but with so many decent restaurants here in Pune, why should I? Let me know if I've missed a signature dish - that could convince me to try them again!

Pad Thai at Malaka Spice, Pune
Lamb Stew and Garlicky Tiger Prawns  at Malaka Spice, Pune
Will, as we left Malaka Spice, Pune

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

More on Renting Flats in Pune

Real estate brokers in India work differently than they do back home. Anyone can become a broker - there are no classes or exams, no ethics or fiduciary duty to either seller or buyer. There is no listing service used by all brokers in an area so everyone has the same inventory to work with, along with their exclusive listings.Every person you meet has a brother, uncle or cousin who is a realtor, and when you deal with only one, all you see are the flats that he personally knows about.

I contacted my friends in Pune, talked to my office and asked for recommendation. Each gave me the number to the "only honest realtor in Pune". I contacted them all and visited several high rise flats. I had told each one that I was looking for a flat that would accept two dogs, was fully furnished, and preferably a gym and a pool. We wanted something close to the office that was also nearby a retail center. Most of the realtors told me, "oh, I just had one that was perfect for you, but this is what I have now". The flats were okay, nothing special. I concentrated by search in Wanowrie, a little farther away. We kept looking, and after seeing some decent flats and some horrible ones, the last one was something called a "row house", similar to a duplex back home. Designed by an architect in Singapore, it definitely has a Singaporean aesthetic to it. Badly in need of paint, the house had been empty for more than a year as the owner only wanted to lease it to vegetarians. The son had recently gotten involved and was determined to rent it out. We showed up just in time.

Realtors in India demand at lease a month's rent from both the renter and the seller, some two months each. Each year that you renew the lease the realtors come back again for the fee. If you negotiate your lease agreement for more than 11 months, they double their fee. The good thing is that you can negotiate this down. We settled on a two month's fee for a two year lease. The agent had wanted two months per year. The agent states that he handles all the moving in issues, getting the police clearance, arranging the cooking gas, etc. during the lease time frame. We'll see. This agent was pretty good, though. He had plenty of inventory to show me, and they most closely matched what I was looking for.

The place is paradise. There are three huge bedrooms plus servant quarters and features a beautiful landscaped yard. Perfect for the dogs, who will be arriving next week. The backyard has a heavily laden coconut palm, a pomegranate tree heave with fruit, a mango tree, banana trees and some kind of citrus. All that's missing is pineapples. Every house plant I ever had in the states, from colorful freesia and frangipani, to mother-in-law's tongue, poinsettia and spider plants, is planted in my backyard as hedges, shrubs, and small trees. The white marble outdoor patio is ample enough for a table and chairs. The kitchen is huge, but could use more storage space (we'll work that out soon). The living room has a double height ceiling keeping the space very cool, even in the heat of the day. The only other thing we need to do is buy a washing machine.

The last issue is getting the dogs down from Delhi. My partner is still at our house in Delhi and closing the place down. She's buying the dog crates to fit them and visiting the vets to get their "healthy to fly" certificates. Her round-trip ticket will cost 16,000 rupees, while the dogs' one-way flight will cost 10,000. The tickets are booked and they arrive next Saturday. The car is booked to receive them, so the family will finally be together again, the first time since early December. That's a very, very good thing. :-)


More Driveway

Front Door. We've already been locked out twice.

Backyard from the Driveway

Triple sliding doors to backyard

Front Yard

Upstairs Hallway

Looking down from the upstairs hallway to the double-height living room


Front Yard

Doorway to backyard from upstairs

Front Doorway

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Adventures of the FRO (Foreigners' Registration Office)

My family has experienced the pain and frustration of four FROs (or FRROs - Foreigners' Regional Registration Office) in Kolkata, Gurgaon, Delhi, and now Pune. Pune is, by far, the best. 

In India, long term visitors to India are required to register with the office within 14 days. In Kolkata, my office manager and I visited the FRRO on AJC Bose Road. The first time, we went with my passport and entered a dilapidated office building, signed in, and walked into an air conditioned office. There were four desks in the anteroom with stacks of papers and a few chairs for visitors. The woman we talked to wrote out a list of documents and told us to come back tomorrow. Each time we returned, the list changed or the paperwork was missing some wording. After 90 days, I was no closer to getting the residency permit. I spoke to my CEO who hired a gent who had experience with foreigner registration, and he accompanied me to the office. He gallantly strode in, flirted with the ladies, shook the hands of the gents, and 60 seconds later, I had a stamped residency permit book in my hand. Brilliant.

When we moved to Gurgaon, we tried to simply change our existing Employment visa to the new company I was joining. We decided to go to the Home Ministry (also known as the Ministry of Home Affairs) with my HR manager. We spent the whole day there. The HR manager as hit on by a Nigerian gent, a creepy NRI with a cheap british accent who continually played with his belly button kept bothering us, and eventually we were told to leave the country. The Brit shook his head and said, "Man, I can't get out of this country. I have to bike back to the bloody Punjab to get a police clearance, and these people want to stay? Not bloody fair, man." So we went home to the States and got new visas.

That's when the fun begins. In Gurgaon, the FRRO is located at the Mini-Secretariat at Rajiv Chowk. The moldy, old building with cracked and crumbling paint and stucco featured slow moving, whiny fans and papers were stacked to the ceilings, neatly tied in stacks with twine. The elevator has never worked. Back in 2008, the FRRO was located at the top of the building so be prepared to walk up quite a few flights of stairs. I believe it's now down a few floors and have some paper-based numbering system for people waiting now. Beggars plant themselves at the base of the stairs. Shoeshiners, chaabiwallahs (key makers), and other small children ply their trade within the building selling goods. It's sheer torture. Standing around, waiting for hours to get someone to review the paperwork and make a decision. Each time you go, the paperwork differs. It took around 90 days again, with numerous trips to get the paperwork done. Extensions were even worse.

Because my job required me to travel internationally numerous times a year, my paperwork had to be in order for me to leave the country. My first extension took over seven months. The companies I worked for never offered an agent, nor did I know where to find one.  The company kept arguing with me, blaming me for not getting it done, even though I had absolutely no control over the situation. They'd send different staff from the company with me assuming a local could make the difference. They tried everything, bribes, pleading, gratitude, while I demanded, argued and cried in frustration. They'd say come back in a week, that the paperwork was still in Chandigarh. We'd go every week, or I'd send my son by himself. Once, after they said the paperwork had returned, we thought we were finally done, then they sprung a new surprise on us. We now needed a local police clearance. I could have stabbed that man in the heart. I was SO pissed. My son, accompanied by a member of my staff, visited the police numerous times, bribed and ingratiated themselves until that paper was received, delivered to the FRRO, where they said I had to be there to take the papers. I went back the next day to pick them up and they said my son had to be there, too! Unbelievable. What the hell did they think they were giving me? I blew up. I swore at them, yelled at them. I told him that my son was a minor and as his parent (proven in the paperwork by birth certificate) I had legal right to act as his agent in any aspect of his life…blah, blah, blah. Finally they relented and gave me the damn stamps and papers. It took nine months. For the second one-year extension. Every year it was like this.

When I joined Sannam S4, run by Brits, they immediately hired a professional agent to handle my residency permit. He was AWESOME. He sent me all the paperwork to fill out by email, told what I had to scan, and I emailed back all the documents. We met up early one morning at his club and he brought everything printed out for me and my son to review and sign. He accompanied us to the Delhi FRO and took us around to each of the desks, we smiled and waved, and within a half hour, we were out of there. We had our papers in three days. It cost us 7,000 rupees each. What a difference an agent makes.

In Pune, the FRO is located at the Police Commissioner House. Foreigner's go through the Foreigner Gate (Gate #2). For extensions, the hours are 10:00 to 12:00 noon. New permits are scheduled for 3:00 to 5:00 PM. You enter through a small door in a heavily fortified metal gate, then run the security gamut: handing over your bags for searching, then signing in, going through a metal detector, and another bag screening just inside the building. To the left is the FRO, an air conditioned space. At reception, you'll be told what counter to line up for. The agent goes through your papers and confirms everything is there. We were missing the stamp on our C-Form from the hotel, so we were told to come back tomorrow. We got the right papers and headed back the next day. After the same woman confirmed our paperwork, we were sent to another line where a woman entered all of our data into a computer. After that, we were sent to scan all the documents, then to another agent to get photos taken, fingerprinted and had to electronically sign all the documents. They told us to come back one week later. We did. Mine as not ready. We talked to the police inspector and he told us to come back at 5:30 the next day. This time, we took one of my staff, who spoke Marathi, with us. 

When we got there, the door was closed and we were refused entry, them saying that the office was closed.. My Marathi-speaking colleague talked our way in, where it took us about 20 minutes to get the permits. More modern, professional, fast service… much better than other cities. Only issue? Now that we're settling in to our new home, we have to go back and update our files with the new address. Still waiting on a new police clearance - a stamped C-Form to bring with the signed lease. This may be where the torture starts… we'll know soon enough.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Renting property in Pune

So, we're in the process of moving to Pune. We've looked at a lot of apartments and even a few bungalows and the process is frustrating. Now, I've been a landlord in the US and know the concerns of both the landlord and the renter, and here in India, the process is even more difficult. First, there is no universal listing system like we have in the States. You can't see another broker's listings without seeing that broker. We had four different brokers looking for properties.

The costs are ridiculous as well. To lease an apartment in Pune, you need a minimum of six month's rent as a security deposit (some want 12 months!), plus 2 month's broker's fees (from both the landlord AND the renter), and stamp duties and registration, which is not included as a portion of the rent. In addition, renters are expected to handle most maintenance costs, and any society maintenance fees, if applicable. Sometimes the landlord will also charge you for your parking spaces as well.

We've finalized on a little two story bungalow, 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, with servants' quarters. It features solar water heating, ACs in the bedrooms and comes fully furnished (pretty much). It has a little front yard and a bigger backyard, which will be perfect for the puppies. It's a wonderful site, quiet, and the neighbors, while curious, seemed nice. It was calm, peaceful and I could really envision our living in this home happily. I'm hoping to move in as soon as possible.

As part of the process, a meeting is set up by the broker, where both parties meet to finalize the lease points and negotiate final prices. Our broker, a really professional gent (finally!), set this up at the hotel where the owner was staying. We were led out to the outdoor terrace where two young men were drinking beers and having a good time. The gent in the shiny shirt was clearly inebriated. When we were introduced, I was happy to learn that the quieter, sober gent was the landlord's son.

We all sat down, made introductions and I introduced my background, six years in India, experience in renting houses in four Indian cities... we discussed living in Mumbai as well. The landlord's son discussed his family, why they were renting the place, and the reason the property had been on the market for so long. Apparently the father had a long list of rules, like only renting to vegetarians. Now the son was taking over to get the property rented. We were lucky to come along at the right time.

At this point, shiny shirt had spilled a beer and had been interrupting the conversation repeatedly. From what I could gather, he was there to help the son negotiate a better deal. He was a bit arrogant, but overall, harmless.

My negotiation skills have improved over the years and I've learned to stop talking and let the other person pick it up. The original deal was 45,000 rupees a month with a 6 month deposit up front. I originally countered with 35,000 and 6 month deposit paid over a six month period. The initially agreed to talk. They countered with 35,000 with 6 months up front. Shiny shirt kept trying to get a full 12 months up front which I totally refused. I countered with 40,000, 3 months deposit over 6 months, alerting them to the fact that they were now making an additional 60,000 rupees for the first year. They finally agreed once I agreed to also pay the 2,000/month maintenance fee which also pays for the pool and gym at the clubhouse. That seemed fair.

The next step will be signing the lease and getting it registered at the property court, which is typically a full day deal, involving lawyers, standing at a desk and declaring your age (check), standing in another line to show your ID (check), then standing in another line to have a photo taken (check), have witnesses sign that you were the person standing there having your picture taken (check), getting fingerprinted (check), then you're done. The paperwork is completed within a few days. Last time, we watched a family enter the court with a Hindu priest who performed a puja (religious ceremony) to bless the new home owners. That was actually kind of cool. :-) Plus it relieved some of the boredom.

While the costs are high, compared to homes I've had in other cities, this is a standalone bungalow - no neighbors above me and no one staring at me as I enter my house, except maybe my next door neighbor... We're also keeping a house in Delhi at the moment, so our cost are double right now.

Shipping our personal effects won't be too bad since we don't have much. We have 2 very large aluminum shipping crates along with 2-3 cardboard boxes. The shipper estimates 22,000 to ship from Delhi to Pune. Everything is packed, padlocked, and ready to go. The biggest issue is moving the dogs. They'll have to fly.

Airline approved dog crates are VERY expensive here and the two I arrived with won't fit these two. We sold Grace's crate after she died to an expat who was taking her rescued stray back home with her to the UK. We investigated the costs at the pet shop in Khan Market, Delhi, and each crate will cost 6,000 rupees. Our roundtrip flights will cost us around 36,000, plus the costs for the pups as excess baggage. Totally worth it, considering the time to travel. Eunice is not a good road tripper. She'll either puke or poo every few miles while riding in a car. We thought about driving them down, but felt it would be better to bite bullet, pay the expenses and get them there in a couple of hours instead. Hopefully, they'll be okay.

As soon as we get a chance, we'll take photos of the house. It sorely needs a paint job, but we'll be putting it off. Due to the high ceilings and size, it would take at least a month to paint the house, and we can't wait that long to move in. If anyone can recommend a good store for purchasing a washing machine, please let me know. Other than that, I think we're in really good shape. :-)

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Work in Pune

I arrived in Pune last week, to meet my American CEO and get acquainted with my fellow employees. I was very impressed and happy to meet the large team of capable, accomplished, and very talented Indian workers. I am confident that we can take this company to the next level. Last Saturday, we hosted a holiday pool party at a five star hotel where we ended up drinking all the vodka, rum, wine and beer available at the hotel! The poor bartenders probably have post-traumatic stress from their experience. The music was loud and the DJ played "Gangnam Style", which got everyone up on their feet and dancing. Women from the office jumped into the pool with their clothes on! Only one Blackberry mobile was harmed during the event. :-)

I am in the process of building out a marketing team, hiring an HR lead and a new finance lead. If any readers are interested in working in Pune, by all means send me your CVs! Bear in mind, I only want to work with the best of the best. The company is growing very quickly, so you need to be flexible, creative, analytical and have awesome English writing and speaking skills. I only looking for team players.

The company I'm working for is iPlace, situated in Magarpatta City, Pune. It's a great company to work for. The CEO emphasizes employee satisfaction and everyone is treated equally, regardless of your background or how well you get on with your boss. Everyone has a performance component to their salary package that enables them to make more money for producing results for our customers. I like that a lot. It makes it easier to recruit quality staff when they feel they can make a difference, that if they work hard they can make more money. Totally worth it.

I've also spent some time looking for a place to live. (Sigh.) This is always the most challenging aspect of being an expat. While moving to another city in the US can feel difficult, moving cities in another country puts that stress into a whole new order of magnitude. Pune locals speak Marathi as their native tongue, and I still haven't learned Hindi. My HR team has been extremely helpful and found many places for me to visit, some of which weren't so great (I'm talking about you, Spring Valley), but yesterday I saw the house of my dreams in Clover Village in Wanowri, about 25 minutes from the office. Turns out, my co-worker just moved out of the society a few months ago and highly recommends it.

It's called a row house, but Americans would call it a duplex. Since it is one of the older housing societies, the landscaping is mature and well manicured. The house features a small front garden and a larger backyard, which will be great for my puppies. The house is fully furnished, has ACs in each of the three bedrooms and decent servant's quarters.The area was very, very quiet, which I liked. India can be so chaotic and noisy, so this was a very welcomed aspect. The next step is negotiating the lease, which hopefully will be agreed upon by the time I get back.Otherwise I'm back to square one.

I am leaving Pune tomorrow to head to the States for new visas for Will and myself. We're going to Foxborough, MA to celebrate Christmas with the family, then heading down to New York to meet up with my grandmother. We should be back in Pune by mid-January to start a whole new adventure!

If anyone reading this has suggestions on what restaurants are great, places to shop, advice on getting utilities set up, etc., hiring a housekeeper, please post a comment below. I'm glad to be in Pune and excited to see what kind of trouble I can get into here, too!