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!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

We're Moving to Pune

I came to India this time in 2007 and moved my rescued greyhound, siamese cat and 12 year-old son to Kolkata to head up the Marketing department for a dotcom focused on building traffic from the United States. You can read about our experiences at

In 2008, I accepted a new position with an internet marketing firm based in Gurgaon and moved my family there. You can read about our next few years living in Gurgaon and Delhi at

In 2012, I have moved on yet again. This time, sadly, my pets will not travel with me as both have lost their lives here and are buried at Jeevashram, a pet cemetery affiliated with a wonderful animal hospital that takes care of injured strays, cows, and other wild animals.

So now we are packing, preparing and planning our move to Pune. We are very excited since Jason, an ex-colleague from Chicago, lives there with his family and the Dhunjibhoys are there, my exchange family I lived with all those years ago. I recently had a chance to get more information on living in this city.

"It's the best city to live and raise a family in India. It's quieter, cleaner, and its people are more laid back."

"We couldn't take Mumbai anymore."

This was what we were looking for. Some peace and quiet. Something hard to find in India's urban centers. Our next step is to locate an apartment. From what I've been told, the negotiations are different. Brokers expect to get one or two month's rent as their fee, from BOTH the renter and the landlord, and they expect this fee for each new contract. Negotiate hard with the broker to bring his fee down to one month, and negotiate a multi-year lease if possible to avoid the extra broker's fees. This is exactly the kind of information you can only learn from people who already live there. The lack of clarity, in every process you go through in India, from renting a flat to arranging mobile phone service, is the bane of my existence.

We're particularly interested in finding something in Magarpatta City, where my office located, or in Amanora Township, which is just across the street from Magarpatta City and close to Koregaon Park, where Jason and the Dhunjibhoys live. I've heard though, that hiring help there is a challenge as it is far from the city center. We'll see.

Restaurants I recommend in Pune (so far!):

Expat Support

Pune Expats Club 
So far, not super excited about them. I went to their web site to join, tried to use the online form from my mac (didn't work) and ended up downloading the form, filling it in by hand and emailing to the address on the web site. Never heard back. I do, however, get their emails now, promoting International Cheese Night and Wine Tastings... Hmmm.

Well, I leave Monday on this new adventure. Seems like we're finally "coming home".


Friday, October 19, 2012


When I first came to India as an exchange student in 1976, India was under a State of Emergency. Americans were not exactly welcomed here. But I was living with a Parsi family that made me feel all sorts of welcomed within days of my arrival. One of the aspects I loved most was horse racing. My family had race horses, so when the season came to Mumbai, everyone in the family was excited. Even better was heading to the house in Pune to participate in racing season there. Pune was and still is beautiful. Having recently revisited a couple of years ago, reuniting with friends and family, I have wanted to return in a more permanent manner. That may soon be be case. Stay tuned. As things develop, more will be revealed. Cheers.