Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Forty-Eight Days and Counting

The plane tickets are booked. We fly to London on June 13th and stay a couple of days. Then straight to Bangalore on Kingfisher Airlines. Last time we went on Lufthansa: Van-Frankfurt/Frankfurt-Bangalore but did it all at once. Ended up being almost 24hrs of travel time and was exhausting. So, we will stop to see the Queen for a couple days and rest up before the second leg. We'll arrive in Bangalore June 18th.

The Indian consulate only gave us a one year visa which we will have to extend in Bangalore. We've since heard that it can be a hassle getting it extended. So now that Michael is buddies with the Consul General he is going to try to get him to give us a two year visa instead.

Our house is finally up on the website with the property manager so I am relieved about that. It ended up taking over a week and still haven't heard anything from her. Now that the pictures and description are up, I hope that she will have some queries and showings soon.

We've booked the movers for a few days before we leave. And the Air Shipment company is sending someone out next week to see what we are planning to take. Hmm, better get on that and decide. What can we fit in six cubic meters? Went through our clothes, kitchenware etc. and have Big Brothers coming to pick up a lot of things this week. It's good to purge and give away unnecessary items.

Ironically, our biggest concern at the moment is Mexico and the Swine Flu. We are supposed to go to my nieces wedding at a Mexican resort in a couple weeks. Since we are going through London to India we have to see how they are treating people who have been in Mexico. India is already pulling all Canadians aside upon arrival at the airport to check temperatures, signs and symptoms. The UK has a travel advisory against travelling to the US and Mexico. Will have to keep posted, the main concern of course is getting to India without incident.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Sigh of Relief

Michael just gave me a call after his meeting with the Consul General of India.

OK, here's the reason he wanted to meet with Michael - he wanted to wish him well! I thought he was joking, I can't believe it! Michael says he went into his office and the Consul General was interested in his work. He showed Michael his iPhone (Michael works for a cell phone company) and they talked about Bangalore and India and that was it - just shootin' the breeze.

Honestly, I think I went through the five stages of grief in the last 24 hours: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Yes, by the time Michael went into the meeting I had resigned myself to the fact we might not be moving to India.

It is a gorgeous day today, warm and summer-like. I went out to do some gardening and had to admit that I can't really complain if I have to stay here in Canada - one of the best places on earth. I started thinking about going back to work and all my options. Gosh, I had a whole other life planned out within about an hour: move to a smaller house, buy a condo at Whistler.

Then Michael phoned and brought me back to reality. I can't believe the guy just wanted to chat - very nice of him and typical, wonderful Asian hospitality - but sure had us nervous for 24 hours.

So, we have our Indian visas and our passports back (saved me a trip downtown to pick them up). What a relief, book the plane tickets. We're out of here in mid June!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

On Friday I thought things were moving right along.

Thursday night we signed with a property manager to rent our house out for the two years that we will be gone. She was going to list it that night and get it on her website. She said she had some potential renters that she would probably bring by the next day.

Friday morning I went down to the Indian Consulate to get our visa's. Took a little longer this time but it went quite smooth. They said our visa's would be ready by Wed. Excellent, I thought I had finally accomplished something.

But, the property manager never came by, nor has she posted our house on the website (or anywhere that I know of). She has Monday's off so hopefully I'll talk to her tomorrow.

Today the Indian consulate phoned Michael and they want to meet with him tomorrow. I should say, the Consul General (the head guy) wants to meet with him. So of course we are nervous now, why would they want to meet with him?

We never thought there would be a problem getting a visa. Just thought once the contract was signed at work that was what mattered most. Well, we'll find out tomorrow what this is all about.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kid's Perspective Postvisit

Here is a look at the kid's perspective after our two week trip to Bangalore in March:

What do people wear in Bangalore, India?

Craig (10 years): Girls wear sarees, men wear light shirts with a big collar and pants.

Alanna (11 years): The women wear sarees and salwar kameez and the men wear either dress clothes, light shirts or long shirts and pants.

What was the food like?

C: the food was spicy, hot and good. I ate dosa's, curries and pizza.

A: It was delicious and not as spicy as I thought it would be. I ate naan, chicken curry, dosa's and even a tenderloin and rosemary burger.

How do you feel about going there to live?

C: I think to go live there it would be really hot but the school and the house looked nice. The house was big with two balconies with lots of colorful flowers. The school was big and is split up into different buildings.
A: I'm fine except I'll miss everybody and I don't want to go to that school.

Are you worried about anything?
C: The only things I am worried about are missing everybody and getting sick in India.
A: Yes, I have to go to that school. I'm worried about mosquitos and getting malaria.

What are you looking forward too?
I am looking forward to our new school because it was my favorite out of all the ones we looked at. And I think I am really going to like my new house. I'll be looking forward to making lots of friends.

A: The heat and cheaper prices for everything.

What do you think about your new school?
C: My new school is the best out of the three that we looked at. My favorite parts about the school is that it looks pretty. It has a nice variety of colorful flowers. The teachers are good. And it has so many sports.

A: I don't want to go to it. I've heard that it gives you a lot of homework and there are too many kids at that school. There's about 800 kids, K - Gr 12. I don't like the big buildings. I only like the gardens, because they have nice smelling flowers.

What does Bangalore look like?

C: Bangalore looks good and bad. The good part is all the nature and the hotels look nice when you drive past them. The negative looks are that it is a littered city, there's garbage that is not in garbage cans. And some houses and peoples clothes don't look nice - because they are poor.

A: It's very green and leafy and has lots of bad traffic.

What was your favorite part of the trip?

C: Shopping (at the Central Cottage where I got a wooden elephant and a wooden Hanomen. Hanomen is the monkey God.) I also enjoyed watching National Geographic.

A: The heat and the beautiful flowers.

What was you least favorite part of the trip?

C: My least favorite part of the trip was the heat.
A: The taxi and autorickshaw drivers when they kept following us around.

Is there anything that you really want to experience or see while you are in India?

C: I want to see the Taj Mahal because it's going to look so cool.
A: I want to see the Taj Mahal. I want to talk to Indian people especially young girls.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Busy, Who Me?

Everyone keeps saying, "You must be so busy, you're leaving in two months. You must have so much to do." It's true we do have a lot to do but we really haven't done anything yet. Someone asked me a week ago if I'd started packing - ah, no I haven't.

Last Friday I tried to contact three property managers re: renting out the house. Only one person got back to me (maybe the economy isn't that bad). Even then, this person made an appointment, cancelled, rescheduled and then was late. Hey, when I clean my house - you better show up!

Anyway, this property manager seems excellent, very knowledgeable and concerned about screening clients etc. She seems confident that she can rent out the house at a good monthly rent. So I think we are on track with her but have to wait until after the long weekend to finalize things...because she's gone to a Britney Spears concert in the USA...

Next, the work contract, which has been signed by Bangalore and Michael has not been signed off by HR here in Vancouver. The person has a few questions that she wants ironed out before signing. This means that we can't apply for visa's yet. They hadn't even processed the Bangalore school fees yet because the contract wasn't signed off. Luckily we were able to sort that out and have them send the school a deposit to hold the children's spot. Hopefully the school receives it by next week.

I know HR has our best interests at heart but it would be nice to have the contract signed so we can get on with things. We're just waiting for things to fall into place and then carry on with the next item on the "to do" list.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Thoughts

What are my thoughts on living in Bangalore, India for two years? Well, when we first started talking about this possibility it was last November. You have to understand Nov. in Vancouver. Think rain. Think grey. I envisioned myself in India lounging by a gorgeous pool (like this picture) with a full glass of something tasty in my hand. Heat, wonderful heat!

I soon thought I had better come down to reality. Some contacts from Michael's work sent pictures but it was hard to get a sense of the area. The homes looked quite nice from the outside but no pictures of a pool. I heard there was a communal pool in the neighborhood but no picture - I decided it must be decrepid, probably not one to lounge around. Pictures of Bangalore were mostly of small temples, nothing too exciting.

Michael and I had been to India 18 years ago. We spent a month backpacking in Mumbai (Bombay at the time), Goa and Delhi. We were sick the whole time. Having just come from a camping safari in Africa, I'm pretty sure we picked up a few intestinal bugs which hit us (or exploded from us), as soon as we landed in India.

Yes, much of our time in India was spent lying in bed in backpacker hotels watching the ceiling fan go round and round. We each lost a lot of weight and of course our favorite diet plan became: "eat all you want, still loose weight in India!"

We would venture out once in a while and the things I remember most were the colonial style buildings in Mumbai, beggars, and rickshaw drivers who would follow you for miles hasseling you to pay for their services - even if you really did want to walk. Old Delhi was fascinating with all the little shops and comings and goings. The bus rides were long and the roads full of potholes. The overnight train from Mumbai to Delhi was great. Train was the way to go. However, we were so sick that we ended up cutting our trip short and going home to Vancouver for Christmas.

We never talked about going back to India. We discovered S.E. Asia and Nepal and never looked back. But then this opportunity came for Michael to take a job in Bangalore and for some reason it became appealing. I guess it could have been in Bangkok or Jakarta or somewhere smaller, and we would have jumped at it. Timing, I guess. The kids are at a good age - not yet into high school so it won't disrupt their studies too much. As well they are old enough that they should remember the experience.

For Michael and I, I think it's just time to travel and we feel very comfortable in Asia. The people, the interesting cultures, the wonderful flavors and fresh fruit. Palm trees and warm oceans and beautiful lush gardens. During our pre visit I just felt very "at home" there.
More thoughts to come...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Contract is Signed - We're Moving!

We've been home in Canada for a few days now, fighting the jet lag. Michael officially signed the contract yesterday and we should be moving to Bangalore in mid June.

The trip was successful in that we found an area that we would like to live in. With the poor economy many expats will be leaving at the end of the school year so the real estate agent thinks there will be no problem finding a place quickly. We applied to one school while we were there and got an email today to say the children have been accepted.

So, now comes the fun stuff like what to do with our house and furniture, bank accounts etc. Reading up on tax laws for renting out property as non resident or resident. Have to make decisions quickly but wisely. Ideally I would like to rent out the house furnished and literally just walk out the door...