.: The Year that was…. 2011 [Part II]

Okay mame…..notes eduthuko, appadiye snacks eduthuko.

So here is what happens in the second half of 2011. Just like a movie usually takes an unexpected turn after the intermission, our lives were about to change as well. A major decision, which only time will tell as to being good or bad, was made towards the end of June/early July. Just as we thought we had settled down in our new home and lives, circumstances which I would rather not make too public [for privacy reasons] made us take a decision to head back to India. I took up a new job with Baldridge and Associates, a company based out of Hawaii with offices in Chicago and Delhi. The opportunity to be close to home and family was something difficult to pass up on. The job involved a stint in India helping out a large multinational contractor in their design-build ventures. A secondary role would be to help establish BASE’s presence in India, where there is a mini construction boom.

It was extremely difficult to bid goodbye to my close friends at BNI, with whom I had spent that first six years as a Structural Engineer. I have some amazing memories of the place, the days and the nights spent on projects dear to my heart. Your first [job] is always precious……and will be.

So there we were, two months after we moved into our brand new home, packing away and bidding adieu to beautiful Miami. July was a month where neither me or Anu had a good night’s sleep. Luckily for us, a lot of things fell into place magically, all in the last minute. We are blessed to have a lil’ one that is extremely non-fussy. Anu and I always discuss as to what must have been going through his head seeing us in disarray.

The long term goal was always to return back to the US, by God’s grace and some careful planning [well, mostly God’s grace]. All the winding down was done with that in mind. We were able to rent our house to a family that we knew in real short notice, move things to storage in Chicago and book tickets to India. Anu and Arya were packed off to her cousin’s place in Wisconsin and I undertook a 2 day road trip to get to Chicago. It was by far the most boring drive, since I had gotten used to having Anu in the front seat on most long drives, either awake or asleep. I showed up to work on August 8, worked for 5 days and took a flight to India on August 13. Most people who know me at BNI know my affinity to the number 13.
: All significant and large projects that I have worked on while at BNI had a 13 in the project number 08M13, 06M13, 09W13 just to name a few.

Anyone that knows Arya will tell you that the kid has trouble sitting still. He likes to constantly be on the move. Now imagine a kid like him in a confined pressurized cabin at 33000 ft above sea level on a 15 hour long flight to India [co-passenger’s nightmare?]. Anu and I were having panic attacks thinking about the flight. Luckily for us, Air India moved us to a different seat minutes before take off, giving Arya a seat as well. He was mostly asleep during the flight, kept his father out of major embarrassment. It was one of my only long haul flights to India/Dubai where I did not sleep for 90% of the flight duration. My old boss George and Anu can attest to my in-flight sleeping habit.

India……incredible India!!

It was a grand welcome in Delhi. We were literally mobbed, just like superstars. Except this was by taxi-drivers and porters who were more than glad to *help* us with our transportation needs in exchange for dollars. I was bad at keeping track of all the happenings in India when I was in the US, but I could have sworn that Rupee was still the currency in India. In typical India fashion, my accommodation arrangement had fallen through the cracks, but luckily there was still enough daylight and I had a working phone. We moved into the company guest house for the next 3 weeks as we figured out where to live. It was an interesting first few days. Things that I had missed were back……. great food, local TV channels [including 3 cricket channels], car horns, 8 lane traffic on a 4 lane, dust [and my allergies], bureaucracies just to name a few.

A lot of things that were pretty simple to get started in the US were rather difficult here. Opening a bank account needed an address proof, which could only be through “approved” paperwork. This meant a delay of at least a month. Thank god for Traveler’s Checks. International credit cards were not accepted universally and I had to get used to carrying cash in my wallet. No more easy swiping of plastic.

The new office is rather nice. We share space at the contractor’s main office in Gurgaon and the best thing is that there are two Coffee Day vending machines to get ummmm-limited supply of tea/coffee. A 15 minute walk to work is not bad either. I love the option of being able to walk back home during lunch and grab a hot meal.

Work was busy during the first couple of months as there were plenty of projects that were being worked on simultaneously. In addition, being in a contractor’s office only a few feet away from anxious people that want answers yesterday is not always fun. Thankfully, there are a really good bunch of people, expats and natives, with whom working has been a pleasure [mostly at least].

Sadly, in the end of September we had to say Goodbye to my dear paati [grandmother]. She had been living with us since I was a year old and I have fond memories of my childhood with her. She had lived a contended life and was also able to see her great-grandson and spend time with him. She will be missed by all of us. The rest of the year (October-December) was rather uneventful, for which we are grateful. Arya and Anu joined an interactive parent-toddler program and that keeps them busy.

November had beautiful weather and we did some sight seeing around Delhi, including a trip to Qutub Minar. December started getting really cold. Surprisingly for a place like Gurgaon where temperatures can drop significantly, the insulation in houses is non-existent. Coupled with brick walls and non-airtight rooms, the temperature inside the house is sometimes worse than outside. It should be good baptism for eventual relocation to the windy city.

2011 ended with us celebrating Anusha’s birthday and welcoming 2012 at Agra [photos]. How fitting that we were in a city filled with cemeteries and tombs…………isn’t 2012 the year the world is going to end?

3 thoughts on “.: The Year that was…. 2011 [Part II]

  1. Nice read due and indeed one heck of a 6 months period.

    Well if you do think 2012 is the year the world is going to end, I suggest that you stop paying for your stuff in storage in Chicago 😀

  2. Wow, I didn’t know you moved to India. I hope you guys have some good experience in India for us juniors to get the courage to follow suit.

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