List of things to take to USA

The following are a list of items I suggest that one brings to USA if they are going for a duration > 6 months. While going through the post, remember it might not be a complete list and also that if you miss out any of these, they are easily available in the US. To make it easy, I have listed down an approximate cost of item in US.

  1. Umbrella. (5$ to 15$ )
  2. The work laptop with all accessories including an adaptor for US Plug Points. (Get an additional adaptor. They are worth around 5$ here )
  3. Pressure cooker + 1 tava + 1 pan. All should be flat bottomed heating method could be Coil Based and not necessarily Gas. Get a chapathi rolling pin. And two additional rubber, safety valve for pressure cooker. (A 3L pressure cooker costs 40$. And a safety valve costs 5$ )
  4. If you want steel utensils, bring them from India as they are very expensive here. A small serving bowl costs 4$. But if you are fine with ceramic variety mugs\plates, they are available for a lot lesser than in India.
  5. Micro Wave Safe tiffin Box. A nice one that serves the purpose can be around 10-15$ here.
  6. Kitchen masala – Lots of famous brands are available here but if you are specific about what masala you want, bring it from India as local varieties are not available here. Some brands that are available are: Baadhshah, Everest, MDH, Nirappara, Haldirams, Eastern, Deep, Swad etc.
  7. Get any speciality utensils that you might need – like idli maker or puttu maker. They are all available here but a small Puttu Maker is 10$. Idli Utensils can easily cost 20$ and above.
  8. If you are a coffee or a tea person, bring 2 or 3 packets of your favorite brand as it is a bit expensive here. ( 200gms of Bru Instant Coffe Powder = 6$)
  9. If you are fond of homemade pickles, bring them from India. Most of the brands are available here for 3$ and above. Oil – can be bought here.
  10. Do not bring rice, grains, cereals etc as they r not allowed on flight. They are also cheaper here and will simply add weight to your luggage.
  11. Footwear – most homes are carpeted and dont need home slippers. Bring one summer wear sandals and one running shoe. You can bring formal shoe if your office demands it. Decent footwear usually cost 15$ and above.
  12. Socks – get at least 5 pairs. ( Each pair costs around 1$-2$, so it can be bought here too )
  13. Clothes – check about dress code at client site and plan accordingly
  14. Bring at least 2 pairs of Indian clothes. Lots of Indian functions festivities around.
  15. Thermal wear if you are travelling to a cold place.
  16. For the clothes – the laundry is usually done once in a week. So plan to bring that many sets of clothes. Indian Clothes tend to get spoilt within 3 months or so. They either shrink or fade.
  17. Bring any cosmetics that you might need. Lots of good cosmetics are available here too but not the specific brands.
  18. Keep a spare set of clothes in your carry bag. Sometimes the luggage arrives late. Keep a small travel kit ready.
  19. Medicines – bring antibiotics, Crocin, allergy meds, pain relief medicine, vicks, zandu baam etc whatever you need or you might need, get doctors prescriptions for them too.
  20. Get a complete dental checkup, do a cleanup and fix anything that needs fixing. Dental issues cost heaven and earth here even with a good insurance policy. Do not travel till all tooth issues are fixed. (My Husband recently spent 1500$ from his own pocket on an emergency root canal. His insurance pays 80% of charges)
  21. Get an eye checkup. If you have power, bring at least 3 different pairs of glasses. Reading Glasses, Travelling Glasses, Spare Glasses. (Spectacles cost around 100$ and above.)
  22. Bring good quality Sunglasses. They are available here too but you might not wish to go shopping as soon as you land here.
  23. Bring 4 pillow covers and 4 plain bedsheets. I would suggest you buy the blankets here.
  24. Carry travel pack of following in handbag Toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, small soap, small talc – in case you have a long airport wait or wish to freshen up somewhere.
  25. Iron for the clothes (They are available for 12$ onwards. So it is your choice whether you wish to buy it here or bring it from India)
  26. At least 4 recent passport size pics. (You may not really need them but if u do, they are expensive. 2 photos for 9$)
  27. Get any photos of god, holy books, idols etc that you might need. Get calendar if you wish to keep track of stars and moons etc.
  28. Additionally, if u are staying at hotel till you find accommodation, bring a few of those instant MTR curries as after a 20hour flight you would crave Indian Food.
  29. Spare Ear phone\Head phone. (I lost mine today and it seems to cost 7$ and up). And while you are at it, get an additional USB charger for your phone.
  30. Water bottle – You will have to shell out around 5$ for a decent water bottle in the US.

Additionally, a software engineer who earns around 35000INR per month in India would be earning around 3500$ in the USA. So essentially, based on salary comparison 1$ would weigh down on his purse as much as 10INR in India. Converting everything by the Dollar to INR conversion rate is simply not worth the trouble.

8 Commandments to discuss with your Spouse-to-Be

The following are not amongst the things that are generally discussed with a soon be to be spouse. For a match made in India, food, movies, books, financial background of the family, love for pets and many such day to day stuff are discussed to check for compatibility. Sense of humor, good looks and a level of romanticism are also considered for the much awaited ‘I Do’. However, I believe that no match should be complete till the bride and groom discuss the following 8 commandments beforehand.

  1. Finance: There are some who track their expenses meticulously and then there are some who don’t. There are those who save at the beginning of the month and then there are those who never save. There are those who send their parents a part of their paycheck, some who donate to religious institutions, some who donate to animal shelters. There are those who love to take from parents and there are those who expect the spouse to be the provider. When it comes to money, every person has their own ideology and making sure that this ideology matches is of utmost importance.
  2. Equality: While the concept of “women are equal to men and deserve to be treated as such” is catching on, not all men are ready to treat their wife as an equal and not all women wish to be treated so. Talk to your spouse-to-be and make sure that your views on this match. You really do not want to spend half the night at office trying to fix some issue of utmost priority, only to come home to find out that your other half has problems with you coming in late.
  3. Kids: Discuss this no matter how awkward you think it is. Not everyone is open to the idea of waiting for a few years before having a kid. Not many are open to the idea of adoption. Not many are able to decide how many kids they want and then there are a few who believe kids are god’s gift and humans should not interfere to stop the process. So, regardless of what you believe, having your partner on the same page is of utmost importance.
  4. LGBT Rights: This one is close to my heart. I believe everyone should have the freedom to Love. Make sure you and your partner share same views on LGBT Rights. You might think it is not significant, but it is more significant than you think. Recent studies suggest that more than 8% of world’s population may be LGBT, most of them who have never come out. There are chances that the child you bring up in future might be in that 8%. Having diverse LGBT views can affect your relationship more than you give it credits for.
  5. Religious Ceremonies: Religion is a vast subject in itself and can touch upon variety of topics. On one hand there are the atheists who question the existence of god and on other hand there are folks who believe nothing happens without the grace of god . Then there are a few who spend most of their lifetimes in prayers\rituals. Make sure that you are tolerant of each other’s habits, beliefs and practices.
  6. Parents and Relatives Trap: There are several big decisions one has to take in life – where to buy a house, where to settle down, which school does the kid get to go to etc. Some can make these decisions easily while some folks have to consult others on their big decisions and ensure their approvals. While discussing these with others might not be a problem, awaiting approvals from far flung relatives might be. Discuss the role the relatives will be playing beforehand.
  7. Hobbies and Habits: Nobody can change who they are for someone else no matter how much they want to or they try to. So, finding a partner with matching habits ensures that the changes are limited to a bare minimum. Make sure your hobbies and pastimes align. One should not be a globe-trotting adventurer while all the other wants to do is curl up in front of the TV with a packet of chips.
  8. Fitness and Food: It is easy to let go of oneself and gain the flab as the responsibilities build up with age. Your partner might have different ideas about that. If you are someone who believes that one is born to eat and your partner checks calories before picking up anything, there might be a time in future where you are headed for a disagreement, and those issues my friend, are bound to be heavy.

That being said, compatibility on the above 8 points does not ensure a Happy and Loving Marriage. I know a few couples out there whose views do not match on any of the 8 points but they still make the best of couples.

A Little Bit of Magic

I had been to Broadway-Cochin. It is a street famous for shopping. It is said that if you are shopping and you find yourself on sale at one of the shops then you are at Broadway-Cochin.

I wandered into a shop selling all sorts of plants. I was looking for a particular variety of plant and I had a hunch that I would find it here. The minute I entered the shop most of the attendants there started helping me at their earnest. There were other customers too, but I got the special treatment and I never really gave it a second thought.

After about 15 minutes, I got the plant that I wanted. I went to the counter and paid for it. He asked me if I wanted it wrapped. Since it was a dried plant, I asked him to wrap it in a paper. He asked me if I wanted it gift-wrapped. I said no, took the plant, put it in my bag and turned around to leave the shop.

They were all staring at me intently. One of them ventured to ask: “Are you leaving?”. I was confused at his confusion. So I just nodded my head and said “Yes”. he asked again: “You mean that’s it? You are leaving?”. Yet again, I nodded my head and said “Yes” and I quickly ran out of the shop. All pairs of eyes were on me till I got away.

It was only when my eyes fell on my reflection on one of the several window panes, that the humor of it all dawned on me. I was wearing a magician’s hat(Well- it was sunny and I thought why not) and had a trench coat on (which is a rare thing in India). I guess they assumed I was one of those street magicians about to perform tricks in their shop. That also explained why they were peering intently at the car parked outside the shop. I bet they were searching for a camera hidden in it.

*The above story is as narrated to me by a friend

Outsmarted by the Parents

You all might have heard the Russel Peters joke where he threatens to call the child services and his dad gets better of him. Well, I have my version of it.

This happened when I was 11 years old. I heard a friend describe how she gets her mom to do whatever she wants. She said she would huff and puff and refuse to eat dinner and go and sit in her room. The mom usually came to her room with a plate of food in a little while and coaxed her to eat while agreeing to all her demands. I being the ‘Smart’ one decided to give it a try. After all it wouldn’t hurt – or so I thought.

I waited for an opportunity where my parents disagreed with something I wanted. I told my sister we would get what we wanted if she just acted along. At 9 pm, we huffed and puffed and we announced that we will not have our dinner and stormed off straight to our room. I should have realized something was wrong when my dad did not even raise an eyebrow and mom did not give any reaction. My friend had told me that she usually had to wait for 15 min. So we giggled away the first 15 minutes, in anticipation of the knock on the door. There was no knock on the door. We assumed that mom would take a little while longer as she had excellent patience.

1hr later, we are still waiting in our room. My sister is starting to get cranky and is giving me “this is all your fault” looks. So I went out to check what was taking my mom so long. The lights in the hall were off. My parents had gone off to sleep. I ran to the kitchen- all the utensils were empty. Mom had cleared the kitchen for the night. My ego prevented me from waking my mom and we thus went to sleep with grumbling stomach and next day we were greeted with wonderful smiling faces of our parents asking ” what happened to your anger? You had decided not to eat right?”

Its one of the most hilarious things that has happened to me. And that also was a lesson well learnt. No matter how smart I thought I was, my parents were one step ahead. It also taught me, tantrums would get me nowhere with my parents, Patience and Logical Reasoning would !

Erasing my steps

I walked on the beach…the shores washing my feet…
I walked a mile, along the shore…

The path that I walked, I wanted everyone to see….
My head held high, my footprints so deep…

I thought let me retrace, my achievements of the hour…
I turn around.. Alas!! The waves had washed away my dreams…

I stood in the rain, lamenting my fate…
tears from my eyes.. realization in my mind…

Everything I do, is insignificant after a time…
I should have aimed for contentment, when I had the chance..

Its too late now… To give up on what I have started..
Against the nature, I started walking..

I tread hard on the sand… My footprints deeper than ever..
This time though.. my walk shall be remembered..

All along, laughing behind my back – the rain and sea started what they’ve been doing for years..

…………………………………………………………………………..

“Don’t fight us my child, for we mean no harm…
We strive to erase not your achievements of the past..
The sorrows, the mistakes, the tears – aren’t achievements..
To give you a clean slate every time.. is what we desire ”

Don’t tell me what I cannot do!

How do you react when some stranger tells you that you do not have the skills required to do something ?
This question refers to all those who have been told that they cannot do something.

We had been to a restaurant where they provided valet parking. When we came out after dinner, we noticed that one of my friend’s car was parked precariously close to a tree and somehow they had managed to keep another car across it at an haphazard angle. It was going to take lots of maneuvering to get the vehicle out of that spot. There was a buffer space of 10 inches max..ie.. 5 inches on either side.I should have taken a photograph but at that moment, it never occurred to me!

My friend wanted to get the car out of there. The minute he got into the driving seat of the car, a passing valet commented “With your driving skills, it is not possible to get the car out of there”. My friend just looked at him and started the car and within seconds, he had the car out of the parking spot. He got out of the vehicle, looked at the valet and smiled. We were amused watching the whole drama.He just looked at us and said “Nobody insults my driving skills. Nobody!!”

There are people who accept it if someone says that they cannot do something and don’t go forward with it. And then there are those who go ahead because someone has told them they cannot do it.

A lesson from an Exam

Two children of 8th Grade. Two different places. The same experience. They learn different lessons.

Student A:
There was a state level science exam conducted at our school. And since there were no external monitors, the teachers were giving away the answers as well as the questions. I felt that it was wrong. I mean- don’t you think its cheating ? I refused to take down the answers and wrote down whatever I knew. I was feeling so happy and proud to have done the right thing. I raced home to tell my mom this. She heard me narrate the entire thing. She smiled and praised me for my honesty. But then she added ” So tomorrow when the results will be out, everyone you know would have scored more than you. The people who see these results will never know that the others had copied and you did not. You will be considered a poor performer. Do you think you did the right thing ?”

Student B:
There was a state level science exam conducted at our school. And since there were no external monitors, the teachers in all classes except ours were giving away the answers as well as the questions. I felt that it was wrong. I mean-Shouldn’t everyone be treated the same way ? I believed that this was wrong. Our entire class was angry with the teacher. After the exam, the teacher addressed the rather grumpy class. She smiled and started : “I know you all are angry with me for not sharing the answers. But these exams will be forgotten after a while and what remains with us are the values that we take forward. The other students may score 90 and above, but believe me, even if you score 50, that will be worth more than the 90 scored by the others.”

Both the students walked off with a lesson. Which one learnt the right thing and which one learnt the wrong is just a matter of opinion. And just like everything else, Opinions vary .

Bigger the better

*May contain offensive content

She: It is huge.
He : I know its big.. But I want you to take it. I know that you will manage fine.
She: But its too big…

He: ha ha.. size always matters baby.. bigger, the better… Just take it..
She: Are you sure I can..??

He: Don’t worry.. I am there and will be there if you don’t like it. Now don’t argue, don’t think and just take it please..
She : Ok.. If you say so..

__________________________________________________________

He: So.. How is it ?
She : You were right.. Bigger the better…
He : Told you so…
She: Oh.. I am in love with it.. This is just so amazing…

Don’t know what you were thinking but She now owns a Samsung Galaxy Note..

The Adoption

He said his mom did not entertain the idea of adoption.
She reminded him that they did not stay with his parents.

He said that he would never go against his mom.
She reminded him that theirs was a love marriage and that his mom had not entertained it initially.

He said he would have difficulty in loving a child that was not his own blood.
She reminded him that they had gone over this earlier and that he was replaying the same cards again just to stop the process.

He asked her to choose between him and the unknown child.
She bowed down her head and gave in to the man whom she loved.

———————————————————————————-

I was supposed to start my 2nd grade the next day. The Father had told me that I would be getting new parents that day. I had packed my bags, worn my Sunday best clothes and had my Barbie ready to go. I remember waiting.. the longest wait of my life… And then there was a phone call….. It was a day that I wish I could forget…!!

Remember when

Do you remember how close you were holding me when we entered the house together for the first time?
It took me a while in the hall before I could move to your bedroom.
You were so loving and caring that you even took care of my cleanliness and hygiene for me.

I have no idea what happened to change this way of lifestyle.
I was thrown out of your room and into your kitchen.
You threw rotten eggs, tomatoes and everything else at me. I bore it all with silence.

Is it my fault that you stopped taking care of me? Is it my fault that you turned your concentration to other things in your life ? Maybe staying silent was my fault.

I stood there silently, accepting every sad- bad thing that came my way. Under your uncaring eyes- I grew filthy , discolored and began to reek of unholy odor. I still did my duties well…

How unfaithful you are… I know you are going to throw me out, just like all the dirt that I have been carrying over the years.

I heard you tell your husband yesterday “Honey. Remind me to buy a new dustbin. This one has become old and dirty”