It’s a good time to buy US dollars, as the rupee flies.

Today, I’m honored to feature a guest post! I’ve found that, as an expat, there is a huge need to understand the conversion between US Dollars and the Indian Rupee as well as the “how’s and why’s” of when to broker the change.

The guest post today answers many of those questions and I’m happy to share it with you!

This post is a look at the climbing Indian rupee, by Peter Lavelle at foreign exchange broker Pure FX.

If you’re an expat in India, you’ll doubtless need to buy and sell Indian rupees, in order to transfer money between your account in India and back home. Given that, the rupee exchange rate is pretty important. So what’s happening to it now?

Well, right now is a great time to sell rupees, and buy US dollars, as the Indian currency gains 8.0% against its US rival in a month. Why is that, and will it continue? That’s what I want to address in this post.

The US Fed comes to the rescue.

One reason the rupee has jumped so high against the greenback this past month is the US Federal Reserve. On September 2nd, it announced its plan to revive the US economy, with unlimited(!) cash injections into the market.

Of course, that’s been a real salve to investors, who had been holding off, with some $3bn entering global stock markets since the announcement. Part of that $3bn has found its way to India, which explains the rising rupee.

India’s current account deficit (CAD) is falling.

Second, the rupee has been rising as India gets its own house in order too. First of all, the current account deficit (which is when imports exceed exports) fell last quarter, declining to 3.9% from 4.5% in the last three months of 2011.

This tells us the Manmohan Singh government is at last taking steps to bring Indian trade to heel. Instead of importing tonnes and tonnes, and building up a huge imbalance (much as the US or UK has done) the government is fighting to ensure that doesn’t happen. That looks responsible.

The Singh government is wooing foreign investment.

Last of all, the rupee has climbed as the Singh government goes all out to attract foreign investment. This includes a raft of new policies in September, such as opening the retail and aviation industries up to 50.0% foreign ownership. In practice, that means you could soon be seeing Walmart in Bangalore.

As for why that makes the rupee climb meanwhile, it goes like this: if the markets want to put money in India, they first have to buy the rupee. That makes it more in demand. And, just as the price of milk rises when it’s more in demand, so too does the value of a currency.

Will the rupee keep moving on up?

So that’s why the rupee has climbed. Will it keep doing so? For me at least, the smart money is on ‘Yes’, as these latest reforms come into practice, making India yet more open to foreign investment.

Furthermore, though the global economy is suffering the equivalent of a bad flu right now, support from the Fed should keep spirits on the financial markets high. All of which, as I say, makes it a good time to buy US dollars!

Get in touch

I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post.

If you’d like to find out how what I’ve talked about here affects your Indian rupee transfers, visit us at foreign currency exchange Pure FX. We’d be delighted to help with your enquiry!

© 2012 Gori Rajkumari

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Will India Bury the Rule or their Dead?

I’ve written about both before…I imagine I’ll write about both again.

The News in India.

Oh newspapers of India, how angry you make me with your poor reporting and lack of opposing opinions and factual data.

Shiv Sena.

Oh Shiv Sena, how you make me shake my head. You could do so much good and instead you do something that is BAD.

Why on earth are the Shiv Sena staging a mock burial of a helmet to protest the PCB’s helmet laws?

Very good question and here is your answer: They’re staging the mock burial to protest the passing of Pune Cantonment Board’s passing of the mandatory helmet laws because they say that helmets cause spinal and neck damage.

You can read the “whole” story here. I say “whole” because really I’m just being sarcastic.

So while the Sena carry a helmet on a bier and wave banners and slogans against helmets, the Pune Mirror runs a small byline story covering it…and then leave it at that, other than to tell it’s dear readers where the protest march is…and when.

Nothing at all is posted in their little byline story about the law, why it was passed or the many lengthy studies that have been done to prove the Shiv Sena and helmet protesters WRONG.

The statistics from 2008 don’t lie…although they probably do not paint a complete picture either since so many accidents go unreported each and every day.

The number of people injured in accidents is higher than the 2008 accidents listed above because of pillion riders or in some case, multiple pillion riders (like children riding on the gas tank of Daddy’s Motorcycle or being held by Mommy in the back of the bike).

Out of these accidents, hardly 3% of them are from crash fatalities involving car occupants. 86% of fatalities are from pedestrians, bicyclists and TWO-WHEELERS.

Now, I could say something about the lack of use of seat belts in cars here. I could even go so far as to mention the lack of child safety seats of measures in those same cars. I might even mention that a collision at 20 miles an hour (32 KM for you in India) is enough force to knock something…anything out of your grasp. Including your child.

In High School we took driving lessons from a certified teacher. It was a part of our class schedule when we reached 15 ½ . On a day near the end of the lessons, the city police brought in two police officers to let us know their jobs and ours when driving. They also brought with them The Convincer. Back then The Convincer traveled at a speed comparable to about 10-15 miles per hour. Now it’s only 5.7 or so.

But to give you an idea of how you STILL can be jolted at just 5 miles per hour, or 8 KM, please watch the video below or go to this site:

The Students in that video couldn’t even keep themselves from being propelled forward in a 5 mile an hour collision. All of them tried to. I know, I tried to as well and my arms and legs flew out no matter how hard I tried to stay back and even with the safety harness to help me stay in place.

So, do you still think you can hold on to your child in the case of an accident while riding in the front seat with no seat belt for him or you? Wanna bet your life or your child’s on that?

Now imagine going faster, on a bike, with no helmet between your head and the ground.

Helmet’s don’t cause spine and neck damage. Poorly worn or fitted helmets and ACCIDENTS cause spine and neck damage.

Not wearing a helmet causes DEATH…in which case you really won’t care so much about the spine and neck damage, now will you?

If the Newspapers and Shiv Sena were really so passionate about saving lives, they’d both do better to promote the PROPER wearing of safety features…instead of the propaganda of not wearing them.

Bear and I both wear a helmet when we go out on our motorcycle. And we both strap on seat belts when riding in other people’s cars…or we don’t ride at all.

PERIOD.

And so should you.

Peace.

© 2012 Gori Rajkumari. All Rights Reserved.

For facts and other stories, please refer to the below:

Motorcycle Helmets: Common Myths and Facts

Why helmets do NOT increase spinal cord injury or motorcycle accidents

India No.1 In Road Accidents

India No.1 Highest Number of Road Deaths

India Two Wheelers: How safe are they?

“India need to initiate the process of preparing its National Road Safety Plans with improving infrastructure” Pr Rohit Baluja, President Institute of Road Traffic Education

What Not to Bring…

Recently I did a piece on what you should know before moving to India.

It mostly dealt with what to look for when finding the right place to live and some pieces of advice that I wish I had gotten when I moved but never knew to ask.

Today we’re going to touch on another topic, but this is the reverse. Not what to bring with you but rather what NOT to bring.

CLOTHES:

You think I’m joking? I’m really not.

Sure, bring some of your favorite pieces or at least a week’s worth of change. But otherwise don’t bring anything more than that.

Why?

Well, for one, it’s really easy to find western wear clothes here and for really cheap. And secondly (probably most importantly) you’ll find you feel more comfortable wearing cotton clothes bought here. I’m talking heat/humidity here people. It’s horrid. It’s nearly year round. The light cotton kurta’s and kameez are so much more comfortable and airy then our heavier cotton clothes sold in the US.

The other side of the coin is that you’ll feel less “judged” if you go out for a shopping trip in some Indian pieces or a full Salwar Kameez. It’s just that simple. Yes, plenty of girls here wear jeans and tops. But you are going to be a firangi and you’ll be judged by Aunties for those same clothes, so just to save some sanity and have a judgmental free shopping trip, occasionally wear Indian clothes.

Bring ALL of your unmentionables. Trust me. I’ve found them here and don’t like them. I always replenish when I’m back in the states for this.

Leave the hose. I can’t think of anytime I would want to wear those here and not feel like I’m dying from heat.

DO BRING a few winter items as most places in India do have a “winter” although it’s milder in some areas and actually get’s snow in others. Depending on where you go is how much you should bring. I brought three days of winter clothes changes and I think I’ve worn one of my sweaters twice the three years I’ve been here. One of those times I was sick with a fever and feeling cold. ::shrugs::

SHOES:

Yes, I just said don’t bring all your shoes. Yes, I do know that is sacrilegious and totally against girl code.

But let me tell you, after crying over my ruined, moldy little pretties, I’ve decided it wasn’t worth the money to ship them here.

The roads were not made for walking in heels here. There aren’t really sidewalks like you have in the states. Bring a few favorite pairs if you must but be ready for them to get scuffed or the heel to break. Much wiser to bring just any sandals you have, a good pair of tennis shoes and then buy all new pretties suitable for walking in India.

Did I mention the mold? ::shudder::

SOME ELECTRONICS:

I’m not saying you won’t need your hair dryer here or that you can’t use your blender. What I am saying is that to use them here, you’ll have to buy a current converter and there is nothing more a pain in the patootie then having to plug those things in everywhere. You can get all that stuff here.

Except maybe some game consoles…X-Box JUST came out here AND if you get the Asia release console you cannot play your US release games (in most cases). So I suggest at least bringing that. You can get the plug changed and then buy a converter box that’s the size of a small shoe box but required.

DO NOT try to use the normal plug converter unless you want blow up your power box. (Been there….done that).

Basically, most things for the home and your personal care can be purchased here. Unless you plan on moving here and never ever-moving back, my suggestion would be to NOT ship your antiques or Grandmother’s china.

I made the mistake of shipping some of that. One important piece was broken. The rest is fine, but when we move back I’m going to lose it trying to be ABSOLUTELY SURE that this time nothing get’s broken.

I wish I would have stored these items at my parent’s house or a storage center near a family member who could check it and make the payments for me.

SUMMATION:

The next few months will be me doing inventory and preparing to pack for our move back. As I do this, I’ll come across more things that will make me think “Why on earth did I bring this???” and when I do, I’ll write an update.

I hope this helps you!

© 2012 GoriRajkumari. All Rights Reserved.

Before you Move to India…

Before I made the decision to move to India, I talked to my (then) future husband, to my other Indian friends and I read as many books, magazines and articles that I could find on the topic. I also haunted traveler forums getting practical advice from people who had “been there, done that”.  I also had my earlier 3 week visit to India and all my experiences there to draw from.

So when I moved, I was fairly positive that I was at the very least MARGINALLY ready for any contingency.

But I forgot the old saying of “You can never be too ready.”  I was marginally ready for some issues but woefully unprepared for many others.

Let me be very clear. The differences and challenges I’m about to discuss are in no way a reflection on things that I think are wrong or that are inherently wrong, they are only things that I found as challenges based on my own geographical raising and the culture I was raised in. In other words, in one place something may be acceptable and in another, the opposite is true.

Let’s discuss those today.

Being from America and living here in India for 3 years, I see many similarities in Cultural aspects that only go by different names or some twists or outright changes. These made me very comfortable and gave me a false sense of understanding. I say false because you can never fully understand a people from another society, even after living there for multiple years.

Some things are just too ingrained in your nature to fully comprehend theirs. This is not a bad thing, it’s just the truth.

Challenges…

  • Honking. It drives me nuts. People honk when their turning, coming up on another car, to tell a car to get out-of-the-way, when they’re frightened, to get a dog/cow/goat/horse to move out-of-the-way and to get guards to open gates faster. They aren’t going to stop.  Get over it. Why? Because it’s the law to honk on public roads when your making a turn or coming to a blind corner. People just do it everywhere now. At all times of day or night.
  • As mentioned above, there are a LOT of animals in the road or in colony’s or on the curb or in parking lots or pretty much anywhere you look. Most of them are not vaccinated. Some of them are owned, some are not. Some people care for them, other’s do not. Some people help them, some people hurt them. If you are a helper, be ready for a lot of backlash for it. Some people will then want you to take responsibility for any animal you feed or they’ll just blatantly tell you to stop. The Law protects you and covers you for being an animal lover but you’ll really have to fight hard for those rights.
  • People here love to over-talk others. It’s socially acceptable to most. You will find some who find it rude, but they are few and far between.
  • It’s acceptable to raise your voice to be heard over others but not to yell or scream. Apparently there is an understood decibel level that you should not rise above. I haven’t gotten this down yet and so am accused of yelling….frequently. Even though to me, raised voices are as unacceptable as yelling and most of the time the people sound to ME as if they ARE yelling…when apparently to them this is ‘raised voice’. Here, only raising voices is acceptable no matter what.
  • People often sound like they are yelling at each other or arguing with one another when in fact they are just having a passionate discussion or perhaps that’s just how they are. It’s confusing if you don’t’ speak the language and it can make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Speech as an Art Form:
    • Implying is a form of speech here. To imply something without saying it so that one can back out of ever having “said” any such thing even though everyone knows that’s what you meant. You can’t pin some people down to an absolute honest and straightforward answer.
    • Purposely giving misleading information is another form of speech here. This leaves the onus on you to either argue your point or defend your stance or to leave it and let everyone believe whatever lie the other person “implied”.
    • Purposely misinterpreting what you say or write. This is a popular one, because they will stick to whatever opinion they’ve formed based on what you didn’t write or say. Even after explaining they will fall back on their next favorite method of Speech.
    • Argumentative. People here will argue you blue in the face for the fun of it. It’s an art form and similar to bickering over cost. If you don’t do one or the other, you’re seen as a weak target and easily over run.
    • Barking. I only just learned what this means. I’ve seen it happening for 3 years but never had a word for it until this week. In the US we would call it lip service. It basically means that people like to say things but not act on them. They like to complain in a way where they won’t be held responsible. Especially effective if they can say whatever they want, knowing that it bothers you and then sit back and watch while you become upset.
  • Responsibility. This one is a very touchy subject with people living here. Mainly because they would prefer not to take responsibility for something. Many people would rather you take responsibility or do the work for something that they want done. This way, they do not have to do it, they can tell you how to do it and they do not have to take responsibility if things go wrong. You see it in all aspects of life here, from Government to everyday life.
    • For Example: There was a recent meeting about the Society Dogs (yes…again) brought on by a complaint by someone here in the Complex to the Animal Welfare Board of India to the Society for abuse/cruelty towards animals, owners and animal lovers. During the meeting, a dog hater brought up this as an example:
      • “What if a four-year old goes to play on the swings and his Mom is watching from inside the house when she sees a dog trying to play with the child but the child doesn’t understand so runs away and the dog attacks the four-year old and kills him. Who takes responsibility?”
      • My Answer: “The parents. Who let’s a child of that age (an immature child) out to play without adult supervision? I call that a negligent parent. And why didn’t the parent teach the child how to be around animals? In India there are millions, they will see them everywhere.”
      • Uproar.
      • New Scenario from different person: “What if that same four-year old is on the swing and it breaks? Then who’s at fault?”
      • My Answer: “The parents. For not first checking the equipment their child was playing on and reporting any issues to the Society Management.”
      • Uproar.
      • I was told later that the correct answers would have been “The dog lovers” and “The Society Management”. I snorted and walked away.
  • Corruption. ::sigh:: Please don’t get me started on this topic. It’s rampant and wide-spread and you deal with it everywhere. From your local Babu who wants to force your local Kirana shop to close on certain days or to pay a “fee” for operating in the area to the Police or Government officials who want “gifts” for doing their job. Societies have little fiefdoms of people in power or who have a family member in politics. Don’t be surprised if you’re pulled over by the police and given a bogus ticket. Money is the grease of palms here and you better be ready to whip it out at the drop of a hat. Getting all mad and righteous might make a difference today but when you face it a few times a week you have a choice between your mental/physical well-being or doing what’s right.
  • Racism/Reverse Racism: Yes it is here. More towards each other (other Indians) for differences related to states (similar to the North and South rivalry if you added some violence and not giving jobs to people from the reverse area), religion, and caste or skin color. But it does happen with “white people” mainly because we are all lumped into one category: RICH. Which means you will get people trying to rip you off or to pay more for something that someone else pays for. You’ll also get lots of dirty looks or lewd remarks and inappropriate touching in certain locations where they can get away with it (like crowded locations – I was once butt pinched while in line to enter a temple place, from then on, my husband was stationed behind me and I led the way). You’ll also get special preferential treatment, which will make you feel special and nice till you realize how everyone else around you is being treated and then you just feel sick and guilty. It can be a very isolating experience over a longer period, because you are daily being singled out either for great treatment, shitty treatment or stares. Remember how you would go somewhere blithely? There is no blithely here unless it’s in an area with a LOT of other foreigners and the people living there are used to seeing people like you.
  • Health: There are many things here to be mentioned and truly I couldn’t possibly go over them all. If you were raised in the US, it’s going to be far more difficult for you to live here and not have health issues unless you are an especially hearty person. For people like me, I found that I was sick two or three times a month. At least one serious illness every 3rd month. Indian medicines can sometimes make things really better or sometimes make them much worse…it’s a crap shoot and we’ve taken to telling doctors that my body reacts extreme to medicines so they give me lower dosages for certain issues.
  • Depending on where you live, you will deal with dust/exhaust/chemical/pollen pollution. In some places you will deal with them all. Where we live we have them all since this place is still under massive development. The humidity can also cause problems with breathing.There are Gyms here but they are few and far between in our area. Since I cannot drive that far on my own and there are limited reliable/trustworthy rickshaws in the area, it makes it impossible for me to join them. Also, the closest one is a ‘gents only’ gym. The ladies gym is further away.
    • For Example: This Monsoon the humidity was so heavy I had to go to the Emergency room for a session with a steam inhaler and oxygen.  There were 12 other people there at the same time getting the same treatment…and they were Indians. It affects everyone sometimes.
  • Chiropractors are really hard to find here in India. There are a few but that’s for all of India and the closest one to me is about 12 hours away. Not exactly good for a weekly alignment. I’m really in need of a neck and upper back alignment but no go. We don’t have a bath tub that I can even take a hot bath in to help relax.
  • Mental Health:   This is another touchy subject here. Mental Health here has the same stigma that it had in the US in the 60’s. Recently this had begun to change and I have lately seen Psychiatric and Psychological Center’s opening.  It’s got a long way to go yet though.
    • For Example: I’ve recently had some rather scary symptoms crop up. I felt like I couldn’t breathe or take a deep breath; I felt light-headed or dizzy; I would feel hungry, eat and then feel sick to my stomach; clammy skin or flushing, disassociated feeling (like being unconnected), numbness in hands and feet and some feelings of fear. We finally would up going to the Hospital Doctor, who after examining me and finding nothing wrong physically – spent 10 minutes asking about my life and found that I was having a long-term Anxiety attack (I had felt this for over a week). Now I’m on multivitamins, anxiety medication and sleeping pills. I feel better but my Western mentality is telling me that I need to see a Psychologist to help me work out WHY I’m anxious since I’ve been dealing with the same stress I’ve always dealt with for the past three years …so why NOW? Saturation? Increase? Exhaustion? No time to heal? Who knows.
  • Infrastructure and Amenities: You never realize how lovely a well paved road is, 24/7 fresh clean water from the tap or electricity that’s always there…until you don’t have it anymore. We’re lucky; we have a bore well that always provides us water even if we have to filter it to drink it. We still have water anytime so we can do our laundry or clean our floors and bathrooms (each of these requires daily cleaning here– no joke). Otherwise, you’re going to have to store water in plastic buckets for cleaning and metal ones for “drinking” water. Going anywhere is a journey of torture on some roads. The jarring, jouncing, bouncing, jumping, bumping, swerving and blaring are all enough to limit the amount of times you go beyond your general area.
  • Mosquito’s. Ugh. Enough said.

OK, so what can you do to make your life easier if you still chose to move to India or really have no choice BUT to move?

First and foremost, get yourself healthy RIGHT NOW. Stop smoking, lose any over-weight; get yourself into an exercise regimen. Get yourself healthy so that your body will be healthy when you move. You’re body will need everything it’s got to be ready for the different virus bugs here, the water issues, the air pollution, the changes in atmosphere and cleanliness.

Save up some extra money so that you can buy the following items immediately upon arrival:

  • Generator : This is for when the power goes, it should be big enough to run whatever is most important to you from the TV or AC unit to the Frig or Water Purifier.
  • AC Unit. It’s a must for getting used to the changes in temperature, the extreme heat and relief from humidity.
  • Water Purifier. It’s a must, trust me. I suggest the Aquaguard Total SENSA from Eureka Forbes. It has E-Boiling +, UV+, RO+, UF+, and SMP+. Which means it cleans the water thoroughly and gets rid of the salty after taste. It’s going to run you about 18,990 rupees. Not cheap but a MUST.
  • Water Heater which here is called a Geyser. If you like cold showers even in winter than don’t worry…but if you want a hot shower or hot water for anything in your house, then you need a Geyser. They only get installed above the faucet you’ll use it for. It’s not like in the US where it’s a large unit for the whole house. This is a smaller unit holding less water and is compact enough to fit above your shower or sink. You can easily get an Immersion Heater which is a hand-held metal prong that you but in a bucket of water to heat it, but then that means no hot showers. A good 25 liter geyser will cost you between 5,000 and 7,000 rupees.
  • Gym Membership. You don’t think this is important but trust me it is. There isn’t any place really safe to jog or ride a bike here like we have in the US unless you live in a huge complex or society. To keep your health, get the Gym Membership but I would suggest getting one in a Gym either older than 5 years old or in a hotel like Radisson which offers specials for use of their gym, pool, spa and discounts on dining and room stay. We did this and it made a HUGE difference. I say this because our Society Gym was wrecked within 5 months of opening by people not knowing how to use the equipment and the Gym that opened in our area a couple of years ago closed one day with no notice and no refunds for anybody…even members who bought 5 year Gold memberships (not us – we had the Hotel offer).
  • Language Tutor. This can be cheap or costly depending on where you are and if it’s a private tutor. Either way, save the money for it. For example, we were going to have a private lady tutor to come to our house twice a week for two hours each. We had to pay for her transport to and from and the total was going to be 26,000 rupees for one month. Let me tell you…that’s a lot of freaking money. It was also all we could find for our area.
  • Transportation:
    • For remote locations: A Car and driving instructions class upon arrival.
    • For city locations or close to: a Scooty for going to shops or stores that are a little further away…don’t forget the helmet.

Naturally you’ll buy a TV, Frig and Range for cooking, buckets for water storage or washing…you know, things like that. But those are given. Almost everyone get’s those without a second thought here. But the other’s are things that people just don’t think about here or if moving to here.

Also, before you move, really consider the area you are going to live. My suggestions?

  • If you are shipping household items to India, it will take about 2-3 months via an actual ship, which is cheaper and the course most people take. If you do this, make sure that you have a reliable customs agent lined up in the India receiving customs area who can facilitate your shipment out of customs and have it delivered to your home. Otherwise…I kid you not, you are screwed. Our items sat in customs for a month and a half longer than they needed to because every time we called to check if they were there we were told they were not. We finally hired an agent who then gained entrance (agents are allowed this) and physically searched, found our items and then get the paperwork in order, got us to come, bribed the official for us, and five hours later we were allowed to leave and our agent got our things shipped to us three days later. They even unpacked some of our things for us. But wow. What a headache and I was freaking out because this was my book and movie collections, albums, pictures, knick knacks and a few other items.
  • If you love Movies or Books or Music, be sure to bring yours with you. You aren’t going to find your entire favorite collection here and even then you would most likely have to buy. It’s rare to find a place where you can rent books or movies. Our local Movie Rental place just closed down after two years of struggling. We have a book rental called Just Books but it’s small and the collection isn’t very varied (their big on romance novels for some reason). Most people here either buy, borrow or….well you know.
  • Try to live in an area that is established and finished with lots of shops and transportation nearby. This way you can be somewhat autonomous even if you haven’t yet learned the language. You can still go out to shop or get your own groceries as and when you need or want them.
  • Make sure your Society Complex has water supplied either by the city or a bore well and that they have a good Security team in place. If you have pets and are bringing them, make sure that the Society doesn’t have by laws about them. It’s actually illegal to not allow pets, but rarely is the bylaws challenged here so they can get away with forcing you out or your pet out.
  • Try to find a flat with a bathroom large enough that you can have a bathtub installed. TRUST ME. There have been many times that I have needed it and not had it. Like strains and pulled muscles, sitz baths or just regular relaxation (which is needed often here). A tub is a little piece of home that is just sitting waiting for you even if you don’t often use it. Try your best to get one installed. BE SURE THAT THE FLAT HAS AT LEAST ONE WESTERN TOILET. Trust me, if your sick the last thing you want to worry about is if you have the strength to hold yourself up over the Indian style one.
  • Buy a Floor Squeegee and Toilet Paper ASAP. It will take time to get used to feeling wet when you go to the bathroom. Or worst yet, you forget to take off your sandals or shoes and walk into the bathroom and sit there and look at your once clean floor and realize you’ve left big black print marks because the floor was still wet. In Indian bathrooms, there is no separation between bathing area and the rest of the bathroom like we have in the US. The bathroom here will easily get wet either due to someone taking a bucket bath or shower or someone using the sprayer wrong or it leaking. The Squeegee is on a long pole and will allow you to swipe all the excess water towards the drain. The bathrooms don’t always tilt properly so in some cases you will HAVE to do this to get the water up. The TP is for your own well-being and you know why. It will take some time to get used to. Carry them in small packs in your purse too if you’re a lady. Public restrooms are the WORST here unless you’re in a new mall. Don’t be surprised to see an Indian toilet instead of western.
  • Get used to the fact that you will need a daily maid to clean your house. Just get over it. I know you used to keep your house clean, work full-time AND do the cooking and laundry in the US…but in India things are different. Your floor and bathroom need daily cleaning. There are no dishwashers unless you got extra money to spend and even then you need to buy a geyser to make the water hot for it. No clothes dryers either. Dust builds up in a day not a week. The floor is all tile and gets dirty in hours…not days. Cooking here is a preparation.  So just get used to the fact that you will need a maid and tell yourself that it is OK.
  • Also try to leave nearby to the work place of whoever is working. This will help reduce the stress of a long commute. Even if something seems only five minutes away to your US mind due to the mileage, it can still be a 40 minute drive due to the traffic or road construction. Try to talk to other people in the workplace on the best place to live CLOSE to the office. Don’t buy until you are sure of that.
  • If possible, before you arrive, have a reputable Doctor lined up or know where the BEST hospital is at. Trust me, even if it’s a good hospital you are going to find it dirty and far from the standards you are used to in the US. The Doctors and staff are generally very good and knowledgeable, but the standards of cleanliness do not always match that. That’s why it’s best for your mental well-being to already know where the BEST hospital is before you move so you know where to go in an emergency.
  • Also, they have ambulances here but they aren’t used the same as they are in the US. It’s harder to get one to you in a timely manner so that is why you will see most people brought by car or rickshaw. Be sure to have someone come with you that can take care of buying your medicines and medical equipment needed. They require someone to do this for the patient before care can be given. It’s not like in the US where they keep track of what is used or bundle it in to a cost and then you pay after. Here, you pay as you go.
  • Learn to let go. This is the most important thing I can suggest to you. Before I moved here, I knew that my personality was the kind who hates to see injustice and would fight it when it was found. But in the US I was like a crusader in a city without crime. Here though, you can find it everywhere. From how people treat their help, to how people drive as if they own the road, to the way or way people will talk to you which you take as rude and they think is normal conversation. Remember that the way you did things in the US is not the way they are always going to do things here in India whether it makes sense to you or not. If you let it, every day…heck several times a day, you can find things that will rankle and irritate you if you are anything like me. LEARN TO LET THESE THINGS GO. I’m not saying that you should not fight for what’s right, I’m saying that you should pick your battles, understand that there is only so much YOU can do and that you sometimes are going to just have to let it go if there is nothing else left for YOU to do. Don’t expect other people to continue or even understand what you think is common sense or logic. It’s that way for YOU or for us because that’s how we were raised. It’s not necessarily so for people here and that doesn’t mean we are right or that they are wrong. It’s just the deal.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you can make a go of living here, that’s great. But if you find you can’t don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t judge yourself based on other people, other foreigners, living here. They may project a perfectly blissful life here and the truth may be very different. If they tell you any differently, take it like you would anything…with a grain of salt. Living in India is hard even for people born and raised here, so it’s no shame if you find it too hard to bare either.

So, why am I giving you all these tips?

Because I wish someone had told me all of this before I moved.

After three years of living on the outskirts of our city with little to no interaction with the outside world except when my husband or neighbor can get me out (or my travel to the local Reliance store), I have become Isolated, slightly Agoraphobic and am now on Anxiety medications.

So prepare yourself. The prevention is always better than the cure.

What about you? Any tips you’d like to share?

©2012 Gori Rajkumari. All rights reserved.

Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate

 

There are some points in life when you feel that nothing you do will ever make a change.

After living here in India for nearly three years, I’ve found myself getting to that point more often than not.

India is so beautiful and full of so many possibilities but hides so much atrocity that it breaks my heart.

India has so many other countries that she could learn from and not make the same mistakes they have.

But every time I’ve mentioned it, I hear things like:

“India is new in her freedom, she needs time.”

“These atrocity’s happen in the villages, not educated cities.”

“India isn’t like this. You can’t compare it to the decadent West.”

And then people blithely go about their lives, refusing to look around them or agitate for causes that do not directly affect them.

So, when Bear and I started seeing adverts on the TV for a new show by Aamir Khan, our first thought was…Aamir on TV? What’s this?

The advertisements were vague and mysterious. Since they were in Hindi, I wasn’t sure what was going on except that Aamir seemed impassioned. When I would ask my husband what Aamir was saying…he could only reply with “He’s talking about telling the truth, that the truth will set us free and how one shouldn’t be afraid of telling the truth.”

My question was “Telling the truth about what?”

“I don’t know…let’s wait and watch.” Was my husband’s reply.

So, we waited with baited breath until this past Sunday to see what truths Aamir was talking about.

And he took our breath away.

His new series is about the truths in India that we hide or hide from. It’s about the things that we must change. It’s about the things that we are doing to ruin our own reputations as Indians and Humans. It’s about truth…as hard and as straight forward as possible.

And it hurt to watch. But it was beautiful as well.

Aamir’s TV series is called Satyamev Jayate. It means Truth Stands Invincible.

In his series, Aamir travels India to learn what issues need to be addressed. If his first episode, Female Foeticide is any indication of his future episodes, he won’t gloss over these hard topics. He’ll shine the light of truth on the darkest corners of India’s heart.

He’ll help set us free…with truth.

In this episode about Female Foeticide, he had women on who were forced, sometimes without their knowledge or consent, to abort their female fetus. Two women testified that this happened to them not once or twice or even thrice…but countless times.

Aamir’s statistics were that every year, 10 Lakh female fetuses are aborted.

That this trend started in the 70’s with Government hospitals, that even after banning it spread to the private sector.

That Doctor’s accused and were guilty of this, have never had their licenses revoked and practice to this day.

That it is NOT the villages where this is happening, but the cities. And by educated families.

AND that a child’s sex is not determined by the Mother…but by the Father, a fact that many people are not aware of. Which explains why it’s always the Mother who is at fault for not giving a son.

So far the reception here in India to his show has been very positive and I pray that it remains this way.

No other person could carry these topics to the Indian people and have them be so received. Aamir is known for his character and activism. His celebrity allows this type of show to become greater than any other show with any other “host”.

At the end of the show, Aamir promised to write a letter to ask for harsher punishment to Doctors’ accused of doing this illegal act and asked people to text their support to the show by “signing” off their approval.

And my husband, who never sends texts to vote for anything, promptly texted “Y” for yes.

Please take a moment out of your busy schedule on Sunday’s at 11am to watch his next episode. Or perhaps watch it on YouTube or his sites link.

I’ll provide you with both here so that’s it’s easier for you. While they aren’t yet available in the states, we are hoping that they will be soon.

The show does have subtitles in English. From his site, you can view episodes in other languages of India.

Watch. Be Inspired. Be the change you want to see.

The truth will set you free.

The Website: http://satyamevjayate.in/

The Episode:

 

©2012 Gori Rajkumari

 

Pranayama Bhastrika or Kapalbhati…you’re doing it wrong.

For my first year living here in India, I was positive that the guy who lives upstairs had either bulimia or anorexia.

Every morning, for the past three years, this man would sit in his bathroom making the most horrific retching noises. It truly sounded like he just couldn’t vomit whatever was upsetting his stomach out…and so he would cough and retch and cough and HUH for a good 15 to 20 minutes.

It should be said that I am what’s called a “Sympathetic Vomitter”. This means that if I so much as hear a retching noise, my gorge starts to rise. If I should, heaven forbid, SEE or SMELL it then for sure I’m going to hurl.

I began to be very concerned with his diet. Was he eating at the same places as us? Was I going to start vomiting every morning? Was it our WATER?

Because of the time that he did this, my husband would be dead to the world and since he sleeps on the side of the bed away from our bathroom…he never heard it. But I did. It became my regular alarm clock.

However when Bear’s work schedule changed, he began waking up earlier in the morning and one morning he was awake when Mr. Chronic Vomitter was at his sympathy vomit inducing best.

“Bear, I think Mr. Upstairs is bulimic.” I said to my husband.

“What’s bulimic mean?” he loves all these new words I teach him.

“It’s when you over eat something and then throw it up. Maybe he’s anorexic instead…”

“Why do you say that? Quizzical looks are always so cute on him.

“Dude! Do you hear him? Listen to that! He’s vomiting out his lungs up there!”

“Ohhh, does he do this every morning?” He’s starting to get the point now…HELLO Sympathy Vomitter for a wife!

“YES!” Emphatically shaking my head to prove this point.

“Oh..he’s not sick. He’s doing pranayama. Either Kapalbhati or Bhastrika. Doesn’t sound like he’s doing it right though.”

“What the HECK is THAT??? I mean, is he vomiting as a part of YOGA??? EW!”

And there started my lessons in yogic breathing techniques.

But the way Bear and his Dad do it doesn’t sound one tiny little bit like the guy upstairs. And they don’t do it for long. And they don’t do it regularly because, as Baba points out, it can be very damaging if done wrong or excessively.

So, what are Kapalbhati and Bhastrika Pranayama? Essentially, they are a part of the Hatha Yoga.

Well, first it should be said that not everyone believes that these are forms of Pranayama. Some believe that they are shuddhikriyas.

Shuddhikriyas are cleansing techniques that should only be done when needed whereas Pranayama are Yogic techniques that can be done on a daily basis.

Kapalbhati and Bhastrika Pranayama are breathing techniques. It’s basically when one sits in a lotus pose, erect and without curvature of the spine and breathe either in small quick breathes in and out of the nose (Kapalbhati) or long inhales and quick exhales through the nose (Bhastrika). They are meant to help you cleanse the nasal cavities, clear the brain and to focus. Simply put.

However, neither of these sounds likes the morning ablutions of Mr. Upstairs.

So I started to do further research.

After reading that most people do not believe that these are actually Pranayama but in fact Shuddhikriyas, I decided to do further research on Shuddhikriyas.

What I finally found was a website listing the different methods of cleansing. (You can see it here).

They are:

  • Agnisardhouti
  • Vamandhouti
  • Kapalbhati
  • Jalneti
  • Nasagra Drishti

Then I researched each one and VIOLA! What Mr. Upstairs is performing is actually called Vaman Dhouti!

Here is an excerpt on the method:

The washing up of the entire track starting from the mouth to the digestive path at the beginning of the small intestines, that is mouth, esophagus, stomach etc are included in this process. One can wash one’s mouth, but in the daily routine one cannot wash the esophagus or the stomach. The impurities residing there are carried along with the food particles and are mixed in some proportion with the blood. This has adverse effects on the body. In the case of some patients, the stomach wash is affected by introducing rubber tube into the stomach. This process is done in Yoga without any external instruments, only with the physical movements of the internal organs in the body. This process of stomach wash is done with the help of dand (catheter), water or cloth. We will consider the process done with the help of water.

EW!

AND this website even goes so far to say that it should NOT be performed daily!

So what the heck Dude? Why do I have to listen to Mr. Upstairs make his retching vomiting noises every single morning for three years?

Now I’m currently thinking up a way to print this webpage off, slide it under his door and wait to see if it changes anything.

Perhaps highlight in yellow and underline in bold that part about NOT performing it daily.

©2012 Gori Rajkumari