India trip : 8 Apr 2022 — 30 Apr 2022

We have been waiting for this India trip, given that last travel was in Jan 2022 for just 10 calendar days for an emergency. Effectively, it has been more than 3 years of proper travel to India. A lot has changed in last 3 years including the pandemic, we have seen. People’s mindset has changed, what’s priority has changed drastically.

I felt that having people near and dear as something priority and was eagerly looking forward for this trip. Our trip was very well enhanced by the first leg.. Home to Sydney airport. Have a look at this amazing travel from home to Sydney airport here .

Note: I did have a formal work arrangement with my employer & client to work remotely

Landed around 8.30am. The first car ride was scary.

Typical lane issues. Good to see that passengers seat belt is must.

That’s when you realise how much we are tuned to oversees driving. Streamlined.

At the same time, there is lot of implicit adjustments between drivers. But that’s so clear that if that adjustment are not there you will be in the same place by default for hours together!

Yelagiri — Well planned trip for the kids by space India. Such a bunch of professionals to show the dream to kids.

Planning : Excellent planning by Space India. The detailed schedule has been published and with consistent messaging, ensured that the schedule is engrained in our minds. Good introduction to start off. Best experience does come when kids have hands on. In the field /ground, there were lot of different types of telescope like 8" dobsonian,130eq, SCT. Few binoculars for the participants to casually pick up and use. Many people are shy to ask. But when the binoculars are laying around, it gave the kids to pick up and see for themselves. Thanks to this idea.

Added fun with the camp fire, brought in lot of energy to sustain the night.

Planer disc was another great tool for identifying what’s there in sky. Simple, hand carry disc, helped to make everyone know what’s in sky. Post this session, again trip to camp grounds. With the ground rule that no white lights, we were given red torch lights to use. You won’t believe, entire set of kids and adults followed it to last instructions. That showed the eagerness to learn. This session went on from 11 pm to 1.30am. Around 2am Mr Milky way Galaxy popped up and it was dancing in the sky, at the tail of Scorpio. We did a entire group photo. We at the front of Milky Way Galaxy.. Amazing moments to cherish.

We could not go to 4.30am session to see the planets. We missed the beautiful rings of Saturn! In the morning, We met Mr Ranjith to collect the certificate. We were so happy that we made it to this trip. We could not give 100% of us as we just landed on the morning of camp from Sydney! Kid was so tired and so we were.

May be another camp for sure with 100% participation from us.

Few observations: the accommodation was not great. The rooms were so smelly to sleep, we thought we will not sleep at this room. We were so tired to think anything, we just slept off!. Bit of more cleanliness will help. If are interested the long version of this trip, read it here..

Most of the morning up to 2 pm went in waiting in traffic jam and travelling from Yelagiri and back to Bangalore!. These waits during the traffic makes me compare to Sydney very quickly. Ever lasting waits, super different forms of dust across the Sarjapur road — hmm. May be in the regular way of living, we may never venture out at this time or this road. Not able to predict anything. Feel quite helpless and at the mercy of “some phenomenon” of traffic. Which has strong hold on your life.

8.30 pm — spoilt for choices!! Too many

On a casual stroll in Sarjapur road for 500 metres, there are n number of choices for everything. Majority seems to the 1) Restaurants 2) electronics and clothing. One clear image was that the shared model economy was at its full flow. I would say that in a matter of 5 mins waiting to cross the road, 50% of the bikes are from Swiggy, Zomato or some other delivery service. They are everywhere! On the road, in the security of the apartments, inside the apartments delivering stuff, in the lifts and everywhere! More on the Swiggy Moments here

A small conversation about icecream, resulted in ordering in ibaco in next 10 mins, delivered in 30 mins and consumed in next 45 mins. And from the order to the delivery, you get notificatioins incessantly.. tracking the order, tracking the driver, approving the delivery etc.. etc.. More on the instant notifications here. A world of information overload, spoilt for choices. How will you be able to make most use of this?

Prestige City group — everything is packaged deal. We thought of visiting Prestige City Apartments in Sarjapur Road. While for us , it’s matter of seeing a house almost after so many years. A huge entrance with a drive of 1km inside took us to the glass building called as “Office”. The sheer crowd made us rethink “are we in the right place”? Further questions like “ where are people getting money from to buy to houses like this “?.. it was fully crowded still everyone was being attended to. We got a person who could explain the houses in details, pricier, finances and eligibility. After hearing and asking endless questions, we realised that what you get is “4 walls in next 4years in the form of 3 bedrooms, lounge etc”. Quite spacious for 1600 square ft, when you look at 1600sq ft in the grandiose of multiple towers of 890 blocks, this just feels so tiny.

We were able to see the model house, but not a quite environment. It’s was just chaotic with so many other potential buyers speaking to master salesman to decide whether they should decide to write their dreams in stone!. The whole atmosphere was like a Mela, where free stuff were doled out impress customers , only that there is nothing free and comes at a cost of 1crore INR atleast.

At the end of 3rd day, what it feels ::: We see spoilt for choices in India compared to options in Australia. India is a service oriented economy and which has given power back to the people to decide what they need. But are the people here utilising these choices and options , decide what’s best for them or they are running a rate race Of FOMO? You will have to live to experience and there is no one right answer, other than yours.

There are lot of people around , still a bit of silence exists. People speak of day to day things, serious items are not sure when People are speaking. Emotions run very high in each of the conversation. Judgemental everywhere and is it right ?

Awesome day! Got up at 4.15 am to work in Australian time zone. Regular office work but most of the work was concentrated on first half. Had very good and productive morning. India time afternoon was available for family / purchase etc.

Twist happened around 7.30pm . We booked for a movie at 9.50pm! No kids. “The Kashmir Files”. Great movie to understand. The shame part was we we were not exposed to all these aspects of Kashmir during our school years and after also. This aspect of going to movie at night was good and normally not possible in Sydney.

4am office and then shopping day.

Met my Coaching Cohort member Preeth Joseph. Good to see in person after 60hrs of coaching calls!

Great meeting with Paati also.(Poorni’s Paati). One new trend catching up is the RFID wallet. Very few models, but slowly picking up in the market.

Travel to chennai. Good journey with family. On the way stop to Sai Sangeeth restaurant. .

This restaurant was special with some of the parrots, rabbits and good time pass for kids.

Food was excellent. Ordered for South Indian restaurant.

When we reached Chennai, it was great sweaty and humid feel. Namma chennai feeling.

Full fun day with Lunch at Rajasthani! All of played in Timezone. A small suggestion from Poorni to buy the shoe for Pranav at Lifestyle, ended up with xxk INR purchase. And this is only for Pranav.

Chaiwale coffee was the best. Pranav couldn’t resist the maggi offer here!

Pammal House cleaning — Almost full day went into this. Poorni, Giri and Athai went to Kanchipuram for Silk Saree purchases. Kids had bit of boring time and ended up with OvenFresh Pizza.

Started off with the cleaning of Pammal House(day2). Bit of quick movements to clean up and move on. Some tough decisions to make to keep things. One of the best thing happened was the Porter. The Porter app relieved us from the pain of waiting for a small truck to be called and shifting things This app was awesome, Convenient and cheap

By evening , all of us were exhausted! We went to Dinner at Delhi Highway Restaurant at Citadines, Sholinganallur Junction. One of then best restaurants. Authentic stuff from couple of places like Rajasthan and Delhi. Highly recommended. At 10.30 pm, the restaurant was buzzing. As usual, there was that apartment “Adroit”, which we thought of buying but didn’t for no reason. Now seeing that apartment, the favourite line “We should have invested there!”

Guru(me), Poorni(Wife), Vidhya(Sister), Swaminathan(Dad), Satish (Bro), Ganesh(Bro)

Full gala day. Most expensive day also ��. Went to GRT Gold shopping. There were more people/crowd in platinum and diamond sections compared to Gold:Silver.

Next stop was at Hotel Accord. Mr Venkatesh Bhat is CEO of accord and he is also Judge in Cook with Comali. Good to see him in person, but this time we missed out, as he was in Easter break. But the spread in Royal Indiana — South India buffet was so good.

Pranav also had good time with Shreyas, Vidhya , appa in Timezone , Phoenix Market city, Chennai. Probably for the first time two of them went without parents and enjoyed the Timezone. Looks like Pranav had taken care of Shreyas very well and received this award.

This was also the last day of cleaning at Pammal House. Very painful exercise to clean everything, but quite a bit of refreshing memories. From school days to college days!. Had glimpses of all the notebooks, journals, autograph books, gifts and cards ! Nothing short of reliving the moments.

Mandatory visit to Bank, Locker.

Visited Bujji Pinnama, Chandrasekar chitapa, Indu pinnama.

More on the retirement parties here

Good buffet lunch at Matsya, Tnagar. Pranav also enjoyed the spread. Quick -1 hr visit to Wedtree- the gifting shop just opposite to Matsya. And to Giri trading.

Highlight was the street shopping!. Street foods and street toys! Nothing has changed in last 30 years except that all the traders are in cemented, structed platform compared to the organized chaos earlier.

Officially took leave today. Off work. So entire day is for ours, family. Travelling to Tirupathi today. For the 6am start from chennai, had to get up at 4.30am. All the household folks got ready on time , specifically my son,11 years young. He also got up at 5.15 am itself to get ready. To be honest, this is one quality he had developed himself from younger age! Even for chennai to Bangalore travels.

We got excellent driver. Good driving and chatty with lot of information. Major insight is this : He is type 2 diabetic. But he has crystal clear information that the food he eats is actually causing him to be more diabetic than the extra sugar intakes! Profound insights shared by researchers and scientists was shared by this driver !.

But, Over the period of the day, the driver became over talkative and full on commercial mode.

Tirupathi darshan was too good. We waited for around 4 hrs for the darshan and got to see The Lord for 15 seconds, which is very common. The lunch was at around 6pm :) and we reached home back around 10pm. The roads were pathetic !

A quick packing to Bangalore helped us to see where we are wrt purchases and what else’s to be completed on chennai. That reminded that we need to go to lifestyle shop for buying few stuff for Guru. Great shopping again. Felt so good. But the prices has gone steep compared to last few years. Same for Poorni Shopping also. Traffic again played major roles in post shopping experience!. As far as you are not driving everything seems to be ok except the time factor. Once you start driving, it’s NUTS!.

Went to see Dad to say good bye before travelling back to Bangalore and then to sydney.

Day to wind up things in chennai. The stay felt so short in chennai. There were many other things to do and it was like prioritising again and again to fit in !. This costed heavily on not able to meet my friends. We tried. Could not. Just didn’t work. Even couldn’t meet the close friends who were just 20kms away. Didn’t even call another person. Tried the logistics of meeting now and later, just didn’t happen. Final day to collect things from the shops , pending the packing , re delivering the things to different people.

But nothing stopped the regular office work which started at 4am IST. Most of the good work was done in first 3 of hours of golden silence. Travel from chennai to Bangalore on Friday was also eventful. Thought it’s 330km, we spent around 6.30 hrs on road to reach. Some roads and traffic was like chennai city that it was crawling. Made few arrangements to meet couple of friends that evening . Best decision ever.

Meeting Monty at Thirdwave coffee shop on Friday afternoon was the best decision. I had bit of second thought whether to meet or not due to tiredness. But decided to beat it and meet.

The entire atmosphere at Third wave was so different and invigorating. Wow. So much of buzz.. people were with laptops and in groups discussing some serious stuffs, working etc. didn’t expect this in a coffee shop and a crowd which knew what they were doing.

Great conversation for next 90 mins changed many of my thinking which requires more time to reflect upon. More than anything , I’m was just so happy to meet new person, whom I knew for last 6 months only. More on the “Thirdwave Coffee is here”.. Have a cup of coffee in your hand and read this..

Next pit stop at my friends house. He is friend of mine from College times. It was great to meet him and his family. Something which 6 of us had done during the COVID was to keep in touch through google meet. One from Australia, another from India, third from Singapore and 3 more from Americas. Once the COVID /Lockdown started relaxing , we were finding it difficult to meet again. Life’s old habits starting kicking again in the name of “Busy”ness.

Wanted to get up early, But just couldn’t. By the time we could get ready and start was around 12 noon already. We went to my brothers place and from there to cousins place. A satisfying meet with family. Kids bonded and of course that comes with the package of crying, fighting and feeling of separation towards the end!. As usual, the mandatory visit to Malleswaram 8th Cross. Lot of infra projects in progress and the whole 8th Cross/Sampiege road had changed.

One of the best gift received was the Books!. Quite novel!. and a painting, which can be framed later. Thank you Aravind.

A well defined meet at 12 to 12.30pm. Yes. That’s it. And the planning for this happened almost 10 days back. Zero credits to me and full credits to Sathya who has been managing his time so precisely. This is my third meeting with the cohort member from coaching. I just want to meet. Happy to travel and meet. Great insights from Sathya, his background and many other topics which we covered in 20 mins, apart from the coffee we had.

Office Holiday time. But given the pace of things happening between Bangalore and chennai, just forgot that it was holiday and was trying to get up at 4 am again ! Pretty Silent day and had good walk in the night in the Apartment. Again, there is lot of comparison to where we live and in Bangalore apartments. Very peaceful walk. There is no reason why someone cannot be fit. If no time, atleast at 10 pm, can walk peacefully.

We also went to “Chai Point” today. Amazing concept, delivery. Straight to the point and had many other items to order. Being Tuesday(fasting day), we just stuck to basics but made a note to order later.

Few calls to friends. Doctor for a particular skin(chin) treatment. Wonderful medicine which helped and got treated well. Again testament to patience, we ventured out at 8 pm from Sarjapur to Malleswaram. Just gave the instruction to the driver that I have to reach by 9pm and amazingly he made it happen in the traffic. Our main work was to exchange a cloth in Malleswaram and we did it !. Next to Bro’s house.. followed by Richie Rich. Envy Bangalore/ India. at 11 pm in the night, it was just getting started. the IceCream shop was buzzling with many family gatherings!. It was more of come, park, order, have the ice creams in the car and move out… but some cars spent around 1 hour also !.

Quite day. Great conversations. Leisure walk with the kids.

Critical day at office, most of the day (4 am to 3 pm) was spent in official work. Short visit to Total mall made a not-so-heavy dent in the wallet. We bought some gifts for kids(family friend) in Sydney also.

With the forced leave from office, the day was filled with packing and repacking. Just a short visit to New Mangalore stores. But was on few of the office calls, chats and email responses!. Just could not avoid it.

Wonderful breakfast time with close friend , Ranganathan. We know each other for last 25 years and looked like we had taken quite momentful photos.

2002 to 2022! What a memorable photos of myself and Ranga. 2002 was Lotus temple , Delhi and 2022 was in Bangalore.

Evening dinner was well squared off with Dhoklas and pavBhajis from Anand Sweets!

With final topping of Kulfis ordered late night at 11pm

Most painful day. Leaving India �� with very heavy heart. Very short trip of just 23 days. Not enough to explore , not enough to express. Not enough to meet.

With no further purchases, the day ahead was looking very calm. Just a routine day. Bit of diversion for buying an electronic item for the house here. The intention was to get the microwave today itself didn’t yield much result. The store we went , stock was not available. Had to be delivered from Godown. Frantic calls to other stores also didn’t give positive results. With some hope from one the stores, waiting till evening . Finally at 7pm got the confirmation that stock is available. It was too late to do anything. Just accepted the fact that microwave is not for Today.

To all our surprise , kids had arranged for Home carnival itself , with an entry ticket for carnival. Throwing the ring, ball games, tambola, kahoot, with snacks, lemonades . It was very good 2 hours and well spent. Great efforts by Pranav and Hasini. So many prizes were also from origami papers, arts, and paintings

What is the fun without kebabs? Promptly ordered by Krishna, the final pending restaurant of BBQ nation was also covered. Amazing taste of paneer and other items like corn. Good package, well delivered within 20 mins for starters.

Last day pleasantries , calls and enquirers was more of warm up for the departure to airport. Didn’t striker the chord with these calls, but the physical Departing from home was the most painful moment. The sudden gush of all the India memories fill in and chokes. Some children crying because we are leaving . Heavy hearts, not-sure-whether-we-cry-gents, misty eyes. Heart full of memorable moments — with which we will continue our life in Australia.

This was certainly an attempt to understand the current living in India compared to living in Australia. While there could be many other points of view would be right, this is what I took away from the Trip

1. Money Power : In the current situation, if you have good Income in India, you can live like a king.. i.e. you do not have to necessarily do any regular household work. You can outsource this in a trusted manner. Option is limited in Sydney and costly to afford.

2. Choices: India is full of choices. The choices are not like if you choose one you have to pay more or get better quality. Most of the choices (for eg: grocery apps) delivery the same time/same price /same quality. Option is yours to choose. or decide that you will get better option when you shop personally in farmer’s market. Limited option. Even If I want to order from a particular restaurant, the 5km radius kills many of the available options. Its matter of time to expand this delivery service.

3. Human connectedness: The apartment style of living forces people to connect with each other. Many business run on this connection. Personally many people are satisfied with this social interaction. The whole family gets the necessary connection. Kids have their own groups like moms/dads or grand parents. Not many daily interaction in social side in Sydney unless you take specific effort to connect with people on sports or any other activities. limited to one person in a family, where another person has to stay back and take care of household/kids.

4. Strong Vibes: Whether its chennai or Bangalore, the IT vibe is so strong. the ways of working is so different. Makes you compare to the current working in sydney. its all remote working everywhere in India or Australia. Co-working hubs/spaces is a thriving industry in Bangalore.

5. Friends/Family : Hands down. Absolute no comparison with India vs abroad. India is the best.

6. Infrastructure: I will not worry about “Indian Infrastructure”. Just sticking to cities I went.. Bangalore is pathetic. Initial few days was anxious to drive and slowly I think this anxiety becomes normal and comes out as gaali ! You can almost give up driving due to 1)traffic 2) potholes 3)you really do not know who will hit from where! Same for chennai but less severity. On the conversation with few folks, this has become normal. But if you are depending upon Ola or uber, you should also give up some hope of whether you will get that cab/auto during peak hours. They drive you, if you go on their way of wherever they go!.

7. Food : its more of personal choice. But options are plenty !. On your sick days, don't- want-home-food days, options galore.. with excellent delivery times.

8. Medical: its not free(like sydney), but fast medication is possible. Certain ailments can be treated when its treated quickly. The doctors are the best here and would have gone through large sample of cases when they practice.

9. Education: Limited view. But one the IB school which we visited was very good. Makes you think that education is better in India with fundamentals covered fully.. compared to syllabus of primary school in Sydney. Also, there is a feedback from high school students in sydney that high school is very tough compared to primary school as the level of assignments and individual projects increase from Year 6(Primary) to Year 7 (High school) drastically.

10. Silence: This seems to be very costly.. You literally have to force yourself to experience silence. there is an incessant buzz all the time. Quite good for most of the days.. but sometimes you may want to be silent/calm to get things done! or just to think through.

Depending upon which journey you are in.. which phase of life you are in.. you can explore further.

Thanks for reading this through. Happy to take any comments, feedback..

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Gurusubramanian Swaminathan

Gurusubramanian Swaminathan

Life Coach, Vivid Writer on Reflections, Life Journey