Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Assignment Anniversary

Depending on how you measure (the day we left Chicago on AA292, the day we left Boston on renumbered AA9222, the fraction of a day when we first set foot back in India, or our first full day in India), we crossed the one year mark here in India at some point over the weekend. Needless to say, it's been one of the more memorable and enjoyable years of my life. It was also one of the fastest.

In no particular order, here are five personal aspects from which I've grown, helped change who I am, or that I've simply really enjoyed to this point:

One of the "things" we wanted to get out of this experience was seeing new places. I'm happy to report we're ahead of schedule (or as Lindsay might say, "ahead of plan"). In fact, we will likely go the rest of our lives and not have a travel year that rivals our first year on this assignment. This is in no way depressing. Seriously. With long trips outside India to neighboring Nepal for our Annapurna Sanctuary trek, Turkey for what amounted to three mini-trips within that diverse country, and Bali for the holidays, it's tough to complain. Without a doubt, my favorite India travel moments were the fish market in Goa and the Pushkar Camel Festival. The fish market, in particular, was special as it was the first time on this assignment that we did something in a small town with the locals. With additional trips to Udaipur, Kerala, and Neemrana, it starts to become a little bit of an obnoxious travel year. OK, a very obnoxious travel year.

Technology and Social Media
When we were in India in 2004, Facebook didn't exist, Twitter didn't exist, Skype was only available with voice, and I didn't have a Slingbox. All that's changed. Some people, perhaps even one person I live with, might argue that I'm too well connected. That connection undoubtedly made the transition to life in India easier. The other revelation I had this year is that Twitter can actually be used for more than just waiting for Bill Simmons' next hilarious quip while he watches a Celtics game. During the year, I've changed the way I access news from home (and especially about India). Twitter has become my primary source of what I read on the internet. In fact, I even learned my company had been acquired this way (albeit, in the back seat of a car on the way to a meeting where it was being announced). Of course, it's still comforting to read Simmons' 140 character quips.

My biggest regret prior to moving here is that I didn't do more research or preparation by searching out and reading about others' first hand experiences and blogs. It wasn't until about March or April that I finally started getting into other people's experience. Believe it or not, there are people out there writing about similar things to me and having similar experiences. Unfortunately, I didn't take advantage. That was stupid. During the past few months, I've found this a great way to share, commiserate, and provide and get advice.

In case you're interested, the three India-related blogs (one each of "was", "is", and "will be" here) I always check for updates are:
  • Delhi Bound (a great source of information on anything Delhi and written by a mother with three kids, slightly different experience than mine but a fantastic read)
  • From India. With Love. (written by someone that's done a much better job of reaching out for advice; she's not even here yet but arrives in March to volunteer for a year - it's been fun to read about her preparation and see her ask many of the same questions Lindsay and I had last year)
  • Our Delhi Struggle (ex-expats now back in New York but they're getting the book published that nearly every expat blogger in India secretly dreams of writing).
Not too many consecutive weeks go by between visits where we don't see a familiar face which has dramatically helped the transition. It's been people from all parts of our life; most often it's a familiar face from the office here for a short trip, but there have been two separate family friends that I've known forever, a friend we met through Lindsay's parents that provides a great deal of informal professional guidance, a friend that simply had two business trips to Gurgaon (perhaps for the sole purpose of visiting the tailor), and a college friend of Lindsay's that simply wanted to get away and spend a few days in India. It's been fun being able to share our experience with all of these people and both pretend we know what we're doing and impress them with our command of the Hindi language (note, we do pretend we know what we're doing but have no command of Hindi; none).

Delhi Half Marathon
One of the cooler experiences in Delhi was taking part in the Delhi Half Marathon in November where I'm happy to report I was able to register as a resident of India which may me eligible to pay in rupees and pay a lot less than those other foreigners. While I was admittedly undertrained, I now get a strange satisfaction whenever we drive the streets that follow the course. I'm pretty sure Lindsay gets tired of me pointing out things like "and this is the flyover where the first energy drink stop was." On the way home from Khan Market on Saturday I was excited that a traffic jam diverted us to an off ramp that I had run down toward the end of the run. Lindsay didn't seem impressed. Having never really walked anywhere in Delhi, running provided an interesting and new perspective to a city where I still struggle to know where I'm located (which tends to happen when you're always the passenger and never the driver).


  1. Thanks John, works at well when you post the link on FB..

  2. Thanks, Doug. I've got it set to auto-generate an update when I initially publish, so an easy way to get updates.

  3. Thanks John for sharing, especially on the blogs in India!

  4. ahhh i was so shocked to open up your post and see my humble little blog mentioned! & in such awesome company! thank you thank you for such kind words:)

    i'm hoping i too get to do a bit of traveling while i'm in india - the Pushkar Camel Festival is on my to-do list as is a visit to Goa...I'll have to get your recommendation on where to stay while there!

    congrats on reaching your one year mark!

  5. Congrats on the anniversary! Loved this post and your five top growth aspects!

    (Thanks for the shout-out!)