How India Helped Me Find My Purpose in Life

I was recently reading about six people who left their high paying professional jobs to follow their passion....

How India Helped Me Find My Purpose in Life How India Helped Me Find My Purpose in Life

Should I Move To India?

A few readers have recently posted comments around the blog to the effect of "should I move to India?".....

Should I Move To India? Should I Move To India?

5 Things About India that Attract Me

I often get people writing to me, wondering why I choose to live in India. Here are five reasons why I'm under India's spell ....

5 Things About India that Attract Me 5 Things About India that Attract Me

If you’re not a married, vegetarian, Hindu couple or family, it’s likely that you’ll find renting an apartment in India harder than expected. In fact, it’s likely to be quite a challenge. Especially, if you’re unmarried or Muslim.

I first discovered the pitfalls of renting an apartment in India when I was living in Kolkata. Two of my English girlfriends and my husband (who was not my husband back then, but rather a guy I was seeing casually) decided it would be fun to live together in a large apartment as one big mixed happy family. Very naively, I thought that it would be a straight forward process to find an apartment. After all, we were decent people, who had the financial means to support ourselves. And this kind of shared living arrangement was common where I came from. Needless to say, it didn’t happen.

There was no anonymity of dealing with real estate agents like I was used to back home. Instead, we had to personally meet the potential landlady and be scrutinised by her, while she laid down a number of archaic conditions. “No alcohol, no staying out after 11 p.m., and no members of the opposite sex sharing the apartment”. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Had I all of a sudden travelled back in time? Surely it couldn’t be 2006. And I couldn’t be an adult. Those kinds of rules were for teenagers who were still going to school!

It wasn’t an isolated incident either. Everywhere we looked, we encountered the same response. Most property owners didn’t even want to rent their apartments to foreigners. And a man could definitely not, under any circumstances apart from marriage, occupy it with us. [click to continue…]

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My Terrace Before and During the Monsoon

by Sharell शारेल on August 4, 2010

in Daily Life in India

Post image for My Terrace Before and During the Monsoon

Many of you will remember the day I was jubilant about having painted and decorated the terrace…. all by myself! Many people (including myself) also doubted that the beautiful red colour would last through the monsoon season.

The doubts were well founded. Two months into the monsoon and just about all the colour has been washed off. Not surprising, as it has been raining heavily every day in Mumbai. But what’s even worse is that the paint has been replaced by a layer of dirt and slime. Yuk! I do love the refreshing monsoon rain, but it requires a lot of restoration work afterward.

Just in case anyone needs a reminder, here is a “before the monsoon” photo of the terrace. Ahhh, it looks so pristine!

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Delhi Commonwealth Games and the Lack of Accountability

by Sharell शारेल on August 1, 2010

in Daily Life in India

Sigh. Less than a month after the nationwide India bandh, the Indian government and its lack of accountability has again got me riled up enough to write a blog post about it.

Normally, try to overlook the goings-on of the government. After all, I can’t change it. So I might as well accept it. However, this time the issue is closer to my heart. Over a year ago, Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) submitted a report on the preparedness for the Commonwealth Games to the government. Not surprisingly, the report found that the government’s preparations for the Games were way off target. What is surprising, is that the report was “buried” by government and not placed in the Parliament.

I just find this completely unfathomable. How can the report not be tabled in Parliament? I’ve mentioned that I used to work in the accounting field in the government back in Australia. What I’ve never disclosed is where I used to work. It was actually at the Auditor-General’s Office — the Australian equivalent of the Indian CAG.

I also spent some time working at the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee — the Parliamentary committee that is responsible for reviewing and following up government budgetary initiatives, and the reports of the Auditor General. (I don’t expect that many of you will be interested in such a dry subject, but I wrote a substantial amount of this Report on the 1998-99 Budget Estimates).

Both in India and Australia, the Auditor General reports directly to the Parliament, and the public. The government is legally required to place Auditor General’s reports in the Parliament. Yet, somehow, this particular report on the Commonwealth Games, full of damning results, managed to miss its tabling deadline. It was to be tabled during the budget session that ended in early August 2009. But, it never happened. What I’m astonished about is how could it not happen? What exactly is going on in the Indian government that allows it to get away with not tabling a report in the Parliament? This is no minor matter. How does the government manage to avoid accountability like this?

Now, it seems that a miracle will be required for the construction works to be completed in time for the Games. Allegations of corruption are all over the media. One swimmer has already been hurt during a test event, due to sub-standard material and poor workmanship. And officials have stated that safety certificates for many of the new Games buildings have been faked.

The Commonwealth Games is a unique opportunity for India to showcase herself to the world, and dispel common perceptions of poverty (Slumdog Millionaire). Unfortunately, this world is being shown a lot of things, and they’re not positive. Apart from the obvious lack of accountability, I find it upsetting because so much potential is going to waste, again because of India’s politicians who are more interested in what’s in it for themselves rather than their country.

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Two Mysteries Solved & Two Pests Identified

by Sharell शारेल on July 28, 2010

in Daily Life in India

Post image for Two Mysteries Solved & Two Pests Identified

There has been some rather disconcerting behaviour going on at my place lately.

On three occasions now, I’ve walked into the undercover downstairs sitting area and found one of the couches partially shredded. Every time, the cushion has been ripped up and the stuffing torn apart. What could be responsible?

We started shutting the gate, and it didn’t happen again. However, it’s not so easy to keep the gate closed when people (kachra-wala, tiffin-wala, mailman) are coming and going throughout the day.

Today, I was shocked to see the couch ripped up again. Not only that, the day’s newspapers were scatted all over the floor. A friend was visiting, and I complained to her about it. “Oh, I just saw a dog leaving as I was coming in. It was white and fluffy”, she told me.

Ah. That could only mean one thing. Junior. The neighbour’s pesky Pomeranian. I’d been suspecting the culprit to be the white stray dog that roamed the complex, befriending everyone. And I’d been less than nice to him as a result. However, when I went outside the gate, sure enough Junior was lurking there, wet and dirty.

The neighbour, whom I’ve previously written about, was out. Needless to say he received a very irritated phone call.

More recently, I’d been finding the leftover rotis, which I’d carefully placed in a bowl, strewn all over the kitchen bench and with pieces missing. What could be responsible?

This afternoon, I heard a crash of dishes in the kitchen. I ran in to take a look. The semi-eaten rotis were again everywhere. And there it was, right in front of me. The culprit! A huge rat scurrying across the bench.

War is now on. I think the best solution is to get a cat!

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Funny India Photo: Spot the Train

by Sharell शारेल on July 25, 2010

in Daily Life in India

Post image for Funny India Photo: Spot the Train

Yes, there is actually an Indian Railways train underneath all these people! If you look carefully, you can see its blue body on the right hand side of the picture.

Of course, you’re probably wondering what all these people are doing. They’re trying to board the crowded train to go to a Guru Purnima festival that’s happening near Mathura.

Today is Guru Purnima in India — the day when spiritual gurus are acknowledged and respected. However, the idea behind Guru Purnima extends further than that. It’s also a day for giving thanks to anyone who’s taught you lessons in life.

If you wish, simply spend some time reviewing all the knowledge you’ve acquired in the last year and the way it’s transformed you. You may be surprised with the outcome because everybody is a teacher to at least somebody, even without necessarily intending to be!

Photo: K.K. Arora/ Reuters.

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