6 surprising benefits of moving to India

by neo

It’s no secret that Mrs. Neo isn’t the biggest fan of Neo’s sense of humor – but her decision to make Neo sleep on the couch for the past 3 days seems very harsh indeed.

punch drunk

Was Neo’s imitation of Mrs. Neo’s dad’s eating style really all that offensive ? Does he not in fact loudly slurp up his watery curd-rice with his hands ? After all, Neo Jr was literally ROFL at Neo’s imitation – and kids never lie.

But as Neo keeps telling himself every night – “stay optimistic”. If nothing else, Mrs. Neo will finally see Neo’s point – that Neo is actually damaging the expensive leather couch by sleeping on it – and it might actually be cheaper to just let Neo back onto their bed. And yes, of course he’s sorry – he has already called, IM’ed, texted, twittered, facebook’ed, orkut’ed his apology to Mrs. Neo. And Neo knows that Mrs. Neo found the post-it note stuck to her laptop cute.

A sense of optimism for the future is often all you can cling to when you’re sleeping on the couch – and after you move to India. And once your mind is optimistic, you start seeing many surprising benefits that moving to India offers.

Here are just a few:

1. Shorter visits by in-laws – In the US, visits by Neo’s parents and in-laws used to be six month marathons (mercifully limited by the INS). After several of those soul-numbingly long 182 day visits, Neo’s mother-in-law had done enough research on the “flaws in Neo’s lifestyle and general outlook” to finish at least a couple of Ph.D. theses.

During his US visits, Neo’s father-in-law loved playing “six degrees of blame” – how a specific political opinion, action or inaction of Neo’s led in six direct steps to some horrible tragedy around the world. Wait till he tells you how Neo is responsible for malaria outbreaks in Africa.

Chennai - Mylapore - Kapaleeshwarar - 21-02-2007 - 17h23

In India, Neo’s in-laws make multiple, shorter trips and are more independent than in the US. They take the car (and driver) each morning, and have a fun experience visiting Ganesha temples and relatives they not-so-secretly hate.

(Side note on temples: Neo finds it fascinating that there is a “hierarchy of holiness” when it comes to temples. Surely God does not discriminate his granting of wishes based on which precise temple you asked them at ? Even the Post Office seems to be more consistent across branches! Also, the whole concept of God granting specific wishes is sort of unethical because it hurts otherwise decent people like Neo who are just so fracking busy at work, that they never remember to ask for the right thing at the right temple.)

Sawyer from Lost

2. Indian women make eye contact – For the first six months after his return to India, Neo walked with a spring in his step and a silly grin on his face. That was because almost every attractive woman he encountered used to make that deep eye-to-eye contact that only meant one thing to Neo. It was not until Mrs. Neo and Neo’s 18 year-old female cousin sat Neo down and explained to him that it was probably just a cultural thing. And no – apparently they didn’t think Neo  resembles Sawyer (Josh Holloway) from Lost. Neo disagrees. You just have to see Neo from the right angle to get it.

3. Get your email done before you arrive at work – Ever wonder what it would be like to arrive at your cube each morning knowing that your email was already answered ? In India, Neo does this every day – he uses Tata Indicom’s wireless Internet service with his laptop to check and answer his mail during his 30 minute commute to work. Neo often swears while reading his email (who doesn’t) – and over time, Neo’s driver has learned many English swear words just by listening to Neo. Many hapless death-wish motorcycle riders have been recently taken aback with Neo’s driver’s surprisingly cultured invectives.

4. Even shopping for women’s clothing can be fun in India – During a major sporting event, its impossible not to catch some of the action, since there seems to be a huge LCD tv everywhere you look in India. Its not just the trendy coffee shops, airports, malls or bars – even humble convenience stores and clothing stores have them.

Brigade Road

So, in India, Neo loves shopping for Mrs. Neo’s clothes – all he has to do is watch the sporting action on the strategically placed TV and periodically say “oh I think somehow the previous one suits you better” to Mrs. Neo when she comes out of the trial room. Hours of fun.

Also almost every global sporting event (except the few US-based ones, like the US open) are at convenient evening times if you are in India – no more having to watch English Premiere League in the mornings, or “delayed broadcasts” for the Wimbledon or the French Open.


5. Fresh, daily home-delivered vegetables – Can there be anything more luxurious or healthy ? And it gets even healthier – you burn at least 100 calories due to the “fight or flight response” triggered by seeing the vegetable vendor wearing an ultra-short lungi running towards you on the staircase. (That’s 700 calories a week, or 1/5th of a pound in weight loss!)

Also, there is no equivalent of “got milk?” in India – The local grocery store will do free home delivery for as little as 1 liter of milk and a loaf of bread. Neo has used his stellar management skills to optimize the process further. His cook calls the grocery directly, so Neo never has to miss an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (how cool was his takedown of Jim Cramer)

6. No interviews by hair stylists – In the US, Neo preferred USCIS citizenship interviews to the interrogations that hair stylists subjected him to. His favorite stylist (a very nice and efficient Vietnamese lady) took it upon herself to practically interrogate Neo about his career, marriage and politics at precisely the time when Neo was at his lowest. In India, getting your hair cut is like a plane ride – a rare occasion to be offline and quiet. Neo has solved more workplace issues during a 30 minute haircut than many 2 hour marathon meetings.


Finally: The Neo household is struggling through 2 hour power cuts on a daily basis, and the backup batteries are running low. So Neo sits in the dark, illuminated only by the glow of his laptop screen. But even though Neo will spend yet another night on the couch, he still has a smile on his face – because surely tomorrow will be better.

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