Sunday, 21 September 2014


Image courtesy of
IndiaLiving has given me a different perspective. My live is peaceful. Without the continuous bombardment of television commercials and programming I have discovered the less stuff I have, the happier I have become. I removed myself from politics and the rat race of the world and made some discoveries through reading and reflection. I guess you could say I have detached.

My understanding of God has changed.  God is good, Pure Love, Pure Light incapable of creating evil. God is not a judgemental or a punishing God.  Because He did not want to impose His will on man, He gave us free will.  It is man who has created evil in this world.

I have learned that country, political party, skin-color and gender do not define me. That is not who I am. I am a soul. Genesis 1:27- God created man in his own image. I am a part of what some call God, Pure Energy, Source, the Great I Am. I am a soul encased in a human body, having a human experience.  My soul chose to incarnate into this body called Cindy to learn the lessons that I need to learn and to have experiences I need to have in order to achieve Perfection.  Perfection is to let go of ego and to love unconditionally. Not easy by any means.

Knowing that we choose the life we are living and choose to endure certain experiences makes forgiveness a litter easier. If I am abused in this life, perhaps I was the abuser my previous life.  I need to learn both sides of the issue in order  to forgive and love unconditionally. I no longer am concerned about world events or outcomes. No matter what happens to my body or my world, the real me, who I really am, soul will continue. I will never die. My God, Source of all Creation is Pure, Radiant, and loves unconditionally. The I Am that I Am is not a judgemental angry God ready to punish us for our sins. Having given us free will, He expects nothing from us. He is a Loving God with Infinite Patience and Understanding.  He loves us unconditionally without judgement.  I will never be doomed to hell for committing a sin.  I will simply endure reincarnations until I get it right.  If I commit evil during this lifetime, my next life will not be pleasant.

When my body, known as Cindy dies; the real me, soul energy will become free once again. Other more advanced souls will help me to review my human life experience. Together we will determine what life lessons I learned and what future life experiences I need to continue to grow towards enlightenment. After a rest and reflection, I will choose to reincarnate again to continue my education. As I increase my understanding and perfection; at some point I will no longer need to reincarnate. As an Enlightened Soul, I will be able to help other souls to continue on their journey toward enlightenment. I will grow closer to and become more like the Divine Source, Creator of all.

Did I have to come to India to gain this understanding? No. This is where I happened to unplug from the constant mind control of the TV and began to read and seek answers to the questions I have had for a long time.  Do I have all the answers? No.  Is my path the path you must take? No.  You must discover your own.  Just as there are many roads to your city, town or village, there are many roads to the I Am.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Ram, after four months finally has his Indian driver’s license.  During the process he asked for a traffic rules manual.  There is none.  After many trips to Haldwani and a lengthy time consuming process, he was given a learners permit.  He was told to return to the RTO (Regional Traffic Office) after one month to get his regular driver’s license.  He did.  At that time he was given another form to fill out.  It was complicated and confusing.  He wound up hiring an agent to assist him.  Two days later he returned to the RTO with the completed form and fee.  There was no written test.  The RTO officer asked him where his car was.  Ram pointed to it.  The officer asked him to bring it around to the front of the office.  This area was a congested jumble of parked vehicles of all types and sizes.  There were no marked parking spaces and no designated traffic path.  Drivers in vehicles with honking horns and pedestrians were trying to get into and out of this area.  Ram asked his driver to bring the car around.  THAT WAS THE TEST!!  Ram was given documentation stating he was a qualified driver and told his driver’s license would arrive in the mail.  It did five days days later.

This is the link to the unofficial driving rules in India.  It is funny and very true.

Sunday, 17 August 2014


Living in India often makes me appreciate things I took for granted in the United States.  Tap water is one of them.  Turn on the water tap and clean water flows.  This is not necessarily so in India.

India has a water crisis.  Most of India’s lakes, rivers and ground water are contaminated. There are many causes: poor infrastructure, unregulated industry, unmanaged garbage and untreated sewage. More than one half of Indian households have no toilets. Water scarcity is another problem. This is cause by poor water management and a burgeoning population.

Patna.  Sadly this is not an exception

One would not expect to have to order a tanker of water in the middle of the monsoon.  However, it turns out in our neighbourhood a heavy rain causes sand to build up in the water pipes.  When this happens the water is simply shut off and the sand settles.  In a few days it is turned on again.  If we are lucky, we have enough water in our water storage tank that is below our house and will not have to order a water tanker.  This storage tank supplies our cottage and three others.  Last year this was not a problem. We were the only continuously occupied cottage.  This year the cottage above us was turned into a construction shack and home for the dozen or so construction workers.  Needless to say they go through the water faster than we do.  Whoever is more desperate for water orders and pays for the tanker.  If we wind up paying, we deduct the cost from our monthly rent.  Occasionally there is a dispute in the neighbourhood.  Someone will block the water supply line for spite.  Usually it doesn't take long to figure out where the blockage is and fix it.  The supply line is also located near the road and is not buried in places.  It often breaks when heavy trucks or buses run over it.

This water tanker is pumping water into our water storage tank below our cottage.  From there it is pumped up into the smaller black water storage tanks on the roof.  The pipes on the road behind the tanker are water supply lines.

This hose is feeding water from the tanker into the large storage tank below our cottage.

Large water storage tank located below our cottage.

Every morning we turn on the water pump to pump the water stored below up into the smaller storage tank on the roof. We know the roof tank is full when we hear the water overflowing.  This is difficult to hear during a hard rain.  Water is wasted when our neighbours or we forget to turn  the pump off.  We use this water for all of our water needs.  Monkeys often remove the cover from this tank.  I hate to think about how filthy the water could become.  Bird and monkey poop come to mind.  We boil then filter water used for cooking and drinking.   Ram had the lid replaced and wired shut.

Friday, 8 August 2014



One of the first things we did after we settled in this area was to hire domestic help.  Kamla was the first.  After hearing about our family’s difficulties with domestic help and according to blogs I've read, I was lucky to find Kamila.  She worked well with little supervision and always had a smile and laughed a lot.  Months later she changed.  She became argumentative and somewhat difficult.  She also looked like she did not feel well.  We sent her to our Doctor.  It turned out she was pregnant.  The Doctor told her she could not do heavy work and walking over the mountain to work was not advised.  We had to let her go.  That is when we hired Madhu.

Recently, Ram happened to see Kamla during one of his morning walks.  She wanted to come back to work with us.  Ram explained we already had Madhu working for us.  A couple of weeks later Kamla came to see me.  She again asked to come back to work.  She almost cried when I told her it was not possible.  Madhu is working for us.  She left.  I almost cried.  I could tell she really needed the work.  I felt I could not fire Madhu without good reason.

 Not long after Kamla’s visit, Madhu had more and more family emergencies.  She was gone more than she was here.  One day Madhu told me she had to go to Haldwani to see her brother and would not come to work the next day.  She did not call or show up for three days.  She did not answer her phone.  When she did finally show up we fired her.  Because of Kamla’s previous argumentative ways we were hesitant to have her work for us again.  We decided to give it a try.   Kamla came back the same day we let Madhu go!

Kamla’s story has slowly come out.  She has been through a lot.  She had emergency neuro surgery.  It started with a head ache that became worse and worse.  From what she and her husband have said it sounds like she had a brain tumor removed.  That could also account for her personality change that we saw last year.  She also lost her baby.  The doctors told her husband she had a one percent chance to survive.  Everyone was trying to prepare for the worst.  She spent twenty four days in the ICU.  The surgery cost one lakh or $1667.00 USD.  That is a lot of money here.  Her entire village rallied around her.  Not only did they manage to raise the money but they cared for her three children so her husband could be with her.  Kamla told me that she prayed that she could come back to work for us.  To be an answer to ones prayer tugs at my hart and seems like an awesome responsibility.

Kamla’s sweet smiling personality is back.  It seems difficult for her to multitask.  It takes her longer to do household tasks.  I don’t care.  I am glad to have her back. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


Domestic help here in India is almost a necessity. Because of dusty agriculture, construction and road dirt, the home environment gets dirty very quickly. Floors must be swept and wet moped daily. Most households do not have washing machines and dryers. Food preparation is labor intensive. Frozen foods, packaged foods and mixes are not widely used. This is especially true in rural areas. Domestic labor is inexpensive and available. Sometimes I find it more convenient to send someone to the market. If one has money one is expected to employ household help. This supports poor families.  Many households, especially those with children, employ several servants including a driver.

I have found that domestic help is trying at times. Madhu, my cook/ housekeeper is usually very good. She is a mature married woman with a grown family. Unfortunately her parents are no longer living. She is the eldest girl in her family. Therefore, according to Indian custom, when a family member is sick she must care for them. She has two daughters that are to be married soon. The weddings and all the planning are her responsibility.  Weddings transpire over three days.  Madhu will not always available to us. She still expects to get paid. This is reasonable to a point. When she works, she works seven days a week. We encouraged her to take a set day off each week. She does not want to do that. This is the norm for this area.

Madhu’s brother was hit by a motorcycle resulting in a broken leg.  He needs surgery. The hospital wants 35000 rupees up front before they will do the surgery. We wound up giving Madhu two months cash advance on her salary. This we gladly did. Her family came up with the rest. Unfortunately hr brother is not married. It falls to Madhu to care for him. She has gone for a month and arranged for her sister-in-law, Supna to work in her place. Supna’s reputation has preceded her. She is well known in the area. We hear that she has been fired by several households because they could not put up with her work habits and attitude. This has proven true. Supna is argumentative. She states there are things she won’t do, ironing being one. We informed her is expected do the same tasks as Madhu.  She will work the same hours and receive the same salary as Madhu.

Evidently, Supna complained to Madhu that we require her to do too much work. Madhu sent her daughter, Poonam to help Supna. They will share the money. Supna is still not happy. She keeps telling me, “This is Poonam’s job and that is Poonam’s job.” Now there's more discord in my house. Madhu works well without direction and does a good job with no argument. I must tell these girls when and how to do everything. I find it necessary to follow closely behind them to make sure they have done what I asked. Supna especially tries to cut corners and is argumentative. I don’t know which is worse, doing everything myself or going behind Supna and having her to do something over three times.

I told Ram I can do without Supna. If Poonam will do the rest of the household chores, I can manage the cooking. Anyway, Supna's cooking is not that good.  He has already explored that option. Poonam will not come here by herself. She is afraid of the monkeys that she will encounter on the way. It sounds like Poonam does not want to work either. It is going to be a long month. I am close to firing Supna.  If Poonam does not want to work by herself so be it.  I want my peaceful home back.

Monday, 30 June 2014


One would think getting an Indian driver’s license would be fairly straight forward.  All that is needed are three passport size photos, ID and proof of address.  A learner’s permit is given after a medical exam and a written test is passed.   After one month, if a driving test is passed a driver’s license is granted.  This is easy for Indian citizens, but not so for Expats.  At least this is our experience.  

Prior to going to the Regional Transport Office (RTO), Ram tried calling for information. No information could be obtained by phone. Appointments cannot be made.   Ram went to the nearest Regional Transport Office (RTO) in Haldwani which is an hour and a half drive from our residence. After waiting for several hours he was told he needs a Voter ID card, Ration card, electric bill receipt, phone bill receipt or property tax bill to prove legal residency. Only Indian citizens will have a Voter ID and a Ration card. Our electric and water is included in our rent. We have no phone bill.  Our local bank statement with our address was not accepted as proof. After much debate the RTO Officer decided our rental agreement would work as proof of residency.  Ram came home tired and irritable.  The RTO building is constructed with concrete and without insulation.  There is no fans or air-conditioning.  There is a small window and door for ventilation.  Basically he spent hours in a hot box and managed to get little done.  

Ram obtained a photocopy of our rental agreement and three passport size photos. Again he made the hour and a half trip to the RTO hot box in Haldwani. After waiting several hours to meet with the RTO Officer, Ram was given an application to fill out and told the original rental agreement is needed for inspection. Our landlord was not available on short notice.  Another trip to Haldwani will be necessary.  

Ram, prior to trip three to Haldwani was able to arrange for our landlord to give the original copy of our rental agreement for the RTO Officer to inspect. Unfortunately the RTO Officer was tied up in a meeting until 2 PM. He was very apologetic for not being available and for Ram’s long wait.  After this hot and uncomfortable wait, the RTO Officer told Ram the original rental agreement must be registered at the court in Nainital. Nainital is an hour and a half drive from Haldwani. Too bad Ram was not told this during his previous trip. It would have saved one trip to Haldwani.   

Ram feels there is little chance of our landlord’s cooperation. Our contract is up and we are now renting month to month. Some needed repairs to our cottage have been requested and not done.  We are strongly thinking of moving to another rental cottage.  Our landlord is not inclined to make a three hour round trip to register the agreement.  However, it looks like the application has been approved according to the instructions written on the application by the RTO Officer.   We hope the Officer will be understanding and not demand the registration of the agreement.  Ram was told to appear Monday 6/30/2014. 
Considering the difficulty of getting a license and the availability of drivers, one might wonder why we still persist with the quest of a Driver’s license.  There have been instances where a photo ID and proof of address was needed.  We cannot get an Indian credit card without a photo ID and proof of address.  Many vendors do not accept American credit cards.  If they do, there is an added fee.  When we stay in a hotel, a photo ID is requested.  The same goes for a rental home.  When we show our passports and visas the price seems to go up.  

We do understand the need for caution by the Indian authorities. They take every precaution due to recent terrorist bombings. This is something the United States needs to take more seriously.

Up Date:  Monday 6/30/2014 5:41 PM    Ram has returned form the RTO in Haldwani.  Per the written instructions given by the RTO Officer Ram attempted to pay the learner’s permit fees.  The clerk refused the fees saying there was something missing.  The RTO Officer was needed to resolve the issue.  He was not available.  We are not surprised.  It’s India.  Disappointed, yes.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


Our India adventure began January 2013. A year and a half later we are still here. I have learned how some things work. It seems to me, it’s more difficult for expats to live and find happiness here. Layers upon layers of bureaucracy make our lives difficult. I am sometimes ready to throw in the towel and go back to the States.

Ram’s Over Seas Citizen visa is a permanent visa.  It gives him all the rights of an Indian citizen, except the right to vote. Funny, the right to vote opens many doors for Indian citizens that are closed to expats. A voter ID (proof of Indian citizenship) is required to get cooking gas. The cost of cooking gas is subsidized by the government.  Only Indian citizens can buy it. We will never have a voter ID card. The voter ID card is also used for official proof of address. Without proof of address one cannot get a phone, open a bank account, get an Indian credit card or get a driver’s license.  Many vendors do not take American credit cards.  There is an extra fee for those that do.

Things simply do not work well here. Most Indians are unaware of the inconveniences and lack of decent infrastructure.  They have never known anything else unless they have lived overseas.   A Google search does not yield the same results here as it does in the States. There is no such thing as a phone book, at least where we are. This is probably because most of India’s population relies on cell phones. A land line is difficult to get. There is a long wait time for installation. We hear the service is unreliable. Word of mouth is the only reliable way to find a local business, service, domestic help or real estate for rent. Local tea stalls are the best place to find information that would be typically found in the phone book. There has been a time or two when I have found a local business and phone number with an Intranet search.  When I call, they do not answer the phone or they have no information about a product I want.  Power is intermittent. We experience rolling blackouts several times a day, sometimes for a few minutes and sometimes for hours. We have noticed increasing frequent power outages.

I find it very annoying that expats are perceived as being wealthy.  Expats are expected to pay more than Indian citizens. We have actually been told this by a person with an in your face attitude. This same person told us that he was glad to see American companies fail here.  What he does not understand is American companies choose to leave because of the lack of infrastructure and excessive bureaucratic red tape.  Things take a very long time to get anything done unless bribes are given. This has been a way of life since India's independence was won from the British. Older Indians will tell you life was much better under British rule.  We hear the black underground economy actually twice as large as India’s legal economy.

Even so, we have managed thus far. Somehow we have survived the bureaucracy and the inconvenience. We buy cooking gas on the black market. We have, we think managed to scrape enough documents together to prove we have a permanent address. With is documentation Ram will try to get his driver’s license.  With the license we will have proof of residence.  Hopefully more doors will open for us.  Most likely it will take a bribe. It’s expected. 

Why stay? This is a question we are asking ourselves more often. Perhaps now that India has overwhelmingly elected a conservative Prime Minister, things will get better.  Time will tell.  For the next two years we will travel India to see and experience her diverse cultures. I’m especially anxious to visit Rajasthan, home of Ram’s Rajput ancestors.  I do for the most part enjoy my day to day life here.  We have made some good friends.  It will be hard to leave and not easy to stay.

Friday, 16 May 2014


After much thought and deliberation my husband and I decided to purchase a car. The difficulty and uncertainty of getting train tickets impacting our travel plans was the main motivation. Initially we thought used.  Not a good idea according to friends. Indians do not routinely maintain their cars.  I began an Intranet search on the reliability and pricing of Indian car makes and models.

On May 2 2014, the most auspicious day, Akshay Tritiya, according to Hindus, my husband purchased a Fiat Punto 2014 from the Fiat dealership in Haldwani, Uttarakhand. Our neighbor who my husband respects greatly actually made the initial phone call.  Her son is good friends with one of the salesmen. She arranged for the Haldwani dealership to bring the car of our choice to our home in Ghorakhal for a test drive.  Though Fiat was not initially on our radar, we liked the car better than any of the other car makes that we looked at.  The dealership had just opened up the day before.  Since we their first customer, they were motivated to offer us a good price.  At the time I also reasoned we would receive excellent customer service in that they were building their business and reputation.  We also thought we would be well treated because of our neighbor’s recommendation and friendship with the dealership.  After doing a quick Internet check on the car’s reliability we decided to purchase the car. We gave a good faith down payment and requested that the car be brought back to the dealership in Haldwani for final prepping and for remote door locks, seat covers and backup sensors to be installed.  After everything was done, only then did we want to take final delivery.  The salesman insisted that we keep the car and then bring it in the following Sunday for all paperwork and installations to be completed.  We figured OK easy enough.   The salesman also said that since we live in Ghorakhal he would assist my husband with the application of getting his Indian driver’s license.  My husband has USA driver’s license.  He took a photocopy of my husband’s ID and 2 passport photos to start the application.

Sunday we received a call to, “Please come Monday instead.”  My husband paid a driver to take him and the car to the Haldwani dealership.  On the way the passenger side mirror fell off.  The backup sensors were installed.  Six hours later the paper work was not completed, remote door locks, seat covers were not installed and the mirror was not fixed.  Although requested, my husband was not given a bill of sale, insurance or warranty papers. He came home very disappointed.  At this point we were afraid to use the car even with a driver because we are not sure if it was insured.  Also here in India there is no such thing as a temporary auto tag.  We were informed the auto tag will be sent later and may take as much as six months!

On 5/15/2014 a dealership representative came to collect and was given the remainder of the agreed upon fee for the car.  We were told in writing that a service booklet would be provided by 5/20/14, seat covers installed, registration and invoice mailed to us, by 5/20/14.   At that time, for some unknown reason, he took the car manual with him.  On 5/21/14 the remote door locks were installed at our home.  On 5/27/17 the seat covers were installed and a copy of the invoice was e mailed to us.

On 6/3/14 after multiple attempts to contact the dealership in Haldwani – they did not answer their phone and calls went unreturned – as a last resort, we contacted Fiat India informing them that we have no warranty book, service book and manual and now we have an engine light showing and the speedometer and odometer are not working.  As far as we can determine nothing has been started regarding my husband’s Indian driver’s license.  A month later, he has started the process himself.  Fiat India was kind enough to contact the Haldwani dealership.  Haldwani stated that they will send someone to fix the car that day.  I was elated that we seemed to be finally getting somewhere.  Our life has literally been put on hold.  We had plans to travel extensively before the monsoon season.  That cannot happen now.  It is too late in the season and the monsoon will soon be upon us.

Sadly, though not unexpected the person sent by the Haldwani dealership did not show up and did not call.  My husband cancelled a Doctor’s appointment in order to be available.  The next morning after another round of phone calls to Fiat India we were told that the Haldwani dealership did not exist.  Our car was actually purchased from a dealership in Bareilly. The invoice also indicates this.  We had not noticed this before.  Thankfully, due to Fiat India’s intervention, a person authorized by Fiat India did come that same afternoon to complete the installations and fix the mirror.  At that time we received the rest of the paperwork.  Our license plate will arrive in three to six months we are told.  That is a government thing.  However we can drive the car and the car is insured as long as the driver has an Indian driver’s license. 

Purchasing a new car is so easy in the States.  You decide on a car, make a down payment.  A few days later you go pick it up.  All paperwork and prep has been done. Final payment is made or financing done, you notify your insurance company that day what make and model car you have purchased.  It is instantly insured.  The insurance company sends you a bill via mail.  The dealership issues you a temporary auto tag.  The permanent tag arrives in the mail within fifteen days.  Done!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014


India is in the midst of the world’s largest election.  Staged voting began April 7th with 814.5 million eligible voters and will on May 14.  Since India won her independence in 1947 the Congress party which is socialist in principle has ruled the majority of that time.  That very well may change.  From what I have read and according to people I have spoken with, the country is in a mood for change.  These reasons are disillusionment with India’s direction, wide spread corruption, slowing economic growth, failing and lack of infrastructure, failing education and a lack of jobs.  Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is conservative in principle apparently is poised to win.

Voting began in our state, Uttarakhand today.  For a week now we have been hearing blaring mobile loud speakers roaming our village urging people to vote.   Today all is quiet. The market and banks are closed here on this first day of voting.  It seems the Indian military is on alert to quell any violence.  We have seen a lot of military helicopters in the sky.

Saturday, 15 March 2014


                                      We are Shera and Reshma.  My parents had to pay a bribe to get us out of these cages.

Dog and cat lovers beware.  India has changed her pet import regulations.  Previously anyone with the required veterinary health certificate and No Objection Certificate - NOC could bring two pets with them while visiting or relocating to India.  This has now changed.  In order for a family to bring their pet they must be relocating to India permanently and must have been gone from the country for more than two years. 

This change was brought about by Maneka Gandhi, India’s Prime Minister to prevent breeders bringing in dogs and cats as personal pets when in effect they were being sold in avoidance of obtaining the proper import licenses.  She is quoted as saying by the Times of India, "We are flooded with dogs, except those needed by government agencies or brought by people on or back from foreign transfers, the government has to put a stop to the import of all dogs."

This in no way addresses the problem.  According to The Hindu Times large numbers of pets can still be imported with a permit issued by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying or with an import license issued by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade. It does not address the huge problem of India’s overabundance of homeless street dogs.

Ms. Gandhi seems to expect us to adopt India’s street dogs rather than bring our pets who are in every sense our children with us.  Does she want us to leave our human children behind and adopt India’s homeless children as well?  She seems to despise people that prefer a pure bread dog or cat.  I for one have always had a Toy Fox Terrier in my life.  I love the breed and their big dog temperament as well as looks and portability.  That is my choice.  We had intended to adopt a street dog, but now I don’t think so.  I admit I am still angry at how we were treated by the Delhi air cargo authorities and Dr. Chiro Mitra, our pet relocator.

What this does do is cut down on tourists that would otherwise visit India with their pet and spend their dollars.  Worse it causes Indian citizens who have not been gone for two years to abandon their pets in foreign countries or abandon them here knowing they cannot bring them back into the country. .  My husband and I had fully intended to relocate here.  India has proven to be very pet unfriendly.  We spent a large amount of money including bribes to extricate our pets, children from the Delhi cargo when Dr. Mitra fraudulently extricated money from us and did not fulfill his obligations as promised. It seems India does not realize we and other expats help bolster their economy with our dollars. While here, we employ several people and have provided for their children’s education as well as other family needs. 

From what I have been able to discern we can bring our pets back and forth with the NOC that we have.  From this experience, I believe it will be very emotionally draining, costly and risky.  This has left a very bitter taste in my mouth.  I don’t think I can ever look at India in the same way.  At this point I sure don’t want to relocate permanently or invest here.  There are other countries out there with better infrastructure that desire the expat dollars, make it very easy to relocate with your pets and are closer to the USA.

Monday, 10 March 2014



We are back in India safe and sound with our new family members, Reshma and Shera, Toy Fox Terriers. Not a fun or easy trip to book or make.  We did not know we were going to have puppies again but after Katie and Nanhki’s death, we found we missed having the joy of dogs in our lives. 

United airlines has a Pet Safe program.  They told me no problem taking the pups as excess baggage in their environmentally controlled pet cargo area but had to change our ticket to allow more time in Newark for the comfort of the dogs to potty and make the India connection.  They made the change for me at an additional $160.00 for the change.  However I had to book their tickets through the United reservation desk.  When I did they said the plane was too small for them to travel in the pet cargo, but they could go under the seat to Newark in a soft pet carrier.  I was told to bind their hard pet carriers and send it as baggage.  Ram and I were allowed a total of 4 cargo bags so I would not have an extra cost there, but would have to pay an additional $125.00 for the dogs to go under the seat.  This turned out to be not true.  We had to pay and additional $100.00 to take the crates as excess baggage.  When we got to Newark Pet Safe told me we should have had the carriers sent to them and they could not retrieve them.  They were nice enough to give me a set of used carriers they had.  I was fearful the pups would be stressed.  At home they sleep in their crates and feel very secure.  We did have time to walk the pups in order for them to do their business. They do have a nice dog run.  
When we arrived at the baggage claim in Delhi, no pups.  Dr. Chiro Mitra our Indian pet relocation liaison informed us that somehow they were transported as unaccompanied pets and sent to the cargo hold.  There, they would be fed and watered.  Ram could pay-bribe the person on duty 8,000 rupees - $132.00 USD to get them that night or wait until the AM.  Dr. Mitra first said he would help us.  He suggested he drop me and the luggage at the hotel and then take Ram to the cargo holding area.  When we got to his car he demanded payment.  This seemed reasonable because he explained when we contracted with him that there were fees that he would need to pay.  When we got to the hotel he said that it was late and the paperwork would take several hours.  He gave us the contact person’s name and phone number and there would be no problem with Ram getting the dogs and left.  Ram immediately had a bad feeling.  He went to the cargo area.  The person in charge demanded money.  Ram said, “Not until I have my dogs.”  The dogs had not been fed or given water.  We had sent food secured to their carriers. Ram was permitted to feed and water and play a bit with them, but was not permitted to take them even though we had all the documentation and the required No Objection Certificate.  He could get them tomorrow, Friday at 10:00 AM.  If he did not get them then, we would have to wait until Monday.  Upon hearing this he was frantic thinking the dogs would be stolen.  There are no Toy Fox Terriers here in India that I could find as it would have been easier to get them here.  The dogs started howling when they were put back in their crates.  We did not sleep that night.
Ram went back to the cargo alone 9 AM Friday.  He said the bribe would go up if they saw my white face.  At 1 PM I was told to join him as some of the documents had my name and they needed to see me and my passport.  Upon my arrival a stern looking woman and four men demanded my ID.  I handed over my Passport and PIO Indian visa.  I demanded to see my pups.  After much conversation in Hindi I was taken to a large nonclimate controlled cargo area.  I realized my pups had had a cold night.  They were brought up closer but we were separated by a rope and guard.  I asked to go closer.  He reluctantly agreed.  They immediately started crying and jumping around.  Their doors were locked with a plastic fastener.  I asked to hold them.  The answer was no.  I could only stick my fingers in to touch them.  I broke down and sobbed.  By now, except for the time Ram was allowed to take them out, they had been their crates for over 33 hours.   A larger crowd of cargo employees gathered.  I am sure this was to insure Ram would pay top rupee to get them out I heard more conversation in Hindi.  Later Ram told me that we were leaving.  They wanted more money than he had.  I told him and them and I would not leave my dogs.  I am sobbing hysterically.  I pulled off all my jewelry including my diamond wedding band and handed it to Ram.  I told him to give it to them.  A guard told me to calm down. He handed my jewelry back to me and told me I would get my dogs but it would “take some time”.  Then they wanted the original NOC.  We told them we were only given copies.  I was finally allowed to hold my pups.  They went nuts licking my face and wagging their tails uncontrollably.  Ram called Dr.  Mitra.  Forty Five minutes later he arrived with the original NOC and left quickly.   I was asked to sign several documents.  Finally at 4 PM exhausted, Reshma, Shera and I were allowed to go back to the hotel.  Ram said that he was going to wait for Dr. Mitra return to the cargo.  He owed the customs officer unpaid fees.  While waiting for Ram, I let my pups out of their urine and feces soaked crates.  I put together their own crates, knowing I would put them in until our trip home to Ghorakhal and only for their safety.  They did run in and out of their own crates.  This has always been a place of security for them.  Later Ram came back to the hotel.  Dr. Mitra never showed.  Ram will wire the fees owed.   Ram said the stern lady had asked him why he married a white woman saying he should have married an Indian.  He explained that after his first Indian wife died, he at the age of thirty did not want to marry an eighteen year old Indian who would also want children.  The guard had remarked that our dogs have a better life than his sons.  “Your dogs get to ride in planes and go to foreign countries.”  I think we are very lucky we now have our pups. 

We are now home in Ghorakhal.  This event has given us both second thoughts about making India our home.  I will never leave this country thinking I can get our dogs back in.  I know here the bribe is the expected way of doing business and business men are often corrupt.  Dr. Mitra sure left us high and dry.  This has put a different face on everything. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


2013 was an extraordinary year for my husband and me.  We arrived in India in January 23.  Except for a few short visits to spend time with his brother, my husband had been gone for 40 years, I had never been.  We went to explore the possibility of outsourcing our retirement and to reconnect with family.

I think the culture shock was more difficult for my husband because of his childhood memories of India.  The most difficult was seeing the intrusion of American companies and women wearing provocative  western wear.  He was very surprised seeing the expanding Indian waistline.  He has a saying, “America is leading the way down the toilet and the rest of the world is following.” Growing up, plastic packaging did not exist.   The family had a compost pit and recycled everything.  Today India's use of plastics along with poor garbage management has resulted in a huge problem that is getting worse now that disposable diapers are starting to be widely used.  To my surprise, I think I adjusted quite well.  I expected the chaos of traffic, poverty, and overcrowding, intermittent electricity and knew that there would be things that did not always work well. 

We rented a cottage, which is really an apartment according to western standards, located in the Himalayan Mountains.  The weather has been always comfortable for the most part.  The area is still uncrowded and relatively clean.  We thought seriously about buying a house or land to eventually build. Looking back, I am surprised how much I have changed.   I left my western clothing in the States and embraced the Indian culture.  Many have told me that this has brought me respect and my efforts were appreciated.  Some have said “you are more Indian than I am.”  I have gained a sense of peace and well being.

Last year much of our time was spent learning how things work and often times do not.  We found that we like living in India but fear that this will not always be so due to the growing population and lack of infrastructure.  India’s land area is 1/3 the size of the United States and by the year 2020 it will be the most populous place on earth.  So far, getting around in India is not easy.  In many places the roads are very bad and getting worse.  One must book a train ticket three weeks in advance and then you are on a waiting list for the ticket.  Sadly, I do not see how things can improve.  Corruption is rampant and it is the expected way to get things done.  When India gained her freedom from the British she chose a socialist  form of government.  India now realises  that Socialism does not work.  However, turning back from Socialism has been very difficult.  The Indian government is so big it can’t get out of its own way.  The railways, many banks, airports, electric companies and other business are government owned.  Since the government worker’s paycheck and job are not dependent upon performance customer service is almost nonexistent. Inflation is another huge problem.  When we arrived in January, 1 US dollar equalled 54 rupees, now it is 62 rupees. For these reasons we cannot think of investing in India any time soon, if ever.

Even with all of the chaos and uncertainty we do love living in India.  Economics is one big reason.  Health care is very affordable and accessible in a lot of places.  We enjoy a good lifestyle including a full time cook/housekeeper at a very affordable price.  When we are in India, even with all of the fixed expenses we have in the United States, we save $2000.00 per month. The Indian people are also another reason.  They are friendly and try to be helpful.  Take a walk, say namaste and soon you are invited to tea, and  later after tea, "Please come and stay with us when you are in Delhi."

We came back to the United States November 26.  I did not expect to feel a reverse culture shock.  The first thing I noticed was how expensive groceries are and how limited really fresh vegetables are.  Both Ram and I have lost 35 pounds, without trying due to our Indian diet.  I find it hard to duplicate here in the states.  There has been a huge learning curve learning to cook Indian on an electric rather than gas stove.  Things just seem more complicated here, the uncertainty of health care, taxes and insurance and the feeling of how do we hang on to what we have.  It breaks my heart to witness America’s continued decline.

All in all, it has been good to be back in the States.  I enjoyed seeing family and catching up with old friends.  It’s nice to be able to jump in the truck and go where we want to go, when we want to go, and no planning, good roads all the way.  Yet, I miss my life in India.  Next year we will travel more and see more of India.  We go back in April.