Yesterday morning Madhu sent me a very unusual email – it totally took me by surprise! I realized that this is the first time that he had seriously written/talked to me regarding taking a sabbatical and traveling around India, so it could be the start of something truly exciting. Keeping that in mind, I have saved the email for posterity …
We’ve been talking about doing something ‘drastic’ with our lives for a while now. Trust me – for a couple of suburban-30somethings-with 9 to 5 IT jobs – quitting the jobs, putting the house on rent, selling the cars, dragging the dog along and traveling around Asia for a couple of years, is quite DRASTIC!!
So here I am writing my first blog on our impending adventure hoping that our dream does materialize and that we do have the will-of-heart to go through with it when the time comes.
The DREAM: by the end of this year we will be in India to begin our version of a year-long (or maybe two-years-long) ‘Discovery of India‘ trip. We will also try to spend as much time with family and friends during this time since we’ve been away for 10 years. If time and budget permits, we will cover other countries in Asia as well; Nepal being on top of the list as Kavi & Richie are currently living in Kathmandu. So far in our travels, we have packed each day with as much sight-seeing as possible covering as many places and sights as we can within the limited vacation time we’ve had. However, this time around, the goal is to relax and enjoy the peace and serenity of the beaches, mountains, cafes, ashrams and temples of India at a very leisurely pace. My personal goal is to see and experience the fabulous World Heritage sites in India, which cover most of the main monuments and temples that must be seen. I think Madhu’s personal goal is to relax, contemplate on life, rethink our objectives and rejuvenate himself – a slightly more philosophical approach than mine .
This planning phase is going to be most crucial – there’s so much to think about and so much to get done before we take the plunge. The first step is to think out a rough itinerary – places to cover and the best month/season to go. To this effect, we went to Borders last night and bought DK’s Eye Witness Travel Guide for India. It has a detailed introduction to India and has highlighted the best features of each state within the country with many color photo illustrations – it looks like the perfect starter book.
Apart from the actual travel planning, there is all the stuff we need to do before (over the next few months):
1. Obtain US citizenship – if we leave the country now without doing this, our green card will be in jeopardy as it requires us to reside in the US for at least 6 months in a calendar year. Plus having a US passport cannot hurt when traveling – we’ve heard good things about how the US embassies always look out for their citizens. Today, I submitted our naturalization applications to Dragan (TIBCO’s Immigration Specialist) and hope to receive citizenship within the next 5 to 6 months (apparently that’s how long it takes at the San Jose Naturalization Center).
2. Learn to swim – since our Mexico trip we’ve realized that knowing how to swim is an essential part of traveling the world and seeing it’s natural wonders. Madhu has already lined up a private instructor and we hope to begin taking lessons as soon as the weather gets warmer and our spring allergies (very annoying!) disappear.
3. Get in shape – this is a current requirement irrespective of any travel plans. Of course, it’ll be a lot easier to drag few lesser pounds of us as we try to scale the Himalayan base camps.
4. Refinance the house – the current mortgage rates in the market seem favorable so it would be cool to lock down our monthly payments to an amount lower than what we are paying now – the goal is to ensure that our rental income (after taxes) is enough to take care of the mortgage payment.
5. Shayna!– once the rough itinerary is created, we need to figure out where we can take our beloved Shayna along. And if there are stretches where we need to travel without her, we’ll need to figure out good boarding facilities. Venu and Bittu should be able to help out a bit with her as well, which will be super cool. Madhu has also found a decent-sounding boarding facility, Pet Club India, for her in Gurgaon, which, at $6 a day, could be quite cost-effective.
6. Cost out the entire trip or at least the India sojourn – this will be key because only then will we be able to figure out if we can afford this trip or not.
7. Save! Save! Save! – over the next few months we have to get conscious of where we spend our money and try to save as much as possible.
I’m not sure how often I will write in this blog but hope to update it with details of every little step we take towards the trip. And then once it truly happens, I hope to blog daily …. hope! hope! hope!