Saturday, July 28, 2007

Quick Check-In

We safely arrived, all of us, including dog and cat on the 25th of July. I don't have an internet connection yet, but will post the details ASAP. I am LOVING it here. My housing is great, the job is fabulous and right now, I am deep in the midst of apartment hunting, finding kitty litter, etc., etc.

Will post as soon as I can. Cheers! :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

White Knuckle Time.

It's getting down to the wire. Only a couple of things left to do now. I need to get the car cleaned out and sell it today. Other than that, I'll repack again just to organize everything and distribute the weight better. All of the paintings have been cut from their stretchers and rolled up saving a ton of space. I have a couple of calls to make, and really, that's it.

I spoke with Jason, my friend who just moved to Chennai. He said that the energy is amazing, "Say goodbye to the American wage slave lifestyle and say hello to the adventure that is India. The energy and optimism here is like US pre-9/11. The people are great, the food can’t be beat. I love living here. Yes, it has its ups and downs, but you’ve been to India before, so you know the drill."

Three days and a wake up to go. The suspense/excitement/fear is killing me.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I'm Loving the Landmark Hotel

I just received an email back from Raju at the Landmark. They are happy to host us while we look for a flat. I can even order pick up service from the airport to the hotel. They have a special rate for those booking online, which is quite good.

"Landmark Hotel is located 10 kms from the Airport, just 2 minutes from Science City. Away from the pollution and the hussle of the city.

Landmark Hotel is friendly, warm and modern with an aesthetically pleasing ambience.

Driving time to the hotel from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Airport is 20 minutes. Howrah or Sealdah Station is just 45 minutes away."

We are 7 days and a wakeup away from departure. Still to do:

1. Detail and sell the car.
2. Buy pens as gifts.
3. Finalize packing.

Once ticket confirmation is received:
4. Arrange for transport to the airport.
5. Call Air India regarding excess baggage & pet transport.
6. Try to relax.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Finding a place to live in Kolkata

Immediate need is for the hotel for when we first arrive. The Landmark Hotel has responded and I provided them with more information about the dog and cat. So far, no response from the others. I am learning that if you don't hear anything quickly, you'll probably never hear back. Some people (and businesses) never seem to check their email. You would think a hotel would deem most requests as requiring a response. It is a most disappointing first impression of their service.

I found a good real estate agent who specializes in the Salt Lake area of Kolkata. I found him on Clickin.

Sindhu Banerjee
FD 57 Salt Lake City
Salt Lake Sector III
Kolkata - 700106
phone: 9830128830

He has been very responsive so far - I have told him I will contact him when I arrive in Kolkata.

I put up a wanted ad and have one response too.

All our bags are pretty much packed and ready to go. William got everything he needed at Zumies, our local skateboard shop, and I picked out some dresses as well. It's nice to have something new.

I have four boxes, two larger luggage pieces, two carryons, a giant crate for Grace and a regular size crate for Lance. We also have Will's bass guitar. If everything goes as previously quoted, our baggage costs will be:

Grace & crate - $ 399
Lance & crate - 266
2 boxes @ 70 lbs. - 266 (all boxes under 70 lbs. are $133 each)
2 boxes @ 40 lbs. - 266

Yesterday, I went to Kinko's, scanned in our passports & visas, them emailed them to my web email account. I should have done the same with the pet stuff. If I have time, I will.

Other things I will need to do:
- get my car detailed and sell it at Carmax.
- cash in Will's savings bonds & close his savings account.
- arrange a car to the airport.

Is that it? I guess we're just about done. Phew. This has been physically and emotionally draining.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Pet Friendly Hotels in Kolkata

Landmark Hotel
36F Topsia Road
Kolkata 700 039

Great Eastern Hotel
1-3 Old Courthouse St
Kolkata 700 069

Lytton Hotel
14 & 14/1, Sudder Street
Kolkata 700 016

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The visas are here!

The visas arrived yesterday. We have everything we need to hit the airport. I sent my contact in India the news and everything is going as planned. I found another really good website: India Tree, which is very similar to On this site, I found someone who is moving to Hyderabad and brought her German Shepherd with her! I have so many questions as to how she did it.

I found some videos of Kolkata on YouTube. Enjoy.

I would like to find a modern flat like this!

Calcutta, with a little bit of Darjeeling mixed in. It can't hurt to have a Led Zeppelin soundtrack...

Appropriately titled "Insane Traffic in Calcutta"

More traffic. Just listen to all the horns. Calcutta is definitely a place that puts you into sensory overload.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Medical /Healthcare Information Clearinghouse

East West Medical Center
38 Golf Links, New Delhi 110003
tel. 11/462-3738, 11/469-9229, 11/469-0955, or 11/469-8865
fax 11/469-0428 or 11/463-2382

East West can provide a referral list of doctors, dentists, opticians, chemists, and lawyers throughout India. It is also the only clinic in India (so far) recognized by most international insurance companies.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


I got Lay-Z working by bribing him. I told him I would buy him a PSP if he got everything into the pod. He's taking a lot of time, but it's over 90 degrees (F) outside and really humid. Sort of Kolkata weather. I'm a mess in this heat.

Originally, I had planned to bring a selection of my books, DVDs, CDs, but I'm beginning to think this is a bad idea. I was looking at prices of things and it really makes sense to bring money and buy it there. The only thing I couldn't find was a bass guitar and amp, and a decent skateboard, both things on Will's "Must Have" list. We'll have to stock up here. It will cost us more than $1,000 to ship our boxes and I think I can buy more with that money than what I'm shipping.

I found local sources for ordering utilities:
Kolkata Yellow Pages

Cable or Satellite TV:
Linkmen Services Private Limited
BD 80, Sector 1, Salt Lake
Bidhan Nagar,
Kolkata 700064
Phone: (33) 23597057, 23217605

West Bengal State Electricity Board
Salt Lake City, Baguiati, Hooghly, Sahaganj
Bidhan Nagar,
Kolkata 700064
Phone: (33) 25910346, 23591930, 26342913

Dry Cleaners:
Salt Lake City Shop # 18,
Bidhan Nagar,
Kolkata 700064

Drinking Water:
Chatterjee Enterprise
Sector 1, Salt Lake, C.E. Market Shop # 14,
Bidhan Nagar,
Kolkata 700064
Phone: (33) 23219142

Banerjee Gas Distributors
A.E. Marekt
Bidhan Nagar,
Kolkata 700064
Phone: (33) 23374921

Wireless Phone:
Tata Phone Centre
51, Mizra Ghalib Street, Park Street
Park Street H.O.,
Kolkata 700016
Phone: (33) 22294633

Regent Park Broadband & Allied Services
148/28, Near Central Bank
Regent Park,
Kolkata 700040
Phone: (33) 24815157

Moitri Veterinary Clinic
15 B, Deshapriya Road
Kolkata 700033
Phone: (33) 24640773

This site helped me figure out my budget on general stuff like refrigerators, TVs, DVDs, books, etc.:
India Times Shopping

Phew. I'm glad I've got a list to work up. Will just came in - looks like we're 90% done packing the pod. It leaves at 9:00am tomorrow for Boston. One more thing to check off the list. :-)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Passport's Here! The Passport's Here!

On Thursday, the pod showed up. We have until Monday at 8:00 AM to fill and lock it up for sending to my mum's. We have boxes and piles of junk everywhere. The place is a total nightmare. The cat's throwing up at least once a day now because he can't handle all the change. He's been snuggling (something he NEVER does).

Late Friday afternoon, we got a call on the cell phone. Since I'm not talking with recruiters, Will likes to answer the phone and pretend the phone has bad reception. Since the caller ID showed it was an 800 number, I let him answer. About 30 seconds into his call while we're being totally immature and giggling, he suddenly said,"fedex?" I grabbed the phone from him and answered the phone. The company paperwork had arrived, but they couldn't find my house (not surprising since there are no numbers anywhere on my property and whoever devised the numbering scheme in our subdivision HAD to have been drunk at the time).

I asked how late they were open, then we jumped into the car and sped off to the Fedex warehouse. Yay! All we needed was the passport and we'd be ready to head into Chicago. Today around noon, I was upstairs rummaging through the piles and breaking down the black wire storage systems, when the doorbell rang. I looked out the window and saw the postal vehicle parked below.

I yelled to Will, "Passport!" He answered the door, and sure enough, it's here! Yay!
We'll head into Chicago on Monday morning to visit the consulate and hopefully, we'll be ready to go. I'll bring every piece of paper I have with me just to go over the vet stuff and the cargo issues as well.

I went to Petsmart the other day and bought water dishes and a pad for the bottom of Grace's carrier. The dishes are bolted to the wire door, so they can be easily refilled. With the stopover in Frankfurt only 1-1/2 hours long, they'll only need a light snack before we reach Mumbai...

Time to pack. Reminder - I must email Manish later today and let him know the details for our tickets.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Still no passport.

Yesterday was a holiday, so no movement yet. As soon as it gets here, I think we'll be safe in booking the tickets. From what I understand, the consulate here is quite quick about processing visas (much better than our passport service it seems). I finally spoke with Air India, and they stated that we'll need to take a different flight. Our pets can't go trough London. They suggested we put the pets on as extra baggage along with our 3 boxes of cargo we were planning to ship separately. They also said that I don't need to go to the USDA to get an International Veterinarian Health certificate - that the vet's form would be enough.

The date on the veterinarian certificate is 6/28/07.

The carriers are the following dimensions:
Greyhound: 36"H x 48"L x 30"W
Cat: 15"H x 34"L x 16"W

Instead of sending them as cargo, this is a much cheaper proposition. Grace, at over 100 lbs, with crate, will cost $359. Lance will cost $226. Each of the three boxes of personal effects I was planning to ship separately will cost $133.

The flight they suggested is the following:

Air-India 126
Depart: 7:00pm Chicago, IL (ORD)
Arrive: 10:15am Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
2 stops
* 8hr 15min
* Boeing 747
No plane change. Time between flights: 1hr 30min

Tue, Jul 24

Air-India 126
Depart: 11:45am Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
Arrive: 11:15pm Mumbai, India (BOM)
* 8hr 0min
* Boeing 747

Change Airline. Time between flights: 7hr 35min


Jet Airways 201
Depart: 6:50am Mumbai, India (BOM)
Arrive: 9:20am Kolkata, India (CCU)
* 2hr 30min
* Boeing 737
Total duration: 27hr 50min

This flight arrives two days later.

This means that we won't be arriving in Kolkata until 3 days after my self-imposed deadline, but we will have everything with us. We will not need the services of Jetex Oceanair, the agents who were supposed to manage the pet relocation process and haven't bothered to respond to any of my emails, so we can save those charges as well. :-) It looks like we can come in way under budget. :-)

$1,700 for plane tickets
359 for Grace
226 for Lance
399 for boxes (all three)
250 for transport to O'Hare Airport in Chicago
$2,934 total.

Peace of mind - priceless.

My only concern is going through customs in Mumbai. If there are any glitches in the paperwork for my pets, they'll be left in Mumbai. Air India did state that the vet certificate should be 6 weeks out, so if we have to leave later, so be it. At this point, it's just a matter of time.

I also learned that India doesn't carry a lot of wine, and most of what's available is not great quality and very expensive. I decided to splurge on a few bottles to partake in before we leave. I will surely miss a good Reisling with my curry.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I am Going to Have a Panic Attack.

My son, Will, still doesn't have his passport. Last Thursday I spent 85 minutes on hold on my cell phone with the U.S. Passport Service only to be told they would send an email to Chicago to remind them that my passport renewal was supposed to be expedited. They told me to follow up on Tuesday. Monday I stayed up late, and at 1:30 AM, I decided I might as well stay up and wait until 5:00 and call the passport agency again. I was hoping not to have to wait so long this time. Surprise, I was on hold for 118 minutes, spoke with someone for less than five and was forwarded to an automated system to make an appointment in Chicago. It made me wait forever and after telling me there were no morning appointments, and another interminable wait, that there were no afternoon appointments. I don't even want to know what my cell phone bill is going to look like. So, in spite of my best efforts, I've gotten no closer to pushing the passport forward.

The whole process is like a house of cards, all supported on Will's passport and the company paperwork, which also should have been here by now. Because I started the veterinary paperwork, I have less than 30 days to get my pets to India. BUT, it will only cost another $150 to start the paperwork again... I'm feeling better. THIS WAITING IS KILLING ME. I just want to get on my way!!!!

Who We Are:

I've gotten a couple of emails lately from people that wanted to know more about our motley crew. Here's a brief 411...

I'm an internet marketing specialist. I will be working in Calcutta as the Group Marketing Manager of a dotcom whose business comes almost exclusively from the U.S. I have traveled all over the globe and now my son has been bitten by the traveling bug. Our family and friends are a bit upset that we are moving so far away, but I am hoping they will come to India to visit. I am hoping they will come because India has had such a huge impact on my life. I found this great web site that details a lot of information on living and traveling in India:

Will is 13, and just finished up the seventh grade. He's into skateboarding, on-line RPG games and writing. He recently won the Young Author's Award in our School District. He's already discussing plans to build the first skatepark in Calcutta, with a person who built the first skatepark in India, in Goa, India Nick. His park, sk8goa, has been visited by many of the big names in the skateboarding industry:

Grace is a rescued greyhound from the Dairyland racetrack in Wisconsin. Her life was filled with misery, torture, and malnutrition for the first 3 years of her life. We mean to make up for what other humans failed to do - treating her humanely. There is greyhound racing in India, along with just about any other animal on four legs, from camels, horses, donkeys, and elephants:

Because I will be a foreigner living in this country at its government's pleasure, I really won't be able to be as actively vocal on this subject as I have been here. I do hope to provide support to those who can.

Lance is our other adopted pet. He is a creampoint siamese with major attitude. He's never been in a situation like Grace's, but he acts like somebody's done him wrong. When the crate for Grace showed up and we set it up, he was really upset. Grace wouldn't go anywhere near it, but he'd get in it and start howling. I think he's pissed off that she's got such a big condo compared to his - it's all about him getting the bigger piece. Have you ever read the "Get Fuzzy" comic strip? Bucky is Lance's brother for sure:

Well, that's us... for now anyway.

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