This weekend was the big move – or “shift” as they like to say in Hyderabad. It was a fairly easy affair – about 10 suitcases and a couple of boxes of stuff. Got most of it done on Saturday and then spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday cleaning up and running errands. Still lots of work to be done, but it’s coming along – and I am really enjoying my new home. I think Mac is too! At first, he spent some time under the bed in the third bedroom – but now he’s treating the whole place like home. I even converted the Pooja Room into his very own hang out. I put his food and his toys and his little bed in there.
I promise to do more updates more frequently now that I have internet at home. Oh, I also have cable – and they show American TV. I realized that I can catch up on the Voice and some other shows. Last night I watched 2 episodes of the Practice! Oh, it’s nice to have TV back in my life!
Again, all I can do is apologize for not being able to write more – and to write more often. I have been working my butt off at this new job – and not in the good kind of way. I arrived in HYD on Thursday, March 28th at 3am in the morning. Later that day – 2pm local time – I went into the office to do paperwork, etc. On Friday, March 29th I also went into work for training purposes. I had the first weekend off work (March 30 and March 31). Since April 1 I have been working every day. The first couple of days were normal work days. Get in at 9ish and leave around 6ish. But starting that Wednesday, April 3 I was staffed on a project – and since that day, it’s been minimum 10 hour days. Most days are 12 hour days – and the rest have gone as high as 16 hours.
As I am still trying to get a grasp on exactly what it is that I am supposed to do, I imagined a long transition period, but these hours have nothing to do with the ignorance around a new job, etc. This is because we have some pretty serious and crazy deadlines that were agreed to – and there are so many people working their asses off to meet them.
The entire company was required to work this Saturday in order to meet 1 of the deadlines on one of the projects. It’s been pretty crazy. I actually only worked a half day today because I needed to get out and run some errands – do some of the things that need to get done but that I haven’t had a chance to do because I’ve been working so much.
Today I found the dry cleaner – 3 weeks of work clothes that have been worn in 100+ degree weather – and a pet store, cause my boy Mac needs some good food and some treats. Tonight, I’ll head out to dinner with a couple of friends and tomorrow I will spend the day looking for apartments. Another huge chore that I have not been able to focus on since I arrived.
I promise more updates once I get settled into a place that has internet. Right now, I have to come to a coffee shop to get online and, well, you guessed it, I have no time to get to the coffee shop!
I’ve passed the two week mark. First, my apologies for not updating the blog much so far. The biggest reason is because my only internet connectivity right now is through my phone – so writing an extensive blog update is a little difficult on an iPhone/iPad. This weekend is our company’s anniversary celebration at the Marriott in Hyderabad. I just checked in and low and behold, I have regular internet, TV and a comfortable bed! 😉
The second reason I haven’t written much is because I have been working crazy hours the last week and a half. Talk about getting thrown into the fire! I began on a project immediately and it is one of those doc reviews that has an almost impossible deadline – but thank god it’s a quick turn around. The past week and a half, I have worked no less than 12 hour days. I think Mac is wondering not only where the heck he is – but where the heck I am, most of the time!
Some quick highlights of the first 2 weeks …
“Greg, tell me!” and “I have doubts”
My favorite Indian phrase so far is “tell me”. Whenever I call for the car to pick me up to take me to work, I say, “Hi, this is Greg.” and I get back, “Hi Greg. Yes, tell me!” Everyone says it.
My second favorite phrase, coming mostly from the people I am managing is, “I have doubts.” “I have doubts” is used in the same way we would use, “I have a question” – but my colleagues use “I have doubts.” It makes me chuckle!
After this week, my focus will be on finding a permanent home here in Hyderabad. I’ve been looking around at a few places. You definitely get a lot of space for the money here – but the quality of the apartments can range dramatically.
Also, I know people are looking for pics – and I promise – once I am able to get out and about, I’ll definitely post some pics. In the meantime, I am doing well. Mac is doing well. It’s a lot to get used to all of the differences living in another culture – but all is good!
I hear DC went from snow storm to summer in about 10 days flat. Oh, how I don’t miss the temperature swings. It’s been consistently 100 degrees (and above) here in Superbad! And it is a dry heat (thank goodness).
The past 72 hours have definitely been a whirlwind! Tuesday night (10:45pm DC time) I started this amazing journey of moving to India. The week leading up to my departure was packed with, well, packing and saying goodbyes. By the time I got on the plane, I was exhausted. My first leg was from Dulles to Doha – a 12 hour flight. I think I was awake for a total of 1 hour. I’ve always been able to sleep on flights and this was no exception. By the time we arrived in Doha I felt somewhat caught up on sleep. The flight from Doha to Hyderabad was only 4 hours and I tried my best to stay awake because my arrival in Hyderabad was at 3:00am, so I didn’t want to have slept the whole way and then been forced to be awake at the all the wrong times.
I was slightly concerned about my arrival. There were many variables at play. First and foremost was my boy, Mac. I hadn’t seen him since we left Dulles. I was concerned about how he handled the flight and also getting him through customs. One of the pet relocation services I spoke with told me that Hyderabad pet customs was awful (and wanted to fly him into Bengaluru and then drive him (10 hours) from Bengaluru to Hyderabad – obviously, I didn’t engage their services!).
I had all the necessary documents for his arrival, but needed to meet an agent at the airport with the original certificate. I was also meeting a driver that would take me to my new home. Plus I had 6 suitcases and a big box. On the DC end, I had Marna and Dominic to help me, but in Hyderabad I was on my own.
As all of my bags unloaded, I got to see my boy for the first time. He looked nervous but he seemed to be okay. I had 2 porters and myself to go through customs – and it was a BREEZE! The customs officials were so nice and they all seemed excited to see a cat. We basically walked right through customs.
Immediately upon exit, the agent was waiting with Mac’s NOC certificate (I thought I needed the original for customs, but I didn’t). I thanked the agent for his assistance. Then, I saw a man holding a sign “Gregory Reisher – QuisLex” – my driver. We packed the car and off we went.
Arriving at my new home, I was met by a member of QuisLex’s admin team to make sure I got into my apartment and all was well – which it absolutely was. By this time, it was about 5am local time. I got Mac out of his carrier for the first time. He definitely seemed a little disoriented. I couldn’t tell if he had eaten anything or if he had needed to pee/poop. His little heart was racing a bit.
I spent the next couple of hours unpacking some of my clothes and trying to settle in. At about 7am, I decided to lay down to see if I could sleep a little. I woke up at about 11am. I was scheduled to go into the office that afternoon at 2pm to begin paperwork and hopefully meet some of my new colleagues.
At the office I was greeted by HR and we began with some simple paperwork and I participated in 2 workplace trainings – workplace etiquette and sexual harassment training. I also ran into two of the expats I had met through the interview process and who I was emailing with before I left the US. Vivek, an American of Indian decent, invited me to dinner after he got off work later that day.
We ended up going to the Raddison Hotel with his fiancée and had a really nice time. We chatted a lot about work transition and what it’s like here in Hyderabad. V (as he goes by) and Aasha were extremely warm and comforting – and the best part is that we were out till midnight, so I was hoping that would help get my body clock on HYD time.
Friday, I was asked to report to the office at 10:00am to continue training. Friday was filled with meeting all the different department heads to understand who was who, and who did what! I had my first authentic Indian lunch with my HR companion who shepherded me through the day. Then at 5:30pm the company held their monthly Rewards and Recognition celebration which I was invited to. I was introduced to some of my new colleagues and got to meet some of the stars of the company (at least for the month of March)!
It was a jam packed day – I got home close to 8pm – and CRASHED! I think I fell asleep about 9pm and, although I woke up a few times throughout the night, I was able to sleep until 6am!
Today (Saturday) I’m headed to the mall to do some shopping – I need essentials for the house and Mac would appreciate some fresh litter and food! Later today, one of the expats is having a party as he is about to end his 2+ years here in HYD. I’m looking forward to that opportunity to meet all the other expats!
Wow. Just typing “three days to go…” freaks me out a little! But, it’s down to the final days before the adventure really begins. The last week has been packed with doctor appointments, lunches, dinners, happy hours, vet appointments, long drives, lots of packing and even more “good-byes”. I fluctuate between excited, nervous and exhausted – usually hourly! My crazy friend Alissa nicknamed my new city “Superbad” – which I love – so when you see me say Superbad, I’m giving homage to Alissa, and enjoying the fun of it all!
International Pet Travel
Traveling internationally with a pet requires a ton of preparation. After finding out that there was no quarantine for animals traveling to India – and back to the US from India – I made the decision that I couldn’t move without my big little-buddy – Mac. From that point, the process became pretty complicated.
My first challenge was getting over the idea that Mac would fly in-cabin with me. Very few airlines allow cats/dogs to fly in cabin internationally. The best I could do was on Delta – with two stops – that got me as far as Mumbai. Finding another airline that flew from Mumbai to Hyderabad – without an additional 2 stops and another 12 hours (to go what should be an hour and a half flight – was too complicated. So, I went with Plan B.
Before embarking on Plan B, I investigated Pet Relocation Services. These costs were extraordinary. They fly the cat on it’s own flight and then handle the pet customs process. The first quote, which was close to $4,000 and included an $850 charge to fly Mac into Bengaluru – because their agent wouldn’t work with the Hyderabad pet customs because “they are a nightmare” – and then drive him 9 hours from Bengaluru to Hyderabad. Besides being cost prohibitive, the Hyderabad pet customs information started freaking me out.
But, Plan B turns out to be the way – Mac flys in animal cargo on my flight – for a cost of $250. Much better for the pocketbook, but it leaves me to handle all the administrative tasks. First, Mac must have a rabies vaccination within 12 months of travel, but not earlier than 30 days. So, on February 17th he got his rabies booster and he was ready to travel as of March 17th. On March 19th I took Mac to his vet here in DC for final check up before travel, which is required to be performed within 14 days of travel. Then, you need the USDA Veterinarian-in-Charge to sign off on USDA Form 7001. The local USDA Veterinarian-in-Charge for the DC, Maryland, Virginia and Delaware area is in Richmond, VA (no, not here in DC, it’s in Richmond, VA). So, Wednesday, March 20th I drove to Richmond to get Form 7001 signed.
In the meantime, I had to find an agent in India who would apply for a No Objection Certificate from the Indian Government, that must be received and attached to Mac’s crate before he can get on the plane. After several attempts through Pet Relocation Services, I was able to find an agent on the good ole world wide webs. For $300, Raghu was able to get me the NOC within 2 days and I now have it in hand.
Mac’s reservation on Qatar Airlines is made. His NOC is in hand. He takes nap in his new crate and I think he’s ready to go!
Packing and Moving
Today was Furniture Move Out Day, Part I. I was able to give my barrister bookshelves and filing cabinet to an old friend. The beautiful roll-top desk went to one of my favorite cousins. And the West Elm lamp that everyone loved was claimed by my friend Regan!
Tomorrow, the couch, TV, bar table and bed find their new homes! Once all of the furniture is gone, I’ll have 2 days to pack up the rest of the stuff that’s going with me – and take a hefty load of stuff to Goodwill!
This week has been jammed packed with lunches, dinners and happy hours to see friends and say good-byes. It started last Saturday night with an impromptu (sort-of) reunion of high school friends. It had been over 2.5 years since I had laid eyes on Melanie and it was really good to see her. Del, Mike, Rachel, Everette, Erica – it was great to see everyone.
My family through me an “all-American” BBQ last Sunday, and even though I will get to see most of them this Monday night, it was nice to hang out with everyone.
The week was filled with lunches – Chad, Shania, Liz – and dinners – Bill and Jaspr, Ron and Jackson, Frank – and Happy Hours – Barcode, Walter Happy Hour and Bobby Vans with the old Paul Hastings crew.
The next few days will be tough – but I’m ready for the adventure to begin!
The pre-adventure planning ensues. This week, so far, has primarily focused on getting Mac’s paperwork in order so he can board the flight with me. The focus of the next few days is finishing packing and moving all of the furniture to its new home(s).