Sunday, June 21, 2009

NRI's frequency of visiting India

I was booking travel the other day when the agent asked me, "How frequently do you visit India ?" Amazingly, I had trouble recounting the number even though quite a lot of planning and anticipation goes on around these occasions. Anyway I counted later and here are the number of round trip tickets we bought for our family over the last 5 years :

2004 - 3 RoundTrips
2005 - 2.5 RTs
2006 - 2 RTs
2007 - none
2008 - 3 RTs
2009 - 2 RTs.

Grand Total of 13 round trips at US$1500 a pop = US$19,500 on airfare alone. Just for comparison's sake that would be equal to about 7 Las Vegas vacations if we were to stick to the same spending habits in Sin City !

Cost of a vacation in Las Vegas ?

The final cost : US$ 2,750 for 4 nights stay on the Strip. We watched several shows and also visited the Grand Canyon. Here is the complete breakdown.

As novices we naturally made several mistakes along the way. For example, renting a car for the whole duration instead of only the days we needed it. Cabs are easily available on the Strip so car rentals are unneccessary unless you'd like to drive around. We spent a lot of time on the Strip so the car was sitting idle in the garage gathering dust most of the time. Another one: ordering $15 water from room service. Wonder how this compares with the average vacation in Vegas. With the wisdom of hindsight we'd definitely be shaving off expenses next time around.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


A friend sent me the following posters of the swiss people's party. Not quite sure what they all mean !

Monday, November 05, 2007

Kolkata Health & Fitness

Every morning is witness to thousands of people flocking to the Calcutta Maidan for their health and fitness. Smaller parks in smaller suburbs similarly suffer under the stomping masses who claim to attain salvation through their pursuit of a long healthy life.

I say, stop it. Yes, stop it. And join the RamaKrishna Mission instead. Let us look at their presidents.

Along with the great work they do, the monks have been able to defy that most persistent of enemies : TIME. That too in the pollution ridden squalor of India & Kolkata where standards of medical care are abysmal at best. By a living a long wide margin of 20 full years more than the ordinary citizen, they have proved that faith does indeed plays an important part in longevity. But there could be selection bias also. Baring one exception, the presidents do seem to be in an increasing order of age which could mean that seniority is certainly a factor in promotion. Well, I was very sad to hear the 14th president pass away today. RKM is certainly one of the most amazing organizations around. They have been serving the needy for more than 100years, yet they are conspicuous by their absence from all usual references to India.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Who wants to leave Kolkata ?

This is an excerpt from a recent release of the US consulate, Kolkata.

2005 Visa Statistics: Last Year over 25,000 applications were processed in Calcutta.

Visa applications were received in the following categories:
- Business/Tourist (B1/B2) 54%
- Temporary Workers (H) 18%
- Intercompany Transfers (L) 15%
- Students (F/M) 7%
- Crew (C1/D) 3%
- Exchange Visitors (J) 3%
- Performers (P) less than 1%
- Religious (R) less than 1%

Interesting to compare this with figures from India as a whole from this report :

B1/B2 = 52.3%
H = 22.5%
L = 10%
F/M = 5%
C1/D = 5%

And Kolkata consulate as a whole issued just 25000/377384 = 6% (!!!) of the total amount of visas from India

Now since these numbers include the numbers from Kolkata, the differences in reality are greater than they look - e.g. consider H1s. Even though it appears that of the total number of visas from Kolkata, the % of H1's (18%) is less than what the average number of H1 seekers are of the total, in reality, Kolkata has issued far lesser, because the total has been diluted by the inclusion of numbers from Kolkata, which have reduced the differences. So, having said that, lets see where we stand. More B1/B2's implies more parents visiting. Resonates well with what I've observed - that a lot of people come back to Kolkata to retire. Less students (F1) and workers (H1) - generally lower levels of economic & educational activity. More L1s caught me by suprise, but I think I get it after discussing this with my friends. Apparently L1s are more of indentured laborers. So due to the less choice, Kolkata employers are getting away by putting more and more employees into L1s rather than H1s which are tranferable between employers. Hmmm .... I thought it would be more meaningful to compare numbers of each consulate independently and look at regional choice but I could not get my hand on the individual stats. Overall seems we are in ballpark.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lekha Pora : Kolkata to Harvard.

Heritage School: Rs 27lakhs.

So I’ve been thinking real hard about the great new education-age that we are in. I set out to gather data on the new schools of Calcutta and here is what I found.

Typically, one finds that students of these schools throng to the USEFI on JL Nehru road right beside Chatterjee International to prepare for SAT, in their last 2 years of school. Then they go abroad and get a Bachelors degree & a MBA from the US. Now, let us calculate the expenses for their college and Business School – say Harvard and HBS respectively.

Thus 18 years of education has cost Rs13403200 + Rs2634900 = Rs 1,603,8100. And this is just a fraction of the total cost since it does not include private lessons, travel etc.

So looking back, was going to an expensive school from Kindergarten to Senior High worth it? Personally, I think so. But there is a catch. I think that what makes it worthwhile was the fact that they immigrated to the US. Post-MBA salaries in the US for graduates from top Business Schools are stratospheric. This is the key fact that will help them recoup their investment on education. There are not too many jobs in India that pay enough to make up for all that money spent on education alone.

In Mumbai & Delhi my friends in IBanking, VC and Trading do send their kids to such schools. In Bangalore, ex-NRIs can afford these fees. But wealthy families in Kolkata, at least wealthy enough to pay through Heritage school, are usually business families or old money ex-zamindar families. For families involved in business, the tradeoff is between spending all that money and having the kid not tending to the business till he/she is 28/29. If they had the new blood employed in the family business from the age of 19, the business could probably be better off. But one could argue that the new connections made among the rich and the famous in elite institutions abroad could help the business in the long term. For ex-zamindar families, well … it’s anyone’s guess. The usual theory of Economics or Finance doesn’t apply when there is an infinite supply of money.

But the bottom line is if you go to one of these schools and your parents are wage-earners (even though very highly paid), you better make it abroad after your class 12.

Update: Here are some more numbers

Doon School : Rs 194000/yr X 12yrs + Rs 35000 + Rs 30000 + Rs20000 = Rs2413000
Lawrence, Sanawar: Rs74000 + Rs 110500/yr X 12yrs = Rs1400000

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Kaal , Shomoy , Time , Zeit , Temps , Tempo , Tiempo

I've been curious about the contents of this list for a very long time. Here is the link to the forum. Finally found it a minute ago. Can't browse a copy of The Economist without tumbling on a PP ad. The 5102G is the most expensive at US $180K+ and the 4960A the least at US $7K+ . Check them out at the PP website. If only I could afford ... Surely one of these days ... Ok enough is enough. End of day dreaming.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bari , Para and School

A most fantastic thing : Wikimapia

I was able to locate my childhood para on this easily. Also my school, my college. Very nostalgic.