The best countries to live abroad

Which country is best for an immigrant?
It depends. It depends on what is most important to you and how you rank associated facilities and conveniences.

There are all kinds of surveys where expats are asked their opinion about their destination country and their personal experiences. . The surveys often provide an insight into the expat life abroad.

The main factors that are important to anyone living abroad are:
Economics: The jobs and occupations, employment, earning levels, spend­ing, saving and investing etc.
Living Experience: The quality of life, ease of relocation, social circle, friends and family etc.
Raising Children and family Abroad: The childcare, health benefits, family friendly environment  and education etc.

Based on a survey by the Expat Explorer, here are the results – best countries for an expat to live abroad.

Overall Ranking – Taking everything into account – the local economy, living experience and raising a family, here the top countries :

1. Hong Kong

2. Australia

3. Canada

4. Netherlands

5. United Arab Emirates

6. United States

7. Saudi Arabia

8. United Kingdom

9. Kuwait

10. Cayman Islands

11. Thailand

12. Spain Continue reading “The best countries to live abroad”

Pardesi songs! Best Bollywood songs for the NRIs and Indians abroad!

The best pardesi songs – Best Bollywood songs with NRIs and ‘Indians abroad’ theme!

Pardesi is someone living away form their mother land, living away from home in another country, a foreigner. This article is dedicated to all those pardesi souls and NRIs around the world.

The ‘pardesi songs’ often carry the theme and the emotions of Indians living abroad. Being away from their birth-place, being separated from their loved ones left behind, starting a new life in a new country… and the distance itself – a mixture of emotions come into the picture. There are lots of patriotic songs and good ones too. However, the ones included here are more related to the unique situations of living overseas, rather than regular patriotic songs. Here are some of the best Bollywood songs that many NRIs and Indians living abroad can relate to:

1. Chithi Aayee hai (Movie: Naam): One of the best songs that directly connects to all the feelings of Indians who have migrated from India, but still miss their motherland. Beautiful lyrics tell a touching story of an average immigrant.
Tune paisa bahut kamaya
Es paise ne des chhudaya….

Pankaj Udhas’s melodious voice adds to the appeal of this evergreen and super-hit song.

2. Bharat ka rehne walaa hoon (Movie: Purab Aur Pachhim): ‘Hai Preet Jahan Ki Reet Sada / Jab Zero Diya Mere Bharat Ne’ is one of the most memorable song that highlights the virtues of India and the Indian culture, especially for those who live overseas. This number has ideal settings – featured in England with crowd including Indians, hippies and English audience. Mahendra Kapoor’s voice and Manoj Kumar’ acting is a winning combination. Continue reading “Pardesi songs! Best Bollywood songs for the NRIs and Indians abroad!”

Loving the life in Canada

The sweat – she wipes her forehead. The wait – she is agitated and annoyed. She is not used to this sort of life.

She waits in the line for 30 minutes before the Brampton Employment Centre opens. Once inside, there is more wait. She slumps in a chair after taking her number, waiting for her turn.
She is a people-person, but everything around her seems to annoy her today. She is tired of fruitless job search.

The place is crowded, all kinds of people around her. Two women sit in the front row, giggling and filling up an application form. A group of middle aged men stand nearby, with work-boots on, as if ready to start some construction job right away. A young mother sits next to her, the infant toying with the milk bottle.
“They did not have any openings last week”, the young mother says, trying to make a small talk, and then adds quickly, “Hi, my name is Kari!”
“Hi, I am Jassi.”
“So you are local!” Kari blurts quickly, as if she does not seem to belong there.
“Sort of, but I have been in Canada only for a few months.”
A long silence; the baby starts to suckle on the bottle nipple, “There are no jobs in accounting in Brampton area!”
“Really?” Jassi pretends to care. Continue reading “Loving the life in Canada”

Happiness outsourced

Like a kid in a candy store. I stood in his driveway and stared at the big beautiful house. An artistic combinations of stone and white marble stands out. The large glass windows are tastefully embedded all over – like in a palace. A manicured front yard and a professional landscape add to the appeal.

His corner-house sits in one of the upper-scale and most affluent residential areas of West Chicago suburbs. As I walked inside the double-door entrance with marble sidings, I quickly realized that the inside of the mansion is even more impressive and prettier that outside view. There are large bifurcating staircases leading to the upper storey; there are multiple bathrooms on the main floor; the open ceiling concept has a catwalk that overlooks the family room; the kitchen alone is bigger than a decent size luxury apartment. If you look at the size of house, you would think that some millionaire lives here. Continue reading “Happiness outsourced”

New immigrants’ guide to the United States of America

There are a variety of sites, advertisements and even misleading information about the resources available to a new immigrant in the United States of America. Some of them promise your skies and stars, while others cut and paste from the official website of USA Homeland Security.

Whenever in doubt, always go to the source of the information. The purpose of this article is not to spoon-feed you the guidelines and rules, but share the source of such information.

There is a comprehensive guide issued by the U.S. Government as an official publication. The guide is titled ‘Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants, Washington, DC, Revised Edition’ and the information come straight from the horse’s mouth: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, .

This guide is a welcome document for new immigrants or for those who plan to migrate to USA in the near future. “Adjusting to your new life in the United States of America will take time. This guide contains basic information that will help you settle in the United States and find what you and your family need for everyday life. It also summarizes important information about your legal status and about agencies and organizations that provide documents or essential services you may need.” Continue reading “New immigrants’ guide to the United States of America”

Desi fundas 101: Education – a fundamental driver of Indian success abroad

The big red letters on the front of our school used to read, in two languages:
In Punjabi: “Vidhya insaan di teesari akh hai!”
In Hindi: “Vidhya insaan ki teesari aankh hai!”

Meaning: Education (or knowledge) is the 3rd eye for a person.

Growing up, we all knew that some of the rules should not and could not be questioned; rules like:

  • Respect your books. Stepping on a book, even by mistake is a sin. A book never belongs under your feet.
  • Education is your priority number one.
  • Respect your teachers….

Continue reading “Desi fundas 101: Education – a fundamental driver of Indian success abroad”

Abroad, You never feel at Home

Yes, it happened; it was bound to happen. I ran out of ideas.
I ran out of ideas to write about. Not that my previous ideas were too special or too brilliant. Even the brilliant idea from last night – writing about a new-comer’s experiences – was very ordinary.

She is new student I recently ran into – my new idea. From her experiences in America, I was hoping to get some new material for my blog.

“So how do you like in America?” I asked eagerly, hoping for a long story.
“Ah, it’s not all that bad, just about the same as I expected,” Dismissively, she said in a monotone.
“So, what is it that you don’t like it here, or dislike the most,” I rephrased the question, hoping to get something more.
“It is not much different; about the same as I expected,”

She was not helping out.
I paused. It cannot be; it is a new country, a new place across the ocean.
“How about the language?” I pressed on.
“No, I speak English at home in Bangalore. I can speak many languages, but English is what we use the most.”
“Wow”, I did not know what else to say. In reality, I was more disappointed than surprised. Continue reading “Abroad, You never feel at Home”

A journey from home, to home

A journey begins at home,
But, go where the new path leads you;
Where the rainbows embrace the horizon
Where new friends meet you.

Go where future holds a promise
Even if present seems rough;
Where you discover yourself
Bright ideas tease you.

Go where you find something new
That reminds you of old;
Where everyone is different
Where strangers greet you.

Go where streets are straight,
But the journeymen are twisted;
Where it rains in the sun
where skies surprise you. Continue reading “A journey from home, to home”

20 Tips on personal safety and crime prevention abroad

Commonsense tips on how to be safe in a foreign country

Rape, assault and violence – the news are full of sickening tales everyday. Every country, every neighborhood, every place has its flaws. One way or another, any city – big or small – is a victim of deadly crimes. It is a part of life; we are all exposed to some sort of danger all the time – at home or abroad.

In a foreign country, safety and security have always been keys concern of travelers and immigrants alike. Be it the streets of New York, south-side of Chicago, the suburbs of London, the cities in Australia….. the safety is always in the forefronts of anyone’s mind – travelers and immigrants alike.

An immigrant (or a minority) often considers herself/himself to be more exposed to the danger of personal safety for many reasons:

  • The local criminals may find it easier or less risky to go after an outsider, or a minority group.
  • Many societies blame the immigrants for unemployment and job-loss issues; this social bias or grudge can contribute to the crimes against them.
  • Many fanatics may single out the minorities as a cause of their social agenda and target them.

While you cannot eliminate the racism or discrimination overnight, – even though it is a good wish, next to the cure of aging – there are certain things we can all do to be safer and more secure in a foreign land:

1. Select the residence location wisely: Pick a neighborhood with low crime rate that is safer to live. Do your research while selecting a residence. For example, many local newspapers publish information such as ‘Best places to raise a family’. A local real estate agent can also guide you to the safer areas. Avoid areas infested with crime.

2. Avoid bad company: It is simple as that, however, easier said than done. The company and the circle of friends you keep play a big role in day-to-day interactions with the society. Steer clear of the gang and crime infected social circles. Avoid areas with gang activities; stay away from unsavory characters.

3. Lock doors and windows: Once you have a residence selected in a good neighborhood, make it secure and burglar-proof. Install good quality dead-bolt locks on all the exterior doors. Also, Install quality locks on all the windows. Keeping your placed locked provides extra sense of security and deter burglars.

4. Trim over-grown shrubs and trees around the residence: Make sure to remove or trim shrubbery that hides doors and windows. That way, neighbors or passersby can see someone trying to break into your home. Limit the hiding spots for a burglar by keeping the bushes and trees tidy and well-trimmed.

5. Well-lit Place: Always have a light outside the front door and other areas of entrance. A well-lit area discourages the thieves and the bad guys. Continue reading “20 Tips on personal safety and crime prevention abroad”

Hinglish of India – Indian idioms and phrases

Hinglish: Indian English lost-in-translations abroad – Idioms and phrases from India

“What is your good name, sir?”
“It is nice knowing you, Steve Ji!”
“Hey Boss, are you enjoying the fair?”
“Simply! Enjoying to the maximum!”
“How was the movie?”

“I will give you a ring over the week-end.”
“OK boss”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this conversation as long as both parties are on the same page. The exchange above is perfectly understandable between two Indians in certain Indian regions.

English in India is spoken very differently as compared to the same language overseas. Our Indian mother-language and the grammar has significant impact on English – taught as a second or third language throughout the country. Sometime, the Indian English – due to the influence of Hindi and other local languages – is also called Hinglish.

Just like the conversation above, ‘Hinglish’  is quite common within Indian communities, ( “Tired, kya?” = “Are you tired?”). There is no harm, no foul if both sides understand it.

However, we tend to include some ‘Hinglish’ even when talking to American or English audience abroad. That is where we run into trouble, some miscommunication to say the least.

Many English words, Idioms and Phrases have different meaning in India or are used only in India. When used overseas, they don’t feel right or mean something entirely different.

Here are some of the common idioms and phrases, and their closest (or alternatives) usage in proper English when outside India:

What is your good name?: A polite way of asking someone’s name; it comes from translation of Hindi phrase – Shubh naam (good name). Politeness still intact, ‘May I know your name’ or ‘You name please?’ is more appropriate in non-Indian settings.

Eve teasing: It refer to sexual harassment of females, or taunting them – as in schools or colleges or in bazaars etc.

Poor Joke (pj): ‘Poor joke’ is not a commonly used phrase, a more common way of conveying the same thing is ‘bad joke’!

Time-pass: Relates to doing something trivial or of little importance – something that does not matter. ‘Nothing important’ is one of the many alternative way of responding, instead of ‘time-pass’.

Time-waste: This is worse than ‘time-pass’, doing something you don’t even enjoy. ‘It is a waste of time’ is a similar expression often used in Western countries.

Himalayan blunder:Very big mistake, a mistake of the size of Himalaya mountain. Blunder generally means ‘big’ mistake..may not need too many adjectives that are not commonly used overseas. Continue reading “Hinglish of India – Indian idioms and phrases”

UK Visa Rules Tighten for Indian IT Workers

Tougher UK visa rules for Indian IT professionals

The British PM Gordon Brown has announced the plan to tighten the UK immigration rules for the Indian IT professionals seeking to migrate to the UK under inter-company transfers. This tougher rules take effect from January, 2010.

From 2010, workers in this category – inter-company transfers – will need to have at least 12 months of experience. At present, the professionals in this category only need 6 months with their employer before they can be transferred to UK.

Also, the immigration category will be closed as a route to permanent settlement in the England.

What this means is quite simple: IT professionals who come to England under inter-company transfer rule will not be allowed to settle permanently even after the mandatory stay of five years, as in the past. Continue reading “UK Visa Rules Tighten for Indian IT Workers”

12 Self-help tips for Indians to improve English language command

Self-help suggestions and tips on improving Indian-English or Desi-English language abroad

“Are you enjoying the movie?”
Translated literally from Tamil, simply means absolutely.

There is nothing wrong with the above conversation if both sides know the intended meaning. Now, move that conversation to somewhere in USA or Canada or England, with someone who does not know the ‘Tamil-English’, the actual meaning is lost in the translations. 🙂

English language and English grammar is a bit tricky for those who are not used to it, for those with English as a second language. The basic mistakes we make are when we ‘think’ in our mother-tongue, and then translate in our head (Many of us say ‘translate in my mind 🙂 ), and then speak in ‘translated’ English. Here are some self-help tips on improving desi English overseas:

1. Knowing and Having – the problem of the progressive tense: many Indians often translate and speak with excessive and often inappropriate use of progressive verb form.

For example, consider this:
“I am having a fever.”
“I am having a small family”
“I am knowing that you are having a party without sending me invitation.”

Of course, the correct way of saying is:
“I have a fever”
“I have a small family”
“I know you are having a party without inviting me.”
Continue reading “12 Self-help tips for Indians to improve English language command”

British Prime Minister outlines tougher UK immigration rules

Gordon Brown unveils tougher immigration rules for England

On Nov 12, 2009, the British PM Gordon Brown outlined plans to tighten the UK immigration rules. From his speech on immigration, the key points and policy changes include:

  • Reduction in the number of professions recruited from outside Europe
  • Limit the numbers on student visas
  • Point Based citizenship

Reduction in the number of professions recruited from outside Europe
The PM promised a tougher market test that will force employers to recruit immigrants from outside the local workforce for a skilled job only if they can show that no suitably qualified settled worker can fill the role. The job vacancy must also be advertised for two weeks locally before an migrant can be recruited. In future, the job will have to be advertised for local employment for a month.
“I do want to ensure that we give British people looking for jobs the best chance of filling vacancies that arise as we come out of the downturn. But where there are vacancies that have been advertised here and are unfilled, it is necessary for businesses and for the economy to be able to recruit more widely.” The Prime Minister explained. Continue reading “British Prime Minister outlines tougher UK immigration rules”

Bollywood to the rescue: Australian attacks on Indians abroad!

Friendly warning: To avoid mental indigestion, please take this post with a grain of salt and in light spirits. The intended humor does not – in any way – take away the seriousness of the Australian situation. Enjoy:

Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan and Dara Singh are getting old; otherwise we would not even be talking about this. We would not be worried about some group of kids attacking Indians in broad Australian daylight.
In good old days Dharmendra alone, may be with some help from ‘Big B’, could have taken care of this crisis. And a dance number in between – to prove his cool – would have been just the expected icing on the cake.
But those golden days of unbeatable magic are gone!

Singh is Kinngh to the rescue?
Singh is Kinngh to the rescue?

We do have Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan and rest of the modern day Bollywood heroes. They are a force to reckon with, no doubt. The movie ‘Om Shanti Om’ is a living proof that they are no less than their ‘elders’ – the previous generation of Bollywood heroes! However, it is a troublesome that they have been a bit shy of the Immigration officers abroad recently. So, it may be hard to convince them to board a plane for overseas, if that’s how they ‘fly’!

So, there is the problem, there lies the dilemma – the real challenge! Which Bollywood star should go over to Australia and ‘fix’ those hooligans and thugs, who don’t really understand how good we Indians are?

Bigger challenges demand better solutions, some new ideas. We need a new Bollywood star (or two) to rise to this occasion, and go fix it, once and for all. We need some fresh Bollywood blood who can take over this challenge.

Which Bollywood stars to the rescue?
Who could it be? Continue reading “Bollywood to the rescue: Australian attacks on Indians abroad!”

India Abraod – The attacks on Indians in Australia

The attacks on Indians in Australia continue 
The violent attacks on Indians in Australia continue. Last week, another Indian student was assaulted and left unconscious in Melbourne. The Australian youth attackers told him that “in this place there is no home for you”. This is the second published attack in last one week. There may be many more smaller or unreported incidents that we don’t hear about.

It is very sad and horrifying that these incidents against Indians have continued over the months. Since June 2009, scores of Indians have been attacked and are victims of physical violence at the hands of local Australians. The governments from both sides have been addressing these ugly incidents. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has spoken to his Australian counterpart in the past; external affairs minister S M Krishna has visited the country; and Australia has assured a policy of zero tolerance against the attacks. There have been many steps taken by the Australian Government to deal with all this, but there seems to be no end in sight.

It is clear that the issue is bigger than the Australian authorities. The law enforcement authorities and the policeman on the street can only do so much in this case.

Is the local economy to blame for the attacks?
Many believe that these attacks are triggered by the slow-down in economy. The unemployment is growing everywhere; people are struggling to find jobs. The immigrants and outsider often get the blame for stealing the jobs away from the locals.

This thinking and blame-game is not new or uncommon across the globe. In America, with unemployment exceeding 10%, immigrants and outsourcing are often quoted as one of the reasons for difficulties in finding work. There are many factions and groups, including some media outlets, in USA that openly blame immigrants as part of the economic problem. The main focus in America has been the Mexican immigrants who are blamed for taking away the lower wage jobs from working class Americans. Continue reading “India Abraod – The attacks on Indians in Australia”