Crossing the language barrier abroad!

“The language barrier is probably the most difficult and takes the longest to overcome.” ~ Stephen Lee

Most of the times, the phrase ‘Language barrier’ refers to the difficulties people face during communicating if they don’t speak the same language; or if the speech or accent is too different to communicate effectively.
Almost everyone who ventures out to the worlds far-far away, the language barrier is one of the many hurdles encountered in the new land. For people migrating from India, even though they speak and understand English in most of the cases, the communication problems still exist. The fact is that spoken English in America or other Western countries is not the same as in India. The style, the slang, the acceptable norms…everlasting is different. One is bound to feel out of place in the beginning of the overseas journey.

The key issues surrounding the language barrier and the best ways to approach or alleviate them are:

The language knowledge: Knowledge of the English language is the most important step toward adjusting and adapting to the English speaking culture and society. The understanding of grammar and a sound knowledge of vocabulary are necessary to build a reliable foundation for any language. For people from India, this is not a major issue because most of us learn English in the school and have a good command of the language itself.

The ‘thick’ accent: The accent is natural; this is how we talk and speak in our native country growing up. The Indian accent of English –commonly called ‘thick’ accent- is very different from the way they speak English overseas. While there are ways to soften the accent or dramatically reduce it by practice and with conscious effort, it takes time to lose the accent. For details on this topic, refer to the previous post titled ‘A self-help guide to lose your accent!’. Continue reading “Crossing the language barrier abroad!”

Bollywood Abroad: Aishwarya Rai on the Oprah Show

Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan to appear on Oprah Show!

Aishwairya Rai in 'Devdas'
Aishwairya Rai in ‘Devdas’

The most influential woman in the world, Oprah Winfrey, is back with 2009 season of her world famous and the highest rated talk show. The downtown Chicago area – the Magnificent Mile- was closed to traffic last week as she kicked off the 24th season of Oprah Winfrey Show.

When it comes to the influence of this billionaire, Oprah is a force beyond comprehension. She has single-handedly popularized and revolutionized the tabloid talk show genre. Oprah has a very loyal world wide fan base, especially among women. A book lands on the ‘best seller list’ just by her mentioning of it on the show; the cattle ranchers in Texas get nervous if she promotes vegetarian food or says something against beef…..When Oprah talks, people listen!

And look, who is coming back to the Oprah show again- Aishwarya Rai! The popular Indian actress and former Miss World is no stranger to the show; and this time she brings her husband, Abhishek Bachchan, with her.

Aishwarya Rai is supposedly in Chicago with her beau preparing and shooting for the show. It is ‘rumored’ that the couple has been in USA for more than a week. Obviously, they did not get stopped by the immigration, otherwise we would have heard of it. 🙂 Continue reading “Bollywood Abroad: Aishwarya Rai on the Oprah Show”

Tips on buying a house in USA or Canada!

Tips on house hunting abroad – in USA or Canada!

When it comes to housing today, it is a ‘buyer’s market’. ‘House for sale’ signs are multiplying in every neighborhood; with lots of sellers eager to sell. It is a good opportunity for those who are looking for house.

The process of finding and purchasing a house can be fun or a headache, depending on the circumstances or how you approach it. In most of the cases, the main reason for a house purchase is:

  • upgrading to a house from an apartment,
  • moving into a new area due to job or business or family reasons,
  • buying a house for renting out, or as an investment.

Regardless the reason, the house buying process is quite similar in all such cases in USA and Canada. Many of these steps or commonsense rules also apply for rest of the world as well.

Here are the key factors and main steps to consider before and during the house purchasing process:

Selecting the real estate Agent: The house hunting in itself is an adventure. Some people try it by themselves, while others hire a real-estate agent – the realtor. A good real-estate agent is instrumental to finding the right house and closing the deal smoothly and efficiently. A real-estate agent can simplify the whole process to an art. So, it is very important to hire a good and reliable realtor. Make sure to interview -yes, interview- multiple agents and ask all the appropriate questions including:

  • their qualifications, experience and background,
  • do they work alone or in a team?
  • their track records or success rate,
  • knowledge of the area,
  • overall chemistry or easy to work with,
  • Any other factors that are important to you: For example, possible issues of the language barrier etc.

Many Indians hire a realtor from their own community while others prefer a professional strictly based on the qualifications. Continue reading “Tips on buying a house in USA or Canada!”

California legislature passes the kirpan Bill for Sikhs!

California state legislature passes the ‘Kirpan bill’ to support Sikhs dress code

Most of us -from India or those of Indian origin- need no introduction to ‘kirpan’. It is a small blade that resembles a sword in shape, and is carried in a shoulder strap by many Sikhs. It is one of the Sikh articles of faith, or a religious symbol that Sikhs wear after baptism. Over the years, many Sikhs have been questioned and arrested overseas for carrying a kirpan. The police, for example in USA, can compare the kirpan to carrying a concealed weapon if they don’t know the Sikh tradition.

In an effort to recognize the Sikh dress-code, the Californian state legislature unanimously passed a bill to train law enforcement personnel about Sikhs and the religious significance of ‘kirpans’.

Summary and the excerpts from the bill:

SUMMARY:Requires the Commission on Peace Office Standards and Training (CPOST) to create and make available to all law enforcement agencies a training component on how to recognize and interact with a person carrying a “kirpan”.

Excerpts from the Bill:

“Sikh Americans form a vibrant, peaceful, and law-abiding part of the United States community. California was one of the first places that Sikhs settled in this country over 100 years ago. Today, California is home to a large number of the Nation’s 500,000 Sikhs….” Continue reading “California legislature passes the kirpan Bill for Sikhs!”

‘Bollywood Heroes’ Vs ‘US Customs and Immigration’ : The duel goes on!

The US Customs and Immigration affects Bollywood travels to US

Shahrukh Khan
Shahrukh Khan

SRK stopped by US Immigration office for additional questioning; he blame US immigration for profiling based on Muslim name!….. – 8/11/09
Salman Khan is concerned about the US Immigration office; cancels his US trip!…- 8/28/09

Salman Khan has cancelled his upcoming trip to New York. The bollywood star was planning to visit USA to promote his upcoming movie ‘Wanted’. One of the main causes for this cancellation is quoted to be the recent incident where US immigration stopped Shahrukh Khan for additional questioning at Newark airport.

There has been much reported on this SRK immigration incident. The whole thing is blown way out of proportion by the media with so many twists and turns. Many are of the opinion that the agenda was to promote ‘My name is Khan’, his upcoming movie about experiences of a Muslim in USA in post-9/11 era.

The US Customs and Immigration denies any profiling and called it a routine stop, mainly because his baggage was delayed. You decide- who is right and who is wrong.

Salman Khan
Salman Khan

As a part of security measure of modern days, every country including USA is being extra careful as to who crosses their borders.We all know, the US Immigration and Customs check-point is last place to find friendly faces. The custom officers’ job is to probe everyone who enters the country and try to separate the good guys from bad ones. They frequently stop all kind of travelers –white, black or brown- for additional questioing and screening. The officers do tend to be a bit authoritative, and many may consider them ‘rude’; but that is the nature of their job.

So there you have it! Two Khan’s-the Bollywood mega stars vs. the US Customs and Immigration…. It is hard to fathom that Bollywood is so much worried about ‘not-so-friendly’ US Immigration officers. These Bollywood heroes, whose daily job description is to overcome the hurdles and fight big bad bullies and villains in the movies, seem to shy away when it comes to passing through US Immigration and Customs. Is it that the real life drama is more intimidating than a Bollywood script with a pre-planned favorable outcome?


Come on our Bollywood heroes, you can do better than that! We are so used to your bigger-than-life persona, your bare-hand fights against evils of all sizes! You can single-handedly kill an army of villains in those movies; demolish anything that crosses your path, or that of your love-interest! You can jump out of high rise buildings, dash out of flying planes and come out winners without a scratch on your body. And yet, you are scared of an immigration officer at a US check-point? Where is all that bravery that we are so accustomed to witness on the big screens? We all thought that you are tough enough to put up with some questions from a non-smiling customs officer in real life! Continue reading “‘Bollywood Heroes’ Vs ‘US Customs and Immigration’ : The duel goes on!”

Jobs and Occupations in highest demand in USA: 2006 to 2016

Bureau of Labor Statistics: A summary of Tomorrow’s jobs

Making informed career decisions requires reliable information about opportunities in the future. Opportunities result from the relationships between the population, labor force, and the demand for goods and services. ~ US Bureau of Labor Statistics
The unemployment rate in USA is almost 10% – the worst in decades. A large number of well qualified individuals are desperately looking for jobs. Finding a job that you really like, and getting it, can be a challenging process.

This article provides a long term view of the jobs and occupation that are, and going to be, in high demand in USA. The information and data is based on the study from U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. A wide variety of occupations are forecast to be in high demand. Among all occupations, health-care is forecast to make up 7 of the 20 fastest growing occupations.

The first chart displays the jobs and occupations that are supposed to enjoy the highest rate of increase. The Top jobs with highest percent change in employment over the period of 2006-16, as shown in the chart, include: Continue reading “Jobs and Occupations in highest demand in USA: 2006 to 2016”

NRIs’ random ‘things-to-do’ for the day!

NRIs’ Things To Do:
Have a cup of tea, make the tea
Watch a Bollywood movie
Update Facebook status
Check cricket score, and comment on it on FB
Buy mangoes – Indian mangoes
Order carry-out food from Indian restaurant
Check out the special sales fliers
Garden the flowers and vegetables
Google search ‘NRI Marriages’
Update profile
Shop for cheaper phone service to India
Call your spouse in India
Buy Samosa and chaat to make ‘Curry Samosa’ 🙂
Check stock market
Download desi music
Update resume
Google search ‘how to lose your accent’
Plan a week-end party Continue reading “NRIs’ random ‘things-to-do’ for the day!”

Shahrukh Khan is god; so is US Immigration Office: The lessons learned

Shahrukh Khan
Shahrukh Khan

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” ~ Mark Twain

This incident of SRK’s additional questioning and detentionis in Newark is still getting so much coverage in the news. Actually, this was the main topic of discussion during Independence Day celebration in USA.

Here are the lessons we learned from the whole thing:

USA Immigration and Customs Office is god:Yes, god, but still with a lower case ‘g’. Nobody worship them, but they don’t care. So lets not tangle with someone with this kind of attitude. We can admire them or hate them from a distance. When going through the customs,  if you are over-friendly or over-nervous, they will suspect something is wrong. ‘Suspicion’ is their middle name.

Shahrukh Khan is god: Many worship SRK, so no quarrel here. Problem starts when our Desi god collides with a foreign god, like an Immigration personnel in this case. While you can decide which one of the two would be villain (I think I know your answer 🙂 ), you don’t have to. This is no epic battle of Mahabharata where good and evil are already defined; sometimes nobody wins in these battles of today. In this incident, I think both sides won, in their own words, of course. SRK got publicity for the the new movie and US Immigration officers showed that the law applies to everyone.

VIP Treatment not everywhere: VIP treatment in US is very limited. Actually people get upset when they see a VIP getting special treatment in a public place. Totally different culture, let us not fuss about this. Remember, most of immigration officers don’t know much about our big shot celebrities. Continue reading “Shahrukh Khan is god; so is US Immigration Office: The lessons learned”

NRI Tips: Commonsense guide for NRI marriages

NRI marriages tips – Don’t get carried away with overseas marriages

“Now very often events are set up for photographers… The weddings are orchestrated about the photographers taking the picture, because if it hasn’t been photographed it doesn’t really exist.”~Elliott Erwitt

The main reason for so many problems with overseas marriages is that couples and the families are taking too much for granted – before and after the marriage. Here are some of the commonsense tips for marriages abroad:

Don’t rely on online services for matchmaking: While an online site could be a good place to see what people are looking or what is out there, don’t put you full faith into these online services. Take the profile info with a grain of salt; people tend to lie, it is a fact. Even if you initiate a contact online, make sure to do your own investigation and ask the right questions.

Do not marry to the NRI status: As I stated before in the problems with NRI marriages article, many of the families go for a wedding blindly just to marry to an NRI living overseas. The more important requirements of mutual compatibility are often overlooked. And, that’s where the problem really starts. Don’t marry to the NRI status, but to the person of YOUR choice.

Meet your future partners – in person, and for longer than over a cup of tea: The arranged marriages of 1950’s are so long gone. Get to know the other side as much as possible, at least until you feel comfortable with making your decision – one way or another. Continue reading “NRI Tips: Commonsense guide for NRI marriages”

Education levels for the fastest growing jobs!

Fastest growing jobs and occupations by the level of education

“Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.” ~ Perelman

Education is the foundation for any profession or a career. The skills acquired and the learning experience during education often determine the level of success for any individual. A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of US Depart of Labor, lists the fastest growing occupations by the level of education and on the job training: Continue reading “Education levels for the fastest growing jobs!”

The fastest growing jobs and occupations in USA!

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of US Department of Labor, has a very interesting and comprehensive study on the jobs and occupations projections. The report titled ‘Tomorrow’s Jobs’  is quite telling in terms of expected growth in employment over the period of 2006 to 2016.
The chart/graph here provides a snap-shot of the fastest growing occupations in USA – the change in the total employment by occupation groups projected over 2006 – 2016.chart 6_99
The top occupations that are expected to enjoy the highest percentage increase are:

Professional and related occupations: These occupations cover a wide range of skilled professions. Professional and related occupations are expected to increase by 16.7%. Among the top beneficiaries include:
-Computer and mathematical occupations,
-Health-care practitioners and technical occupations,
-Education, training, and library occupations

Services: Employment in service sector is projected to increase by 16.7%, tied with professional and related occupations for the fastest rate of growth. The services occupations that are expected to grow the fastest include:
-Food preparation,
-Serving related occupations
-Health-care support occupations
-Personal care and service service occupations

Management, business, and financial occupations: The employment is expected to increase by 10.4% by 2016 in this category. Among top growth projections are:
-Construction managers
-Accountants and auditors and business operation specialists
-Financial analysts and personal financial advisers Continue reading “The fastest growing jobs and occupations in USA!”

10 jobs and occupations in high demand!

Job Tips- Top jobs and best occupations for today and tomorrow:

The job market in America is in a bad shape, and keep getting worse. The unemployment rates at 9.7% is the highest in decades. However, as always, there are some bright spots; many occupation continue to be in demand. Based on the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the US Department of Labor, here are the some of the fastest growing  job markets:

  1. Network systems and data communications analyst
  2. Physician assistant
  3. Medical assistant
  4. Computer application software engineer
  5. Physical therapist aide
  6. Personal financial advisor, and financial analyst
  7. Skin care Specialist
  8. Veterinary technologist and technician
  9. Dental hygienist
  10. Pharmacy technician

Continue reading “10 jobs and occupations in high demand!”