Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
This is intended to be the beginning of a journal of Gopal’s and my journey into a potentially interesting future. In a little over a year, we are planning to retire and move to India. He was born there, in Tamil Nadu, and moved here to join his British American wife when he was around 33. We are now 62. I am a white American woman who has visited India several times for short periods. Besides the fact that Gopal has always imagined returning to India to live, it has become an enticing possibility to me also. I think living there would be incredibly interesting culturally, and I am hoping I will be able to find affordable, good healthcare there. I have diabetes, breast cancer, asthma, hypertension – you name it. Why in the world would you want to go to a place like India, you ask? Well, besides the fact that I find India and Nepal incredibly interesting and we have friends there, I believe there is a distinct possibility I can get healthcare there equivalent to healthcare here in the U.S. for a fraction of the cost. I also think, on Social Security alone, we will be able to afford household help and a driver. Balancing those positives with leaving my children and grandchild behind is challenging. And, I’m getting really tired of going to an office every day. I want time off. I want to retire and do what I want to do and be able to live well.

We have a small international volunteer agency we do after work. Gopal and I both work full time. The volunteer agency sends volunteers to NGO projects in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. I’m actually doing the volunteer agency since Gopal burned out on it several years ago. Because we are not marketing it, we hardly send any volunteers at all, really. At present we have two we are hoping to place in Nepal and one potentially to India. I’m hoping to be able to continue the volunteer agency from India. We should have more time then.

A friend is picking me up in 5 minutes for meditation. Gotta go.

Sunday, June 18, 2006
Came down with that respiratory flu for the third time. Just starting to feel better this afternoon, but know that may not last. Usually, I’m sick with this for weeks.

Read through some American embassy stuff for American’s in India while I was in bed yesterday. Some of it is sort of scary – for example, if you hit a person or a cow on the road (in rural areas?), people may try to attack you so run to the nearest police station?!! Gopal doesn’t think that’s accurate (but I can tell he’s not sure). Geesh! We’re hoping to go in December for a month this year. When we’re there, we plan to stay at Auroville. While we’re there, I want to talk with other Americans/Europeans and ask about their medical experience in India. Also I want to meet with representatives of some of the larger medical programs there like Apollo (hospitals in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Chennai) and Gwalior in ____.

Friday, June 23, 2006
Well, we decided the other day that it was not a good time financially to go to India this year, unless our finances change dramatically. I agree but am disappointed. At the moment, we are talking about going to the Cape in August, and I think it’s really hard for Gopal because it’s so expensive (close to $400 ea for airfare plus a car, etc.). We planned to get the flight tomorrow. I hope it works out OK. I’m afraid he will really resist going. He’s feeling so broke.

Gopal’s friend Krishna and his wife, Vijaya, are expected to stay with us for a day or so in mid-July. They live in Mumbai, but spent most of their adult life living and working here in the U.S. (on the East Coast, I think). I’m really anxious to get their opinion about life and medicine in India, since they lived here so long and have retired to India. I’m hoping they may encourage Gopal to come directly to Mumbai, rather than starting out in Delhi where he knows his way around more and has people. I’m not sure why I think Mumbai would be better. I think it’s because Gopal really liked Lonavla, and I would really like to rent a place right away, settle in, then explore from that home base. I’m a homebody, and it makes me more comfortable thinking of having our own place and being able to decorate it in a way that I will feel comfortable.

Saturday, June 24, 2006
Today, I heard Gopal tell Caroline that we would be traveling to India next year, then move there later. So, I asked him what he’s thinking about our move to India and he responded by asking me what I thought we were doing. I told him what we have been talking about, and how deeply unsettling it was that he is acting like we haven’t been discussing moving in the Fall of 2007. We really needed to talk about it and be clear about what was going on and clear that both of us really wanted to make the move. We are both really wanting to go right now. After quite an in-depth discussion, we decided that we would move to India in the Fall of 2007. We are making a financial statement of our income and anticipated expenses at the time of our retirement. Part of that information is going to come from the Gosavis when they visit next month. They can tell us what their expenses are in Mumbai, for example. We also agreed to check in and discuss this again quarterly to make sure we’re on the same page and to tweak our projected cash-flow spreadsheet. I don’t want to get this far afield again. I know he’s worrying about the money, but there’s a limit to what we can do at this point. When we first talked about retiring to India, the only money we even knew about was our projected Social Security payments and my $10,000 annuity. That’s all there was, and we believed we could be very comfortable on $1,800 a mo. in India. Now, we know that I will have a pension from the union of over $100/mo. and a surprise retirement plan from Sutter that will pay us $393/mo. He’s not sure what his UCSF pension will be next Spring, but it is several hundred dollars/mo. We’re over $2,600/mo. by June 2006. Since I will not be able to pay off my $60,000 student loan by the time we retire, my Sutter retirement payments will pay those payments until I retire, and it’s possible SallieMae may take a couple hundred dollars a mo. from my Social Security checks when we retire. Still, I think we have a great adventure ahead of us and we need to just take the leap. We can always come back to the U.S. and hope one of the kids will help us out. Ugh!

Thursday, July 06, 2006
We spoke with the Gosavi’s by phone last night. They should arrive here around the 15th. I am really looking forward to meeting them. Also looking forward to asking questions about living in India. Should start a list.

Dineshbai stopped in this evening. He wants to start an ashram in the hills in Nepal, Kailash Ashram. People are telling him he should become the new prime minister of Nepal. I said I thought he was becoming a guru. Gopal said he thought we would not be very separated in our futures. Either we both live in Nepal or we both live in India. There’s no way Dineshbai will live in India, I don’t think. I sure do love him.

Saturday, July 8, 2006
Krishna has asked Gopal to book flights for him from Houston to L.A. Wednesday, then L.A. to S.F. on Friday, the 14th! Then from S.F. to Chicago on 7/19. So, it looks like they will arrive Friday and leave the following Wednesday. Boy, have we got our work cut out for us. I can’t wait to pick their brains about moving to India.

On August 4th (Friday evening) 6-9pm there’s an India job fair in Santa Clara. I’m hoping Gopal will be willing to stay over and come to Pt. Lobos the next morning. Otherwise, I can’t go. I have had the flu so many times this spring, I can’t exhaust myself by driving home after the fair and driving down to Pt. Lobos the following morning. (I am a docent at Point Lobos State Reserve just south of Carmel, where I work volunteer shifts as a nature interpreter two Saturdays a month.) I would really like to attend the fair because there’s not only jobs in India but also discussions about the challenges of living there.

Monday, July 10, 2006
1. Gopal decided going to the job fair on August 4th would add too much to what’s going on right now. I think he’s right, although I’m concerned another such fair will not come about before we go. But we dedided that we will be working for ourselves there, not for a company and that’s pretty much what the fair was about.
2. We talked about the cats. Since my experiment in hoping the cats would live with John happily and successfully enough for us to leave them with him when we move to India, I’ve been filled with intense apprehension about their fate. If we can’t find a home for them, they will be put to sleep. That is not OK. Flying them to India seems so extreme. How can they survive that incredibly long flight? They can’t go outside in India; people there don’t appreciate them, and that would scare me. So, I asked him if he could envision us finding an apartment around Mumbai as soon as we arrive where the cats would be accepted by the landlord. He didn’t think anybody would care about them. I asked if there would be screens on the windows so I could keep them inside. He said we could put them in. Would we have a chance to do that right away – before the cats come to the apartment? Is there a quarantine for animals? Oh, god, how are they going to survive this? How am I going to survive this?
3. Erica wants to take a trip late next year. She wanted to go to Tibet now that a train is running there, but things have been pretty ruined there by the Chinese occupation. I suggested Sikkim since it’s not occupied by China and is very Tibetan Buddhist. It would be really wonderful if she came to India late in 2007. We could see her there!

Thursday, July 27, 2006
WELLLLL, Krishna and Vijaya have come and gone. Actually, I think they had a very nice time. It turned out the only subject I broached with Vijaya was the prospect of bringing my cats. She said no landlord would approve of having them in an apartment, how would I get them there, the heat would kill them, etc. Oh, I did mention health care, but she didn’t think that I would be able to get western medicine there. I would have to adjust to Indian medicine. It’s possible I just didn’t understand exactly what she meant. Gopal and I are pretty flexible people, so I feel comfortable just waiting to see what we find when we get there. We can always return to the United States if it really doesn’t work.

Oh, AND, when I actually went to John’s house Saturday to pick up the cats to bring them back here, he didn’t want to give them up! Gopal came with me and asked John’s roommate, Tej, how he felt about the cats. John had told us that Tej was allergic to them and John, himself, had been making subtle noises about them returning to our house. So, I thought I wouldn’t push the subject and would just bring them home. Tej said he didn’t care about them, but if John would take care of them it was OK with him that the cats stay there. John’s condition for keeping them was that I visit them more often. I told him I would, since now that he would keep them the least I could do was muster up the heart to go spend time with them. I miss them so much, it breaks my heart to be around them. I guess I thought they would feel the same way. As it is, the cats and I have all been sick from the separation and the cats are still suffering from skin problems they never used to have. It makes me cry just writing about them.

But now that the cats have a good home, Gopal and I can travel around India when we get there. That will be nice. Erica is coming to visit in late 2007. Boy, I’ll be glad to see her. I wonder where we’ll be. Late in the year, the climate is good everywhere.

Saturday, I’m going to go see Suzie’s new home the day before they move in. Looking forward to seeing them. Sunday, we’re taking the Nepalis and the Pathaks to Point Lobos for the day, so I don’t want to do too much Saturday. Gad.

My new meditation group is really wonderful. What a wonderful small group of women. I really like each one of them and look forward to Tuesday evenings with them. Life is very, very good. I really like my co-workers in Membership, and I’m learning to do electronic payrolls. It’s stressful but rewarding. Learning to manipulate data in Excel is really fun.

Kim’s daughter left Monday for her Peace Corps assignment in Niger. Kim has been uncharacteristically emotional about it. I sure do love her. She almost bought a car as a retail therapy. Whew! Instead, she’s going to save the money and go see Kerry in Niger next Fall. The following year she plans to visit us in India. I wish I could talk her into swinging by India on her way home from Niger, but I don’t think she can afford it, in money or time away from work.

Since I don’t have much control over the pace of things around here, I am just trying to lay back and let things flow. Easier said than done. Life is good, though, if I don’t get in the way.

Monday, August 07, 2006
Last week we applied for an Indian bank account where we can save money and potentially withdraw it in India. We chose the Citibank one because the ICIC Bank application was more complicated and we were unable to get ahold of anyone who could answer questions, AND the CitiBank account required less money.

Today, Gopal wrote to the Foreigners’ Registration Office in Mumbai to ask about my future OCI status:

I am in the process of applying for OCI status and I have some questions.I came to USA in 1976 and subsequently became a citizen of USA. My wife ... is a US citizen. We are both involved in helping Community based organizations in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.Both of us are planning to move to India to live in the later part of 2007.My question is if I apply for OCI status, what will be the status of my wife? It is not very clear from the information I got from your web site as to whether my wife would enjoy the same status as I will have or she will be treated differently.I will appreciate any information you can send me in this regard.

My sister, Joan, seems to becoming increasingly unhappy with my choice to move to India. She’s afraid if anything happens to me there, she would never be able to get to me in time. That’s true. She won’t even talk about the other things that worry her. I’m most concerned about the healthcare issues. Not knowing those things makes the whole venture very experimental.

September 29, 2006 8:18pm
Besides the fact that CitiBank sent us back our application because they want to see us in person, so we are applying (someday) to HDFC Bank, an Indian Bank. I’m more comfortable with applying to an Indian Bank. And besides the fact that we don’t know what my status will be in India and exactly what the deal will be with Social Security, our landlord has decided he wants to live in this house sooner or later. He promises to give us 2 months notice. Sooo, Gopal wants to buy property for us to invest in and live in until we leave. That makes me crazy with anxiety since we have no money. But on the other hand, I do trust his judgment. He assures me he will not get us into a deal where we will have to put up the money. We have an agent looking for properties where the owner will carry the financing (or something like that). We are going to look at a couple places tomorrow morning. Eeek!

I started working on the tax deductible status of JAC. I hope to get back to it this weekend. I would like to get it to a point where we can have a Board meeting and settle several issues, then just finish up the paperwork. I would like to continue my JAC work in India.

I would also like Gopal to talk with the international AIDS project of UCSF so they can begin thinking about ways that he might be able to work for them in India. Since we’re going there anyway, they should be glad to have him – they don’t have to move him, he speaks several Indian languages, as well as English, and has accounting skills. They pay US$, so it would be a great comfort to us financially.

I’m also hoping he will check with UCSF about his vestment date. I need to remind him again.

My doctor said Kaiser will give me maximum a three-month supply of drugs when I leave Kaiser. That means I will either have to work until we leave, or pay massive amounts of money for COBRA before we leave. We were hoping to travel around the U.S. some in an RV before we leave. That’s if we make money on real estate before we go. I admit I am not a believer. Gopal thinks I’m not thinking positively. Our Vision is:

We have a quality of life that is debt free, financially secure and financially independent.

We have a home in India, one in Nepal, and one in the U.S.

We have an RV in which we are traveling around the U.S. before we move to Asia.
We enjoy spending our time helping the local community and the environment, both in the U.S. and in third-world countries.
We are learning new languages and making new friends. We are paying off the mortgages of Todd and Suzie. We share our abundance with those in need and appreciate our blessings.

Prosper Learning taught us that if you believe something, it will come true. Gopal believes. I’m trying.

I’m nervous about not having a clue about how our life will be. I’m concerned I will not adapt well. One of the things that I consider a benefit re moving to India is that I will have household staff. I consider that a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I hate to clean house and am not a good cook. A curse because I think people are going to be in the house all the time. People in India drop in any time. I love my solitude.

At this very moment, Gopal is shopping for Indian housing on line. It’s so much fun.

Friday, November 22, 2006
OK, I just put my journal on this blog. It's a little unnerving, feels so public. But I sort of wanted it that way, to get some input and feedback. And, I think, it should be public that people retiring are really struggling with the future - financially and medically - in this country.

In reading through this, I need to update you that the cats are doing fine at John's. Gopal's vestment at his job won't actually manifest for a couple more years, so we're going to forget it. What else? (Whisper: The real estate market is so bad, I am actually saying out loud I'm not a believer!)

My Hindi language lessons have died off again. I'm almost through beginning Pimsleur. But if we end up in south India, Hindi's not going to do me much good. In fact, it wouldn't do much good outside Mumbai either.

The volunteer couple have returned to Australia from Nepal, and I have a young American in India right now. Oh, AND we did have a Board meeting, where the Board decided that they would support John as he holds down the U.S. end of the volunteer operation - getting the mail from the P.O. box, dealing with the bank, etc. In the meantime, I will do the work with the volunteer, with John's assistance. And, I will, therefore, continue the work on the tax-deductible status. Yay! I had saved up some things for the Board to approve - conflict of interest, payment guidelines, etc. They passed them all.

Grandbaby, Dexter, has cut 5 teeth and is sitting up by himself (sort of). I'm not prejudiced, but he's the cutest baby in the world. It will be hard to leave him. When we leave in September, he'll be 16 months old. Gopal keeps saying "Don't get so attached." How is that possible?

I've been reading up on Auroville, since we want to stay there when we arrive in India. Our friend Patricia called to say she has a friend in L.A. who lived at Auroville with the granddaughter of the Mother. She wanted us to talk with him. I set a time to talk with Patricia about it one Sunday morning then completely forgot to call her. I am loosing my mind. Hopefully, with the four-day weekend, we should be able to call her and her friend.

We also missed talking to Inderjit when she was here. That really disturbed me. She's so impressive. She went back to India today. I would really like to work with her when we're there. Her project, Ruchika, is very well-developed and effective. I really admire her.

Gopal wants me to join him to watch Globe Trekker, so here I go .....


Chris said...

Incredible India!

It really doesn't depend what background, education or job description you have, but what is in your heart and soul.


Narender said...

Dear Carolyn,
I wonder if you have tried Vasica (Adhatoda Vasaka - AKA Malabar Nut leaf) for asthma. I suffer from chronic bronchial problems, and have found Vasaka a big help. Just my two cents.