Yes, this is how I break the news. I wanted to keep it quiet and not make it such a big deal. I hate saying farewell or particularly like grand gestures.
I’ve been to India three times before, so this will make it trip #4. No, I am not going to get married, or for vacation, this my friends is a legitimate work trip. We launched TwoMangoes.com in India in February (kept it quiet in North America since its a separate site) and it’s doing super well. So, I am going to help grow it further through doing what I do best, which is apparently relationship building (I know, even my mom was surprised). I am also going to use the time to explore other opportunities in fashion, and e-commerce, thoughts I had back in my 2008 trip but were never attempted. Perhaps this is also a time for me to do some more soul searching, and answer life’s questions such as “am I truly happy?” and so forth.
Surprisingly, this was the first time I had to prepare and think about everything myself. The first two times I was 8 and 13 so my parents took care of everything. The third time, my brother took care of everything since he was full-time on our joint company at the time. (My third trip was to solidify our partnership with our tailor and design our suit line).
If you ever feel the need to travel to India, here are some helpful tips:
In order to enter India, you need a visa, I would suggest getting it atleast 3 weeks before your trip. Depending on your background, I would also suggest getting ICO. Basically, if your parents or grandparents were born in India, then you can get yourself Indian citizenship overseas simply by presenting their cancelled Indian passport (along with paperwork). The reason for getting it is then you no longer have to get a visa every time you go to India. If you don’t have Indian parents, then get yourself a tourist visa (since its cheaper than business). They only give a maximum of 6 month tourist visas, because who is crazy enough to stay in India for more than 6 months? Oh not me.. If you want to leave India and go back within the time you have your visa, you can, but with a 2 month gap in between. To bypass this, you have to get a waiver stamp from the “FROO” office in Delhi/Mumbai or the city you’re visiting (there goes a waste of a day). The 6 month tourist visa costs $83.
1. Fill out the application using Internet Explorer (I know, weird!)
2. You need a picture for your visa and of course its hard to find a place that does it within the specific guidelines. The one I found was in a Zellers in Westdale Mall, in Mississauga.
3. Go to the Don Mills & Eglinton location (avoid Brampton!) to drop off your application. I found the Toronto location to be orderly, and super fast. My visa was done in 3 days (end of May – perhaps a slow season).
2. Shots & Travel Medication
So, India will give your stomach and body a run for its money. Its better to not experiment, always be cautious and drink only boiled water. In any case, you won’t be able to stop mosquitoes, and air/water borne diseases. The shots you should get are Hepatitis A, and Typhoid. You can also get Tatanus, and Polio (if you didn’t get those when you were younger). To be extra cautious, you can get Ducharol (traveler’s diarrhea) and antibiotics, just to be safe. Along with this, there’s malaria to contend with, and this is actually the most expensive of all. It’s about 16 bucks per pill, errrr… The shots are not covered by OHIP, but the prescriptions are probably covered by insurance (I wouldn’t know). This apparently costs about $500.
I opted for the “entrepreneur” package, which is basically thinking, which are most likely to happen, deadly and cheap. Those are Hep A and Typhoid shots. Also, since I have been to India 3 times and didn’t get shots for two of the times I was there, I am okay with being less cautious. These two shots cost me $95.
3. Washroom Kit
Remember to put together a small “kit” that includes hand sanitizer, paper towels, tissue, and toilet paper. Washrooms will be few and far between, and most likely there won’t be any paper or water, so this will get you through the worst situations.
There is still more to prepare, such as money (exchange and bank account) and technology (plugs and phone). I will write another post on that once I get those things sorted.