Sites and magazines who have mentioned this site
Reader's comments

My thanks to the following web sites and magazines who have mentioned this site:

See the December 98 issue of Silicon India

"Online journals are becoming increasingly popular. Reading about Ashok Khosla's experiences of creating a division of Apple Computer in India will give first-time India visitors an idea of the adventures ahead and bring back memories for those who have not been back in a long time." - Gautam Gandhi

What's in a Name? The CyberChatter column of India Today

"Among the more interesting sites that belong to Indian names are where Ashok Khosla maintained a journal called City of Boiled Beans, recording his eventful period in India trying to set up Apple Computers. City of Boiled Beans is exciting, witty, scathing and inspirational." - Arun Katiyar

Excerpts of letters from readers:

Thank you for sharing your journal with me. This may sound strange, but I think it's one of the most interesting things I've ever read. You answered many of the questions I had about India as a country and a culture. I saw "The Jewel in the Crown" on Masterpiece Theatre when I was about 12. I'm 26 now, and still vividly remember the effect that program had on me. I've traveled all over Europe, but never to the country I've most wanted to see. Maybe I've been saving the experience. I think your journal may have rescued me from the severe dissapointment I surely would have felt on my first trip there.
My grandfather always tells me that "people are people, no matter where you go." I think your journal upholds that theory. You opened my eyes to a lot of problems in the culture I'd never thought to consider. But you also pointed out the many jewels that are still there to be seen.
Thanks for taking the time to write about your life there. It would make a great book.
I found your writings from India and just wanted to say that they are an excellent reading. I've spent 3,5 months in India and I recognize a lot of your experiences and find many new.The design is beautiful as well.
Great website, all in all.
That was a really nice journal,great pictures etc. I think you really captured the essence of India!! I'm Indian and I have a love/hate relationship with my country.
Thanks for the most wonderful, hillarious and accurate account of your stay in India. I have not even finished reading it yet, but I could not help myself from thanking you first. Incidentally, I did grow up in India, left when I was 21 and that was 31 years back and had only a few visits. My emotional bond, however, is still very strong. India is now a totally different place from how I remember it. Incidentally, I also metMr. Oberoi of DOE in 1983 at his house in the evening. Anyways, thanks again!
I just want to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading your journal. It is humorous, and tells what indian life is like better than most books I read.
I plan to visit Bangalore this December, if all goes well...  and with reading your journal, I know that I have an adventure to look forward  to!!
And before I get too far along here, I must tell you how much I enjoy reading your entries, and looking at all the picture. It is a real kick to get transported back there, with all the attendant feelings, memories and smells (mainly smells...). I have shared a few entires/picts with my colleagues here and they finally "get" what it is I am always talking about. And then they just scratch their heads and say "Why?..."


was really nice to read the diary. I myself had to go through a part of your adventure. I moved from Hyderabad to Bangalore for my first job in '91. It was quite a culture shock for me. I shared a house in Indiranagar with a colleague. After I got a mobike and locate a guru to continue my sitar lessons, it was ok. Can imagine it must be really hard to set up a business there if my visit to the Registry of Motor Vehicles for getting the drivers license is any indicator. (actually three visits). Did have some fun for three years before I moved to Boston and it was so easy to get started here.

It was great to read your descriptions of the older gods and rituals like Kali. You missed out the beautiful spring time blooms of most trees in March. thanks for putting up such a nice website

PS - checkout some pictures of sculpture from Belur and Halebeedu on my website at (Belur is a jewel of a temple, off the beaten path, and not to be missed - AMK)

I just read your CoBB completely and immensely enjoyed reading it. Some of the descriptions of life in Bangalore bring back fond memories of a home town. It was really thoughtful of you to have put this web-sie together.
I am sure many have read it and sent you their comments. I did notice a few minor things I'd amend but as I said they are minor. When I read about the six year old Ketna, I searched for her photograph. A group picture of all the people you have so fondly mentioned would have been a really nice touch. (A picture of ADI was sorely missed, and I am grateful to S. Kumar for providing one - which now resides at the top of the frontspiece)
All in all GREAT WORK. Congratulations and THANKS.
I enjoyed City of Boiled Beans immensely.  I found it both witty and touching, while sketching a robust portrait of the India one would never see in a guide book.  It was particularly compelling, as I'm going to Varanasi in a month to study Sanskrit at Sampurnanand Sanskit University.  The program lasts three years.   I'm currently working in Vancouver, WA ....  Your journal has inspired me--I am also a writer.  I just finished a coming-of-age novel ...   Hopefully, I too will have some literary fruit to offer from my experiences in India.
Just to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed the diary -- have you considered publishing it? I'm an expat the other way around -- ex-Bangalore, now in Washington, and I especially liked the photographs. All the best.
p.s I run a web site for/about South Asian women -- if you guys are interested it's at
It was a wonderful and enjoyable experience reading your chronicle of time spent in India as an expatriate! I read most of your "work" in just one sitting. You may wonder why such an interest?
Well, I too spent over 2 years 1994-1996 leading the efforts of a electric power company in the North East. I started in New Delhi and ended in Madras (1 year each). Some of your experiences are hilarious. A number of them are similar to mine. I had less trouble with appliances, however, because my company was kind enough to allow me to purchase several 220 V appliances in New York. They even paid for the customs!
I did not much care for New Delhi, but Madras was nicer. The beach is a nice place to visit if you do not try to get there when Ms. Jayalalitha is not passing by with her entourage! I rented a nice apartment and had all rooms fitted with A/C's I had brought with me. Of course, the shipment delays and customs hold-ups were responsible for me getting the shipment only 6 months into my stay! At the end of the two years I was quite happy to get back here! I was, however, successful in starting the development of two power projects which are moving along slowly but surely.

It's been almost 2 years since I've been back home to Madras. 'City of Boiled Beans' made me cry. The content's great, but it's the presentation that's intensely moving. I just wanted to let you know that your site's awesome.

I remember quite vividly all the pictures that are posted on your site -- City of Boiled Beans. Each of them was like Wasabi to me. The one where this man in a Lungi is squatting by the car with all mud and goo around them is especially delightful.

I guess the following attributes make your site so attractive:

  • Vivid pictures -- These pictures don't display the grandeur, pomp and the garish spectacle many photographers try to show. I think the the pictures you have published have more to do with observing the day-to-day things about living in India as an Indian. The great thing about these pictures is that they dig up so many memories in me, and that too all at once !
  • Entertaining content (text) -- On the surface of it, there is nothing but light humor and real life anecdotes from you. They are interesting because they are true (I hope:-). This makes quite enjoyable reading.
  • Themes -- The site is organized around little themes which are very inviting and make one click to find out more. I learned in shcool that this is a sign of good multimedia presentation.
  • Simplicity of presentation -- The presentation of your site is simple ... to the extent of being sparse. Normally this would be boring. But in the case of 'City of Boiled Beans', this actually _enhances_ the main presentation. Imagine someone surfing through the Net, wading through all those flashy images and garish pages filled with mostly useless information, suddenly comes upon your site... the beautiful pictures and the overall sparseness of it are quite an experience.

The overall impression that 'City of Boiled Beans' conveys is the notion of romance and fun with living in India. For example, chasing cockroaches is not actually fun but you made it sound like it was. This actually made me look at everything I remember about India in a different light, which is a good thing.


I found your stories to be fascinating. I thought your site was well put together, and your story about returning to India will probably hit home with people regardless of where they were brought up.


Great stuff - really enjoyed your journal. I would  love to chat with you about your experience in India.

Am I an expat?...I grew up in India and came to US in 1991 to study computer science. Then I found a job and started a software business. I guess that does make me an expat, though like many Indians I regard my stay in the US as a temporary phase in my life after which I am going to return home.

How did I hear about your journal?....I heard about your journal from a White American ex-colleague.  I mention his race because I find it rather interesting that I should learn about your journal from someone of non-Indian origin.

What was interesting about the pages?.... The fact that two individuals (you and I) can be looking at the same things and reacting so differently. However, I have changed siginificantly during my stay here and while reading about your experiences I wondered whether my reactions would be similar to yours. I concluded that it would depend on the situation. The roaches would not freak me out but the driver not showing up at the airport and saying coolly "Tea break sir" would definitely set my blood boiling. I also liked your honest and direct style of writing.

Removal....I wouldn't like to see anything removed - in some places the journal did hurt my feelings but all your experiences are true and it's important for us to face the truth before we can start a process of improvement.

Additions.....I would have liked to hear more about some of the "business culture gap" - professional/business/management issues/problems you ran into. There are some anecdotes but a summary of your conclusions would be useful.

Give up this computer stuff and become a writer. I would buy a copy of your book - not much of a market but it's a start.

Have a great Thanksgiving.


I am a senior citizen who, with wife, is planning a first visit to India in February.

Having made some very good Indian friends in graduate school, many years ago, I have always wanted to visit India. Found your report in my searches for info and while planning an itinerary.

Yours is a very sensitive and interesting commentary upon how you found India and Indians. I am sorry that it had to end so abruptly and with less than complete closure. But I am sure that it has enriched your life and one day you will return to check on your friends.

Excellent report. Many thanks.

Hello Mr. Khosla,

Nice job. Pretty funny at times. Shades of John Irving. Though, I guess reading this stuff will further confuse already ignorant westerners about the Indian psychology and India the country.

I like your camera work too.

As for India, she's a mother to me. For you perhaps she's the grandmother. I think that's a nice example of the relationship. We usually understand and love our mother much more than any other relative (apart from the wife maybe). Love her, hate her, tolerate her, be indifferent to her, the relationship remains, no matter what. Of course, I'm dissapointed by the way things have shaped up in the last 50+ years of independence. That's one of the reasons I tolerate the word "alien" beside my name.

San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Past and Future: Ranchi, Bihar, India.


Your journal's a nice read. More interesting are the reader's responses. Some give your journal a little too much authority. And other's try to prove their offshore patriotism by going hammer and tongs about cheap labor and what not.

Few observations :-

  • You either missed visiting Bombay(Mumbai) or did not mention it. Without doing that, your 'Indian' experience is fundamentally incomplete. A warning to people who take the journal to be gospel truth.
  • Kulbhushan Kharbanda did not act in 'Temple of Doom'. It was Amrish Puri. The cars in Vidhan Soudha photo are 'Fiats' not 'Ambassadors'. KPS Gill's powers were never curtailed after the court case. And nobody stopped Bajaj's mails. Seshan was not a minister. We did not go to war with China and Pakistan in 1965, it was only Pakistan.

Hi ,

I chanced upon your web page in the India travelogue section while trying to find some good pics to show to a friend . I've been away from India since the age of 17 and needless to say i could identify with many of the things described in your diary. I like your frank and honest style . The anecdotes very absolutely hilarious .

However, i don't agree with all your views. Like for example on a day to day basis i find more dumb people in the west (referring to your interviews with the candidates). Also , being a software professional myself and guessing from the title of your diary , i expected more about the business/professional side of your encounters.I think you got a bit away with your driver (just joking)

In the end , though it was a refreshing change from the cliched .. rose tinted views of other expatriates.


I just would like to remark, that the Laws of Nature which are stated by the Vedic Literature of India are a very valuable heritage, which have to be preserved for the good of all mankind.

The laws of vastu are timless and true. You just have to prove them with your scientific mind: just walk through a street, where houses have south entrances and interview some people how they are doing. Then compare your fiondings with a road, where houses have an eastern entrance.

Also the healing methods of Ayur Veda are much superior to any western approach to health.

If you like to know more about the immense value of the Vedic Tradition in India visit the website:

i  read your articles in city.of.boiled.beans with interest. i grew up in India. having come to N.America in my teens, i've gotten used to the efficiency here. when i return to India now, a decade later, i find i'm confused, frustrated and amused (in a defeated way), like you were.

while your views on caste/religion/spirituality were hastily-made and based on hearsay, i cannot deny that you've captured the overall taste of GETTING THINGS DONE in India. your troubles in procuring seat belts and furniture, among others, remind me of a similar experience.

i went to india for a month some years ago. then i ran around, trying to furnish my parents' apartment. i went to collect a dressing-table from a furniture maker on commercial street, bangalore. i had an deal with the guy (verbal, of course) that either he delivered the dresser on the agreed date, or gave my money back. i was leaving bangalore in a day and had minimum tolerance for procrastination. little did i know that such agreements are unheard-of in India. the furniture wasn't ready. i asked for my money back. he flatly refused, and told me to return in a week. he said he'd "see what he could do", and went about his other duties as though nothing had happened. arguing, which turned into pleading, were useless. i was at a loss in "motivating" this guy. i looked around his store and noticed an arabic (persian?) inscription with the picture of a mosque. in a bid to evoke justice/fear-of-sin in his heart, i said, "you display this inscription about God but you don't live-up to your promise. will God be happy with you?"


he came perilously close to me, accused me (in a booming voice) of defaming his religion, and began collecting his employees around him. nice move on his part, i must admit. i asked myself what this guy was doing in a dinghy furniture store... with that kind of strategem, he could make yasser arafat's defense adviser.

i was in BIG TROUBLE if he managed to attract a crowd of unemployed youth who hang-out on the streets, looking for exactly such situations to evoke respect from peers... i decided to call his bluff. my months at the gym helped out, i guess, when i stood tall and broad-chested in his face and demanded my money back in an equally loud voice. i told myself though, that should he persist on the "blasphemy" storyline, i'd get the hell outta there with smiles - and accept his rain check with gratitude.

two people on the street stopped, in typical Indian fashion, and watched us intently. i could almost see some impatience on their faces, that we weren't at blows yet. pretty soon two store employees were standing behind me. the way they all assumed positions, it was like these guys had a "fire drill" worked-out to take care of annoying customers.

The American slogan CUSTOMER IS THE KING is slightly adapted in India -


as far as i could tell, the disparity in our heights/physiques dented his confidence. eyeing me with some apprehension, he summoned an employee with a sigh and squeezed the money into my hands, making sure he crumpled the currency as much as he could.

i was glad to get the heck out with my money - and body - intact.

My name is (name deleted).. I am writing to you that I do really need as much help and healing as possible. I have just recently found out about Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and have written to him several times. I sincerely have been suffering from awful and debilitating conditions of my mind, which has continued to afflict my life or several or many years. As a direct result, I am totally unable to use my skil in my know how in practicing any methods of visualization, affirmations, concentration, any meditation techniques, to even deal with the simpliest problems of life. My temper has been extremely bad, evil and horrible temptations even has been coming my way, I can never use or practice any of my know how to developing ESP or precognition in even remembering where I had lost something. My oblivion is someway continues to be bad, and always tended to be opened up to serious
I have already contacted the Sri Sathya Sai Baba center in the area of the city of San Diego, California, in the USA. I have never been able to control these highly unusual, yet specific, extremely debilitating conditions of my mind and emotions.
Please do all you can to help me. Please really try to frequently call on and to write to Sri Sathya Sai Baba often on my behalf. I have just written to him a number of times.
Thank you, so much and God Bless You!
I happened to find on the internet your diary about your trip to Bangalore. You style of writing is great and I enjoyed reading it immensely. Thanks.
But, your attitude towards India seem to me like you had some kind of a mental block/grudge against India.
Two things i noted :
1. Geyser may be pronounced as "geezer" according to the Webster Dictionary.
2. If you couldn't find readymade computer furniture in Bangalore, you never tried. If your friend paid 900 dollars for a desk, it must have been a very high end product or he/she is plain stupid.
Were most of the things you wrote really true, or were you just making up stuff to impress your American counterparts ?? I read around 30 of your entries and have got the drift and frankly, I hope you won't come to our country again. I really dislike the "wrinkle-nosed" attitude of you "white-sahibs" with dollars ...
A later letter from the same reader:
I'm now back in India and now i am able to see a lot of things from your point of view. Most of the time i am accosted by people who want money for services which aren't provided or are not upto the standard. Right from the time we land at the Airport to the times when i take an autorickshaw to office ..
Anyway, i'm happy to be back here .. Living here must be really frustrating to a person who is used to life in the west.


Just fininshed reading your online edition (is there one in print ?) of  The City of Boiled Beans. Thanks for a good, fast and witty read.

My first instinct - being an Indian who has lived here in India all my 27 years - was to shout out "How dare he !!". Luckily I read the whole book. I guess it does present India as it is to a foreigner. Only one thing rankles... nowhere do u really mention that what u have seen and experienced is just 1% of India. India as a whole simply cannot be described.

My views tend to agree with what one reader has written - the one from Andhra (the next letter), who has the longest letter printed on your Reader's Page. Suffice to say that all you have written is true. Again, all you have seen is not the whole truth. Hope this makes some kind of sense.

Once again, thanks for giving me a new window to look thru at my world


I have read some pages from your journal. Funny, you don't explain the main reason Apple sent you to India--to exploit the cheap labor there. Your travails and tribulations were the result of a suspicious people resisting this exploitation. I am sure you never even thought that you were stealing their labor for a bargain price. You did not go there out of sympathy and compassion. They know that. Some honesty would have made your writing look more objective.
I too feel frustrated because of the slow pace of doing things in India. I felt that way while I lived there from birth until I was 23. I am one of those suspicious persons you have met. After my recent journey through GWU Law School, I now am more convinced and worried about the systematic exploitation that my Mother India will be subject to by the West once again. Those people are very smart. They know exploitation when they see it, whether it wears suits or "blond hair."
Finally, that thing about Brahmins is cheap. The things about a culture you don't know and care about are prejudicial. The same can be said about all ruling sections in all cultures. I would like to see you describe the Anglo-Saxon culture that way and post on your web site.
In response to my comments on the previous letter:
My concerns are more related to what will happen to the small people in India. Not what will happen to an engineer. I take it as a compliment when you said no one that has lived in the U.S. wrote to you like I did. Then I am glad I did not change.
Yes. Everything you wrote about India is true. I am not even disputing the factual content of your experiences. But that is a different culture. There have been colonization, feudalism, and entrenched systems streching back thousands of years. I would probably have liked it if there was some poking-fun-at-oneself on your part (like Seinfeld does jokes about Jews and Jewish culture) rather than condescending commentary. If you detach yourself from a culture, you lose the right to make disparaging statements about them. In the U.S. it is illegal.
If they don't know they will learn. I came from that soil. I was once that way. Americans want Indian workers because of the work ethic. When I worked in Dallas, Washington DC and other places, my white supervisors asked me where they could find a whole bunch of telecommunications engineers and programmers like me. My law professors at GWU law school often comment that I have a very unique perspective that challenges their premises totally. Many key patents are in the names of people who grew up in India and emigrated to the U.S. To resolve many controversial matters, the American judicial system looks at India to understand how different cultures and nationalities could coexist for so many thousands of years. May be there is something in the water. My understanding is somewhat different from yours.
Even as I design complex telecommunication signaling networks for large telephone companies in the U.S., I worry about the fact that the computerization would make 90% of Indians jobless. The remaining ten percent will work for the Apples and the Microsofts. Every thing I said about India also applies to China. Do we, as people, have a responsibility for the world society? Or, are we to complain about the lack of progress in a poor third world nation, which was enslaved for hundreds of years and is still suffering under the yoke of domineering international superpowers?
The problems India faces are not the making of its people. If that were the case, Indian emigres could not have succeeded as much as they have in the U.S and elsewhere. Moreover, India has a past that is comparable to the glories of Egypt and Macedonia. We are not stupid, lethargic people.
Your journal seems to stereotype a billion people. It bothers me. I suggest that you go and visit some of the greatest statesmen and heroes in my home state, Andhra Pradesh. I have never seen such intelligent and great thinkers anywhere else. India cannot move forward because it is held back by the world superpowers. As we speak, policies are being written (in Washington!!!) to take away the nuclear capability from India, with the promise of a few millions of dollars of credit. I am not a fan of nuclear arms, but I resist the efforts by others who have the weapons to teach disarmament to us. (This letter was written before India and Pakistan exploded their nuclear bombs). When that country rises, it will be spectacular! And I hope you will remember my words then. I think you are indulging in stereotyping again, when you describe the Israelis and the Irish. I don't think all the large companies are foolish to waste millions of dollars in investments in India. Come with me, I will show you what can be done there.
...  I too did not understand several things when I came to this country for the first time. Every thing looked strange and mysterious. I had never been exposed to so much wealth and riches. If anyone told me, I would have thought that they were exaggerating. May be we come from different worlds. I still root for the poor farmer in the fields, the taxi-wala who struggles to live, the rickshaw puller whose livelihood is taken away by the motor taxis, the untouchables who cannot even imagine the life of being equal to the rest of the society, the father who wants his son to get a job in the U.S. so that he could boast about it at the street corner. India has a lot of problems. It is also a wonderful place.

Hi Ashok;

This is just an opinion of the stuff you have put on the web. Please disregard this mail if you feel that you don't need a feedback about it.

I was just surfing on the net to get hold of a good travel guide for India. That's when I saw this journal thats put on the web. Well, obviously everyone is entitled to have his own opinion. Each of us is distinct and therefore we see, feel and communicate differently. I believe in general goodness. I believe that nothing on the face of earth is purely Good or purely's a mixture....

Coming to the journal. Well, I understand that it's lying in your own premise and therefore you may not feel the responsibility to give an unbiased , balanced and a fair opinion. The site even starts of with a Disclaimer to that effect. The literary content and the style of writing is fine, if one were to call it as "excerpts from the personal diary".I feel that site would have served as a better source of information about India, if it were written with an "intent to guide". That's what it lacks. What you have listed down is a sea of problems and troubles that you had in a foreign country? Ur visit may have been more rewarding to you as a person, if you had tried to understand "why"s for each of the shortcomings of the local culture and society. Ur journal would have served a better purpose if you could relate these issues and their absence or form in your own adopted country. And I'm totally surprised after staying in India for so long, the only good thing u have got to say is about "Jude" and "Savita". Well, this reflects upon the depth of your experience. India, is a place which houses so many religions, philosophies and inconsistencies. It's a big database of knowledge and wisdom. Have you given it a thought?. Basic concepts of life and progressive society have had their seeds in this country. It's true that overpopulation and a lethargic government and it's machinery , it's poverty have spoiled the scene in the past century, but u cant right off a glorious past just for that....we have lots to learn from it. To get my point home, the successful Indians ( or people of origins in India) that u seen in US are a product or byproduct of the same society that u r talking about. So, it can't be really that bad....

As a visitor to the country I would expect a positive comment of the natural beauty that it has to offer. And last but not the least, the simplicity of the people and the beauty of the cultures and traditions the people follow.

To summarise , I would like to close with this. For all the progress and advancement that US has to offer , for all the salesmanship and "Customer is God" BS thing is true...without money and proper credentials u r nothing in this country....anything and everyhting will disown u and close it's doors on ur face....well that's not true back home....with all the corruption and all other bad things u have got to say about India, I would expect a few words about the hospitality, and respect that a typical Indian gives to others. I would expect some comment about a typical Indians relation with their parents and elders. I think you were really busy setting up the shotlived Apple adventure and did not get quality time to actually "see and hear" India. All this would give your monologue some sense of purpose, a basic necessity of any worthful piece of writing.


You look like a cartoon. And from looking at your page I figured you know nothing about computers and rely on body-shopping to make money..... I mean come on one must admit, selling computers or groceries isnt much of a difference expcet for the price right ?

Did they replace you by an inferior Indian in Apple at Bangalore? I am in the process of verifying your credentials from your former employer. Why you do depend on these inferior Indians if you think they're so bad, to make a quick buck in US ? Why dont you depend on some lawn-cutters and hair dressers in US to make money ??

Criticism is welome, but you seem to be on a  Venom spewing spree out there.... I wonder how bad you were treated out there....

And one more thing, why there is no reference to your parents on that web-page about who they were and what they did ? Are you ashamed of putting about them ?

I tried to read your so called painful experiences in India. I do not understand your motive behind setting up this web site. I think you are also a UBI (unfortunately born in India) like many others.

You have mentioned your experiences during 1995 to 1997 and have mentioned that banks in India were nationalised five year ago only. Your knowledge about the country is awsome.

I had never come across a person (till I read this) who keeps publicising that his mother was a prostitue with so many bad charecters. If you can't add any value to the country then keep your ugly thoughts to yourself.

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