August 30, 2010


With the much-awaited India trip sneaking up fast on us, the foremost thought on my head is r2i (no prizes for getting that one right!) I am going to be spending almost a month in India and I want to utilize the time to think about r2i. I guess a month is not a great estimate of what life there will be like when we move there for good. But, it's better than nothing and it's what I've got. So, I plan to use the days focusing on the topic that has featured here most often :)

Aside: Until a few weeks back, I always told myself and I pretty much convinced myself I was here for the money (nice roads, lesser pollution, more breathing space literally but mostly it was for the money). But the more I get exposed to Indian kids, the more I am privy to the good traits they develop as Indian American kids -- the confidence is what is most striking. As a teenager, I had about one tenth of the confidence that teenager here have. Whether it is questioning authority or expressing creativity on stage. The ease with which they blend with people amazes me too. They have this ability to make you feel comfortable and want to interact with them. And that is something I never learned growing up in India. They are also more open minded (which may be a good thing or maybe not since this also decides whom they choose for a life partner, what they choose for a profession and so on) but mostly they are fun to be around. I often see them and wonder if r~ will possess a particularly endearing trait I noticed in one of them and then I tell myself maybe she won't because she will grow up in India and the ping pong in my head goes on for some time. But I am opening my eyes to the positive effects of America on kids whereas until recently I couldn't think of many...essentially I am rocking my steady r2i boat and I have no idea which way it's going to go (a swim in the water seems likely either way ;)

Wondering how best to document my trip (with r2i in mind) this time. I bought a really cute note pad with a beautiful R on the cover just for the purpose of jotting thoughts down where I don't have a laptop handy (I would have bought the notebook anyway -- it's available at BBB and it's amazingly cute :) Maybe I should do a blog post a day for 30 days and judge based on my thoughts and comments (of course) how tricky this r2i journey is going to be. Haven't really figured it out but whatever it is I decide to do, it's going to show up right here!

We will be in 2 cities (Madras and Bombay), so I get to see a little bit of both. I am hoping r~ will not fall sick (as everyone assures me she will). So internet connection permitting, I plan to write and write some more about how India has changed from the image in my head in 5 years! My last trip was in 2005 to get married -- it's been a long long time and I am quite excited about the trip.

I hope the forces cooperate and we have a peaceful trip to India. Meanwhile, if you think you have something to share about r2i, anything I need to keep my eyes open for or even charts/pros-cons and the like, do talk!


avanibala said...

Until few years ago r2i was the only fact that I knew would surely happen in my life in the future.But now the very thought about r2i really scares me.For me when you plan to settle someplace there are certain basic things that should fit very well into the plan - housing,community,commute,schooling,
health care systems,a job/career etc.What I've noticed in the past few visits to homeland is that these things are all available and that too in good quality(housing,health care,schools etc) that would meet the US standards but unlike in the US they are still financially accessible to a privileged few.Here anyone can afford a good standard of living with a decent job.I was mightly disappointed by the health care industry.Disappointed is a light word to use after having to go to 4 different hospitals to get a doctor to look at my sprained back which hurt like hell.All these places didnt have a duty doctor who either took a long lunch or called in sick etc and this was in Bangalore city.Then this friend of ours had to call his dad's friend who in turn called his son who is a doctor in some hospital an hour away.Maybe I'm spoiled having lived a decade here in US where you can get access to most of the basic things of life without having to pull strings or bribe.My worst experience was when my dad passed away and I had to settle some business stuff prior to my return to US and I needed to obtain his death certificate.I went every single day for 5 days to this Govt office where people wasted time reading magazines,chit chatting etc and someone told me until I bribed them I wont get the certificate.Until then I thought these things happened only in movies.Only reason I would choose r2i is to be closer to my family.That is the only strong positive reason that I could come up with ,so far.
I read your blog often and I have a 2yr old daughter and I'm a working mom.Also I'm a south indian married to a non-south-Indian(he he he...).I totally understand your concerns regarding raising your kid.I always find solace in this.Hope you do too.

Sriram Krishnan said...

When I came back to India after 2 years in Jan, I was quite nostalgic, excited and sometimes, even wistfully wondered whether I could move back here. Both Aarthi and I have had to live in a few Indian cities so we both had a fair idea of what it was like to start afresh in a new Indian city.

However, with just a few days of being here, I remembered all the things I didn't like and how they have become worse (this got reinforced during my current trip for the wedding). It extends from simple material things to lots of things involving people :)

I feel like a stereotypical 'spoilt NRI' for saying this but I cannot imagine moving back to India without some overwhelming forcing function making me do so reluctantly (like taking care of folks at home). And if I do that, it'd be for family and definitely not for the place.

When I worked at MSFT in Hyderabad, we had lots of folks bring back kids from the US for various reasons (give the kids a taste of India, take care of parents, miss life in India, etc). I've seen both great and terrible stories there.

This is definitely a personal preference thing. It works great for some people while I've seen others book a return ticket for the entire family in a matter of weeks (true story). I definitely like the fact that you're spending a month here. That is a good amount of time to get a taste of real living here which a real short trip may not.

Things which make you smile and bring back nostalgic memories on day 2 drive you crazy on day 20 (case in point - the dude who goes outside my house at 5am selling 'kolam powder' :))

We can talk in detail when we meet up :)

P.S Perhaps I *am* spoilt :)

Anonymous said...

oh god..sounds terrible..BTW what is India? Is that a new planet scientists discovered? Have scientists found any trace of Life there? Looks from what you are saying this is terrible place to live..if at all anybody does he/she must be looking for a spacecraft from USA to rescue them..

Anonymous said...

I think you have the opposite of Indian kids growing up in the USA. Having had 2 cousins growing up in the USA now, I find them confused about their identities. They tell me stories about being looked down on by White kids. And despite being called Indian, they have no affinity for India particularly. The more I talk to them, the more I feel sad for such kids. The parents stay here for the money, messing up with the children. Isn't that a high price to pay for money and good roads? You tell me.

SK said...

I dont want to go back to India NOW for a selfish reason. Women are treated like second citizens atleast in the middle class society I am part of in India.
May be later for kids I might go, when my ego blazing like a fire now subsides as I grow older, and may be more mature, mature enough not to bother about such silly things.

I dont mind dirt, pollution, corruption etc, we lived with it for 21yrs, and its a matter of time before we get used to it.
But I have to be behind a man, father or husband... that was what I ran away from in the first place when I came here. My Mom always said " Nee inga porandhurukka vendiye ponne kedaiyadhu" :--P

vidya said...

I am settled in India and i have also visited the US for a short span. All the nice lifesytle and stuff in US is fine, but i am still happy living in India and never felt like going back to US after experiencing that lifestyle.Maybe because i was more concerned about bringing up my daughter over there or breaking a well established setup in India...not sure.Apart from the lifestyle, i dont find anything else to be talked about the US...if you want to R2i, just to it, dont have any second thoughts...i think rest all will fall in place automatically.

Anonymous said...

Have a safe trip and good luck with your mini/micro r2i.


Anonymous said...

What a honest and candid blog post. One of the several reasons why I enjoying visiting your blog, so often.
R2I is a dilemman every indian goes through.. esp. young parents.
The good part is, it is not such a huge deal, today. The career opportunities and options are plenty in India.
Same goes for your little angel, on what traits and customs she will learn and carry with her in life.
Let R2I not consummate you during your trip. Enjoy and savor India. You will notice lots of changes and differences , on how people view their life around themselves.
Bon Voyage!!!

duh said...

yes, this month would be a maha-terrible estimate. in fact, you should do the exact opposite of what you feel like doing at the end of this trip, w.r.t r2i...

RS said...

avani -- I am sorry to hear about your dad passing away. Thanks for the detailed comment. That does shed some light on important issues.

Yay! Glad to hear you are a toddler's mom (only we know what that's like right? :) and glad for the similarities in our lives :)

Sriram -- Thanks for the input. Hearing from folks who have lived here a while is always interesting to me! I hope to meet you both when am there and I really hope the 5 AM dude doesn't do his rounds near our house :))

anon 1: Umm.

anon 2: Good point although I believe not all desi kids that grow up here will turn out confused. At least I hope r doesnt turn out confused :)

SK: :) That would make me mad too! Waiting to head out there and see for myself...

Vidya: Hmm. I am not sure spending a couple of months in this country will give you a good picture of what life here is like for those settled here for good. Having said that, who knows I might agree with you if I choose to move there and settle in India in a few years :)

Prem - thanks!

Anon 3: Thanks for the good (and very balanced) advice :)

L: lol! That would be interesting. Here are the reasons why I thought I should never settle down in India and therefore I will settle down in India :p

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