Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Read This if You Have Plans to Relocate to India from US Ever

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“We plan to work for another X years, save some money and plan to go back to India”. If you are an Indian in US, you may have yourself told this to someone at least once or heard many of your friends tell that. This has come to be known as Y=X+1 Syndrome among desi population in US, where Y is the year of return to India and X is always the current year.
Majority of Indians in US relate to coming back to India with savings but forget the most important aspect I feel they should have to come back “mindset”. I have been in the US for close to 10 years and now over one year in India. Yes of course savings and other considerations are very important but “mindset” is the most important. Let me explain this “mindset” thing to you. 
Let us assume you have come back for good to India with family, got a great job, nice house and bought a nice car. For argument let us say you bought a BMW. When you buy it, you should have the “mindset” to accept that you are going to drive it in the most congested of the roads with lot of potholes, with traffic moving in snail pace. You will surely see someone driving an 80 cc motor cycle overtaking you and reaching the destination faster. When you see such a thing you should not be thinking sitting inside the car “I cannot drive a two wheeler through these congested roads and that too with such heavy air pollution around” even though you may have driven a two wheeler in India before you went to US. If that is going to be your “mindset” then you are going to have a tough time coming back. 
There are a lot of people who say India has changed with economic liberalization and stuff like that. It is true when you go to buy a car. In late eighties when my father was buying a car he had only three options – Maruthi, Ambassador or Fiat. Now if he wants he has hundreds of options. That way India has changed. The people who argue that India has changed point to the new express highway and things like that to prove that India has changed. Yes we have express ways that got constructed in the last decade with well laid out roads – but go for a drive on them especially during nights – majority do not obey traffic rules that defeats the purpose of the world class roads. It took me six visits to the LPG gas agency to get my gas connection to my house. Customer support for your services (that is excellent in US) is very bad (compared to US) in India. Only customer support I called in the last one year is Airtel and every time they made my blood pressure raise that I never had to encounter in US. The point I am trying to make – once you decide to come back you need to have the “mindset” to live like any other Indian and don’t even think that with “money” you can live an American life here in India
I know of some families who came back to India who never travel in trains nor go to the local markets because they think those places are not neat. They are the same people who did all these fifteen years back. Their “mindset” has not changed after coming back to India and they are in a state of suffocation. Talk to these people for 30 minutes and they will remind you of “US way” at least once. I feel such people should never be coming back. 
Hope I was able to make my point clear. If you are planning to come back to India then nothing is more important than “mindset”. You may find a job in India that pays you 5, 00,000 Indian rupees per month but if you are not ready to change yourself to an Indian in every sense of the word, life is not going to be smooth and you are better off staying back. 
Would like to know your views on this, especially from those who returned back to India from US for good.
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13 Comments:

Blogger Jennifer Kumar, Cross-Cultural Coach said...

Brijesh

You must have read my mind. I was thinking and starting this exact kind of post.

You have expressed clearly to me because I understand 110% what you say and I am not Indian though I have returned to live in India a second time earlier this year.

The Airtel story made me laugh out loud.. (hence I have to write it out- forget that internet lingo!)... this exact thing is happening to us. We lost our Tatadocomo internet stick and reported it numerous times but they refuse to close the account. So we know what 'customer service' culture shock is!!

And about driving on congested roads- the other thing is beside those post holes IS the motorcyclists who don't mind bumping and denting your car, never mind those really interesting people who walk through parking lots and decide YOUR car is the best to lean against and rub their behind on it- leaving a nice scratch from their pocket's buttons or some other such stuff.

I agree there are things that need to be adjusted and accepted. People also don't like to criticise things, but can't improvements always be made to make India better? If a culture doesn't grow and evolve- that's not good too. Part of evolution is growth. People have freely told me that they are upset that so many 'bad things' have returned from US or West to India. "Good never comes from abroad, only bad influence." I always wonder though- who has control over this? Well the people behaving this way- if it's not 'good' can we stop our behavior (that's another topic!)?

But the bottom line, Brijesh, is that returning to India IS a Culture Shock and it's a REVERSE culture shock. No matter how "Indian" or any nationality one is living away and coming back naturally will influence you. It's not always easy to adjust back. People who come to US complain that 'life is too easy and routine' and miss India... but then coming back to India there is a particular sense of longing for that routine when culture shock quickly sets in and daily things like water and electricity and communication become a problem. Yes, that was there before but parents had to deal with setting up the comfortable life- when the tables are turned on us after having lived abroad for so long we can be shocked and taken aback by our own feelings we encounter when dealing with these things.

"Mindset" is a big part of culture and experiencing culture shock. "Mindset" helped us experience culture shock when we were newbies abroad and "Mindset" will trick us into an unexpected "reverse culture shock" when we return!!

By the way that 'desi math formula' is quite interesting. I learned something new! Thanks, Brijesh.

October 12, 2011 12:48 PM  
Blogger Bold Thoughts said...

Brijesh & Jennifer, thank you both for the plain talk. You both didnt want to paint this any prettier than it is. I am glad I read this today as I am getting ready for a move back. You are right, I am one of those Y= X+1 thing, but I believe I am getting closer to the decision as days pass on. In my deep mind I have worries whether my wife will adjust to the new life, would our kids welcome the change. Most importantly the concern is how much of a shock for the kids to adjust to the educational system if our destination city is Trivandrum. I would appreciate if you have anything more to share on this. Thanks again!!

October 12, 2011 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can relate to this post thought I am not returned from US. I was an army kid and lived in clean secure cantonments with plenty of playgrounds and other facilities. Then my father retired and since then have struggled with civilian life. The congested roads, apartments with no playgrounds, the lack of security etc. So I can imagine how much more difficult it will be for people who lived in the US.

October 13, 2011 4:19 AM  
Blogger Venkata Jeetender Yeddanapudi said...

Dr. Nair,

This is an awesome post!!! Couldn't agree more. People tend to sit on the decision just because they do not have the time to think about it at work!! And they get home, go have fun at the malls, clubs but once in a week they call home to India and tell everyone at home that they are planning to come back, but actually never do, because it is just not the appropriate time.

October 13, 2011 4:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nair,

Glad you are enjoying your life in India. It has been more than year for us since we came back. I have adjusted well. Wife has not. We are going back next year. Hopefully it will be a short stint and we can come back to enjoy India for what it is.

October 13, 2011 8:53 AM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

Jennifer
Thanks for your insights

Bold Thoughts
It will be tough on your kid(s) initially. My baby was only 4 months when we relocated...

October 13, 2011 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well written, but classifying 'mindset' as "the most important aspect" is oversimplification, imo. Here's another perspective - http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/22/why-i-left-india-again

-Anand

October 22, 2011 4:14 PM  
Blogger Akshaya said...

Hello Brijesh,

Sorry I am glued to your blog today and finding all the topics very relevant to my experiences ...

Every expat should return to India atleast once and soon they will realise the importance of convenience, personal space, cleanliness, equal treatment and value of resources...

November 30, 2011 12:01 AM  
Blogger Akshaya said...

Thanks Brijesh for this relevent post... I think reading Suketu Meheta's Maximum City will also help people reassess their plans of returning to India!

November 30, 2011 12:02 AM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

Akshaya,
"Every expat should return to India atleast once and soon they will realise the importance of convenience, personal space, cleanliness, equal treatment and value of resources"
Well said; So many things that we take for granted in US is a luxury in places like India...

November 30, 2011 5:25 PM  
Blogger Ashasnana said...

Hello Brijesh,
Although not an intellect on your level, I am entertained and educated by your posts and blog. As you know, I have often heard my AZ Indian friends talk about moving back to India and hate to see them go when they do. Your post on this was a refreshing dose of reality that I'm sure will be very helpful to many.
(Adorable little girl, by the way!)
Sharon Sullivan (hollys mom)

April 09, 2013 8:58 PM  
Blogger rohan said...

I have not gone abroad, but I know things are pretty bad here. But I do my part and I educate people around me. I do not litter on roads. I do drive sensibly. But I feel disappointed that people never understand how to live a class life. Government has got huge amount of money, but not even a single project is well planned and does not even comply to the quality norms. Everything is a shortcut here. People are educated but not ready to bring in the change! Rohin T J

April 10, 2013 4:05 PM  
Blogger rohan said...

I have not gone abroad, but I know things are pretty bad here. But I do my part and I educate people around me. I do not litter on roads. I do drive sensibly. But I feel disappointed that people never understand how to live a class life. Government has got huge amount of money, but not even a single project is well planned and does not even comply to the quality norms. Everything is a shortcut here. People are educated but not ready to bring in the change! Rohin T J

April 10, 2013 4:06 PM  

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