Tag Archives: Return to India

Mein Jaag nahi sakthi

We humans are a strange lot. We don’t care for anything we own unless we loose it. And then we miss what we no longer own. And the cycle continues.

images_logo1 I miss complaining about how little my one vote can do to change the system. I miss my Dad chanting “No vote, no college” mantra when I used my extra important morning class excuse(the one that I otherwise conveniently bunked). I miss my right to vote in this country. Yes, I made an informed decision to become a “Videshi” but back then I didn’t think about what I would loose. When Jaago Re plays on TV, I keep thinking about how I cannot wake up from this slumber, how I cannot be one insignificant number in the one billion target. Why? Because nobody cares about my Perfectly Indian Soul. 

So all those of you who plan to hit the snooze button, think about it for a minute. Would you rather try and make your feeble voice heard or have no voice at all? Think about everything that our past generations may have sacrificed so that we could have this luxury that was once their dream. It must have been each of our grandparent’s vision to see their future generations having a say in the country. What would they say if they saw this apathy? If not for us or our ideals, do it for them.

Go make your mark. Nothing may change if you do, but if you don’t then what is the use of all the gyaan that comes later?  The word democracy itself says “crazy”, so quirks are part and parcel of it. Everyone is free to pick on the quirks but does it do any good? We have a long time to pick on the quirks, I’ll join you in the rants but first go vote.

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A year later

Jan 1, 2008 was a memorable day. We celebrated the birth of 2008 with family after landing in Bangalore 🙂

Today, we have completed a milestone – one year after returning to India. Looking back, it has been a great year personally. I would like to Thank a lot of people for inspiring me to make it this far.

Amma and Dad, thank you for your undying support. We could not have done it without both of you. You’ve dropped everything in hand to run down and help out in every possible way and we are grateful for having the support.

Achan and Amma for the endless prayers. I’m sure your prayers are being heard and are a huge factor in us being where we are today.

Sis and BIL for all the help. We could not have done it without you.

Veliamma and Veliachan for always talking positively. We are glad you are in Bangalore and look forward to your visits regularly.

A and RRK for the inspiration and showing us that it can be done. RRK, special thanks for your informative web site. I hope it inspires many more. And yes, I’ve not yet forgotten my promise. I’m starting an R2I diary this minute 😉

Friends, you rock! S,V and R, even now if there is anything I miss about the US it is you ladies. Of course, K, K and A, I’ve not forgotten you guys. Thanks for all the help and support. I’m sure it was difficult to help us with the move along with a zillion  other things you’ve got but you did it and you will remain truly special. We made it and so can you. Here is wishing you all the best in whatever you choose to do.

It has been a momentous journey and here is summing it all up.

The ups

The vibrant country, the beautiful culture, the resilient people have all exceeded our expectations.

The school and K’s friends have made it truly a great experience for K. Hope her spirit continues to soar and transcend all boundaries, just like their motto “O nanna chetana, aagu nee aniketana”.

The apartment community and our wonderful neighbors have all been exceptional.

Our friends and family continue to inspire and support us.

Personally, the ability to stay at home and still have a social life is on the top of my list.

We love the new Bangalore – the multiplexes, the malls, the supermarkets have all made the city very likeable. The old timers still have the famed commercials and brigades, Lalbagh and Cubbon park, the Bull Temple and the Infant Jesus church and all else.

I enjoy visiting parents at the drop of a hat. It’s an overnight train journey and weekend trips are convenient.

The festivals, the celebrations, the beauty of everyone celebrating what we are celebrating is definitely exciting and fun.

The sense of belonging, especially feeling “I never really left, in spirits I was always here” is truly euphoric.

The availability of help for anything and everything is also noteworthy.

 The downs

The traffic, the potholes and the lack of civic sense hits us the instant we set foot on any Bangalore road. GOD help the Bangalore commuters! The sheer difficulty in getting from place to place wants to make me stay put. Driving is definitely not an easy task on non existent roads!

The recent terror attacks in Mumbai have left a deep impact on every Indian around the world and we are no different. I don’t feel secure even in India. I know we are being targeted and hope and pray that the world is a safer place for our children.

Mr. ASATYAM Raju(Satyam = truthful and that’s not true anymore) has made sure that the already failing economy has something more to worry about. What was he thinking? We have been seeing hiring freezes, job cuts etc and I’m nervous. Hope things work out.

It is difficult for women to work in Bangalore. It is expected practice to work 9.5 hrs and add to it the commute, it is pretty much all work and nothing else. I would have loved to do something with my career but other than changing careers or slogging it out, I don’t see a way out. For now, I’m happy at home but I wish I found employers like the ones I had in the US.

And all that in between

The fond memories of a distant country we called home for years, the first years together, the birth of a beautiful baby and most of all the friends we made are all in our thoughts.

So far, no regrets regarding this move, only hopes for a brighter tomorrow, as always.

S,V and R, I hope you are reading and getting inspired! Come back, for all the glitter will still be there to go back to someday in the future. Think about it, isn’t it more important for our children to pick up the phone, call Grand mom and tell her to bring Mangoes and Bananas for this visit and then after a pause tell her that the most important thing is that you and Grandpa are here with us? For our children, this is the place to grow up in. So ghar aaja pardesis…….

tum chalo to…

And the dirty politics continue. But this time there is a difference. After the initial shock has died down, resigning to whatever has happened would have been a normal reaction. Not really Apathy but a sense of helplessness would take over. Not this time however. This time, the average Indian seems to be determined to make a difference. It is evident by the number of candle light vigils that are still being held, the number of letter that are still being written to editors all over the country, the number of SMSes still being sent to all the news channels in India and the questions people are still asking the leaders of the country. Of course, people are still lashing out at politicians, but then they are also coming up with propositions to safeguard the country. We are telling everyone who cares to listen that we will not let this happen again. Indians are also not waiting for the ones in power, rather, they are starting off with small initiatives, hoping for a change. They are motivating others to follow suit. Here is my humble attempt to motivate my fellow country men.

This video reminds me on an incident that happened last week. Driving through the maze called Bangalore roads, I came to an intersection where the traffic seemed to be a standstill. There was utter chaos and people were literally shouting at each other on top of their voices. I as usual, cribbed about the lack of traffic policemen in the city, even at prime intersections and resigned to the fact that I may stay stuck there for a while. Then I saw this Auto driver in front of me meandering through traffic towards the curb(almost getting on it) and I thought to myself  that these auto drivers as usual are going to worsen the situation.  But not this guy, he was different. He parked his auto right in the middle of the intersection(still beats me as to how he got there), climbed onto his roof and started directing traffic. Within minutes the intersection was cleared of cars and in a few more minutes, I was able to get out of the mess along with other relieved drivers. In my rear view mirror, I watched him continue to direct traffic. I’m not sure if he was there for long but his action cleared a huge traffic pile up on a crowded road.

Tum chalo toh Hindustan chale! The boy in this video and the auto driver taught me a very valuable lesson – make a difference.  Don’t sit back, demand respect, for ourselves and our country. Do something today, light a candle, write a letter to the press, question a minister or come up with ideas for a safer country. Our children will be grateful that we did.

foot in the mouth syndrome

Quite a few of our Netas seem to be suffering from it off late. It seems to be quite contagious actually. First it was the Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, then it travelled south to the Deputy CM of Mumbai RR Patil, then came the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, back to Mumbai to Vilas Rao Deshmukh and from there it traveled further south to Kerala with CM Achuthananthan.  Some of the Television journalists also seem to be affected by it. The minute by minute coverage of events during the attacks, whereabouts of commandoes and trapped guests were televised live in the name of competition and freedom of the press. The terrorists had to just tune in to let the so called “Angels of Free Speech” guide them to the commandoes and guests. When will they learn the etiquettes of on screen behavior?

Totally confused Firangi!

Technically, that’s what me and DH are. We don’t even have Firangi accents after having lived in the US for 9 and 12 yrs respectively. We are totally un American, nobody will call us Americans. We blend in pretty easily. We almost never have issues with our Nationality. I was just congratulating myself over it when I got into trouble. The nationalized back next door refused to let me open an account with them. Guess the reason? The manager wanted copies of every imaginable id proof and one of them happened to be the Passport which happened to be non-Indian. Well, I explained to the manager that I own an apartment here, my husband’s employers are pure desis, I have bank accounts in other Indian banks, I am an Overseas Indian Citizen and of course, that I won’t run away because I have a life here. That was all perfect but he still cannot give me the account.Phew… Finally, after some coaxing, he was willing to give me the account if I was introduced by an account holder. Thankfully, my good friend has an account there and we were able to open it. And we’ve had trouble getting a credit card as well. All is well that ends well but look at this http://www.business-standard.com/india/storypage.php?autono=341670

The terrorists can get SBI credit cards but I have to run from pillar to post for bank accounts and credit cards. Now I’m totally confused. It reminds me of the time Mohammed Atta was granted an F1 Student Visa by the INS weeks after he rammed into the WTC and I was flagged for an FBI name check to clear before I was granted US Citizenship. Hmm my name sounded very fishy to the INS.My name  is one that does warranty a one year name check against every record INS ever had. INS you have true counterparts in India. I’ll never miss you!

This happens only in India….

The terror strike in Mumbai is shocking. It goes on to say, no matter where you are vigilance is essential. Indian politicians have a lot to learn from their US counterparts when it comes to standing up to terrorists. The NSG commandos are fighting it out for the country, the operations are still underway at the Taj hotel and Nariman house and all I can see on TV are politicians slinging mud at each other. All I can see are parties supporting themselves and defending their statements and of course trying to offend others. Today I have realized that a lot of good happens in this country but its politicians will never change. What is the message that each of you is giving out to the world? Come out on national TV and support the guys who are actually putting their life on the line trying to fight these terrorists. When 9/11 happened, I was in the US. I watched every TV channel for days together. Every American was with the Govt and I didn’t hear a single person utter “Intelligence Failure” on National TV until weeks later. The need of the hour is not to find the reason but to protect the Nation. A lot of talk and no action is what we have been seeing but I guess that’s Indian politics. India, wake up and go after the offenders.

After 9/11 New York came to a standstill, New Yorkers barely stepped out. Not only New York, the entire country came to a standstill and here I see a difference as well. We really need to applaud the spirit of the Mumbaikars. They are already on their feet, the local trains are already packed to the brim and everyone is nervously normal. This can also happen only in India. The Indian spirit is hard to break. Why can’t Indian politicians have the same spirit? Why can’t they buck up and stick to each other and show the outsiders what the Indian spirit truly is! Is this really wishful thinking……?

decisions are tough(keeping fingers crossed)…

A decision which is irreversible and impacts everyone in my life scares me. I generally put off such decisions indefinitely or leave it to DH. Poor DH takes the trouble of helping me out with suggestions and then gets an earful from me for not considering some minuscule possibility or overlooking something that was so important to me that I myself would not have paid attention to it for quite a while. Jokes aside, returning to India was one such difficult decision just because it impacted K’s future and she had no say in it. It did scare me at first and as always I did try to pass it on to DH. But then, we always knew in our hearts that we wanted to return. Both of us unanimously voiced our opinions on the pros of raising our precious daughter in India. There is one thing that really mattered to me and that was my family and their presence in K’s life. For that, I was willing to give up whatever it was that the future held for her in the US. I did feel guilty making the choice for her and also was apprehensive about her losing out on the opportunities that the land had to offer her. I was hoping that the choice we made was good. There is no right or wrong in this decision and whatever the case, we hoped it made a difference. And then, we packed up and left and for once I can say that I made the decision to move back and DH supported me fully in this decision….

Here we are away from the land of opportunities. I am now looking at the next generation Indians and feel like a fool for even thinking that K will be losing out. Kids in India these days have the same level of exposure and opportunities as kids anywhere in the world. More and more parents in India are able to afford giving their kids the extra edge. Lots of students are getting to travel abroad to widen their outlooks and also to study. Most schools thesedays emphasiseon extra curricular activities along with their curriculum and also focus on it at school so we don’t have to necessarily drive them from class to class  There are a multitude of options to choose from once it comes to activities – painting/art/music(both Indian and western), instrumental, Chinese maths, tae-kwon-do, karate, dance(all Indian forms and western), fun science classes and much more. There are a lot of outdoor fun activities that are catching up as well. Is there anything that K is missing out by coming back? I don’t see anything amiss. As an added bonus, she gets to see her aunt every week and her grandparents every month!
We will never know the true impact of our decision for at least two decades now but I’m hoping that whatever the loss per se in terms of opportunities are made up in terms of culture and family values. I would rather have her sacrifice a few opportunities and have her in a social setting that will give her a strong identity and a background that she can truly relate to.