A nervous young woman reaches John. F. Kennedy airport and looks for the taxi to reach her home. The driver asks her, where do you want to go? Unable to understand the accent, anxious lady hands him a paper before boarding the taxi. A song “Ghar aaja pardesi tera desh bulaye re” plays in the cab.
This is the first hand experience of most young women from India who after being married to rich NRI boys step into the foreign land. No doubt, several women struggle to find their identity among foreigners. Naturally, they meet problems adjusting to a new culture without a family around. Nevertheless, it’s the lure of holding a green card that attracts several NRI marriage proposals. Surprisingly, parents too are equally keen to get their daughters married to an NRI groom.
Shweta, an IT professional about to move to U.K says,”My parents have looked for a match for boys settled in the Europe. Since I have always dreamt of living and working abroad, I have accepted the marriage proposal instantly. Also, everyone’s happy with my decision”.
The greed to make money, gain a foreign degree, instant recognition of hard work, independent lives and lucrative career attracts most Indians abroad. Despite this, they never alienate themselves from India. For most NRIs, every trip to India is immensely an emotional tour. That’s because they try to make the most of their visit by visiting religious shrines, attending family functions and meeting up with relatives.
Roma Sharma, who returned to India recently after having spent half of life abroad, says,” It really came to our mind when we had kids. I wanted my children to be looked after by their grandparents which we missed in our childhoods. We were not sure about how to juggle with two infant kids, a mortgaged home in New Jersey, our demanding careers and 600 miles of daily commuting to the suburbs for our office”.
She exclaimed.” The moment we got to know of a job opportunity in India, we saw it as a golden chance to move as India was growing fast. Since then our passports with U.S citizenship is safely kept in my study. Of course, I cherish the memories of U.S and many of my friends are still there. No doubt, it will be my second destination, but now Delhi is my home”.
Interestingly, there are also some who have mixed feelings. These are people well-adjusted to foreign lifestyle and enjoying their stay abroad. Dr. Rakesh, who went to California in 2004 and is well-established in his career with several clinics of his own opines,” Although I am rooted to my homeland, but I don’t miss India that much because there are lots of Indian families settled here. Most Indian festivals are celebrated with equal zest and enthusiasm. Since, we don’t have relatives or family here, we socialize once a month amongst our Indian communities”.
For some who have chosen to move to India, staying here permanently and adjusting to everyday struggles wasn’t easy. As a matter of fact, facing actual challenges of daily lives was a big ordeal. In addition, the experience was entirely opposite to the few months of yearly holidays taken by most NRI families in India.
Anamika Das; who after having studied in Australia returned to India and now works in Bangalore explains, “After having stayed abroad for twelve years, it was tough to adjust as India has changed drastically and I feel a misfit now. No work is started without arguments and bribery. Due to the laid back attitude simple things like opening an account with a bank, getting a telephone or electrical connections aren’t easily done here. Nobody has the right information and I am compelled to ask my so-called neighbors for basic things,” she retorts in frustration.
One common reason why most NRIs chose to return home is also the concern about their aging parents. “I am concerned about my diabetic mom. I miss my home badly and as soon as I am done with my Office project, I would take the next flight to India”. It’s high time, I look after my old parents, who have made me what I am today. Also, they have become emotional with age,” says a teary eyed Tushar, a software engineer working in the U.S.
Besides, a point worth mentioning is the success stories of Hindi movies like “Pardes”, “The Namesake”, ”Mitra”, or “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” especially in abroad. According to business reports, these were tremendous successes among the NRIs and generated huge revenues overseas. These were based on the lives of NRIs and their yearning to get back home. Indeed, there was instant connection NRIs felt with these blockbusters.
Russian poet, Joseph Brodsky rightly stated, ”No matter under what circumstances you leave it, home does not cease to be home. No matter, how you lived there-well or poorly”!