The Case of the NRI - Non Returning Indian

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Case 1:
Parents : Father Deceased. Mother lives in India. Over 70.
Only son. Lives in US. Mother finds it hard to travel every year.

Case 2:
Parents : Father deceased. Mother lives in India. Aged 65.
Only son. Lives in US.

Case 3:
Parents : Both alive.
4 children. 2 live in US. One lives in Dubai. One lives in Germany.

Case 4:
Parents: Were alive till 2006.
Son left for US in 1979. Visited India after 27 years when his mother died.

All real examples. Cases are endless. Every urban household has a proud story to tell of their Non Resident kids and grandkids. The dream has come true. Their lifelong struggle to educate and send their kids to Amrikaa paid off. Spend 15 more mins with them and the underlying sadness will slowly give way to the superficial happiness.

Each of these cases had one thing in common. The promise of their dear ones to return to India so that their folks aren't alone. The thought has to be appreciated but it is the action that never happens. I know the Case 2 mom has given up hope that her son will ever return to India. First it was 2002 to get a green card, then it was 2004 to have one child, then by 2006 to have yet another kid and then return. All of this has happened. Now they want both the kids to get acclimatised to the environment and grow a little more to be able to survive in India. The new date for them is 2009. For the Case 2 mom, she said, "It is never. So I don't care anymore if he returns."

Gurcharan Das in a recent article wrote beautifully that "for NRIs returning to India is sort of lifelong pregnancy - a perpetual wait, a constant burden. Usually I discover that their memories are frozen, and they hide a shame of a fearful past that forced them to leave home."

He couldn't have said it better. As in such sensitive topics I have written before, I have nothing against the NRI clan. Its your life end of the day. There is always the other side of the story. All I can't understand is the apprehension in returning back to India. India Inc pays well, really well these days. We don't go to the kirana shops no more to buy groceries. There are supermarkets and when you get bored of them there are hypermarkets too for weekends. Name a brand and you can shop at the exclusive stores here in most metros. And lets not even get started on the buying capacity and disposable incomes. You don't have to do the laundry, cook and wash utensils, yourself. You can pay the bills online. Am I sounding like a rich b**ch? No, this is an average middle class household. But this is the lifestyle you will enjoy - a comfortable one without the anxiety of how your single septuagenarian mom is doing thousands of miles away. You are neither living peacefully there nor here.

Sure, there is one thing you can never buy and that is US citizenship for your yet to be born child or the organised way of life. You would still have to visit the RTO, wait in queues, our airports are crowded, our roads are crowded than before and the drains do get clogged during the monsoons. But there is a price you pay for everything in life. You can't have it all. The choice is yours.

With love, empathy and concern for the folks of NRIs- the Non-Returning Indians, I just have one thing to say. Please don't keep your folks waiting for ever. If you don't intend to return, talk to them and tell them that. They were born atleast 2 decades before you and am sure they understand that already. If you really want to come back for good for their sake, plan it and have a realistic date. Life is not as bad in this country of 1 billion plus. We have a good life here.