Friday, June 04, 2010

NRI woes!

I am an NRI and I am proud of it. I chose this status and I think it suits me just fine. It was something I chose for myself and the better still, I think I am good at it and actually at the moment am enjoying it. When I get tired of it, who knows, I might change it. But as of now, life is treating me just fine. The prob;em I encounter is that a lot of Indians have issues with us NRI's. I really do not understand why, is it because you feel that we ditched our country? or because you are jealous of us? Pray, do explain it to me because as far as I know I am as much Indian as you are and you cannot hold a grudge against me or my opinions. Here are some of the reasons as to why I know that most of us love India and still care about it:
  • I came to the US ten years ago, eyes filled with dreams and two bags filled with all I could manage to bring with me to the US. There has not been a day when I have not missed India. I remember every minute of the 22 good years I spent there. I am still a citizen of India and proud of it. This is probably the reason why you will find tons of memoirs of my childhood and growing up here in this blog.
  • If I, a citizen of India cannot express concern or opinion about India then who can? Just because I moved to a greener pasture does not mean I severed connections with my hometown/country. So moving around the country from one state to state is okay but not out of the country? Let me illustrate, would you ask a Delhi-ite living in Chennai to stop caring or loving Delhi? Or for a Chennai-ite living in Bengaluru? Seriously! How immature.
  • Being out of the country, I make sure that I celebrate all the festivals that I used to growing up. I even do the ones I did not just to keep in touch with home and memories of home. I make sure I go to the temple (that I ignored for most part when I lived in India) at least once a month.
  • I make sure that my daughter knows Sanskrit shlokas over western music.
  • I see Desi movies in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu and sometimes even Malayalam and Kanada.
  • I am very concerned about what is happening there and always send a check for any relief operations going on in India. 
  • In fact, when I go to India, I am the one who feels like an Indian because the rest of the country obviously is way Westernized that I am. And everyone is ready to show off that they know more about America or any other country than we do.
  • You, the Indian living in India want to do everything Western (I do not have a problem with that). What with the coffee shop culture, buying Gerber food for babies, and all the foreign face creams and kiddie toys. You are more Westernized than me because I still believe in using good ol' Multani Mitti and coconut oil on my hair once a week. Thank you! 
  • I am the one who is eager to wear a salwar or a saree when the first opportunity presents itself while you would be the one to jump up wear a tee over tights and talk about Jimmy Choo's and Botega Venetta. Sorry, I still like my mojri's and the handicraft sling bag.
  • I am the one who comes to India once every four years craving for the samosa and to shop at local handicraft store while you are the one that eats Pizza and shops at one of those malls.
  • I cook Indian meal every day possible. I make sure that my daughter knows her dal and rice and veggies before anything else. While most of you are fighting to get a reservation to a Mexican, Italian, or McDonalds just so you can show off to your peers. Just FYI, Taco Bell is not a cool place in the US, it is just another fast food junk food place.
I can keep on listing but I will stop here because by now I have given a fair picture of what my Indian life is like and what your pseudo-western life is like. And yet, I am not Indian enough for you? I cannot say that the roads need to be wider in the metropolis because I do not suffer it everyday? It is like telling me not to worry about finding a cure for cancer because I am not suffering it. How stupid and silly. I am worried about it for your sake, for the sake of my friends who live there, for my family, for my city, my state and my country. I am worried that we are building faster than we plan. I am worried that we have an entire nation lagging behind while we are piling up in our cities. I am worried that the neighboring nations are taking up parts of our country. I am worried that idiots like you who are blindly mimicking Western traditions are forgetting what our country is built up from, we are forgetting that we can be proud of India even when we are not playing a cricket match against the Pakis. I am worried that one day in the future that I might be there suffering with you, while you, who is already living there, is living in a life of illusions. Illusions made up of brand name clothes and shoes that tread on the very pavement a man with no food or clothes will be sleeping on in the night. And whatever the case might be, take some positive/constructive criticism and try to fix it rather than asking me to shut up because if I can, I would. I am ready to help always!



Samir said...

I think it is very fair for me to tell any NRI that it is not their business to rant about my country. Yes for exactly those reasons that you have listed. You said that you have Indian citizenship, so the day you get your other citizenship, you will stop pointing out the problems in India? You of course defected to another country, as you yourself put to greener pastures. then isn't your job done. the govt paid to get you educated in India and now you are helping another country? how is that fair? shouldn't you be repaying the govt here?
Indians are not underprivileged in any way. You come and crave samosas because you donot get the same taste there, we on the other hand have samosa chai almost every other day. It's our staple diet. We go to Mexican food joints yes, but have you tasted it? It's Indianised, because that's how we like it. You are teaching your kid shlokas, our kids know Sanskrit! good for u that u cook Indian food there, that's how u were brought up. A lot of Britishers make Indian food in their homes on a regular basis, that makes them an Indian?
If u cannot buy a Jimmy Choo, then that is your problem, are you saying by wearing them, we are not Indians.
Your entire post seems like you are comparing your life to one particular friend of yours here. So I wonder are you the jealous one?

Megha Bansal said...

hmm..always on the fence about this. although a lot of times we behave more Indian than Indians living in India.
Some of your arguments are cute :)

Anu Russell said...


1) Are you trying to tell me that being an Indian citizen you do not have opinion about other countries? Are you telling me that you only think about India and do not criticize or praise another country?

I can have an opinion and also express it just like you have done here in my blog. You can choose to ignore my opinions but you cannot ask me not to speak up.

2) I do not know what government you are talking about but mine definitely did not pay a single dime for my education. My father did. I am not complaining but I am just stating that I did not get any freebie from my country and elope with it. I paid for what I got from India and I am paying for what I am getting from America (taxes). So the truth is "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

3) I have not once mentioned that Indians are underpriviledged. I love India and I never felt under priviledged!

4) I have no need to compare myself to anyone. It is just frustration that I cannot express my view on a topic without people reminding me of my NRI status. Do I keep reminding them that they are Indians when they express a view about topics that are not within their region?

5) I totally love the Indian Pizza. Totally! Corn, paneer, peas...are you kidding me. I love the desi Pizza and other such fusion food, so now would you agree that I am Indian? Because my taste is Indian, my dress sense is Indian, I pay tax in India for the properties I own. I have a stake in the country. Can I comment on my country??

All I am saying is, Live and Let Live. You or no one has the right to tell me what I can or cannot say as long as I am not infringing upon your space and no sir, India is not your space, it is our space.

Thanks for visiting.

lifeisbetter said...

Hey Anu,

You have full right to express your views and I have nothing against them. I just have a few questions.

Do you really think US is greener pasture? Are you sure if thats not an illusion created by media, society and materialistic ambitions. For me, it is not. With your head-aches and tynelol, I am sure you would agree with me... I wonder why did you go to the US?

I have travelled the world and stayed especially in Toronto and every second I used to feel as if I was not in not in my country. All my friends in toronto I remember were not happy about the salary, life without househelp, etc... I wouldnt trade the feeling of being in India with anything.

Also, why would I pay tax to some other government? Even if Indian Government does not manage my taxes well.

Why would I use my intelligence and knowledge to develop some other economy, when there is enough to be done in India. An American coming here to work is still okay because that would be like creating a balance...

Now culturally, I have prima facie seen confused teenagers born to Indians. They are neither there nor here. And I have also seen confused parents dealing with adolescent pseudo america born indian kids, their affairs, their attitude and their immunity.

Although you have to right to worry about things happening in India... yet, you should also worry about what is happening in the US? It is way worse than India. Starting from education, marital life, drugs, employment opportunities, economy... everything is in a mess.

I suggest you should think of coming back and lead a better life here. I understand you get lot of respect of being settled abroad. Back in Assam, I too get lot of respect for being made it big in Mumbai. I have done 10 times better than what I though I could do. Thank God.

But I have changed my mind. I am going back to Assam to live my roots, to live with my parents, family, friends and cousins and to develop my own hometown.

Anu Russell said...


1) Greener pasture: is a very personal choice. For some the move from Chennai to Delhi might be their passport to a greener pasture and for me it was my move from Chennai to USA. You also moved from Assam to Mumbai right?

2) Honestly, I miss the househelp everyday. I really do but then I get some comforts here that I cannot in India. Is it a fair trade? I don't know but it surely falls in the lines of "you get some, you loose some."

3) I am paying tax to the American Govt because I am enjoying the facilities they have laid out for me to use. There are restrooms everywhere you go. That is one thing you cannot get in India especially if you are a girl/woman.

4) That is a whole another topic.

5) I am yet to get tested with those issues and once I get there, I will definitely blog about them too.

6) I do worry about life everywhere in the World not just India and America. I am scared about what is happening to little girls all over the world, the constant bickering, the religious intolerance, etc. all of them bother me! Is your point claiming that India does not have any of those issues? You must look around and observe more keenly and you will see all those vices are all around you as well, in India. It is human nature that is kept under wraps.

7) I will take up your suggestion because that is what my husband and I have also decided to do but not yet. There is still time for me to make the shift back and who knows that day might come tomorrow or never come at all.

8) That is such an awesome feeling right? Kudos to you for sticking to your guns!

9) Once again...thanks for commenting!

girlsguidetosurvival said...


... I do not know what government you are talking about but mine definitely did not pay a single dime for my education. My father did.

Women's education is free in India. if you attended professional college then it is highly subsidized. I have studtied both in India and abroad. The tution paid by students (citizens, foreigners pay 10 times high) in the US is a killer it takes them years to pay back student loans.

In India we definitely have many free lunches like Free medical care even if it is sub standard.

About you jumping to wear Salwar kameez is just like someone in India longing to wear a tee and denim because it is not common wear in everyday life. If you think Indianness lies in the attire then you would wear Indian dresses without waiting for an opportune time.

Who said you were not Indian enough? Who are you addressing this post to. Why and who are you trying to prove that you are still Indian or more Indian than some Indians in India. It appears too defensive.

It is good to have an opinion but it is better to have a solution because opinions never solved anything on their own.


Desi Girl

Anu Russell said...

Desi Girl,

Again, I really don't know where the education was free because i got none of it. And I did go to a professional college, on Merit. Yet, it was neither subsidized nor cheap nor free.

And irony is such that I did my Master's in USA with full scholarship and financial Aid. So I was just saying how things worked out for me and I am Glad.

Because you brought up free sub-standard medical care, I have to tell this. I dont know how you can call it a free lunch if you go to a Govt Hospital where they treat you in emergency only if you have the cash to pay the ward boy or doctor? I am not telling this after seeing a Tamil movie but it happened in real life. My friend was in a horrible accident, we had to take him to a Govt. hospital for FIR and all that and guess what? We paid Rs.1000 to the ward boy and doctor to leave a guy with stab wounds to die so that they could care for my friend. I am not complaining but i dont get how that is Free Lunch!

My most common office attire is formal pants with a Kurta. Will that count?

I am not trying to whine and do the snooty, "It is so Desi," stuff here. I am trying to get people to hear me, hear me say something that I think might be constructive. It will really help if they can hear me out without me having to deal with the whole NRI?

And in spite of all this, I am a Proud Indian, which is why I wrote this post in the first place. I hate to be reminded that i am not Indian enough because i have moved away from the country.

Thanks for visiting. love your blog.


Kunal said...

Dear Anu,
I read your blog and felt that it was exactly my own story. I moved to the USA a few months ago, after spending 24 whole years in India. The only reason I moved to the US was because my family is now here. For me, home is where the heart is. For whatever the reasons, one of my closest friends turned on me, accusing me of some of the very things that you have been accused of by some of your readers. Though it hurts, I feel we do not need to justify our 'Indianness' to anyone. They did not pay for our educations and their lives surely are not affected whether you live in India or abroad. So quite honestly these arguments are so ridiculous that they do not need to be justified with a response. And for some of the Pseudo Nationalists who will now try to argue with me, I would like to tell you that I come from an Army family. My father was disabled for life while guarding our borders with China. So please don't try teaching me the meaning of Patriotism. And as for your 'love for your motherland', let's see how you react when one of you gets an offer to come and work/ settle in the USA. Otherwise it's just a case of sour grapes for some of you.

Anu Russell said...


thanks for visiting and thanks for your comment. Appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

after viewing all the arguments i'd just say at this day an age nationalities dont exist the vast array of people in the west especially come from mixed cultures . America is not just a nation its a embodiment of free speech and true democracy. Religion and state are kept separate.

NRI or Resident Indian are both Indians, just because someone physically is present in India doesnt make them more Indian per se.

Gandhi was an NRI there you go. In truth it all comes down to perception of both NRIs and resident indians about the current conditions in each others countries.I find it hilarious when i hear people saying things fed by Aajtak or ndetv etc channels which are in total opposite for instance they will show some scantily clad female and make it appear people walk on the streets like this and sex is open people roaming around topless there is no family structure??

each to their own, NRIs those who act more american than americans themselves deserve to be show their reality and resident Indians basing their analgies on media fed content should stop cribbing and for starters not spit in their beloved country and keep it clean.

Anu Russell said...


That is each his own and we all have the right to our opinion :)