I started out writing this but it wasn’t coming out just so – so I abandoned it. However, in response to Broom’s post (will someone please help me put the links in?) I’m just posting this fragment:
I never thought that I would land up living outside India simply because I never aspired to – unlike so many of my countrymen to whom studying and living abroad is part of the great Indian dream. It’s curious that for the upper middle class Indian the great aspiration seems to be to be able to escape India so that one can have all the goodness of being Indian – the quick-on-the-feet smarts that come from an education and life situation that has you always dodging blows and looking for loopholes, the great food, the sense of community, the rich and varied culture etc which has suddenly become so chic – while eschewing the dirt and the grime, the crumbling infrastructure and the bureacratic nightmares.
But anyway now I am one of them – those that escaped – and I am constantly fretting that I will turn into those people that do the the honourary visit to India every year and turn up their nose at everything.
I worry because I have already begun to exhibit the other great NRI characteristic – nostalgia for the homeland because you are never quite at home anywhere else. So you live in a kind of slightly-less-that-best-of-both-worlds where when you are in one place you are always dreaming of the other and thinking “if only I was there”. Actually mine is still just a one-way street – I am always pining for Bombay though when I’m in Bombay I never pine for Hong Kong, only when I’m in Bangalore because I know the only way to escape the in-lawness is to live abroad.
Anyway, here are a few things I’ve noticed about me since I’ve been an NRI:
1) People in India are always slightly admiring that you don’t live in India. Like you’ve achieved something merely by living abroad and you’ve acquired some amount of glamour.
2) I am always admiring of people who live in India. Having seen the other side, I would be quite happy to go back to coffees at Coffee Day, teaming kurtas and jeans, drinking at wherever is slummy cool now in Bandra and generally being the queen of my castle, not to mention actually being recognised for having worked at one of the largest circulated dailies in Bombay.
3) I can go to the ‘NRI services’ desk at banks. Except I’m still patronized because I’m a woman and look like I’m too young to have serious money.
4) I actually like hanging out with other Indians more than other races. But not ALL – god there are some boring people around.
5) I get very excited when I see samosas.
Ok that was it.