I juggled with this idea a lot over a few years before I returned to India. I must have gone through hundreds of blogs and r2i (return to India) discussion forums to help me reason my own decision to move to India. The age old wall of worries about differences between the two countries in job opportunity, work culture, salary, society, safety, taxes, ethics, and infrastructure completely had me flustered. I remember having endless discussions on the weekend get-togethers with desi friends about the pros and cons of moving back and how life may change. I had gazillion MegaBytes of data on R2I in my head that I was trying to analyze to help me get to an actionable conclusion once and for all. Although I was (am) doing just fine financially, in the end the money never played a part in my choice.
The feeling of a being that branch of the family tree that was slowly getting severed from the rest of the tree as years went by didn’t sit very well with me. And I thought that the severance was almost a certainty after I get old as my kids (now 7 and 4) wouldn’t feel the same connection with the rest of the family back home in India as I did. This had been the leading reason that kept the thought of R2I going in my mind for most of the 17 years that I spent in the States. But this wasn’t strong enough to drive me to make the move back.
One afternoon as my wife (who also grew up in India) and I sat on the deck watching our kids run around in the yard, we thought to ourselves about how our parents must have watched us run around when we were little kids with their hearts filled up with the same joy and pride that we were experiencing in that very moment. It was magic! The haze and the confusion had just disappeared and it was very clear to us that we wanted to move back to India to be with papa and to be with maa. Everything else from that moment on was secondary. I was excited and so was my wife – we told our parents we had made up our minds and couldn’t contain the joy we felt in those moments.
We spent the next couple of weeks fixing the nitty gritty details of life – i.e. house, belongings, finances, travel and relocation. My plan was to go back to my hometown, live in the house we grew up and maybe I’d end up teaching Physics in the same school that I went to. I didn’t have a career plan but I felt confident my US employer would figure something out and create a job for me to work remotely from India. This was my hope. So, I walked in to my boss’s office and told him about my decision that I’d be moving to India in 2 weeks. I had thought about my employer’s BATNA and was very hopeful that I’d be offered a job. And I was.
I have been living in India since May 2017 and I do not regret my move at all. I do miss the American comfort, the weekend get-togethers, our friends and neighbors and countless other good things. America truly is a great country. And I’m not going to talk about the details of little things (traffic, housing, maids, and work culture) in India and if you’re reading this to help with your r2i decision I’m sorry it’s not going to be helpful. You need to find your very own reason and understand that my reason cannot be your reason. All I’d say is that if you do decide to make the move you just need to come with some patience. A lot of it, actually. Embrace India as your own with its shortcomings. Don’t let the little things bother you and you’ll do just fine.
So, I’ll talk about some of the things I’ve been able to do since moving to India. The most important one of them all – my parents live with us and they just love having their grandkids around. Their pride and the strength they get from me being there, all the time (not a 24 hour flight away), are invaluable to me. I’m positive I moved for the right reason. My 7 year old not only fluently speaks in Hindi, but she also writes and reads Hindi well. And my 4 year old who didn’t utter a word in Hindi a year ago is preparing to sing for the 15th August “Nanha Munna Rahi Hoon, Desh ka Sipahi hoon… bolo mere sang Jai Hind, jai hind. Jai Hind.
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