As most of you know, we moved back from the US about a year ago. And it has been quite a transition- not so much for Aari, but Chandu (in his silent way) and I (in my not-so-silent way) have struggled a little bit. At times, we still wonder if this is where we should be.
We have been asked by many people why exactly we decided to move back. Did we have visa issues? Did Chandu lose his job? Why? Why would we want to move back when everything was fine for us there? We usually tell them the truth, which is that we wanted to be closer to family, and that Chandu had always wanted to be in academia in India…but that answer doesn’t suffice for most. I can tell from their faces that they still think something did not work out for us there.
What is it about the US that we so unblinkingly adopt and make our own? What is it that makes it terribly hard for most people to move back? Is it the infrastructure, or that there are systems in place for everything and that they actually work? Is it that there is very less corruption, at least in the lower levels of these systems and less red-tape? Is there more freedom there? Or is the US seducing us with its big malls, and discount prices and wooing us with the American dream?
I have plenty of friends and family, who will disagree with everything I said in the last paragraph- some because they have actually moved back seamlessly, some because they want to move back seamlessly, and some because they are nostalgic. But before you guys start getting on my case, let me be clear. I am not saying it cannot be done. I’m just saying that even though the numbers are increasing now, it’s still a very small percentage that actually move back. And I’m wondering why.
What I do know is that I don’t like bargaining and negotiating for everything. I don’t like that people can be, and even expect to be bribed. I don’t like that getting any official work done requires you to navigate through miles of red tape. I don’t like the pollution, and I don’t like the traffic. And I don’t like the heat. It’s interesting that most of these things didn’t even get a second thought from me only 7 years ago, but now they really put me off. I’ve been told that in another year, I will again stop noticing these things, and I hope that’s true.
Also, I think it’s harder to move back once you have kids. I miss quality child-care. Here in India, it is very difficult to find someone you can trust with your baby, which makes it very hard for me to go back to work. People who live in large families, or those that have grandparents who can look after the kids are lucky. But in a nuclear family setting like ours, it’s hard to find viable options.
Okay, I’m not trying to do a US versus India thing here. I’m not saying one place is better than the other. I’m still largely glad we’re in India. People are living happily in both places, and it’s more about what works for someone rather than absolutes like “this is definitely better than that.” Okay, now that the disclaimer is done, I guess the whole point of my rant is that it’s taking very long to reacclimatize to India. Did it take me this long to acclimatize to the US? I don’t remember that being the case! I have to be honest…I really thought I would come back and India would fit like a glove. Maybe I was stuck in nostalgia, in memories of my childhood and college days, and didn’t think of the ground-realities of living here. There’s a glove, all right. But I haven’t used it in a while…and I need to find my way into it again.
So, through the doubts and uncertainties, we are slowly settling down. We actually own stuff now. And we have routines- Aari goes to school and loves it, the maid comes in to clean, I drink my chai at 10am, Chandu goes to work everyday and likes it. We have cozy corners to lie down in and read books, and photos on our walls. We are leading life in baby steps. One thing at a time is the plan. But each baby step feels like a giant leap into making this place our own. GAS CONNECTION! CAR! CURTAINS!
We will get there…I think.