Saturday, 31 July 2010

NRI Ki Jubaani - When a NRI Returns… Observations and Experiences

As I stepped on the tarmac with tired feet and luggage which was growing heavier by the minute….I was hit by muggy and humid air which sat on my body like a wet blanket. Entering the airport terminal, the cacophony of countless voices and the jostling bodies made it all seem surreal. The sour faced policemen were herding all of us like cattle with their baton and looking down at us with disdain as if we were more of ‘dharti pe bojh’ than 'humans’. Hubs looked at me and said ‘Welcome to India’.

The word ‘NRI’ (Non Resident Indian or Non Returning Indian or Non Required Indian)  lost its importance the moment ‘IT’' boom pierced the eardrums of Indians in the year 2004. The frenetic pace at which the ‘IT ‘crowd hauled abroad actually spoiled chances of ‘Non- IT’ people like us, to stand out in the crowd. Now, nearly each house  has someone in ‘pardes’ (foreign land) working for a software firm or doing a Masters in USA, UK or Australia.

With the increasing economic development in India and the growth of opportunities, the tide is turning now and many NRI’s like me are coming home. This decision is met with raised eyebrows and skeptical looks by people who moved abroad many years ago and have now settled down on ‘phoren’ shores. They think it is a bad move to give up the lifestyle one gets used to while living abroad. On the other hand, my Indian brethren are doubtful of my return and are already making it their business to sniff out the real reason. Their assumption being ‘They were not able to make it big  outside India, tch tch..losers, so they have come back’. 

After living for 3 years in Lancaster, UK, hubs and I decided to move back to India. Since this was our first journey back home in 3 years, we were quite excited to meet our family and friends. The image of India we carried in our mind and heart was of an India which we had left 3 years ago. Though we had heard of the rapid economic growth in India, the mall culture and increasing disposable income, the cultural shock that I felt was even larger than what it was when I landed in UK.

My hometown Nagpur, was a laid back place earlier where the cows and street dogs could sleep undisturbed, bang in the middle of a main road during rush hour. Now, the cows and dogs are still there but the pace of life has become faster and flashier, standard of living has increased, wallets have become fatter and people have become very lifestyle conscious.

The steep increase in cost of things right from milk to dining at a restaurant jolted my brain so much that it did a flip inside my skull. I had to unscrew the top of my head  to flip it back in its correct place. Some of these prices can now compete in the European market and even win.

After I landed on Indian soil, I realized that the things which earlier did not bother me much and also some aspects of being an Indian which I took for granted have gotten amplified by many degrees.

On one hand India has some things which are incomparable with any place and which I terribly missed during my stay abroad.
  • The amazing variety of food and super delicious desserts. My taste buds did a tango and jumped with joy the moment they came across exotic flavors they had missed in the past three years.
  • The luxury of having someone helping you clean up dishes and mop up the house. No longer do I have to worry about broken nails and aching back.
  • Family support and love you receive from them, help you to face problems
  • There is never a dull moment because of numerous festivals, marriage functions and birthday parties. Social life is alive and kicking.
  • Shops stay open quite late, unlike Lancaster, where the shops shut at 5 pm and the town wears a deserted look in the evening. No need to plan in advance when I want to go shopping.
  • The colorful festivals, colorful clothes, bollywood movies and Indian culture which attracts many people to India from all over the world. I missed ‘Diwali’ for the past three years. Gone are the days, when I would be wrapped up in warm clothes and trudging across town in freezing weather on Diwali, envious of friends having a great time in India.
  • Have said bye bye to depressing wet and cold weather and have said hello to bucketful of sunshine.

    And on the other hand less said the better :

    • A few days back I was on the road driving my bike behind a shiny Mercedes Benz. Down rolled the car window, a pair of puckered lips peeped out and a splash of red Betel Nut juice colored the road. It was disconcerting to see an educated person being so callous. I feel that the education has been wasted on such people who don’t care about their own country. Not that I did not see people spitting on the street in UK, but these people were very few and far in between.  
    • If you are bored and stressed while driving your vehicle in India, honking the  horn at random frequent intervals even when the stretch of road in front of you is relatively free is the favorite pastime. Better still, when you are the 20th vehicle in a row standing at a traffic signal and the moment the signal turns green, it is your prime responsibility to keep your finger pressed down on your car horn. Because the ‘duffer’ standing first in line is color blind and the 19 vehicles standing behind him will uniformly blast their horns to let him know that the signal has changed to green.
    • The first day I landed in India, all sounds on the road seem to be coming out through super boom amplifiers. It hurt my ears and I realized that the noise pollution is extremely high. On my first bike ride on Nagpur roads there were quite a few times when I jumped out of my skin when a horn blasted close to my ears and my heart shot up through my throat and just about stopped falling on the road but was saved because my mouth was shut.
    • Indians are in a hurry to be ahead of everyone, be it at a traffic signal, standing in a queue or when getting down from a bus, train or plane. Our genes have that special something which makes us ruthless and impolite, if we see someone else getting ahead of us. We will push people, stamp on feet and have a complete disregard  for normal human behavior the moment a train approaches a station or the plane taxies at the airport. These situations trigger a panic reaction and we switch on cell phones even when the sign in the plane says it’s dangerous, we will haul luggage and block the aisle in the train (or Plane) and just not care if we are disturbing other passengers.
    • A simple job of renewing your driving license can cause you so much grief. Bureaucracy and red tape will urge you to seek help from a middleman who will charge a couple of hundred bucks to make your life simple. Thus we get caught in the cycle of corruption.
      Indians are known worldwide for these bad habits and in spite of taking such giant strides towards becoming a super power, the attitude of ‘Sab Chalta Hai’ is the biggest hurdle on our path to success.

      Living on foreign soil means you have  limited rights plus a totally different culture which just does not make you feel at home. The decision to move back to India was prompted by a combination of reasons.  Mainly to be close to family and share our joys and sorrow with them and to explore the booming economy of India. Also, both hubs and I felt the need to belong, a desire to be identified with Indian community and culture. A desire to get back to the social circle and reach out to old friends and not feel isolated. 

      We landed here with such a dream in our minds to find out that our situation has become like a “laundryman’s dog” (Dhobi Ka Kutta) who neither belongs here nor there. We lost touch with friends in India and many others have moved on and we are no longer a part of their tightly knit circle of friends. We had to leave behind the friendships which we made in Lancaster, relations have scattered and language of friendship now needs an interpreter. The bright spot in this changed situation is family, which thankfully has not changed and has welcomed us with open arms.

      I am confident that in a matter of months, we will learn to realign our thoughts and behavior to match with those of people here. Very soon, we will stop cribbing about the dust and the pollution. Very soon we will ask our NRI friends ‘When do you plan to be back home?’ and thus our assimilation would be complete and we would no longer be NRI’s.

      Wednesday, 28 July 2010

      Caption Contest 12 ‘You think you are funny?’

      This is a caption contest ‘You think you are funny?’
      Please Write a Caption for the picture below


      All the Best.

      P.S: For those people who would like to know the rules, please check here.

      Monday, 26 July 2010

      Winner of Caption Contest 11 ' You think you are Funny?'

      Apologies for delay in announcing the winner. I am still recovering from my move across the continents. Thanks for your patience friends :)

      There were so many wonderful entries this time, it was quite difficult for me to choose the winners.

      The winners of the 11th  edition of the caption contest are :

      Ritu : "Damn! Look at his beer belly, I'll pass"
      Ravi : 'Damn - They don't make it as strong as they used to :('

      Congratulations !!!

      Please drop me a mail at  and I will mail you the trophy.

      Hope to see you all this Wednesday for another round of Caption Contest.

      Wednesday, 21 July 2010

      Caption Contest 11 'You Think you are Funny?'

      This is a caption contest ‘You think you are funny?’

      Please write a caption for the picture below

      All the Best.

      P.S: For those people who would like to know the rules, please check here.

      Sunday, 18 July 2010

      Winner of Caption Contest 10

      This is caption contest ‘You think you are funny?’

      The winner of the 10th  edition of the caption contest is :

      The NRI: 'Oh come on, SMILE....'

      Congratulations !!!

      Please drop me a mail at  and I will mail you the trophy.

      Hope to see you all this Wednesday for another round of Caption Contest.

      Wednesday, 14 July 2010

      Caption Contest 10 ‘You think you are Funny?’

      This is a caption contest ‘You think you are funny?’

      Please write a caption for the picture below

      All the Best.

      P.S: For those people who would like to know the rules, please check here.

      Monday, 12 July 2010

      Killerk (Clerk –1989) – A Movie Review

      To boldly go where no man has gone before
      A movie from bygone era when ‘Clerks’ or ‘Sarkari Babus’ were still honest and do gooders and thought taking Baksheesh to push paper was so not kosher. Manoj Kumar plays the part of a poor patriotic clerk called (so clich├ęd) ‘Bharat’ at the Ministry of Defence. The one who always had a hand on his face and has played a ‘Bharat Maa ka beta’ in most of his movies.

      The movie starts with ‘Pitaji’, Ashok Kumar writhing in pain because of a heart attack. The family is distraught as they don’t have money to pay ‘Doctor babu ki fees’. Bharat comes to the rescue with the perfect medicine for a heart attack. To hell with modern medicine..if you have a couple of pencil cells and ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ ka song, you will have the patient singing and marching in no time. The doctors just fool us all with CPR and hospital bills. Daddy deario starts singing and marching in no time as the wifey and baccha log look on with pride. The miracle of a few batteries and a patriotic song belting out from the tape recorder,  has you confused if the movie is actually a comedy. And then, you get introduced to a whole array of characters :
      1) An alcohol guzzling, disabled and face burned in the war elder brother Ram who suspects his wife of earning a fast buck by playing hooky.
      2) A younger brother Balaram and sister Tulsi who make a a doorknob look smarter when it comes to acting skills. All these characters seem to be post doctorates in the field of overacting  and over reacting. 
      Bharat’s old flame Sneh has left him to marry Vijay Kapoor who is rich and crooked. Vijay Kapoor wants a fat government defence contract so along with Sneh he plots a plan and makes Bharat majboor into stealing a file from his boss ‘Khan’ (Defence chief) and in return pay him boatloads of cash. Bharat’s family moves into a mansion and repossesses their ‘Girvi padi Jameen’ and all izz well.  Meanwhile another buxom babe ‘Pooja’ who is Bharat’s colleague is struck by constipated cupid which propels her to don gymnastics gear to seduce Bharat. She proudly says ‘I have won many cups in gymnastics  in school and college’ to which Bharat replies ‘but now I would like to go and have a cup of tea (rather than see your body double do the gymnastics)’.
      And then start the twists and turns in the story which make your head reel. The director has taken ‘Is kahani mein emotion hai, drama hai, tragedy hai’ too much to heart’.
      • Balaram robs a bank with his girlfriend, (Ms. Torn Jeans and trying too hard to be tapori) ‘Sonu’. He gets arrested and is thrown in jail.
      • Sister Tulsi gets raped by a gangster when she goes to him for help to get Balaram released.
      • Gymnastics babe is illegitimate and gets molested by her own father and kills him. Just before he dies in the hospital he transfers his property to the daughter.
      • Pitaji comes to know of Bharat’s treachery and finally dies of heart attack. The tape recorder and the battery cells failed to revive him this time Tchah.
      • Elder brother gets mighty angry when he comes to know the reason of Pitaji’s demise and wants to kill Bharat.
      • Balaram the bank robber clad in shiny black leather and holding a machine gun escapes from jail and saves Bharat from getting killed by Ram.
      • Old flame ‘Sneh’ comes back to her senses and suddenly realizes that she has been a selfish money hungry shark.
      • Ram finds out that Mrs.. hooky hooker is actually selling her blood to provide for his food and alcohol and becomes forlorn for suspecting her.
      After all this hum di dum drama-shama, Bharat turns over a new leaf and co-operates with authorities to nail Vijay Kapoor, who has planned operation Red Rose to assassinate the Prime Minister. Brother Balaram and Ms. Torn Jeans both die helping Bharat Bhai.
      Fee fi fo fum…I smell the blood of a dead scum…Vijay Kapoor is surrounded by the policia and has no place to go. He  shoots his wife instead of Bharat and kills her before he blows himself up. The government is ever so thankful of Bharat for saving the Prime Minister of India.
      Here are some of the cheesy dialogues which are repeated over and over again by some of the characters a la Mogambo style throughout the movie– ‘Mogambo Khush Hua’
      1) Prem Chopra aka Sadhuram is a peon at the Ministry - ‘Isme mein bhi ek point hai’
      2) Satish Shah – Bharat’s immediate boss - ‘Hindi mein bolo’
      3) Om Shivpuri  aka Jindal - ‘Beauty, Beauty, Beauty-  Sweety, Sweety, Sweety’ (I kinda liked it…so poetic..)

      Even though the movie has all capable and popular actors…the story and the dialogues can only give them so much leg room for artistic output. It feels, as though the actors were held at gun point and forcibly made to act in the movie. The songs are passable except for ‘Kadam Kadam Badhaeja khushi ke geet gayeja‘ which is wonderful. Manoj Kumar as Bharat grates on your nerves with his typical histrionics and his well fed frame, belies the fact that he is from a poor family. Rather, the entire family looks well fed and healthy when they are supposed to be shown as being hungry for many days. The heroines are attracted to a man wearing a bad wig, torn clothes and zero personality which is completely unbelievable.
      This movie is disjointed and fractured, it feels like a collage made by a person who has taken a high dosage of hallucinogens. The director who gave us super hits like ‘Upkaar’ and ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makan’ had lost his magic touch in this movie. You see the movie with the hope of catching the glimmer of art you had expected from such a renowned director. Each scene from this movie is a gem in itself and the transition from one scene to another is like taking a bumpy ride in an auto rickshaw on a potholed street. Even before your innards can recover from one violent jerk, you are already assaulted by another one. The entire movie feels as if the director is flogging a horse which died from laughing too hard as the first scene rolled out on the screen.

      Director: Manoj Kumar
      Writer: Manoj Kumar
      Cast : Manoj Kumar – Bharat
               Ashok Kumar- Pitaji
               Rajendra Kumar- Khan
               Rekha- Sneh (Old Flame)
              Anita Raj- Pooja – Gymnastics babe
              Mohammad Ali- Ram
              Zeba- Mrs. Hooky/ blood seller
              Rajiv Goswami- Balaram
             Sonu Walia- Ms. Torn Jeans aka Sonu
             Prem Chopra- Sadhuram
             Satish Shah- Sharma – Bharat’s immediate boss
             Sonika Gill- Tulsi
             Om Shivpuri- Jindal
             Dina Pathak- Bharat’s Mommy
      Genre: Clueless or maybe Comedy
      Rating: Not to be missed. Must be seen at least once.


      Sunday, 11 July 2010

      Winner of Caption Contest 9

      I am sorry friends for not responding to your comments on my posts. I am quite tied up with packing and will read all your wonderful posts once I have safely landed in India. Thanks for being patient.

      This is caption contest ‘You think you are funny?’

      The winner of the 9th  edition of the caption contest are :

      1) Hayaah: "Oh Boy! That's definitely not gonna dry when we land!"

      2) Nalini: "I see dead people"

      Congratulations !!!

      Please drop me a mail at  and I will mail you the trophy.

      Hope to see you all this Wednesday for another round of Caption Contest.

      Thursday, 8 July 2010

      I am leaving on a Jet Plane

      It is time for change and  time for a new beginning. Time to pack up the whole house and move back home to India. In a week’s time I would be sitting in a Jet Plane flying back home with Hubs by my side. Right now, I am sitting squashed between mounds of clothes and the sharp book ends and  knick-knacks lying around are digging into my posterior. 

      I have tons of stuff to pack and do a lot of scrubbing and cleaning, all that work has put me over the edge. I swear, I have just 2 strands of hair left on my are all lying scattered as I have been pulling at them in frustration.

      Is it possible to be happy and sad at the same time?

      I guess its possible…I felt somewhat similar when my eldest sister got married and left for Mumbai and I finally got Mom and Dad all to myself…

      This is the longest I have stayed in one town, the longest in any single home and the longest at any job (after marriage) hence I am feeling a bit wistful. But I am happy too, I am excited and thrilled to meet my family and friends after a long gap of three years…I am excited to see how much India has grown and progressed. I am scared too…(I know you’re thinking, Oh lord..this woman just cannot make up her mind about how she feels)…mainly because I feel I will need to learn a lot of new things and unlearn a lot of things. Having been cut off from India, the image of India in my mind is of how it was 3 years ago.

      Things I will need to learn and unlearn…

      1) Stop smiling at strangers on the street ( I am not loony) : Zephyr’s post is enough of a warning ..she has found out that people do not return her smile.

      2) You cannot hop skip and jump on the pavement/footpath while listening to Music: Most times there won’t be a footpath

      3) People honking the horns of their vehicles as if their life depended on it is an everyday norm.

      4) No need to wash any utensils, the maid will help you out in that chore..yipeeeeee

      5) No more ironing of clothes…double yippee (I hate this chore)

      6) ‘Mitti ki Bhini Bhini Khushboo’ (Smell of damp earth after the rains) yummy…missed it so much.

      7) Garam Garam Phulkas – Maa ke Hath ka Khana (Mom’s Cooking)

      8) No sweaters, jackets and boots- Hello dust and pollution…

      9) Shops are open till late and do not close at 5 pm.

      10) Restaurants will serve authentic Indian Food…dying to bite into a Rossogulla (Indian Sweet).

      11) Will not look forward to Summer anymore..but look forward to Winter.

      12) Get used to the sound of fans whirring overhead and dispelling air around.

      13) No need to shut windows and check if they are locked each night before going to bed.

      14) Wear open toed sandals, no socks…cracked heels.

      15) Cheaper haircuts, facials and manicure- I am loving it…

      16) Too many people….claustrophobic…

      17) Yummy roadside food…

      18) Meeting friends…

      19) Jobless…for the time being…

      20) Mosquitoes.

      21) Vehicles will not stop for you when you want to cross the road.

      22) Cannot curse in Hindi…everyone knows the language :)

      23) Milkman, laundry Man, Maid…everyone ringing your doorbell (I actually did not miss this in UK, it was a pleasant change).

      24) No need to use the dryer to dry clothes..just hang them on a line…

      25) The most important – Meeting family…and getting pampered by parents and in-laws.

      I guess, the list is endless..

      My heart is heavy too…I am saying goodbye to people who have been kind and generous to me. They have been like a family in this far off place and I will miss them. I will never forget the lessons life taught me in this country and helped to become a person I am today.

      There's nothing that's so final about leaving
      Even though I know that's what you've heard
      Just like forgive, forget and try again
      Goodbye is just another word.

      - Lobo

      Wednesday, 7 July 2010

      Caption Contest 9 ‘You think you are Funny?’

      This is a caption contest ‘You think you are funny?’

      Please write a caption for the picture below

      All the Best.

      P.S: For those people who would like to know the rules, please check here.

      Sunday, 4 July 2010

      Winner of Caption Contest 8

      This is caption contest ‘You think you are funny?’

      The winner of the 8th edition of the caption contest are :

      1) Rosebelle : “Super hero and super broke, hope no one sees me doing this...”

      2) Laxmi Gopa : "You think crime doesn't pay - well neither does crime fighting."

      Congratulations !!!

      Please drop me a mail at  and I will mail you the trophy.

      Hope to see you all this Wednesday for another round of Caption Contest.

      Friday, 2 July 2010

      Things I learnt from Google and Facebook Chat


      Online Chatting is like having a conversation with someone.There is same amount of investment of emotions, time and instead of voice you are belting out your thoughts on the chat window through a keyboard. Just like in a face to face chat there are some etiquettes and rules which need to be kept in mind on an online chat.

      When I first started chatting way back in 2000, there were very few people who were into chatting and the people on my chat list was less than 10. The only person I chatted with on a regular basis at that time was my older sister who was living in USA. We did not need to follow any particular etiquettes, neither did we know any acronyms like LOL’s or ROFL. But we had fun chats which felt like actual conversations, we fought, laughed and shared our life.

      These days with the explosion of internet in every corner of the world, my chat list is bursting at the seams. The rules have changed and chat etiquettes have been forgotten. Over the years, I have seen people  bend rules and forget the basic rules of any conversation.

      These are some of the things I learnt over the years from google and facebook chat sessions:

      1) I am so busy: It is fashionable these days not to respond immediately to anyone’s ping for an online chat. Take your time to answer when someone pings you, especially when you want to show the attitude ‘I am so busy’. This is especially irritating for others when your status says you are available to chat.

      2) Not to update status: Be online on Gmail/Facebook/Yahoo and let your status declare to the world that you are as free as a bird. When someone pings you, you answer ‘In a meeting/training, cannot chat’. Let the other person feel like a fool for trying to start a conversation with you. After the meeting ignore the person who pinged you earlier, no need to offer an apology, if he wants to be in touch that sucker will ping again.

      3) Chat Requests: Send chat invites to people but do not bother to connect with them even once after they have accepted your request. If you ignore them, it shows your superiority.

      4)  No Sorry No Goodbye: When someone is chatting with you and you are bored , just stop answering, the person on the other end will wait for sometime for your response and then give up. Let him get pissed off, you can always give the excuse that you suddenly got so busy that you did not even have time to say goodbye(The same person is on your Facebook friends list and even if he/she  can see that you have been uploading  YouTube videos instead of completing the chat), it is just your choice you have no time or interest in other persons feelings. Saying sorry if you need to step away or goodbye when you end a conversation are all useless etiquettes.

      5) Never ever be the first to ping someone, especially a friend you have lost touch with, cause that will show that you are so needy.  It shows you have nothing better to do than disturbing people who are so busy and hard at work to have a friendly chat.

      6) Block off people you don’t like, but you can always unblock them when you want their help. After all everybody is selfish, you can be too.

      7) Going in an offline mode or putting your status as busy when you do not want to be disturbed is so not fashionable. People will understand on their own when you do not respond and will not ping you again.

      8) If you accidently get logged off mid conversation, you can conveniently forget that the other person is still waiting for your response and move on to updating twitter or watching a YouTube video. Especially when the other person is sharing a problem with you and you have to actually read it, also when you do not get a chance to turn the conversation in your direction and make the other person listen to your problems.

      9) You can completely ignore people you do not want to have a conversation with or if you are in a bad mood.

      10) If you are pissed off about something the other person said use words like ‘Dude’, ‘Lady’ or ‘Babes’ and then verbally beat the crap out of them. These words all make it sound so nice and cultured.

      I face such people on chat nearly everyday and I am left wondering ‘How can these people forget basic courtesy?’.  
      The thing is to remember that you can be as crude and rude as you want to be on a chat, after all the person on the other end is far far away and cannot show his anger or shout back at you.

      There are absolutely no rules to follow and if someone gets offended he can very well go fly a kite. Who needs real breathing humans with emotions  as friends when you can be happy tending to your virtual farm/fish/cafe and updating your facebook status with philosophical proverbs or stalk people on Facebook.

      P.S: Please feel free to add to this list if I might have missed something. It could become a guide for newbie chat users. 

      I have written this post in jest. This is not targeted at any particular person. If you feel bad that you have done these things to me on chat you can purge yourself by tweeting this post :P

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