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The Making Of An NRI

The Making Of An NRI

July 21, 2010

Following the life and mindset of an NRI in the making....

He is an average teenager living his life to the full extent of Indian normalcy. Playing cricket, cheating in exams, ogling at pretty girls, and constantly being harrowed by his parents about his studies. He is comfortably reared up on middle-class comforts and neither tries nor has any desire to leave his familiar town ever.

He loves English movies, the English actresses even more ...but no siree, he likes his country too much to leave it for another.

After school, the competitive parents huddle him off to nearest Engineering College, after enquiring about its annual campus selection rate of course. He braves the 4 years of ragging, back-papers, half-baked relationships, etc. with the devil-may-care attitude of a true Indian.

And yes two companies have selected him for lucrative job offers once his degree is finished. But then his mother's sister's brother-in-law's neighbor (or some “close” relation like that) has decided to send their precious son to US to complete his post-graduate degree. This has gotten his parents thinking.

My son must go, the Mother thinks.

It would help in the marriage market and we can get all the money spent on his education back as dowry. Good investment surely, the Father thinks.

So the son, who was planning to enjoy his upcoming 'earning' status, is now being shipped off to US for a Masters degree. Don’t get him wrong, he is super-excited about visiting Uncle Sam, but horror of horrors more studies awaits him there.

And the proud-almost-to-the-point-of-arrogance parents are proclaiming about it to everyone. No one is spared. Neither the jealous neighbours nor the unsuspecting milk-man. And the mother has discreetly done a puja to ward away the evil eye from her son. All this through the medium of the servant who has been sworn into secrecy with a 100 rupee note. The mother has heard hushed stories of innocent Indian boys laid to trap by the disgusting temptresses that are these 'gori' girls.

The son starts his new life in US. He is slowly learning the American ways of life and their terminology. He is learning to respond to 'Wassup' and 'Good morning'. He has learnt to answer when he is asked if he wants to upsize his MacD meals instead of ending up with too much food on his plate. He has managed to say 'Aaawesome' to most things too.

All this punctuated by regular webcam chats with his parents and emails to friends. He can’t believe how fast the Internet speeds are here. But deep down he still yearns to go back and be among his kind again.

Fast forward to graduation day and the young graduate has been offered a job at a reputed firm. The salary is a staggering amount when you convert to rupees. So naturally he agrees. Just for a while, he tells himself. After all a US returned employee would earn better in India.

Used to the material comforts of life, the once small-towner, now holder of a Masters from US is thinking of settling down in one of the metropolitan cities back home. Not his little town. Maybe the nearest city? After all it does get a little mundane without the occasional multiplex movie experience and sausages and margarine and peanut butter indulgences.

Back home, the mother is a bit worried now. She is still updating people about her son's 'Amreeki' status, but he hasn’t been back for a while. And she misses him.

The father is busy uploading his son's picture in matrimonial sites and sorting through the alliances by wealth. He can finally hear the distant ringing of cash registers.

The son meanwhile is surprised that his company boss can be called Bob instead of Sir. He is also relieved that 3 out of 5 of his colleagues are Indians. Phew!!!

Finally, father has selected a handful of suitable alliances. Wealthy girls. Must be very beautiful too, the not-so-beautiful mother has added. She has clearly not heard the proverb about throwing stones and glass houses.

The son is all geared up for his first visit back home. He has been to Walmart to buy the chocolates, emergency lamps, torches, cheap perfumes and the new mobile for Dad.

The journey back doesn’t feel so good. The 18 hour flight leaves the son in a bad mood. Happy greetings in the arrival hall and his mother's embarrassing tears is all a bit over the top. His stomach feels queasy all the way home from the jolts of the car.

Did the roads get worse than before, he asks.

It’s the rains, sahib, answers their driver of 20-odd years.

Ah, the monsoons, thinks the son joylessly.

The following week is a whirlwind of visiting prospective brides. Short ones, fat ones, pretty ones, ones who turned out way too different from their photo-shopped profile pictures. The son tries to find a combination of pretty and nice-to-talk-to. And finally the marriage gods beam down on him and he zones in on 'The One’. Horoscopes are matched, dates are fixed and marriage preparations take over.

The America-returned boy now finds himself cursing each time the electrician, the government officials and the caterers cause a delay in his meticulously laid out wedding plans.

Why can’t people be more efficient like in the US? , he thinks.

His head keeps buzzing from too much noise. He could really do with a Starbucks latte with an extra shot of espresso right now.

Shall I make you some badam milk? , the mother coos only to be answered in the negative.

Marriage rites are performed and relatives have finished gossiping about the wedding. The couple is all set to commence the journey back "home". The bride with her red bangles and mehndi filled hands contemplates her new world with wide-eyed wonder. The husband, now proudly guiding her through the escalators, elevators and sliding doors of the US airport, is thoroughly enjoying his new role.

They settle in to the early days of marital bliss. Movies, pizzas deliveries, shared tubs of ice-cream and sleeping till noon on weekends. The wife now has no intention of heading back home.

Good bye to in-laws, nosy relatives, and long-winded recipes. Hello to privacy , shopping and fast-food.

And the husband, after his whirl-wind visit to India, is not so sure himself about heading back anytime soon. He realises he had missed his Starbucks and waffles and his emails far too much. To hell to bandhs, hartals and electricity outages.

We'll stay on here till the kids are big enough.

Buying a house is always an investment. We won't be here forever, but still.

The children can’t be uprooted now; they would never adjust anywhere else.

Over the years, the excuses change, but the decision remains the same.

And like that, one more Indian ‘crosses over' to the other side - The NRI side.

Back home, the mother is cursing the day she met her sister's brother-in-law's neighbour (or some “close” relation like that) who put this idea in her mind. She is sure it’s her evil daughter-in-law who is brainwashing her beloved son. She has again resorted to a puja and sworn the servant to secrecy with 200 rupees this time to get her son back home.

The father is happy the bank accounts have been replenished by the dowry. Yes he misses his son sometimes. But he is more eager for grandchildren now. And of course he IS hoping for a grandson!


  • Prajeesh
    08.05.12 07:09 PM
    Loved it!
    Brilliant post.
  • Maria
    26.07.10 08:41 PM
    @The Indians abroad: :)
    @Gori Rajkumari : Your name has me smiling always. Innovative and whacky. And an inside peek into the whole Gori-Indian life would be indeed interesting :D
    @keerthana : This post is the story of a lot of NRI's. So glad peopel can relate to it :) Thanks for the tag. I will work on it tomorrow.
  • keerthana
    26.07.10 08:18 PM
    Oh my god! Its the story of all my friends heading to the US! :)

    N ya I'm sorry for the late reply 'bout the tag,Yeah, you've to write 'bout the same topis in your own style and you can tag as many people as you like :)
  • Gori Rajkumari
    Gori Rajkumari
    26.07.10 03:00 PM
    Another Gori like me, only from Australia. She regularly posts informative articles and the like on her Facebook page. I make it a habit to always take a look as her thirst to learn more about India perfectly matches my own.

    Here is her blog location:

    And any time you want fodder for the fuel on Gori/Desi relationships, I'm there for you! ;) lol
  • The Indians abroad
    The Indians abroad
    26.07.10 04:21 AM
    Nice flow of thoughts! :)
  • Maria
    24.07.10 09:49 PM
    @Menon: good 2 have a View point all d way from Canada. N even more better to hear many
    Of our ppl e heading back home :)
  • Maria
    24.07.10 08:49 PM
    Yes the'grass is greener in the other country' syndrome :)
  • Menon
    24.07.10 08:34 PM
    Good one Maria! Well reasoned with a touch of humor. Like the way it is narrated.

    However, few aspects sounds like a setting in a hypothetical situation. Myself being a (sort of) NRI with over 5 years outside of India, living and working in the North American and European continents, have a different perspective to it, looking from today's way of life (in India we well as in America).
    I do see lot of Indian's (especially the one's in 30's category) preferring to settle back in India, after having seen the world around. These days, with the changes in life style, luxury is affordable in India. Of-course, leaving out the other props like jealous neighbors, over attention from relatives or corrupt politicians, thinking of it from an individual's perspective, I guess India is still a destination of choice.

    This was my good morning read in Canada today and let me get into my retro mind now to think things over !!

    Keep writing. Cheers!
  • theReader
    24.07.10 06:30 PM
    "And like that, one more Indian ‘crosses over’ to the other side – The NRI side."

    Heh, funny isn't it, we only realise all that glitters is not gold after we step on to this NRI side.

    Nice :D
  • Maria
    23.07.10 08:58 PM
    @Gori, m delighted by ur comment. N intrigued wid d whole Indian guy- gori girl setup. It takes a whole lot of courage to embrace India n it's Indian-ness as u have :)
    BTW, wondering who that friend is who recommended my blog :P
  • Gori Rajkumari
    Gori Rajkumari
    23.07.10 01:40 PM
    Hi Maria!

    I found your blog as a recommendation to read from a friend of mine, and wanted to say how delighted I was with blog entry.

    It was like a good 'book' I didn't want to put down, except with your's I was hoping that the blog entry wouldn't end.

    I 'was' the disgusting temptresses that are these ‘gori’ girls who stole their already educated and working in the US on a Visa Indian boy. Now I'm the beloved bahu they can't do without, whose husband is missing the comforts of the US with full time electricity, water, good roads, less crazy drivers and no bandhs as much as his wife is. ;)

    Thanks so much for the piece, I look forward to reading your blog more often.

    ~Gori Rajkumari
  • Maria Francis
    Maria Francis
    23.07.10 07:35 AM
    @george: Yes, I suppose some aspects applies to all NRIs, just the degree will differ :)

    @restless : Thanks for visiting. Do come again ;)

    @Rashmi : Hehehe..good point. Yes, watch out for any secret transactions b/w the mum and the maid. Though keeping up with current trend, the maid might be hiking it up to Rs.250 now. 50 rupees auto charge to got to the temple for the offering..LOL

    @mahesh : Hello there! :D

    @Rishi : Rishi, you have a very good point there. Many Indians still miss their country a lot and may need to cling to their NRI lifestyles due to many avoidable circumstances. Luckily, with our growing community abroad, these days they may not feel so homesick.
  • Rishi B
    Rishi B
    23.07.10 02:54 AM
    this post doesn't fall far from the apple but not all are like that.. for some the home sickness is too much... but for guys like me... jaan chuti bhai.. bhaago

  • mahesh kumar chand
    mahesh kumar chand
    22.07.10 09:38 PM
  • Rashmi
    22.07.10 07:32 PM
    It’s good. Though the article sounds familiar (may be heard such thing from experienced one among my relatives) you kept the interest throughout the article. I would say the best part is the incremental (100 Rs to 200 Rs) bribe to God :-). It reminds me of those days when my Mom used to bless her son-in-law (my hubby) to go abroad. Now that we stay little away from India, I can guess what she might be thinking/doing :-) he..he..he
  • A restless mind with a sensitive heart
    A restless mind with a sensitive heart
    22.07.10 03:16 PM
    Hi! very nice post. nice website!

  • george
    22.07.10 11:26 AM
    Too good. Most aspects covered in such detail making it so lively. One feels that words are taken from his/her own life with characteristic humor and "arrogance".
  • Maria
    22.07.10 07:36 AM
    Oops...just a generalization of ppl I assure you :P
  • Plingal
    21.07.10 10:58 PM
    [[He has managed to say ‘Aaawesome’ to most things too.]] --> hmmmm wonder where you picked that from .. :)
  • Maria
    21.07.10 07:04 PM
    @Suresh, @Anita and @Anil : honoured by your words, dear readers! :)
    21.07.10 06:23 PM
    really good narration! awesome.
  • Anita
    21.07.10 03:07 PM
    Too good Chechi. . . Its fun reading ur posts . :)
  • suresh
    21.07.10 02:45 PM
    wow!you should write a book
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    21.07.10 12:25 PM
    Thank you :)
  • Maria Francis
    Maria Francis
    21.07.10 12:22 PM
    A fellow NRI writer and an IITian too! I am impressed :)
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    21.07.10 12:12 PM
    No, I am not an NRI but like everyone else here in India, I know a lot of them ;)

    I write for The-NRI though --
  • Maria Francis
    Maria Francis
    21.07.10 12:05 PM
    Hahaha..Jayanth. May I enquire are you an NRI yourself? :)
    Thank you for the wonderful words. I will certainly endeavour to write about the wide-eyed bride. Considering I was one such bride a couple of years ago, this should be not too difficult ;)
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    21.07.10 11:48 AM
    One of the best written articles I have ever come across in this magazine! It's funny because it is true ):)

    Yes please write the story of "The bride with her red bangles and mehndi filled hands contemplates her new world with wide-eyed wonder." in a similar fashion
  • Barnaby Haszard Morris
    Barnaby Haszard Morris
    21.07.10 07:07 AM
    Both the daughter-in-law perspective and that of someone such as yourself would be equally interesting I think.
  • Maria Francis
    Maria Francis
    21.07.10 07:03 AM
    Yes you are right. If we were to dwell upon it long enough, it's a sorry state of affairs. Hence the humour element in the narration.

    About 'she'...I am assuming its the daughter-in-law in question. Ah well! Maybe I will. But it might result in me turning a very unsightly shade of red as I write. Its a frustrating truth that Indian women are always at the receiving end of most of these so-called norms :)
  • Barnaby Haszard Morris
    Barnaby Haszard Morris
    21.07.10 06:48 AM
    Great. The cultural deconstruction aspect is particularly interesting and is completely understandable, with something of a sadness resonating through it all.

    You should do another one about who 'she' is and what 'she' goes through...

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