All About Returning To India

October 29, 2009
By

Are you an Indian settled abroad thinking of coming back to India? Read on.

First the all important question. Why do you want to move to India? Seriously. Think again.  If you are coming back because you think India is this awesome place growing at a rapid pace where you would be able to enjoy all that life (and money) has to offer, then please reconsider your decision.

If you come expecting a thousand watt halogen lamp, the hopeful candle flickering in the wind might come as a disappointment.

IMG_1154

NRI City – Greater Noida. “Bringing Singapore to India

Return to India only if you have a very solid reason that will sustain you through the transition period (and beyond), during which you will crib about everything from the traffic, pollution, corruption, cows, buffaloes, and the silly speed bump outside your house. This reason could be work, family, emotions, a hidden treasure that you left under the tree on that plot near the house, the one that has been taken up by the newest unauthorized temple in town.

Photo0005

Come back because you want to do something for the country and put your brain to the nation’s development, and you will spend a good amount of time in disillusionment before you even get started. For India will tell you that it doesn’t need you. And that’s because India takes pride in disowning ordinary NRIs. Become governor of an American state, and then come talk to us. Or at the very least win a damn Nobel.

Come back because you want your kids to be raised with Indian values, and boy will you be in for a shock? Indian kids seem to have left America somewhere behind.

To be fair, the positives of life in India are many. No more visa hassles. No worrying about going out of status. No worrying about being an alien in a foreign land. The feeling that you can go anywhere and do whatever you want – its your country. Then of course there’s the Mangoes and the Gulab Jamuns, which virtually clinched the deal for me.

India can be a lot of fun, but only if your expectations are set realistically. I  moved to India a few months back after spending half a decade in the US. I suppose my transition period is still continuing, but i am happy. I moved back to be with family, and after many years i got to celebrate a real Diwali this year. I am overjoyed!

If you do decide to take the plunge, here’s notes from my R2I (as ‘Return to India’ is affectionately referred to) experience. If you find these helpful, don’t forget to drop me some moolah in the paypal account. (I may just let you manage the huge endowment my Nigerian uncle left me last week via email.)

Here’s a little checklist of things to do before you pack your bags and fly back to India. (Hopefully you will fly Air India, and hopefully the crew will have an argument en route. Nobody provides in-flight entertainment like a messed up Air India crew.)

Have a Plan of What you are Going to do in India.

Where are you going to live? What will you eat? What will you drive? What will you DO?

This cannot be overemphasized. India is a busy country with a lot of unpleasant distractions, and without a steady occupation you could easily get bogged down by the weight of the very heavy nation.

Have a clear plan of what you will do when you get here. Find a job. Prepare a business plan if the entrepreneurship spirit tickles. Buy a farm. Find a village that you will save from drought/cruel Zamindars/ The British/Pakistan. Form an NGO.

You get the idea.

Swades

Settle your Finances.

I closed most of my credit card accounts except for the most commonly used ones. I might get them also closed now. The bank account is still open, but most of the balance has been remitted ;)

Make sure you close out all that is outstanding. Unless you are sure you will never come back to the US and have big contacts that might prevent you from getting deported from India, please don’t commit any fraud. Better still, make sure you actively find out and sort out all open issues.

Once you are gone and they are unable to trace you, your account will just go into collection and your credit will be forever ruined.

bad-credit-history

(Image courtesy – http://www.badcredithistory.org.uk/)

Settle your Apartment Lease.

Even if you can break the lease, you will likely have to give some notice period, so it might make sense to time your move around this issue, especially if you live in a big city like New york where rentals are as complicated and expensive as they are.

You could buy a little car in India for a month’s rent up in the Big Apple.

Sell your House.

If you had the good fortune of buying a house, then selling it off may be a good idea. Be sure to factor in time for the sale while planning your move.

Ship your Stuff

This one’s the fun part. Basically there’s two shipping modes. There’s ocean freight, and there’s air freight. Ocean freight goes by the container load. You can get a full container, or do an LCL (Less than Container Load) shipment. This mode is relatively cheaper, but takes a long time. A few months at the least. Dont dump all your undies in the container.

The other option is air freight. This one would typically be by the pound, and comes out to be much more expensive than ocean shipment, making it not very practical if you are shifting an entire home, furniture and all. Me, i didn’t move any furniture. Just books (lots of them), clothes, and assorted stuff. I flew them to India, and it took about 10 days end to end. Pretty neat.

I did have to go to the airport to get my shipment released and pay the duty. You get to pay a discounted duty if you can prove that you are transferring residence.  The duty officers would open all boxes in front of you, and come up with an estimate of the total value of the shipment.

There are many shipping companies whose services you could use for sending your shipment. The very helpful person from my shipping company  pointed out though that it may be much cheaper to send everything directly through the airline instead of going through the shipping company.  As in, you send via air freight directly with the airline, and take out the shipping company middleman. Somebody please try and let me know how that goes. It was too late by the time i got this info!

Do a Dress Rehearsal

Ideally, before you move back come stay in India for a month or so to get a feel of things. This is especially important if you haven’t been to India for 5-10 years. A lot has changed since those prehistoric times.

Good Luck with the Move.

Make an informed decision, and plan your move thoroughly and in advance. If you have done your homework well, things will be smooth. Otherwise a cross continent move can be a very stressful experience.

The good news is that they don’t travel by boats anymore. No one in India will be able to call you a FOB.

Some Useful Resources:

NRIOL
R2I Club Forums – This forum was a blessing. Any question that you have about the move has probably already been asked here. If not, then there are people more than willing to help out.
GaramChai’s R2I forums
NeoIndian’s 40 resources to plan your move to India
Ashish’s initial post before the move, and the one year followup!
This blog by Mahipal who is going to move to India in 2010, and already planning the move.

73 Responses to “ All About Returning To India ”

  1. neo on October 29, 2009 at 12:49 am

    Great post! My pet peeve about India (and what I miss most about the US) is – the lack of open spaces for kids to play, and public libraries. The answer to these (and so many other ;-)) issues is to just send the kids off to their grandparents’ house, which is what I love most about India. :-)

    • Ash on May 10, 2011 at 10:27 pm

      I am going back to Kashmir. Still not sure what to do there but I fear I might miss London a lot. :( I hope not!

  2. gauri on October 29, 2009 at 2:45 am

    Can one say you’re settled, AD? Have you gone at least 3 consecutive days without being conscious of having moved back, or being reminded of anything in the US? :)

    I should bookmark this post for reference; very nicely put together. Again, good luck with everything :)

    g

    PS: I like the tagline!

  3. Philip on October 29, 2009 at 6:01 am

    thanks buddy. much needed when i plan my R2I.

    and ya, the mangoes are the biggest pull back to India and not to count the hyderabadi biryani. Yummmyy.

  4. amreekandesi on October 29, 2009 at 8:50 am

    @neo – Thanks!

    @Gauri – On the contrary, i have gone 4 months without missing anything from my past life.

    I am well and truly settled in India; just wanted to share my experience with others who may be contemplating the move.

    @Philip – :)

  5. prerna on October 29, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Very well written and can’t disagree with anything. Not qualified to comment about anything written about USA but I can add a few things about your stay in India.
    1.Don’t complain too much about India when you are with ordinary Indian mortals- the moment any NRI complains about India he is a snob trying to show off. I am sure they all know that most of what you say is true yet hypocrisy rules.
    2. All Indians are brothers and sisters except for the NRI who always talks about the good times he has had in US. There may be quite a few who want to migrate if given a chance yet they will debate like Manoj Kumar of Purab aur Paschim when an NRI says something against India.
    3. Last but most important, if you can survive the first few years, there is no place like home. I know many people who left India decades ago and now after their parents are no more and their links with India are gradually weakening they are not happy even though they are doing very well in the country of their choice.

    • Sudhamsu Josyam on September 14, 2010 at 4:36 am

      Hi Prerna

      Very nicely written. Its almost an year you have posted your comment but to appreciate a comment it doesnot matter about the time frame, or thats what I personally think :-)

      1st point of your post is most appropriate and i have seen many who belong to this category :-). 3rd point in your post is really nice and touching

      best wishes

  6. Poonam on October 29, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Quite a comprehensive moving across countries guide :)

  7. Usha on October 29, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    If you approach the issue rationally, R2I isn’t a good idea. Despite all the PR about India shining things haven’t moved all that much here. Unless there are strong emotional reasons to keep you going.

    • mona on November 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      we been USA from 35 years and studied her both me and my hubby. very successful but now children is aproblem. young daughter may marry white or spanish or whomever but non Indian and we feel helpless. since our son is yet young want to avoid this and run away India. Our daugter speak very good guju, veggi,enjoy India and wonderful but that is around us at school she is ….

  8. The Quirky Indian on October 29, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Dont dump all your undies in the container.

    Guess you learnt the hard way! :-)

    Cheers,

    Quirky Indian

  9. Kavi on October 29, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    That sure must be some sound advice for anyone who wants to make the move ! I wonder if i was in their shoes…if i would read beyond the Gulab Jamuns and the mangoes !

    :)

  10. Global Voices Online » India: Information For NRIs on October 29, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    […] Desi has some practical information for the non resident Indians who are trying to go back to their motherland to settle there. […]

  11. saachi on October 29, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Very apt and practical.

  12. Karan Kapoor on October 30, 2009 at 5:32 am

    Thanks a lot for this post.

  13. Sri on October 30, 2009 at 6:45 am

    I have decided to move in next 2 months. Unlike Amreekan desi I live Down Under and trust me Melbourne is a good place (and no I didnt get bashed in the last 6yrs, lucky me!).
    Makes it bit more harder considering unlike US/UK, Aus economy is not floating in the toilet :)
    No wife, kids or mortgage to worry about, so should be easier I hope..
    Only problem is I am hopeful of doing something more interesting and don’t have a Noble or few millions from venture capital!

  14. amlistening on October 30, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Good summary. I know such posts come in really handy when one is in US and has to plan about migrating. I know I did some googling and calling to friends who had moved back to India and made checklists. Its nice to have a medium that carries practical useful information without one having to answer questions about why are you…and so on.

    On a separate note, I never realized that the transition would be more than just physical. Not counting the infrastructure problems you listed that we face in India, because one does face problems even back in US but its that shift that ones mind and conscious makes.
    I saw a movie sometime back about how people coming back from Iraq war face problems settling back. Ofcourse this is not that dramatic :) but I realize ones mind and our sub conscious existence takes a while to settle anywhere, even if you come back where you have been living all through. Good part is I have a big family here that cares and I care for.
    Loved coming back.
    Welcome back to you too

  15. Roshni on October 31, 2009 at 1:31 am

    I went to India beginning of this year hoping to find (more) reasons to go back….I could not find the old India that I knew. I can deal with the pollution and dust and crowds..that was my India. But I could not deal with the yuppie crowd I saw who go to Cafe Coffee day and down $$ coffees everyday and don’t think much about spending another $$$$$ on a night on the town! In America, we appear to live much more conservative, Indian-value lives than what I saw back in India!!
    At the same time, America is still not India. Truly, I am now the dhobi ka kutta!!!

    • JJ on September 15, 2010 at 12:23 pm

      @roshni….so true friend!! feels like life has deceived us big time. :)

    • dolphin on February 9, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      Roshni, cant agree more with u…so perfectly said “dhobi ka kutta” we too were in US for 6 long yrs, had 2 kids thr. god know wot got into our minds and we came back to India. Now I cant wait to go back but cant since we were on H1 visa and my husband changed his company where he has to manage asian countries. Now goin back to US is only a dream. Thats why come back to India only if u have a solid reason. India has por infrastructure, everyday ppl. from rural places migrate to urban places carrying all sorts if diseases like polio for eg. Please guys staying in US if u miss India so much , pls try to visit India for a few days every year but pls for the sake of kids dont settle down here, its not how it was 1o yrs ago. Its only getting worst.

  16. Puneet on November 1, 2009 at 3:26 am

    I guess everyone has different expectations from the R2I, depending on when you left the country, why you left it and how well you’ve kept a tab on it while you were away. But the one thing I notice most about people wanting to move back is that they’re often surprised by what they find – in good and bad ways, I guess. Most of them are going back to a country that doesn’t exist anymore, or, at the very least, has been irreversibly altered in some way or the other. I think your post does a great job of showing people what they can expect, and what they can’t.

    Keep writing!

  17. amreekandesi on November 1, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    @Prerna – Thanks for adding those points. Like you said, had i raised those points I would have been that horrible NRI who doesnt deserve to be in India. In an earlier post i was already asked to leave the country by a reader!

    @Poonam – Thanks!

    @Usha – Precisely the point i am making. The mind will tell you that this is not the best decision to make, but the heart will tell you otherwise. Well, not for everybody.
    If the heart doesnt pine for India, then maybe you shouldnt move back.

    @QI – haha…not really. I took care of that issue!

    @Kavi – Indeed. Isnt that already such a huge reason to make the move?

    @Saachi – Glad you agree. I was hoping to get comments from people like you who have made the move themselves!

    @Karan – Welcome to Amreekandesi!

    @Sri – Welcome to Amreekandesi! Good luck with the move.

    @AmListening – Agree. The R2I move does require an open mind and the willingness to adapt to the new lifestyle.

  18. amreekandesi on November 1, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    @Roshni – That sums up the dilemma every NRI faces. He tries to create an India in the country of his choosing, and on going to India finds that the India that he knew is no longer there.

    @Puneet – Thanks for the kind words. And yes, the key is being realistic about what you want from your R2I, else you could be in for some very rude surprises.

  19. Dinesh on November 3, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Very handy information for all those returners! Sure the experience is different in both countries and there are good and bad. If you ask me, I will be glad to move to India but I will also feel bad for leaving US. You will always have the coin with two sides, u will has likes and dislikes.

  20. amreekandesi on November 3, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    @Dinesh – Very true. There are many positives of life in the US, and also many negatives. Similarly for India!

  21. Kiran on November 4, 2009 at 4:14 am

    I was waiting for you to publish a comprehensive guide to move! Finally :)
    This would come in handy for sure. Thanks!

  22. Dinesh on November 4, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    AD, also can u write an article about services in India. Like Choosing a Mobile Phone, Internet, Cable TV and so on and so forth. That will also be very helpful.

  23. Saro on November 6, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Nice web site. I agree that people should return back to India only if they have strong reasons

  24. priya majithia on November 9, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Hello,
    you have summed up quite well, I say.
    At present woking on a news articles on NRIs retuning to India. Would you want to comment on that?

  25. karthik on November 11, 2009 at 3:51 am

    Hi,
    This one is really goood. Loved reading it.., was as though i was really planning my THE INDIA TRIP . Thank you for the article.
    By the way I am from Las Vegas.

  26. amreekandesi on November 11, 2009 at 8:27 am

    @Kiran – Thanks!

    @Dinesh – Sure. I can write that up :)

    @Saro – Welcome to Amreekandesi!

    @Priya – Sure. Do let me know what you need from me. (contact@amreekandesi.com)

    @Karthik – Welcome to Amreekandesi. Thanks for the appreciation!

  27. Paarth on November 27, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    All the things you mentioned/ advised are correct as home is home. After completing your desires and purposes in foreign land most people miss their native home and family and this what you did too :)

  28. Benji on November 28, 2009 at 3:03 am

    That’s really good advice. I didn’t know there were a lot of people seriously considering moving to India. It’s always good to have someone like you around who aren’t afraid to tell people the hard truth.

  29. Ravi on November 30, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    V. Good site indeed! Does anybody have any experience of moving with the kids in their teenage? Do they settle well?

  30. Akshay on December 16, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    “Like you said, had i raised those points I would have been that horrible NRI who doesnt deserve to be in India. In an earlier post i was already asked to leave the country by a reader!”

    I see I’m mentioned here :D

    Well I don’t know in what sense everyone took it, but I was merely trying to say it’s very easy to pontificate and pass judgments on “problems”, very difficult to bring about a change.There are people who do try, and we should try and encourage them instead of acting like these modern day Bhagat Singhs.
    It was a very general comment, I wonder since when did an appeal for more sanity and objectivity , albeit a bit strong became construed as anti-NRI-ism.
    Anyway this is a nice post, I know people abroad who are thinking of returning…maybe they’ll find this useful…

    Regards

  31. dinesh on December 21, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks for nice information
    and it is indeed good advice for those in doldrums to shift to india , it is mind set that is very important to take firm decision,halfway does breed conflict.IS MONEY EVERYTHING —no—those who long for you, wait for you. matter you most are equally important to decide to return back. one should feel happiness in caring for those as they will stand with you in distress and smile on their faces will lit your life for ever .ok —all the best.

  32. amreekandesi on December 21, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    @Ravi – Not me! Not having to worry about kids being able to adjust was one less thing for me to worry about :)

    @Akshay – Welcome back! Let’s let bygones be bygones. I understand your sentiment, but you used some strong words earlier which probably were not required. Anyway, no harm done, and i look forward to seeing you around here :)

    @Dinesh – Welcome to Amreekandesi!

    Indeed, money isn’t everything, like you said. Being home is a completely different feeling altogether, one that no developed nation can provide!

  33. RAJINDER on December 31, 2009 at 12:14 am

    i agee with you as home in own land is always very sweet to live in
    .Nice post.
    keep it up

  34. RAJINDER on December 31, 2009 at 12:29 am

    I agree with you as home in own land is always very sweet to live in.
    Nice post.
    Keep it up.

  35. […] More significantly, there was the return of the prodigal son to the land of Snake charmers and Elephants. You know who i am talking about. Me. […]

  36. […] More significantly, there was the return of the prodigal son to the land of Snake charmers and Elephants. You know who i am talking about. Me. […]

  37. AajPruned « Avant Garde Bloggies Awards on February 1, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    […] All about Returning to India […]

  38. RAJINDER on February 1, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS AND BEST OF LUCK FOR NEXT POSTS

  39. […] All about Returning to India […]

  40. Sharon on April 23, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Thanks for sharing your views. All the things mentioned by you are true to my belief as your native land is where you belong to.

    Cheers to India and all Indians!!!

  41. International shipping on September 1, 2010 at 7:57 am

    This a very useful and informative post- thanks for sharing! There are a lot of (sometimes complicated) things to consider- finances, international shipping, selling your house- but I think it’s important to have a good plan and organise everything properly before taking the plunge!

  42. Monty on September 19, 2010 at 3:29 am

    Hiya, I really enjoyed reading this wonderful blog. I have been living in the UK past 14 years and India is always been my dream.

    As they correctly say, “You can take man out of a village but can’t take village out of a man”. I have a mortgage free house and a huge commercial property to start my own life long ambition business. However (hold your heart) here is the BIGGEST issue. My wife although she loves India (including food, pollution, cows etc) would not leave her family behind in the UK and come with me under ‘any’ circumstances. Unfortunately, we have a 6 years daughter who absolutely adores India….dilemma is what should I do now?

  43. mona on February 5, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Me and my husband are 49 and 52 yrs. old as soon as our children settle down we want to return india but reason is little strange. All the parents of our friends are slowly in nursing home. We both are very afraid of it. We had a discuss with children who are bourn here and they see nothing wrong in nursing home. I rather die than going in nursing home. We have money I will hire people and get some love and die in my home than nursing home.

  44. Andrea on February 9, 2011 at 3:31 am

    I am Down Under too and want to go back. Feels like my career is at a standstill. Parents are another reason I want to return. But am I stupid in trying to find jobs for both my hubby and me before we move?

  45. mahesh on February 20, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Aptly written.. man, you have a flair for writing!

  46. Hilary on May 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I love reading blogs/articles about planning a move back to India. I haved lived in the UK for 5 long years and have had 2 kids whilst here.Before settling here I always knew I would want to return to India and have never stopped dreaming about it. I thought perhaps buying a house here, having a car and having my 2 kids will settle me into my new life in rhe Uk, but the feeling of going back home never disappeared. Everytime my family visited me from India I went through a spell of being really homesick. Finally, this year after my sister visited, I decided enuf was enuf and it was time to return. Ive only got my mum left as my sis is in the gulf and I think time is going by and people I loved are dying, friends getting married and I’ve missed so much. I have never really fitted into the UK culture even though my husband is BRITISH and my in laws are lovely. SO we have our house up on the market for sale and I hope to be back in India by next year. Wish me luck readers. I truly believe that home is where the heart is, and mine never really left India. I’d rather have a shorter but more fulfilling life in India. I cant wait for my kids and husband to get used to our lazy life. I too accept there will be problems in India but would rather face the problems there than to be in a foreign land.In all my 5 yrs of living here I have never Called the UK my home.I always refer to Pune as my home. Money is not everything, it comes down to the small day to day things in which yiu find true happiness, and for me I know I once had it and once again hope to find it in India.

    For all those planning to return, if your heart is there just go for it. Tomorrow might be too late. Im taking my 3 yr old and 1 yr old and my English husband to a place thats not perfect but definitely more fulfilling :)

    Good Luck everyone. WE need to encourage those that are in doubt :)

  47. Richie on May 12, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Great article indeed. I live in the UK and there’s something missing in this article i would like to add. I went to India (Delhi) last in March with the viewpoint of considering to settle back in India. I was held back at the costs!! India has become terribly expensive. I bought my house in London for £170,000, (about 1.5cr) with garden, fully fitted and two bedrooms. I’m sorry but i can’t find anything similar for that price in India! I had business plans but again opening a business in India has proved out to be more expensive than opening a business in the UK. I know life is easier with the naukar chaakar and all but they sit on your head and bloody stare at you for nothing. Ideally i would not have servants when i finally move back to India but surely not for now, its out of my reach and super inflated.

  48. James on June 13, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    I think that all the Indians all over the world should return to India. Instead, they try to move India to other countries. India is a very class/stratified society. Most people move because they arent able to move upward, they are fed up with corruption and they dont like living in a slum. Unfortuneatly, Indians recreate exactly what they have left wherever they go. They scam, they try to create a class system with themselves at the top and the neighborhoods they move into become overcrowded and turn into slums. I think that given their qualifications and work ethic, they would far better enhance India than try to sell the multiculturalism BS to the rest of the world.

  49. Edward on August 22, 2011 at 4:06 am

    I have been in Canada for 11 years but have always considered India my home and miss it a lot. I go every year in December on holidays and this urge to go back in costing me quite a bit. I would love to move back, but have a great government job, already 48 years old and realize getting a job in India is no easy task being that companies there are very age conscious.I don’t care about the dust and the dirt, but a decent steady source of income is what every one needs.I am sure many Indians are stuck in this dilemma…How do you go back and enjoy the same standard of living that you presently have.

  50. Rajinder on August 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Because of the positon/the post and the money value attached to the job one enjoys abroad, one ought to have enough money in the banks, which can be utilised for buying a decent house in india for comfortable living and also for spending rest of the life in easy way with their nears and dears and also, one can keep busy in one or the other ways to earn and live happily, provided one wants to.It is the will that matters.
    loving to come back to india but aspiring for the standards as enjoyed in canada is just like keeping one’s legs in two boats.

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All content on this site is the personal opinion of the writer. It is in no way related to their employer or their official policies. Most of what is written here is in a satirical tone. If it hurts your sensibilities, I sincerely apologize.
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