Return to India - Initial Thoughts

June 15, 2009

Last week your favorite blogger moved back to India after spending some many happy years in the United States, adding another dreamy returnee to the reverse brain drain statistic, assuming my brain hasnt evaporated already in the superheated Delhi.

You may ask - why? What the falooda is wrong with me?

I’d say I was missing the safeda mango too much. In the few days I have been in town, I have used up half the city’s supply of Mango. There have been days when I had Mango for breakfast. Only Mango.

Mango Mango king of fruits
How I have missed you.

You are awesome
You are juicy
Without you I was so messed up
I was turning all goofy

As for the US, it is an amazing country. The people are warm and friendly, and happily accept so many immigrants in their midst, in spite of all the cultural and social differences. I wonder if India could ever be so welcoming to outsiders, despite the oft touted atithi devo bhava.

Right now the US may be going into a protectionist mode with all the measures being taken to protect local jobs, but then that’s a different story.

Anyway, protectionism wasn’t the reason I came back. I have happy memories of my time in the country, and am forever grateful for all that I gained in these past years. All, except for the pounds that seem to keep piling up.

Coming back had always been my intention. The plan was to get my education, get some experience, and head back while avoiding getting sucked up into the n+1 syndrome where people keep pushing their return by a year to achieve yet another milestone, and soon their is no turning back.

India may be hot, India may be poor, but it is where I belong. I can go anywhere and do anything without the nagging concerns that come with being an alien in an increasingly paranoid America. I don’t have to worry about visa issues anymore. I don’t have to wonder if i will be able to reenter the US if i go on a cruise to the Bahamas. I don’t have a work permit to restrict me anymore. I can do whatever the hell i want to do with my life.

Professionally India seems very appealing with similar work and salary levels that have risen dramatically since a few years ago. My new employer made a generous offer which helped push me towards the final decision.

Besides, I have had these images of a progressive India that actually cares. Whether this was a mirage or for real, I am in the process of finding out.

Here’s an incredulous observation from week 1. Very likely the first of many more to come.

When I moved to the US, I used to calculate prices in rupees to get some sense of what is costly and what is not. Nowadays everything is so expensive in India, I find myself converting local prices to dollars, and am mostly horrified that in dollar terms, stuff here is priced comparable to US prices.

If you start going by the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), India sometimes seems more expensive than America!

That, and the fact that the Yamuna is no more. Not in Delhi at least.

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37 Responses to “ Return to India - Initial Thoughts ”

  1. Hindi Radio on June 15, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Welcome Back buddy! even I am one of the persons who have come back to the homeland and sattle back to my land. Yes you are right it is crowdy and noisy but what ever it is. it is my land and I am too much happy living here. I was iving in US with the same dream as you had as to come back to my land. You take this decision today and I took it one year back. Yes agreed the India is not managed as US and not rich as well but India is India. You can do what ever you do and you dont need to have any restrictions like work permit and other legal stuff. Once again I would like to say “East or West India is the best” (at least for me) :)

  2. Hindi Radio on June 15, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    My initial exp. after coming to India : after living in US for some years I was not at all able to set my self in Indian environment. when i landed to airport from than only I start feeling real India too much noisy and dirty. After coming home I right away took out my dad’s car and left for hotspots I used to visit often in the city. I made a mistake in the next street to drive it right hand side. but no worries nobody there to watch me or to ticket me ;). than constant horns on the road and too much noisy atmosphere. So initially it was too much tough for me to settle for atleast a day. But my mind was clear and I wanted to stay here only. on this 20th june it will be exact 1 year I landed in India, believe me I have settle my self and living happily with my mom, dad and wife. :)

    • vadakkus on January 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm

      You break traffic rules consciously and are proud of it too?? #Fail! Yeah, this ‘this is India and I can do whatever I want’ attitude is exactly what sets the country back! Half of the jams in Bangalore are caused by people breaking all sorts of rules. Grow up!

  3. Roshni on June 15, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    well, congratulations! You made it! Looks like the mangoes at least have met your expectations! ;)
    You’re right about the conversion thing! I stopped buying things in India (“coz they’ll be cheaper here than in US”) and I know most of my friends and relatives too have stopped stocking up their suitcases with clothes from India coz its actually much more expensive! One of my friends actually went to buy a milk bottle brush and started laughing when she heard that it cost Rs 150!!! It costs a dollar here!
    Anyway, keep posting….this is really interesting!

  4. Solilo on June 15, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    AD, Are any Mangoes left? :D

    Good to know that you are doing well and happy back home.

  5. Philip on June 15, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Mangoes are just one reason enough for anyone to come back to India. As a voracious eater of the fruit, i have been literally starved of it in my 8 years here in S’pore. Someday, i will be back and then…. there will be an artificial shortage of mangoes in India :D

    The only other thing am worried about is the heat. Hyd can go upto 45 degrees sometimes during summer. Am dying to manage the 36 degrees heat here in S’pore.

  6. Vinod Sharma on June 15, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Welcome back. Now we know why mango prices are high this year! As to prices, you will find that a lot of things are still pretty cheap here. You only have to discover/re-discover the right places to get them from!

  7. amlistening on June 16, 2009 at 5:00 am

    -Dust: is a sideeffect of construction(we are still a developing country)
    -Noise: of high population density
    -High temperature: is good for you mango lovers as more the heat, better the mangoes

    All said and done, am glad to be back “Home”.
    and am glad to see rays of hope.
    Btw My favorite are the apples :)

  8. The Quirky Indian on June 16, 2009 at 8:53 am

    You’re right, the prices are scary! And here’s some news: that nullah that runs along the Ring Road from Noida Mod to Lal Quila…..yes, that little dirty trickle…that’s the Yamuna…..unless it’s completely dried up in the heat!


    Quirky Indian

  9. Pallets Wholesale on June 16, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Excellent observations and you have a great way of expressing things. Thanks for this.

  10. Mahendra on June 16, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Join the club and best of luck!

  11. Dinesh on June 16, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    You are right, inspite of all the disadvantages you can think of in India, that is where we belong. That is where we are free to do anything and everything, our motherland. Very inspiring tale especially with the mangoes! As you said the prices have skyrocketed though. It is not the old India where you could have a nice tasty sumptuous meal for 30 rupees in a very decent restaurant, not anymore! I certainly love the things I can do in India and I do love the hot/warm weather of South India all around the year!

  12. kavi on June 16, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Welcome back ! And am glad you had a go at the mangoes before the rains took them away !

    And hey, like i said earlier, it is indeed a tough decision to take. Looks like you have taken it well. And just as you soak up this country, all over again, am sure you will do with a lens of what makes the comeback worthwhile !!

    And as the Yamuna dries up and as the traffic soars, we live in a small planet. After all !

  13. Ritesh on June 16, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Dude!

    As I said in my previous comments, I am fairly new to your blog, but I was eagerly waiting for your first post regarding moving back to India. Congratulations on the move! I am in a very similar situation as you were, but waiting to pull the trigger! ( X = X +1 syndrome). I am visiting India next month and going to seriously look around (not for job, but just overall situation). Yes, I am also very tired of restrictions about travel, job-change, immigration policies etc etc. I have to go for H1B stamping in 3 weeks and I am already spending sleepless nights. Greencard is still a looooooooong lost dream and I am sick of being stuck in the immigration limbo.

    But again, as you said, even I am glad that I got an opportunity to study, work and enjoy life in the US.

    Can’t wait to see more posts about your R2I. Good luck!

    One question for you - did you find the job before or after moving to India?

    What’s for desert? More Mangoes?? ;)


  14. amit on June 16, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    I am missing mangoes too! Everytime I call up mom, she is asking me the same question - Aam khaya? :| She knows very well that I don’t even get Mango Juice here! :(
    And, after being outside India just for four months, I break into cold sweat when I think of how I am going to fit in back, So I can understand what you might be going through. ;)
    And, Yamuna is there! There is a thin black stream which divides East Delhi from the rest of Delhi. That is Yamuna! :P

  15. Indyeah on June 16, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Welcome back!
    Half the mangoes of Delhi? all gone? :D

    plss do leave some for us folks :P

    Delhi is so hot :( waiting for the monsoons now..

    the Yamuna?you can still see it?
    I can never make out which one’s the nullah and which one’s the river..

    oh wait !! the govt had put up the barbed wire fence to stop people from throwing in trash(didnt make any diff) so maybe that is the Yamuna.. :P

  16. Smitha on June 17, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Oh! You are making me jealous now :) I am literally counting days when I can say the same - that I am back home :) Mangoes you’ve eaten it all up - no wonder all the mangoes we find here are droopy and sick looking this year :)

    You are right about the PPP. Sometimes India feels much more expensive - even that the UK… We had the same experience when we shopped in India too.. Especially if you shop in malls..

  17. Chikki on June 17, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    “I wonder if India could ever be so welcoming to outsiders”

    No! The reason I believe is the innate insecurity and inferiority complex that most Indians have.They express it through shouting out aloud ‘We are the best’ ‘Our culture is the best’ blah blah!

    “When I moved to the US, I used to calculate prices in rupees to get some sense of what is costly and what is not.”

    I believe, everyone who lives outside India can relate to this statement of yours. When I moved to Singapore, I would multiply everything by 33 :), very soon I realised I can’t be doing this and living here and had to get over it and accept the local prices. When I went back to India, I was dividing everything by 33 and was like ‘wooooww” .. I can so afford 10 of these..:)!!

  18. Vijay on June 17, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Hey..welcome back..

  19. dinu on June 17, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    welcome home !

  20. Reema on June 18, 2009 at 6:45 am

    Welcome back!!

  21. amreekandesi on June 18, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    @Hindi Radio - Thanks for sharing your experiences. Glad you adjusted well, and hope i too will get used in time to how India operates!

    @Roshni - Thanks. And the mangoes are great. As for India being expensive, maybe we will have to start the reverse trade route - come from the US with suitcases full of clothes and other stuff!

    @Solilo - Thanks - i am doing alright for now. Waiting for the next lot of Mangoes ;)

    @Philip - Dont worry. I will eat your share of Mangoes till you get back. As for the heat, it is a problem, but maybe in a few years mankind will invent little bubbles of portable air conditioning that will keep you away from the heat ;)

    @Vinod - Thanks. And thanks for pointing out that all hope isn’t lost yet! I guess it is the multinational chains around MNC offices that sometimes forget that they are in India ;)

    @AmListening - :)

    @QI - The great thing about the state of the Yamuna is that the Delhi Govt didn’t have to spend a single rupee towards reclaiming all that land. Now maybe they can build a few more flyovers/swanky offices on all that prime land!

    @Mahendra - Thanks!

    @Dinesh - Good to see you think on similar lines. As for Rs 30 - the other day i tipped a guy Rs 10 and later on was so embarrassed to find out that Rs 10 means nothing in India. It barely buys anything!

  22. amreekandesi on June 18, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    @Kavi - Thanks! And yes, you had me worried when you said earlier that there are no more Mangoes ;)
    I am still settling in. Learning to do things the Indian way!

    @Ritesh - Thanks. Nothing makes my day more than comments like yours. I would be happy to help with notes on the India move, should you get closer to the decision.

    As for the job search, i had an offer before i moved. Some companies will complete the interview process remotely, but many others insisted on meeting me face-to-face before making a decision, which was a deal-breaker for me. I was lucky that the company i was targeting was cool about me interviewing remotely.

    @Amit - Really, you are worried about adjusting in India after only a few months!? I have been here only a week, and already almost feel like i never went away!

    @Indyeah - Thanks!


    @Smitha - :P
    So are you also planning on returning to India?

    As for Mangoes, in my experience the Mexican mangoes we got in New york were a waste of money, but the Haitian mangoes were very close to the real deal. Not sure if you get those in UK.

    @Chikki -

    “When I went back to India, I was dividing everything by 33 and was like ‘woooww” .. I can so afford 10 of these..”

    I think the way Indian prices are going, that number is going to drop a long way from 10! ;)

    @Vijay - Thanks!

    @Dinu - Thanks!

    @Reema - Thanks!

  23. Smitha on June 18, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    We plan to return in 2 years time - before daughter turns 5 :)

    Mangoes - we get proper Indian mangoes :) We used to get a great variety in London - not so much here in Leeds :(

  24. some body on June 18, 2009 at 2:15 pm


    good riddance. ok ok… just kidding. have fun. but you do need to worry - i’ve finished all mangoes in bengalooru, so all you can get is the sour langda variety there.

    - s.b.

  25. Nita on June 19, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Good to hear you have come back AD. Had no idea you were planning this move. I guess settling in a big city will help you adjust the change in lifestyle. But it looks like you love India and have a strong sense of belonging. So you will soon start loving it! :) And will you now become Indiandesi if there is such a term?
    Oh yes, mangoes! I do that with mangoes. Go loony. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Alphonso ofcourse.

  26. Shivya on June 22, 2009 at 3:37 am

    :D Welcome back to India! Lucky you :) That calls for a change of your blog title right?

  27. Deepa on June 24, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    hey everyone..I am a 27 yrs old software prof…thinking of moving back to India (New Delhi) due to aging parents…have been in the US for 9 yrs now…really worry a lot about the work culture and fitting in there…do ppl at work pace have a prejudice against those who are US returned? I was only 18 when I came to the US…so really anxious about my move…

  28. Desi on June 27, 2009 at 4:37 pm


    Yes Deepa there is a big difference in culture. As soon as you land at the airport we will be ready to grope you .. hahaha !

  29. Mampi on July 2, 2009 at 2:26 am

    somehow i had lost you somewhere. long time now that i logged on to twitter and re-found you. will not lose you now. added u to my blogroll.

  30. nichol on July 6, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Excellent post! I really enjoyed reading it. I will be back for more!

  31. indian76 on July 12, 2009 at 6:51 pm


    It was nice to read your post.
    However, may I ask how many years you stayed in US before making decision to move back?
    Was the decision based on economic conditions or lay off situation?

    It might be a more difficult decision for someone who has recently moved in to H-1 status and doesn’t have the financial savings to lead a very comfortable life in India.

    There could be financial burden/loan type situation. What you guys suggest?

    Looking for thoughts!

  32. 1.5 Generation Indian on September 13, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    I moved back here after many years in the States. It’s been just over two years now and I can say i’m finally starting to get used to living here again. But I was in the US much longer than you. Will add your blog, good to read experiences from people who have returned.

  33. sahil khan on November 26, 2009 at 1:57 am

    india rocks! and i’m sure india is very warm to outsiders. in fact, only outsiders. have you seen how friendly we behave when a ‘gora’ comes our way and just the opposite when a brown skinned one does so? give it a thought.

  34. Stormy on January 13, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    I don’t drop many comments, however after reading a few of the responses here Return to
    India - Initial Thoughts | AmreekanDesi. I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s
    allright. Is it simply me or does it appear like a few of the remarks appear like they are left by brain dead individuals?
    :-P And, if you are writing on additional social sites, I would like to follow everything new you have to post.
    Would you list of every one of your public pages like your linkedin profile,
    Facebook page or twitter feed?

    • amreekandesi on January 16, 2014 at 12:15 am

      haha thanks. Glad to have made a new fan. As for me, i am everywhere - Twitter, Facebook, Quora, Google+. You can take your pick. While at it, you could also check out my book, again titled Amreekandesi. Comes with a special offer of a dozen karma points :)

      All links readily available on the blog.

  35. Meenakshi on April 22, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Hi, thanks for this blog. Does any one want to share experience what happens to studies for children when you plan for such bold move of moving back?
    I am keenly looking to come back to Delhi from UK however not sure if my year 5 son will be able to manage studies in delhi. any pointers - please comments, Thanks,Meenakshi

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