Thursday, October 27, 2011

Relocating to India: More a mindset!

For those of you -who haven't been following the thoughts shared by Brijesh Nair, who has been blogging very prolifically for years now, before and after returning to India-and settling down in Vellore-here is an interesting debate that he introduces us to!!

After I wrote “Read This if You Have Plans to Relocate to India from US Ever” I came across two articles – one written by Sumedh Mungee in New York Times and a reply to that by famous Indian writer Chetan Bhagat - that underlines what I wrote in my blog about "mindset" that is essential for those who are relocating to India. In the first article, Sumedh narrates why he could not adjust his life in India after his return from US and his reasons to return back to US in less than 3 years. Chetan Bhagat in this article recounts his experiences once he relocated to India and how he made India a better place to live for him and his family.
Here are few excerpts from the article of Sumedh Mungee
…after being away for eleven years (I grew up in Mumbai), I was prepared for Indiato feel less like home and more like the flight’s “Indian vegetarian meal”: visually familiar but viscerally alien.
Our daughter attended a preschool in Bangalore whose quality matched any in the Bay Area. Our three-bedroom flat in Defence Colony, Indiranagar, was so comfortable and so American-friendly that my friends called it the Green Zone.
Three months after our return, after a friend told me that his two children were sick with amoebiasis — he thought they got it from their maid — my wife and I designated a separate set of dinnerware for our maids. It’s more hygienic.
Within six months, I’d brusquely refused my driver an emergency loan of 500 rupees ($10) to attend his grandmother’s funeral. I’d learned my lesson after our previous driver scammed me into paying for his son’s broken leg (as it turned out, he had no son). It only encourages them to ask for more; besides, they’re all liars.
What does this tells you after reading all these? The author had the “mindset” of an American and is not ready to give up that “mindset” even after relocating to India. His mindset wanted everything American in India and failed miserably and has to go back to US.
Now some excerpts from Chetan Bhagat’s article
We had another set of two maids. One of them is another young girl, around 20 years old from a village in Ratnagiri. I told her she has to learn something. She chose English and found a set of classes near the house. Everyone opposed me again. I told her to go ahead anyway. She has joined classes. She has not run away. This morning she said to me in slow but perfect English “Bhaiya, would you like your breakfast”, smiled and I felt it was worth it.
In my house, nobody is allowed to call the maids servants. We call them helpers, the kids call them ‘Didi's’. There is no question of separate cutlery. They eat what we eat, and are paid enough that they can afford good clothes, soap and shampoo that the hygiene standards are at par with us.
My elder maid has kids in Bangalore. Every summer, we call them to our house to live with us. They play with my kids, with their toys. When we go to Bangalore, my kids spend a day in her house. They haven’t fallen sick because of it. Whenever she wants leave, if it is reasonable, we send her home. Every week, both maids have a day off. Every Diwali, we give them a bonus and a raise, given the high inflation rates. This year, I had a new book which did well, hence the bonus will be bigger.
Now Chetan Bhagat came back to India from Hong Kong with the “mindset” to live like an Indian in India and also to put into practice some good things he learned abroad. One needs to have a “mindset” like Chetan Bhagat if you have to successfully relocate to India. Otherwise you will be like Sumedh Mungee and in no time will be in an Indian airport to catch a flight back to US.

So what are your thoughts after reading both the articles?
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Pravin K said...

Chetan Bhagat got brickbats for that. Most men leave dealing with maids to their wives for good reason. They are no good at it. India is a poor country and these maids and drivers would not be ready to work for so little would they have been educated or found a better livelihood. This is their livelihood. But India for its per-capita is an expensive nation with high inflation and everyone has aspirations. So both references are incorrect the truth is somewhere in your reality.

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