Monday, October 03, 2005

“How does it feel to come/go back home?”

A question that has been on everyone’s lips ever since the day I landed at CIA (Chennai International Airport). Everyone: comprises my friends and family in Chennai, my friends and family in Bahrain and my friends and family in the US. Yeah I guess I need to share the love, affection and concern that people (widely dispersed across different continents) are showering on me with the not so fortunate. Actually just 2 continents, but ‘different continents’ sounds better.

Before I answer this question, I would like to go over the trials and tribulations one faces when he makes the decision of coming back home for good.

It started with the interviews

I had so many telephonic interviews with my employer that I lost count. But every single call ended with a question.

“Kumar, Why India?”

I frankly didn’t know why. I wasn’t home sick and I actually liked the job but no one was ever willing to listen to that. I am patriotic but that was not the reason which prompted me to go back home. I just couldn’t tell my employer that I didn’t have anything worthwhile to do in Raleigh and the thought of having some 20 rupee Masala Dosas didn’t sound bad. Once my hiring manager said “Yes”, I was preparing myself for a battle with my relatives.

Then my relatives.
Tonnes of relatives called in and explained the perils of going back home….quality of life…. standard of living ….zero savings were some phrases that were dropped of quite often. Then they dropped the mother of all ashtras and shastras….the possibilities of me getting married very soon (Very soon in my family is a very loaded word could be even a week).

“ Kumar, Imagine how difficult it would be to take care of the Mrs. Needs with an Indian salary…(this shook me a little…I am 23 and they were already thinking of condemning me to the gallows read marriage)”

Once I got an Okay from my family (yeah, my 11 year old niece took some time to say her Okay but I finally got everyone on board), I thought things would be smooth sailing from here onwards.

Then my travel agent…WHAT? saw me right, my agent

I just had to book my air tickets and get myself into the airport. That’s when my ticket agent made me realize that an agent’s job profile is not limited to booking tickets. They are also a big brother kind of figure who makes you realize the enormity of the decision that you are taking. Just sample the conversation I had with my travel agent.

Me: I need one ticket to India.
Agent: Leaving date?
Me: Next week, 22nd Aug.
Agent: When are you coming back?
Me: It’s a one way ticket?
Agent: Is this ticket for someone else, mother….father?
Me: No it’s for me.
Static for the next 10 seconds
Me: Hello…Hello…you there
Agent (recuperating): Why are you taking a one way ticket?
Me (what’s this guy’s problem?): I don’t want to come back.
Agent: Have you thought about this?
Me ( none of your business): Uh..yes
Agent: But why?

It took a phenomenal effort for me to convince my agent.

Me: No, I didn’t escape the Institution of the mentally challenged
Me: Yes I am in control of all of my 5 God given senses.
Me: What do you mean 6?
Me: Oh its 6 for humans, Yeah I am in control.
Me: No no I am not the talking dog they showed on Animal Planet
Me: No, LSD is not my cup of tea.
Me: No I don’t have it with tea. I don’t have it at all.

My agent couldn’t do the vision and breath tests over the phone, so he very half heartedly gave in and booked my tickets.

Family friends can’t be left out…..

Once I set foot in Bahrain, I spent the next couple of days actively PRing my cause and explaining my position to well wishers and family friends. There were a couple of brain storming sessions about the Green card/H1-b situation in the US and the economic growth forecast for US vis a vis India for the next 10 years. There wasn’t enough time for us to reach a conclusion as my brief stop over in Bahrain was just for a week, so I had to pack my bags and leave.

On reaching India, my grand mother left no stone unturned and introduced me to everyone as the grandson who left the US and came back for good over some tea and biscuits with people who visit her. You needed women like my grandmother in these fancy advertising firms,she'd add a whole new dimesnion to advertising...grass roots level advertising.

So now since its been a month since I landed here, I can now devote an entire next post to tell you about the Chennai work culture and how it feels to be back home.


Blogger Kumari said...

I am coming back for a month and that itself evoked many reactions. Why so soon? You just came here 4 months ago? blah blah.

Can't a woman miss the family and the city she has been living for the past 24 years?

Good post :)

10:02 AM  
Blogger pagala'k' said...

Couldn't understand the comment-konjam vilakina....comment count yaerna maariyum irukkum...purinja maariyum irukkum.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Kumari said...

Adadaa...ithu kali yugame thaan :)

Act: I am coming back to india for a month's vacation.

Now for reactions from world over:
" Why so soon? Didn't you just go to usa? isnt it better in america?wat is there in chennai but water scarcity?"

Queshun to world:
"Can't a woman miss her family and city after wedding? esp if she ahs been only in that city for the past 24 years?"

Do u need explanation for "good post" too? :p

5:29 PM  
Blogger Akshay said...

Hmm !!!

Its a pretty important decision you made, but I guess its we guys who have been here in the US who do not have the fancy of being here, we would rather do something we like to do than just hang in to get a citizenship. Really glad to know that you are doing good and enjoying yourself. :)

11:29 PM  
Blogger pagala'k' said...

@Kumari: Romba nandri...Nice to know familiar bloggers are coming to Singara Chennai.

WARNING from a well wisher: Do not walk with the Mr. when there are cops within a twelve mile radius...

@Akshay: Well can't call it full fledged enjoyment but yeah things are okay.

3:21 AM  
Blogger Partha said...

Welcome back machchan....

Chennai might not be able to treat you like a king, but it still has got a lot of things to allow people lead happy lives... I do hope you find good things here...

like arukkani, for starters... :)

9:03 AM  
Blogger pagala'k' said...

Pkarsan, :D
To be treated as a king you either need money or by some dumb stroke of luck a heiress should agree to marry me. I am very positive that neither has and will ever happen, so I never did expect Chennai to treat me like a king.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Partha said...

Its not Pkarsan dude, it is pkarasan

and dont worry regarding some dumb stroke of luck for your heiress aka arukkani agreeing to marry you... reality is sometimes stranger than fiction :)

12:27 AM  

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