10 Reasons Why An NRI Misses India

I am a bit stuck today. Not a writer’s block, but I don’t feel like posting anything that I have written. Not good enough… too personal… not ready to share blah blah. Then as I was sitting in front of the TV and trying hard to not watch the IPL match between Delhi and Mumbai, I realized that I am dying for my daughter’s summer vacation to start. The two month long holidays meant that we spent a month to a month and half in India. Something that we look forward to as it allows us the chance to spend time with our families, and also to reconnect with a country that we call home.

Before long I was making this list.

10 Reasons Why An NRI Misses India… I am not mentioning family and friends – that is a given.

  1. The black ink on the index finger. I am an expat in a foreign land and cannot vote. So the act of exercising your right to vote holds special meaning for me.
  2. The cheerful, frantic buzz of the perfect amalgamation of at least 10 Indian languages that hit you as soon as you land in any Indian airport. You can be assured that you will hear some Hindi, Malayalam, Punjabi, Gujarati and Tamil for sure. Guaranteed.
  3. Monsoon clouds… especially if you spend 11 months of the year in the Middle East, where if you are lucky it will drizzle twice for about 10 minutes maximum. And then you come to India in July and look up and see those thick, luscious clouds.
  4. Roadside dhabbas and chaat sellers. Sure if you are the owner of a sissy tummy you may end up in the hospital with a drip in your arm, but that is a risk most of us are willing to take.
  5. Secondhand book shops on the pavement, with a Mills&Boons steamy romance rubbing shoulders proudly with Jawahar Lal Nehru’s Discovery of India. Not to forget the ubiquitous tutorial and exam guide books.
  6. Movie posters! (I learnt to read Tamil thanks to all those posters I saw while travelling by bus.) And they are so colourful and over the top! The actor’s dramatic expression captured for posterity and for every passerby to gawk at. Some of them are hilarious and some are lewd.
  7. Freedom to criticize the powers that be – loudly and openly. Freedom to display religious icons – no matter what God you believe in. No one is going to persecute them for saying or thinking what they want to. Yes there have been occasions when these rights have been trampled upon. But most times, Indians exercise these rights without any sense of fear.
  8. A sense of belonging that I have not experienced anywhere else. I have travelled to a few countries – all of which were beautiful and well planned (or better planned than India) and seemed to function better. But my soul fires up and I am buzzing with energy when in India.
  9. Holi and Diwali on the streets. If you have not experienced it, you have missed out on something. It is not Mardi Gras. It is more visceral – a heady combination of religion, suspension of rules and masti (a Hindi word that could be translated to mean joy and fun).
  10. Signboards that promise way more than they will ever deliver or ever meant to deliver. “Potty’s Restaurant – Pure Vegetarian” anyone! It should have been Pothy’s. Or how about Anus Coaching Centre. That should have been Anu’s. I love these signboards. They make me laugh out and remind me again and again about what a colourfully eccentric I belong to. Another one was a garage in Goa that advertised its manual car wash services with – The Best Hand Job in Town.

Of course there is the other side to it too. So…

10 things about India that an NRI doesn’t miss…

  1. Nosy neighbours… I swear you don’t have them in the Middle East. And if you do, chances are they are originally from India.
  2. Road work that halts traffic for years.
  3. Flyovers to nowhere that are never completed.
  4. Crazy flooding. Monsoon in India is magical. It can also be scary and disruptive. If like me you like the rains, then you will be a lot more tolerant of all the hassles… but everyone cracks under the pressure – sooner or later.
  5. Inflation! I could buy the shop for Rs500 when I left… now I am lucky if I can get a bottle of milk and a tissue box.
  6. And those tiny four road junctions, where no one will let anyone else have the right of way. The motto is – Let’s all be stuck together!
  7. Your cousin’s husband’s aunt who is mad at you for missing her baby’s wedding. Doesn’t matter that you don’t remember the aunt or the baby.
  8. Lack of queues. I know! It is an Indian thing. We are sorry. I don’t know why we can’t stand in queues. It is a mystery or maybe it is in our DNA. Of course we behave when we are in a foreign land, but the minute we are back in India…
  9. Roadside Romeos – they sound romantic and cute don’t they? They are not. They are irritating idiots who think it is ok to heap unwanted attention on a female, just because she is a woman and he is a… well, man. And no – all women in India do not get raped!
  10. The humidity!!! Heat is one thing. Humidity is another. The icky sticky feeling – it may be good for your skin and it may flush out all the toxins, but a little less of the sweaty feeling would have been nice.

Do write in and tell me what you miss and don’t miss (or wouldn’t miss) about your country.

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5 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why An NRI Misses India

  1. Hi Binu,

    I think I miss all those things that you included in the list like the mix of different languages, roadside dhabbas, chaat sellers, second-hand book shops, movie posters.

    And the most important among all these is the sense of belonging. If I m outside of India, I never have the same kind of feeling.

    Keep sharing

    Have a great blogging journey.

    Reji Stephenson

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  2. Hi Binu, I really enjoyed reading about the things you miss, I have always lived in the UK however I have moved from a busy city to a quiet rural area 130 miles away and there are significant differences. Everyone minds their own business and they don’t look at you as they go about their daily business in the City, Where as where I live now is a tiny village where everyone knows everyone one else and they don’t miss anything, I found it difficult to adjust to this. I miss the markets, and shops being close by, I don’t miss the traffic and the mayhem on the roads in the city or the car fumes from all the traffic. I look forward to reading more of your blog and I too am about to start the 31 day 500 word challenge.

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    • Hi Jan thanks for your comment. Best of luck with the 500 word challenge. Do keep me posted if you don’t mind.
      As I was reading your response I realized that it doesn’t matter where you are from and where you end up, the human experience is very similar. I live in a bustling city and sometimes yearn for the quiet of the mountains. But I am sure that once I am in the mountains a part of me is going to miss the hustle and bustle of a metropolis.
      Do keep giving me your feedback. 🙂

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      • How true that is, it doesn’t`t matter where you go to or end up, Sooner or later you begin to miss something of where you lived before. I never realised how lucky I was living in a city, where lots of shops and markets were so close by until I moved and I now have to travel a distance to the shops, I love where I live now and I don`t believe I could go back to living in the city anymore. Strangely, as quiet as the area around me is, I still have the mentality of living in a city where you cant walk about in the streets safely in the dark because its not safe too. I now have to train my mind to realise that this is a rural area, with next to no crime and it is safe to go out after dark or leave my door unlocked and windows open. It is hard adjusting from one to the other. Thank you for replying.

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