Having lived on both sides of the pond for a good many years, I can understand both reluctance and enthusiasm on part of of Indian diaspora when it comes to returning “back” to India “for good”. I’ve known better than to be in the middle of these debates, but have gleaned enough to know the usual litany of pros and cons contained in them. What’s always striking about these discussions is that each party secretly believes itself to be the millionaire and pities the other as the slumdog.
The naysayers arsenal includes surface-to-air missiles such as “Too polluted”, “work environments suck”, “school systems not great”, “can’t find enough East European piano teachers” etc. etc. The optimists fire back with biochemical weapons a-la “Feel more connected”, “have a sense of belonging”, “india is where it’s all happening”, “don’t need to do my laundry and ironing” etc. Seriously, when did the prospect of someone else doing your laundry become a reason to rush and pack your bags for a 10,000 mile journey? Ever wonder if Magellan set out to circumnavigate the world in the hope he could outsource dirty underwear processing?
All these debates miss the point by the margin Columbus missed India. To wallow in such trivia is to miss the Sunderbans for its mangroves. Once you confront the deeper questions, the rest are mere details.
If you are one of those – pondering a move but forever vacillating on its merits – luck is at hand. I present the Laughing Gas pop quiz specially designed for “perennially unsure wannabe returnees”. It is anticipated that taking the quiz three times a day after meals will purge the system of any lingering malaise around effecting changes in longitude.
What is your notion of “time”?
Is time a logical construct with practical utility or an abstract notion with philosophical connotations? The correct answer, boys and girls, is “Time is an illusion”. If you harbor thoughts to the contrary, am afraid that you might want to give that one-way ticket a miss.
Consider the sentence: “I’ll call you back in 10 minutes”. All it implies is notional and not to be interpreted as anything more than polite conversation between one human and another. If you can comprehend that varying degrees of truth and complex assumptions are embedded in that spontaneous statement and are willing to annihilate any expectations that may arise reflexively within you – you might not be entirely without hope.
Do you go into involuntary spasms when a flight is delayed? Do you pack your bags 4 weeks prior to departure? Mate, you need help.
Have you ever missed a flight? After buying the ticket in the airport? Skip the rest of this exercise and proceed directly to “Go”. You are 24 carat India material, my friend!
What is your “data sensitivity quotient”?
How sensitive are you to the accuracy of information provided? What skills do you possess in handling ambiguity?
Say I presented the problem: 123 x 456 = ? And, you came up with 56088. Congratulations, you awesome math cat, you! But, sorry pal, consider yourself on the “no fly” list. Successful transplants will content themselves with vague terms such as the answer might end in ‘8’, may have more than four digits, etc. Virtuosos will provide convincing impressions of not having heard the question at all.
If you are possessed of romantic and harmful notions about the need for precision and clarity – consider taking out that second home equity loan, making the most of Saturday night potluck dinner parties and beefing up junior’s spelling bee skills.
Are you a genius?
Ok, this one’s a little wacky. Let me explain this. Genius is the ability to hold polar, conflicting beliefs in one’s mind at the same time. So, let me ask again. Are you a genius?
When informed – “Go straight ahead and turn right” – if you can consider the equally likely possibility of having to “make a U-turn followed by a left”, then you reside in what I can only describe as the peaceful nothingness that exists between the right and left parts of your brain. On the other hand, if you prefer to hold doggedly onto prized skills in logic and inductive methods of reasoning, I see hair loss, ulcers and antacids in your future.
The one good reason to move to India.
Humor aside – there is always one good reason to move. You just have to find out what yours might be. And, there is only one way to find out. Or not. Sab chalta hai. Wherever you are, and whatever you do – may you always have fair winds. Keep smiling. Jai ho.