An NRI’s perspective on the main changes in India
After a long time, I went back to India this summer. Everybody was warning me, “You won’t recognize your town.” … “Be prepared for a reverse culture-shock”…. “It is not the same India you left more than a decade ago.”
Even though the reason for my trip was family emergency, I was quite excited. My trip was short, only two weeks, but I was all looking forward to going places and visiting friends, families, old memories…..
Yes, I did see the new face of India; I did visit all of my old friends, all of my relatives and neighbors, even though I barely recognized half of them.
It was very hot for the month of May, but I spent everyday on the road – going places and meeting everyone I had intended to.
Not to disappoint anyone, I was not shocked or surprised after what I saw in my home-town or overall in India. May be because I was already warned. The main changes I noticed were:
Bigger houses and shopping malls everywhere: Almost every house has added one more floor/storey to their residence; or they have added adjacent rooms. That’s good, because it used to be quite crowded indoor before. It is still crowded for some reason even though there are more rooms. A lot more shops and malls add to the city life.
Traffic is crazier than ever: Once I started my Indian journey from Delhi airport, the sound of non-stop horns on the road was the first realization that I was home. The traffic is much crazier. The funny thing is that the drivers are much more aggressive, and still, they are always late to their final destination.
Everybody has two cell phones: I don’t get it, why you need two cell phones. The way my driver explained to me, “One is to talk to my family and friends, and one for others.” I still don’t get the ‘others’ part.
Rupee has no buying power at all: My first purchase in India was a water-bottle at the Delhi airport, and I paid Rs 30 for that. Everything is priced in thousands. Some of the items are cheaper in USA if you compare and convert the dollars into rupees.
The Electric shut-downs are less noticeable: Generators and inverters are minimizing the effects of electric shut downs. You don’t see the black-outs and extended cuts, as a result. The privatization of the electricity, I am told, should further improve the situation. Hurray to the public sector competition.
Real Estate prices are very high to justify: Not sure what is going on in real-estate, I am not sure how an average middle class house can afford this kind of housing and real-estate market. Not knowing the full extent, I will leave it at that.
The summer is VERY hot for the month of May: The summer is way to hotter compared to what I used to see long time ago. The tree counts seem less than before; I saw lots of fields being burned for clean-up after the wheat harvest. The same fires are also burning the trees. There is a need to pay attention to the environment and add some greenery to the surroundings, my personal non-expert opinion.
Everything is available in the Indian market: Expensive? Yes. But you can buy anything that you want in India. The the foreign brand-names and items are easily available in the bigger cities. Most of the time, they cost about the same as they would in USA, based on my limited window-shopping.
Services industry is finally showing up, but customer service is so-so: The customer service is not ‘first come first serve’; it is based on the how much money you have. The mentality is still the same – corruption and power are still the key drivers.
So there you have it, my observations on main changes in India. It is still the same old India – with bigger houses, more traffic, more run-arounds and more economic partition between rich and poor.
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