How to lose your accent!

Communication Tips: Accent softening & accent reduction methods
Accent improvement for effective communications is a key part of personal growth and personal development. As I said before, changing the way we speak is equivalent of breaking a habit.

How to lose your accent!
How to lose your accent!

To break one habit, we need to develop a new one -to ultimately affect the way be speak. This is not going to happen overnight, but you will see an improvement right away, that is if you are serious about losing your accent.
Here are some of the routines to help reduce, and ultimately lose your accent:

Plan ahead: If you are still in India, in the planning stage of immigration, one of the best thing to do is to expose yourself to the spoken English language, Western style and slang, as much as possible. Some of the simple suggestions include: Continue reading “How to lose your accent!”

13 Unlucky reasons to go abroad!

NRI Tips: Worst reasons to leave India and go overseas!

As discussed in a previous article, there are many good reasons to go overseas; but there are plenty of bad ones too. Going overseas is not a guaranteed golden ticket; there are lots of sad stories of broken dreams and heartache. Some of the worst reasons to go abroad are:sxcparadise_torn_paper_white

1.Illusions of Paradise: The overseas land of riches may be rich, but it is no paradise by any means. Adapting into new culture and a new place is not an overnight thing. So, especially for a new immigrants, the challenges could be overwhelming.

2. Blind Job hopes: With global recession everywhere, the unemployment rate in Europe and America is highest in decades. The job and career opportunities have diminished significantly. The demand for foreign work visa is actually down; people are starting to realize the the challenges abroad.

3. Second try might work: If going abroad did not work the first time and nothing has changed, the chances of better encounter on second try are minimal. Many people keep trying again and again, wasting their entire savings; it is just sad! Continue reading “13 Unlucky reasons to go abroad!”

Accent softening and accent reduction Tips!

NRI Tips: Language barrier -the  issue of ‘thick’ accent!

Many surprises await a new immigrant. The challenges of adapting to a foreign country can be very discouraging.
One of the main hurdles that the NRIs face in the Western world is the language barrier and the Indian accent of spoken English. Even if you have a graduate degree in English from India, you are bound to have this problem. The issue is not the knowledge of language, but the way we speak English – the Indian accent; the inability to communicate effectively while talking to a native English speaking person.
The Indian way of speaking English is often branded as a ‘thick’ accent. That basically means that it is not refined for the American/Western ears; it sounds very foreign, like an ‘outsider’
Yes, the spoken language barrier or thick accent is an issue, but it is not your fault. It is a part of the journey; a part of new culture and new rules of living abroad. It is a part of adaptation into the local culture abroad.

The spoken English in India is heavily influenced by our Indian language – our mother tongue. In India, the English teachings mainly focus on grammar and spelling with very little focus on actual pronunciation. Continue reading “Accent softening and accent reduction Tips!”

10 jobs and occupations in high demand!

Job Tips- Top jobs and best occupations for today and tomorrow:

The job market in America is in a bad shape, and keep getting worse. The unemployment rates at 9.7% is the highest in decades. However, as always, there are some bright spots; many occupation continue to be in demand. Based on the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the US Department of Labor, here are the some of the fastest growing  job markets:

  1. Network systems and data communications analyst
  2. Physician assistant
  3. Medical assistant
  4. Computer application software engineer
  5. Physical therapist aide
  6. Personal financial advisor, and financial analyst
  7. Skin care Specialist
  8. Veterinary technologist and technician
  9. Dental hygienist
  10. Pharmacy technician

Continue reading “10 jobs and occupations in high demand!”

Top ten reasons to go abroad!

NRI Tips: 10 reasons to leave India and go overseas – From desi to desi-NRI!

No matter where it leads to, our journey always starts at home. There has to be a good reason to leave the comforts of home – the family, the culture, the country. sxc-big_step_to_success_2501Here are the ten most common reasons to leave home and go overseas:

1. Travel: Traveling to visit different places is one of the best reasons to go abroad. It is a fun and exciting experience to go places, emerging in other cultures is rewarding and adventure. It is the best of the both worlds. If one can afford it, traveling abroad is always full of adventures and new experiences. There are all kinds of online sites that can guide you to match the places with your interests. Traveling is something we don’t do enough.

2. Education: Good schooling is a big investment for our future. One should never under-estimate the value of good education, it builds the base of our lifestyle; it pays life-long dividends for every penny we ever spent on studies. Going abroad to study is not new. Studying abroad is truly an eye opening experience.

3. Family: Many times, family sponsorship is a reason to go abroad – to unite with rest of the family. The immigration rules allow spouse (and in many cases parents along with their younger siblings) to be brought over in many countries. Lots of people go abroad to re-unite with their family. Continue reading “Top ten reasons to go abroad!”

Brown vs. Brown!

It was late evening of Midwest summer – hot and humid month of May. I was running a few errands. My last stop was a local grocery store, just to pick up milk and some fruits before heading home. Already a long day, but winding down!

The line at the grocery store was long, but moving quickly. The whole process of check-out was quite robotic, like an assembly line – the customer stepping up with the items to purchase, the clerk scanning the items, the customers sliding the credit card through the card reader, signing the digital pad, collecting the items along with the receipt, and leaving. And, then next customer, same steps.

The clerk, the name-tag confirming his Indian ethnicity, was quick and efficient at his job.

At my turn, I stepped forward and followed the same sequence. As my grocery items got scanned and bagged in no time. I slid my American-Express through the card-reader, getting ready to leave as soon as the clerk would hand me the receipt.
No receipt. Instead, out of nowhere, the clerk politely interrupted the flow of the line, “Sir, can I see your card and an ID?”   Continue reading “Brown vs. Brown!”

NRI Tips: Key hurdles to overseas adaptation and adjustment!

NRI Tips:  The habits that hinder our adaptation abroad

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” ~ Maria Robinson

Migration from India to a foreign land is often considered a grueling process, probably one of the hardest thing ever for a new NRI; right?
Not really, it is just the start :). Once we get to our new destination abroad, -USA or Canada or England…- the things are not as we imagined. As mentioned before in NRIs and India diaspora – the key challenges abroad!’, the most difficult part is adjusting to the new society, the new culture; and then building a career that matches our professional background and education.
Why is it that so many of Indians find it so hard to adjust abroad? Even after years, we feel strangers in the land that is dubbed a ‘melting pot’ of multi-culture society.

One of the key reasons for our failure to adjust, even after years, is the isolation from the American society and western culture; our inability to adapt to the local language and norms. Many of us find it hard to carry on a real conversation with locals; the conversation that involves local slang and local style.
Here are some of the main reasons that hinder a desi immigrant from being a ‘Roman while in Rome’; the key habits that won’t let us adapt to overseas’  life:

1. Self isolation:This is a natural tendency of early days in foreign land that becomes a habit, a habit of hiding from everybody and everything that is not India; living in an Indian bubble. If our social circle and desi passé speak no English,- not the kind they speak on the street anyways- there is very little hope for a quick adaptation to the new place. Continue reading “NRI Tips: Key hurdles to overseas adaptation and adjustment!”

O Karma! Where Art Thou?

As she has planted, so does she harvest; such is the field of karma.~Sri Guru Granth Sahib, The Holi Book of Sikh Religion

Me and my karma often talk to each other. Well actually, I do most of the talking.  And, I hope and wish that my karma listens to my one way communications, at least once in a while!

‘The karma has a mysterious way of responding’, so I was are taught. I have never been able to figure out how it works. Our karma is the result of our actions – good or bad; but when, where and how will you see those results is a not a planned outcome, as far as I can tell from my own experience!

To solve these mysteries of my karma, I have tried some out-of-the-box ideas for a long time. I even once befriended a Punjabi dude with the same name – Karma. However, I found out that my karma had nothing to do with my new friend,  so we have drifted apart since. Now and then, I still get calls from him, some times in the middle of the night, due to time difference between Jalandhar and Chicago. He mostly calls me to ask for more money; “it will ‘clean’ my karma and make it better”, he says. I tried it a few times a while back, but I did not win any lottery; nor did it help me with any other stuff that would prove this ‘karma cleaning’!

Since I came to USA,  I have realized that my overseas karma is no sharper or better than what it was back in India. Everybody used to tell me, “Going to America is a sign of good kismat and good karma”. So, I thought my good karma would follow the glory of my new NRI status. However, I am not-so-happy to report that the whole thing, – this going to America – may be a bit over-hyped. My karma has been quite sluggish, especially during the first few years of my farang experiences. Just like most of the new-comers, I have had my share of overseas hurdles and challenges.. Continue reading “O Karma! Where Art Thou?”

The NRI dilemma: This country or that home?

A choice between comfort of overseas and home country

“No matter under what circumstances you leave it, home does not cease to be home. No matter how you lived there-well or poorly.” ~ Joseph Brodsky

Non Resident Indians (NRIs), the expatriates from India are scattered all over the globe. They are living a prosperous life, at least so it seems. These NRIs are happily settled in these adopted countries, but often frequent their homeland – India, to visit their friends, families and the memories they have left behind. In most of the cases, the NRIs are citizens or permanent residents of these countries; however, they consider India as their true home.

Most of these overseas Indians or NRIs are well settled in the new country. The new culture, the new life and the new comforts have created a strong bond to the new land. Majority of these NRIs help their loved ones to migrate as well; so the whole family unit ends up living abroad.

Even though the ties with the past remain; the family, – especially the younger generation – has a strong attachment to the Western lifestyle. This is the natural influence of local culture and social settings; the natural effect of the long term exposure to the western society. Continue reading “The NRI dilemma: This country or that home?”

The Karma Concept

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
~ Unknown

‘As you sow, so shall you reap.’
‘The present is nothing but a result of our own past actions.’
‘Our present and future is affected by the cause and effects of our past.’…
All this is karma, the reflection or effects of our own doings from the past. Over time, we are expected to be punished or negated for the bad deeds, and rewarded for the good ones. The concept of Karma is the basis of world equilibrium, a way of balancing the universe. The inequalities are related to the constructive or destructive actions of human beings.

As we all know, a person’s true identity is not based on his words but his actions. In very basic terms, someone with good intentions and clear conscious living a noble life is expected to have good karma. Any incident that adversely affects our life is blamed on bad karma – the result of destructive or ‘bad’ deeds from the past.

Of course, this is simplification, but our karma can be directly related to our conscience.A person with clear conscience always thinks twice before doing something hurtful or bad. He/she often sticks to a positive outlook and prefers ‘right’ actions, instead of the ‘wrong’ ones. The conscience provides us the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. The karma eventually rewards him/her for all the beneficent or ‘right’ actions. On the contrary, someone without a conscience would be more inclined to be selfish and sinful, less thoughtful while taking advantage of a situation with no regard for others’ welfare. Those actions eventually catch up with us, and the karma is bound to punish sooner or later for ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ deeds. Continue reading “The Karma Concept”

Bollywood + Hollywood = New fans abroad

With realistic stories and settings, Bollywood gaining new fans overseas

Bollywood-the Bombay (Mumbai) movie industry- is one of the biggest film production location in the world. There is no shortage of all-time-classic stories, romance or melodrama in the long history of Indian movies. It is not new that many of the Bollywood movies are churned out with English themes in varying tones; some of the major trends over many decades have been:
1. Indian movies with Indian stars in western settings, with a clear cut bias against western society; as in ‘Purab Aur Paschim’.
2. Patriotic movies linked to Indian freedom movement against British rule; such as ‘Kranti’ and ‘Lagaan’.
3. Movies based in a western country or a western society with local social and cultural issues; like in ‘Bollywood Hollywood’ and ‘The Guru’.
Many of these films have almost same concept with some variation: tell a story linked to a western country; expose the vices of such society and then save the day by renouncing the western culture, with the ending focused on some flavor of Mera Bharat Mahaan (My Great India! slogan)…. All these movies, even though made with substantial overseas locations in many cases, are limited to Indian cast and Indian production. The success of these movies is entirely determined by their showing in India and Indian theaters. Continue reading “Bollywood + Hollywood = New fans abroad”

Desi work ethics: Key to success abroad

Indian work ethics are worth preserving and imitating

When it rains it pours. Only yesterday, the economy was flourishing in America. Everybody was spending away – buying bigger houses, bigger cars and probably bigger shoes. After all, you need extra room for the bigger ego!

There is a common saying in India that roughly translates to, ‘Size up your sheet before stretching your legs’; it basically means that you should spend within your means.

The American affluence over last many decades ended up creating complacency amongst many, leading to carelessness; many got used to spending beyond their means. And whenever there was a need for money, there was always a bank ready to lend; if nothing worked, the second mortgage was easy to get even when you did not qualify! The home equity line-of-credit was right there for the taking. Things were very rosy.

However, just as a basic law of physics and our mortal existence, everything comes to an end. With time, the tides turned and balance started to shift; a downturn in economy exposed the loopholes in the complacent financial system. The rest is a history: the banks could not recover the loans from the careless borrowers; the falling house prices put a lid on borrowing against the houses…. The mighty capitalist infrastructure, that stood number one in the world, came under the direct assault from capitalism itself. The problem could have been easily averted if everybody had stick to the basic common sense -‘Size up your sheet before stretching your legs!’

The first generation immigrants from India are often negatively stereotyped for their frugality, hard-work and for being too conservative. The fact is that these traits are a commonsense for survival in the new land. Many Indians migrate with only a few items in their possession, with a few bucks in their pockets. The qualities to preserve, work hard and to tread carefully are part of the basic defense mechanism against all odds that they have to put-up with in the beginning. Continue reading “Desi work ethics: Key to success abroad”

I am not racist, but my brain may be!

NRI Tips: The unconscious bias and the depth of racial issues abroad

There is no dispute that America is one of the richest countries where entrepreneurial spirit strives for excellence; freedom of speech is respected and encouraged. Every work place preaches and teaches diversity. However, in spite of all the progress, the American society as a whole continue to struggle with racial discrimination and racial biases.

Many have undertaken the noble task of investigating and researching racism and race relations in America. I outlined a few very basic aspects of it in a previous article ‘ABC of race relation in America’. Some of the interesting studies of modern days blame this human behavior of discrimination on ‘unconscious bias’. The studies point to the fact that the racial bias is linked to our subconscious behavior where we discriminate, unknowingly to a large extent, even when we don’t mean it.

So it is not your fault entirely, it is the brain of yours that is messing with you! Continue reading “I am not racist, but my brain may be!”