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 ABC of Race Relations in USA – India Abroad!

NRI Tips: Race relations of American society for a newcomer

Most of us leave India and go abroad for work or education. There is an ever-growing line of Indians going overseas to find utopia – looking for the land of their dreams. Going abroad is considered the best stroke of luck; every pundit will tell you that your stars are aligned perfectly for a great future overseas! 🙂
However, those pundits may not know everything about your stars or your future. Some may have warned you about the challenges abroad before, but it is hard to believe anything negative about the land of riches with so many promises; many Bollywood movies are witness to the prosperity abroad 🙂 !

The reality is that living overseas is very different from living in India- your own homeland. The overseas society and the culture provide an eye-opening experience for the new immigrants.

India is a multi-cultural society, people with different languages and customs living in a diverse setting; but they all come from the same race for most of the part. American society, on the other hand, not only has different religions and languages, but also different races. The white majority is followed by rest of the minorities- blacks, Hispanics, Indians, Asians and so on. Even though this multi-race society seems to mingle well at work and in many of the social situations, the racial biases can be seen and encountered on a daily basis. Continue reading “The ABC of Race Relations in USA – India Abroad!”

Paradigm of a promise- NRIs’ promise to return to India!

NRIs Abroad – An unfulfilled promise to go back to India

“So when are you coming back?” is a common question that everyone asks when you are getting ready to leave India to go abroad. Some ask it because they want to know your answer; others ask it because this is the common question for the time of departure. Without thinking for a second, the answer always is, “I shall be back soon, back for good in a few years.”
This is how the departure is justified; confirming that it is temporary, confirming that he or she will be back. This is not out of nowhere, the response is generally based on a promise that every NRI makes, the promise to go back home one day. This is not my promise or your promise, this is a promise that most of us make to ourselves when leaving India.  This is the promise that makes the circumstances of family separation tolerable.

However, once we arrive here, – the country we so longed to see – the things are not quite the same as we imagined. The reality takes a hold of the day to day existence. The peer pressure to succeed, the search for opportunities and the struggle to adapt pushes everything else to the back burner. As a result, we become focused on these immediate goals. There is no time to think about 4 or 5 years from now, but to worry about today and tomorrow. The daily grind of short-term goals takes over the life. There is no other way of doing it either. One cannot be day-dreaming about going back tomorrow if today is not resolved.

And then, with every new day and with every new tomorrow, the life goes on; the time creeps along; the days turn into months and years. Many of the short term questions get answered, – the job, the career, the peer pressure – everything gets under control. However, what happens all along is another slow change of life –the family conditions, the new social circle, the growing feeling of being at home…..

And then along come some new goals; there always are new things on the horizon. The promise made to self and others that was coming due gets postponed, becomes overdue. The reasoning could be slightly different from one NRI to another, but there is always a justification. The stronghold of replanted life is just too much.
Nobody seems to think of this broken promise, the forgotten promise to go back permanently. The promise is no longer a promise but a ‘may be’ at best. The new life molds the promise into some sort of justification to stay for a bigger reason, and move on with life. This is true for most of the Indians and NRIs abroad.
We come from the land of spirituality and conscience; the culture where the differences between good and bad once dictated the basis of every religion and every war. How could it be that someone from that land of virtues keeps breaking a self promise? Could it be because it is not so bad to stay;  or maybe it is actually better for the new circumstances?..

Or, maybe the promise is not really a promise, but a way of self-deception. A way to justify the dilemma.
The reality is that no one ever knows anything about the future, or what tomorrow might hold. Nobody ever knew much about living abroad, when the journey started a long time ago; a long time ago when the promise was made!

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NRIs and India diaspora – the key challenges abroad!

NRI Tips: The overseas issues and hurdles for a desi or NRI !

Leaving India and going abroad -USA, Canada, England….-is a very big step, a life changing experience in the true sense of the words. To search for a better future, we often leave behind everything- the friends, the family members, the social circle and the personal identity in most cases.sxc_404_error
It is a very common perception, – and true to an extent – that going abroad will improve our life and the lives of those who depend on us. It is always made to sound all too easy to settle and prosper in Western countries as an NRI.

The overseas life is always portrayed to be full of luxury and without hardships. The big mansions and large farming lands in any neighborhood of India are invariably linked to those who have gone abroad.
But, this is far from the real truth. There is no doubt that many of these countries are considered the land of opportunities with a lot of promise. The amenities of daily life and conveniences of a developed society combined with buying power of the dollar offer a lot of lure and attraction.
However, the reality is far different and a newcomer from India is hit with the real truth about life soon after deporting the plane. What was taken for granted till yesterday – the language, the education and common social behavior – is all up for recalibration in the new land

The facts is that the challenges overseas are very real and hurdles to succeed are much higher for a foreigner. It is not one or two isolated issues but a combination of many such problems that create the real experience abroad, an experience quite different than anyone expects.

Here are the key challenges that a newcomer encounters overseas: Continue reading “NRIs and India diaspora – the key challenges abroad!”