The Ant and the Grasshopper – The Indian Version

An old story:ant_grasshopper

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant is a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed. The Grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

The Indian Version:

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving. NDTV, BBC, CNN and other media outlets show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The World is stunned by the sharp contrast – ‘How can this be that this poor Grasshopper is allowed to suffer! What an injustice!!’
So, Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the Ant’s house. Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter . Mayawati states this as `injustice’ done on Minorities.

Amnesty International and United Nations criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the Grasshopper. The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the Grasshopper, many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance.
Opposition MPs stage a walkout. Left parties call for ‘Bengal Bandh’ in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry. CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and Grasshoppers. Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the ‘Grasshopper Rath’. Continue reading “The Ant and the Grasshopper – The Indian Version”

The green door

I cannot believe he is dead!

He lived on the north side of my town, on Dorothy street. I used to pass by his house during my evening strolls. His house had an over-sized green door that did not seem to fit the neighborhood, just like him.

With a white beard and a grey turban; he was easy to spot from a distance. I always found him outside his house, gardening in the front-yard or just admiring the outdoor. As I would walk-by, I exchanged hello/hi with him. I was just being polite – out of respect for our elders. But over time, I made his acquaintance. He liked to talk, I found out pretty soon. Chatting with him became a part of my evening routines.
“Beautiful weather! Nice day for a walk!! Scattered clouds over there, look like a floating goat!!!” He would say random things with a chuckle. He laughed at his own jokes; that used to be a cue for me to laugh.

He was very fond – actually very proud, of India and all things Indian, I could tell. Not that I needed to know, but he often told me the virtues of Indian society, the pride of being Indian. He also reminded me how advanced Indian are, compared to the ‘white people’ as he would call them.

“I was the first Indian in this town” he mentioned one evening, “There were no Indian shops in this area!!”
“It must be hard back then”, I once asked; that was bad idea. For next 20-30 minutes, he told me all about the hardships of being an isolated Indian living amongst white folks.
“Many mornings I used to find eggs shells all over my new car in this driveway; these racist people, I tell you!….”

Sometimes, he complained, but he was not bitter. He told his past stories with the same braggadocio as a captain would shares his encounters with the rough stormy weather.

He was different. I enjoyed these brief daily encounters, and his stories from all over the places. He came across as a fanatic Indian; he never tried to hide his obvious bias for ‘the great India’. Without hesitation, he would share his thoughts about superior Indian culture, the sins of the western society…. But it was never monotonous; he always had new anecdotes.
I did not agree with many of his views, but I never argued with him either. When in serious mood, he spoke like a professor, like a preacher – as if never in doubt. I thought to myself – you cannot change the thinking of an old man, those outdated views….

I recall it was Friday; I did not see him outside his house that evening. It was strange, his absence. Then, even more disturbing, I did not see him for days, for weeks. I looked for him, I even waited and lingered around his house, but he was nowhere to be found. Continue reading “The green door”

Study India Programme (SIP) for NRIs and PIOs

Study India Programme (SIP) for Non-Resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin

The Study India Programme (SIP) is sponsored by the Government of India – The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. The program invites the youth of Indian diaspora living abroad. Think of it as a summer school course in an Indian University, a lot different social experience compared to America or Europe.  The foreign citizens of Indian origin in the age-group of 18-26 years can apply and qualify for the short term courses that familiarize them with the Indian art, culture, heritage, history, emerging economy and overall development of India. Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs websites states, “Such short term courses shall aim at providing an opportunity to the overseas Indian youth to better understand and appreciate contemporary India, foster closer ties with the land of their ancestors and enhance their engagement with India.” Continue reading “Study India Programme (SIP) for NRIs and PIOs”

Just a job

“You can easily find an Engineering job in your field in America… no problem for a smart guy like you…”
“There is no shortage of work for Indian Engineers…this is just the fact…”
“You will find something – something good, no problem….”
….. Back home in India, just like any typical Indian family, everybody was full of advice. Everyone had told him that it was very easy to get an engineering job in America.

“You can make lots of money in a few years”, His future father-in-law told him at the time of his engagement 3 years ago. A year after that, he was married to Anu.
He used to be very optimistic about his career in USA, so was the rest of his American family – his in-laws.

He had big dream. After all, nobody dreams small.

Once in US, he was greeted by his wife and her family and they welcome him into their home. His old classmates, now living within driving distance, came to visit him.
He was treated like a guest for many months. However, he soon realized, you cannot be a guest for too long. He had to figure out the next step – the job. With all the expenses and cost of living, he needed a job soon. His parents and siblings back home were already calling to check on him; to see when he might send them some money, like every other NRI does.

After a few months, the tone of the advice changed:
“You just need to try a bit harder, maybe try something in lower pay scale to gain some experience…”
“Find a way to get your foot in the door…”
“My cousin started as a technician; now he is the director of engineering…but they are not hiring…”
“You cannot give up…We never give up…”
“You will find something – may be not that good but something… something good….” Continue reading “Just a job”

Indian diaspora info – all you need to know!

Sometimes, the answer is right under your nose. Most of the times, it is better to eliminate the middleman and go straight to source. This post is intended to lead the horse to the water; drink or not, is up to the horse!

Non Resident Indians, the NRIs – home or abroad – always have so many questions about the rules and regulations that apply to them. Quite often, they start by calling some lawyers – the lawyers that are always bombarding the NRIs with their monotone commercial during Indian TV shows – the middlemen!!

If you visit the National Portal of India website and go to the Indian Diaspora section, you can most likely find the answer to most of your questions – right there, under your nose!

The questions like:

# Can NRIs and PIOs open an account with Indian banks?
# Is registration of NRI marriages compulsory in India?
# What is the fee for applying for PIO card and OCI card?
# Is there a limit to the number of investments for acquiring commercial properties in India?
# How can an NRI or PIO adopt a child in India?
# What is meant by OCB?
# What are the investment options for NRIs in India?

This article introduces you to the website directly – you know, horse and water – rather than cutting and pasting the answers here, use the direct links below for accessing the related info! Pick your own dish – all you can eat, for free!! Continue reading “Indian diaspora info – all you need to know!”

Double Standard

She had big dreams, her ideology was based on truth, honesty and kindness. But that was a long time ago, that was when she was seventeen. She thought she was special; she was born to do great things; she was born to make a difference. But then again, that was was when she was in high school. She barely new the world out there. She never knew that the rules of kindness, love and truth apply differently beyond the walls of her house.

Somewhere along the way, somewhere in the process of growing up, she left her house to encounter the real world. She was no longer shielded by her family and her loved ones. It was part of her society, it was part of the traditions to move out. She got married; her family tied her knot to an educated man from Canada. Not because they knew him, or she loved him; they married her in the hope that life would be better in Canada. That is what everyone thought, and that is what they believed – she will be better off in Canada, far better off.

But then again, people are not what they appear to be. In the real world abroad, things are very different. The real world is far different than the one based on dreams; the real world where ideology is often talked about but seldom practiced. Most of the people talk big but do little, she soon learned.

In no time, she was exposed to the double standards as she left her father’s house. She saw hypocrisy first hand – day in and day out. The lies, the deceptions, the compromises – everything was at play on her new stage of life. Continue reading “Double Standard”

Plight of a woman in the NRI Marriages

“Indian men are the most ugly men on this planet. Their hearts so ugly that u can not even imagine. I am Indian married to an Indian, the pain and the suffering he has given me and continues to give me, is crazy. Why?……. Indian men in India may be good, Indian men who come to the west are ugly ugly men…may god give me courage to remove this painful lump( my husband) out out of my life forever.. ” Says Katiyani while commenting on this article.

Many parents in India prefer to marry their beloved son or daughter to NRIs.  Their main hopes and wishes for their kids are to see them will settle abroad and prosper. A common man still looks up to the other countries as the ultimate salvation for their offspring.

Yes, arranged marriage is still the most common way to matrimony in India, especially when it comes to marrying abroad. With very little knowledge about a ‘funny dressed’ visitor from the west, people are willing to wed their son or daughter overnight. They don’t want someone else to steal their opportunity – the opportunity of a golden ticket to go abroad.

Marriage is supposed to be a sacred bond, based on mutual love and respect. However, NRI marriages are fundamentally based on greed. It is the greed that results into lifelong headaches for many couples, and heartaches along with it. Continue reading “Plight of a woman in the NRI Marriages”

Moving Overseas! Is Your Family Ready?

The world has become a very mobile now-a-days. Nobody spends the whole life at one place, or even in one country. Traveling has become a necessary part of everyday living. Going abroad, trying new places, visiting new countries, exploring new cultures…all this has become a common undertaking.

When you move to a new country for a long studies or for a job, you have to leave behind so much. The family, the friends, the home, your own country…this all becomes a part of the nostalgic memories of living in India. Those childhood days, college fun, home food, Indian culture and traditions …. all this can never be replaced or forgotten.

Moving overseas brings its own excitement. You are eager to see new places, make new friends and explore your things. However, it is a fact that you cannot ignore your loved ones far-away who are going to miss you and feel your absence day and night. Just like you, your family and friend are left behind with your memories alone to remember you by.

Every family is different and so are the reactions to the departure of a family member. Nobody is ever ready to separate from their loved ones. However, there are a few simple things that you can do to help your family accept the fact that your overseas move is not so bad after all. These commonsense and easy-to-follow tips can make this separation more tolerable, for you and for your family: Continue reading “Moving Overseas! Is Your Family Ready?”

Citizenship and Immigration Canada – CIC Website

CIC – Canadian Government Source of Citizenship and Immigration

Have a question about immigration to Canada? Interested in Canadian Citizenship? Any question on moving to Canada? Almost all the time, you can get your answer from the official website of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Commonly know as CIC, the site is maintained by the department of Canadian Government that deals with Immigration and Citizenship. It also links immigration services with citizenship registration.

The site is the true Bible for any information on Canadian Citizenship as well as immigration to Canada.  It offers a variety of resources on the related topics including general information, commonsense tips, guidance for potential immigrants, latest news on the subject, the new laws affecting the immigrants and so on. There are different sections addressing different aspects of immigration and citizenship. Continue reading “Citizenship and Immigration Canada – CIC Website”

The hidden social classes abroad – the Fabs, the FOBs, the ABCD

You think you left the social class system back home, when you left India? Think again! 🙂

Perhaps, classes are part of our social life. May be this is how society works – one group of people trying to put down the other group while struggling to prove its own superiority. And NO, we are not taking about the social divisions between whites, blacks or Hispanics abroad.

The Indian society in the foreign lands has its own social classes, its own divisions. From outside, these divisions are not very visible, not very noticeable. This should come as a no surprise to those who have lived abroad amongst other Indians. You may see these partitions less if you are very isolated from rest of the Indian society overseas.

These classes are not based on your last name, cast or creed. Rather, the division is based on your social acceptance among the Indian diaspora. This somewhat hidden division is less visible to an outsider – those who are not Indians or not a part of Indian community. Continue reading “The hidden social classes abroad – the Fabs, the FOBs, the ABCD”

After-school daycare

“I don’t wanna go to the daycare after school”, she had told her mom before the bed time.
“We will pick you up soon after you get there. I promise.” Mom tried her usual trick.
“Yous said the same yesterday!”
“I promise, I will remind your dad to make sure!”
“I don’t like it there.”
“I am sure you will make new friends.”
“I already made two new friends – Hailey and Shira,” she said in a less complaining, and more of a bragging tone.
“See, I told you! Now get some sleep.”
“Goodnight mom. Love you.” As if she already forgot the quarrel from moments ago.
“Goodnight Isha, love you too.” She gave her a big kiss and tucked her in for the night. Continue reading “After-school daycare”

NRIs and the duplicity of life

In India, NRIs – non resident Indians, are always looked up to, well…., most of the time! NRIs are often envied for their prosperity and the riches. NRIs hold a special status in all walks of Indian life. They are well recognized for their deep pockets. There is no debate that most of the NRIs are considered very successful among Indian society, regardless how they make their living in the foreign land.

And how are the NRIs and Indians perceived in the foreign land? What is their social status in the county they live in? Well, exactly the opposite in most cases. There are no stories of special stature to write home about. For example, in the American society, you can find lots of successful NRIs, lots of middle class Indians who are well settled, but there is nothing to envy about their social standings, at least not in the adopted country. They are just a part of another minority group. Continue reading “NRIs and the duplicity of life”

NRIs and the Distance

NRIs: Living abroad and the long distance relations with families/friends

The long distance relations, the long distance friendships, the relatives far away and the families scattered around the globe – welcome to the NRIs club! It is part of living abroad. ‘The distance’ is a part of the journey for most of the NRIs. The distance may be one of the variables depending on where and how far you live; but actually, it is a constant – it is always there. When it comes to the overseas’ life, the distance is what identifies the lifestyle of majority of the NRIs.

Most of the Indians living abroad have what you may call ‘an international family’. The parents may live in one country, the kids in another place, and some of the siblings yet somewhere else. Most of us travel to the faraway places for opportunities – the financial opportunities, the chances for career growth, better jobs and so on…. We explore all around the globe looking for something better – better schools, better jobs, the better places to raise kids….

Along the way, while searching for a better life, come the compromises and the sacrifices. One of the obvious results of all these relocations is the distance.

At the heart of all this running around, at the bottom of all this hunting all over the globe is the search for a better life. The whole thing – the living abroad – revolves around the idea of finding a better life. But, is it? Continue reading “NRIs and the Distance”

NRIs – Scattered relations, separated friends!

“At first, I tried phoning regularly, almost every day. Then it changed from everyday to every week-end. Talking on the phone is not the same, and it becomes very expensive. Over the years, I have basically lost touch with most of my friends, even some of the closest ones,” He speaks in somewhat sad tone, with pain spilling out of his words, “I still call my friends, we email more than phone. We still understand each-other, but it is not the same. I am no longer a part of the friendship circle that I left behind.”

This is true for most of the NRIs. We often talk about going abroad; living overseas and we share our experiences in the foreign countries. We explore the pros and cons of leaving our homeland and settling overseas.At a party or a week-end get-together, or during other social meetings overseas, we often talk about our desi experiences – the good stuff, the bad side and the compromises of living abroad.

However, one of the least discussed and the most unfortunate side-effect of the whole thing – going abroad and settling overseas, – is the emotional and social impact it has on our psychology. Maybe, because we don’t like to talk about something very personal. Perhaps it is uncomfortable and often painful to discuss something that was much cherished and now lost. Continue reading “NRIs – Scattered relations, separated friends!”

The way I used to be

Aimless strolls, the dusty paths, the summer roam;
Venturing in the wintery chill, wandering astray.
Not planned destination, still feeling at home;
I miss howling at the rickshaws, “Just take me that way.”

The muddy streets, the unpaved roads with no sign of ‘stop’;
Treading through the morning fog, could barely see.
Waiting for hours, for a glimpse of a new visitor on roof-top;
And then wondering all day, ‘what her name might be’! Continue reading “The way I used to be”