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”

Pardesi songs! Best Bollywood songs for the NRIs and Indians abroad!

The best pardesi songs – Best Bollywood songs with NRIs and ‘Indians abroad’ theme!

Pardesi is someone living away form their mother land, living away from home in another country, a foreigner. This article is dedicated to all those pardesi souls and NRIs around the world.

The ‘pardesi songs’ often carry the theme and the emotions of Indians living abroad. Being away from their birth-place, being separated from their loved ones left behind, starting a new life in a new country… and the distance itself – a mixture of emotions come into the picture. There are lots of patriotic songs and good ones too. However, the ones included here are more related to the unique situations of living overseas, rather than regular patriotic songs. Here are some of the best Bollywood songs that many NRIs and Indians living abroad can relate to:

1. Chithi Aayee hai (Movie: Naam): One of the best songs that directly connects to all the feelings of Indians who have migrated from India, but still miss their motherland. Beautiful lyrics tell a touching story of an average immigrant.
Tune paisa bahut kamaya
Es paise ne des chhudaya….

Pankaj Udhas’s melodious voice adds to the appeal of this evergreen and super-hit song.

2. Bharat ka rehne walaa hoon (Movie: Purab Aur Pachhim): ‘Hai Preet Jahan Ki Reet Sada / Jab Zero Diya Mere Bharat Ne’ is one of the most memorable song that highlights the virtues of India and the Indian culture, especially for those who live overseas. This number has ideal settings – featured in England with crowd including Indians, hippies and English audience. Mahendra Kapoor’s voice and Manoj Kumar’ acting is a winning combination. Continue reading “Pardesi songs! Best Bollywood songs for the NRIs and Indians abroad!”

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?”

The night before Babbu’s wedding

A sea of beautiful brown skin. Some bare-feet, others testing their newly bought shoes on the dance floor, dancing away with Kesha’s ‘Tick Tock’ song blaring through the whole house. The young, the old, the guys, the girls – all mingled up in the mood for a party, setting up their own pace. Loud music, louder commotion. Kids running all over – a complete chaos. Everyone is lost in the moment.

Every now and then, a car pulls up to the front of the house dropping off new guests. Tomorrow is a big day for the Gill family. Their only son Babbu is getting married.

By the time the sun touched the western horizon, the house is all packed full – to the limit. More guests trickle in – from as far as India, London and Vancouver. For a two story bungalow, the full blasting air-conditioners cannot subside the heat and smell – the smell of perfumes, sweets, masala, incenses and liquors… all mixed together.

The house in Brampton is a short drive from the Toronto airport. Raj – Babbu’s cousin, has been to the airport three times already, picking up the relatives as they arrive from all over the places. He is the most excited about his fourth trip, however. His three cousins from England are arriving next, the cousins he has not seen for a long time.

As the dusk turns into an early night, a black stretched limousine pulls to the front of the house. It is a part of the night-out planned for the groom and his passé. One last time, Babbu is going to enjoy his ‘single’ status before shackling down into the married life. The limo driver steps outside the driver seat, polishes the already clean windshield with a black cloth, like a ritual. Then he lights up a cigarette, while some of the elders watch him with a look of disapproval.

The groom and his passé of five friends get to the limo. Continue reading “The night before Babbu’s wedding”

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!”

Quality of life abroad – going in circle

‘Quality of life’ is often quoted as one of the key reasons for migrating to a more developed country – a better place. For example, some the common reasons for migrating from India to Europe, Australia or North America include:

  • Better economy, higher income abroad,
  • Search of better employment,
  • Better education system or higher education,
  • Better medical facilities,
  • Ability to start and operate a business with minimum political and social corruption,
  • Social and cultural experience of traveling and living abroad
  •  Exploring new places, learning new languages
  •  A better global outlook – the firsthand experience is a real eye opener… etc.

All these facilities and much more developed infra structure, combined with financial advantages, add to the comforts of day-to-day life abroad. As a result, all this leads to a better quality of life. Continue reading “Quality of life abroad – going in circle”

Facilities on overseas assets for Indians returning to India

R2I (Return-to-India) facilities on overseas assets for Indians going back to India

Here are some key highlights of the Indian facilities related to overseas assets and financial situations for Indians returning to India:

Retaining assets abroad:

  • Effective 17th July, 1992, the Indian Central Government has granted exemption from the surrender requirement to persons who return to India after a continuous stay abroad of one year and above in respect of funds/assets acquired by them abroad otherwise than in contravention of FERA 1973 or out of foreign exchange earned through employment, business or vocation outside India taken up or commenced while they were resident outside India. Persons satisfying the conditions of general exemption can retain their foreign currency accounts within bank abroad and/or hold, transfer or dispose of their other foreign currency assets such as shares, securities or investments in business, etc. and immovable properties.
  • They are not required to obtain any permission from Reserve Bank for holding these assets.
  • They would enjoy complete freedom for utilization of these assets as well as income earned or sale proceeds received subsequently.
  • They can repatriate these assets to India and hold them separately in India with authorized dealers under the Resident Foreign Currency Accounts Scheme.

Continue reading “Facilities on overseas assets for Indians returning to India”

Unmourned Death of a Mother Tongue

The dusk crawls on the suburban town of Fairfield. The evening chill of February is starting to sting on his wrinkled hands.

Arjun sits on the park bench, watching over his grand-daughter playing on the swings.
“Let us go now, Pooja” he paused, “It’s time to go home”. He speaks broken English, with Indian accent. Over the years he has adapted to the foreign tongue, the only language his grand kids understand.
“Not yet Grandpa! Can you push my swing please – one more time,” says the little girl with big black eyes, as she struggles to keep the swing going.
“We have to go now, Pooja; the sun is going down.”
“It’s still light. One more push grandpa, please!”
Her delay tactics continue; she is winning every round of the exchange, or he is letting her.

After a few more swings and a long bargaining, they finally walk off the park. She skips along the sidewalk; their long silhouettes dragging behind them. Continue reading “Unmourned Death of a Mother Tongue”

Maanji and the computer

He bows; bending down to touch his grandma’s feet – to show respect. Her wrinkled hand shivers,  reaching out to his head, to bless him.

The tears moisten their eyes. They embrace and hug, standing outside the gate of the haweli. The driver pulls two suitcases out of the trunk of the car, dragging them into the house.

“How was the flight?” she asks in a weak yet firm voice.
She speaks in pure Punjabi – the only language she has ever spoken in her 80 years of a well-lived life. She has not been to big cities, unless to attend some wedding, or a funeral. Her daily world is limited to the few streets of her village, or up and down the family farm.

She is happy, like a kid admiring their favorite treat. Her favorite grandson is home, after so many years.

“The flight was good”, he replied. He looks around to take a stock of the dramatically changed neighborhood.

“You look old. The 5 years have aged you more than a decade” Continue reading “Maanji and the computer”

R2I Surprises await the returning NRIs

Everyone living abroad talks about returning to India, going back to their homeland. They even have a term coined for it: r2i – return-to-India. Sooner or later, every Indian settled overseas considers returning home, or at least thinks about it. Regardless how much you plan and how much you look forward to it, the real life experience always brings its own surprises – the good and the bad ones.

Most of the NRIs romanticize about the life in India. However, those returning to India have their own complaints about life back home:

Traffic: After living in America or Europe for a long time, we get used to the smooth flow of traffic and the traffic rules. We know, it is not the same in India. There are just way too many cars and bikes on the road, compared to what we are used to abroad. And remember, the more aggressive drivers make their own traffic rules, most of the time.

Not the same old neighborhood: I wrote a full article on this recently, the home we left behind many years ago is not the same, neither is the neighborhood. The old friends have moved on with their lives. The shady tree next to the pond is gone, so is the pond. It is not the same India you left behind decades ago. Time changes everything. The past is long gone – even in India!

Kids hate it: many parents return to India to raise their kids in Indian culture speaking Indian language. However, the whole experience is very hard on kids. The language, the new place, the new surroundings, the power cuts, the crowd…the whole thing overwhelms them. They like India for vacationing, but forget the permanent living part. Continue reading “R2I Surprises await the returning NRIs”

Abroad, You never feel at Home

Yes, it happened; it was bound to happen. I ran out of ideas.
I ran out of ideas to write about. Not that my previous ideas were too special or too brilliant. Even the brilliant idea from last night – writing about a new-comer’s experiences – was very ordinary.

She is new student I recently ran into – my new idea. From her experiences in America, I was hoping to get some new material for my blog.

“So how do you like in America?” I asked eagerly, hoping for a long story.
“Ah, it’s not all that bad, just about the same as I expected,” Dismissively, she said in a monotone.
“So, what is it that you don’t like it here, or dislike the most,” I rephrased the question, hoping to get something more.
“It is not much different; about the same as I expected,”

She was not helping out.
I paused. It cannot be; it is a new country, a new place across the ocean.
“How about the language?” I pressed on.
“No, I speak English at home in Bangalore. I can speak many languages, but English is what we use the most.”
“Wow”, I did not know what else to say. In reality, I was more disappointed than surprised. Continue reading “Abroad, You never feel at Home”

Why do NRIs return to India?

Main R2I (Return-to-India) reasons for NRIs abroad

Over the recent  years, a reverse trend is starting to take shape. A large number of overseas NRIs are returning home, and many more are considering the option. The reasons for R2I – return to India – vary from personal to business to emotional; some of the main ones are:

More job opportunities in a booming Indian economy: As Indian economy keeps on growing, year after year; there are more opportunities available in India compared to old days. The IT field continues to expand, creating demand for international professionals. The economic revolution that started in 1991 has reformed India into one of the major players on the world stage.

Slow down in America and other developed countries: The global markets are going through some of the worse economic recessions of all times. The unemployment in USA is at its highest in many decades. The bleak outlook in job markets and uncertain future abroad is one of the reasons for many immigrants to consider returning home.

Going back ‘Home’:The sense of belonging makes a big difference when deciding on the future path. It feels good to be back and going back to the roots. Being a part of our own culture, our own society is a major psychological boost. Continue reading “Why do NRIs return to India?”