Saturday, August 22, 2009

10 things to know if you are thinking of Returning to India (R2I)

Are you thinking of returning back to India? Have you made up your mind or still contemplating? Well, I would like to share with you a few things that may influence your decision to return back to India.

1) Quality of life cannot be compared with what you get in US. Though there are lots of shopping malls, hi-fi cars and hep people in India, the quality of life still lags the westernized worlds. You still have to share the infrastructure & services with other folks. You cannot lead a life in India that is isolated. The money that you have will not make the road free from traffic; will not get you teachers who give individual attention to kids; will not give you pollution-free environment; will not stop people from pee-ing on the road sides. You have to prepare yourself to live in a world where things are 'different'.

2) You have to pay several visits to government offices to get things done. You may have to either bribe the government officers or may have to give money to some intermediaries who'll provide the service. Some e-governance initiatives are 'work-in-progress'. Hopefully, that will provide a corruption-free India.

3) Online services are picking up, but the quality of user experience is poor. There are lots of issues related to online services - the websites are busy/down most of the times, customer support representatives are not people friendly, web interfaces are not intuitive, online money transactions have some nitty/gritty issues etc., It will take some more time for these services to mature.

4) Your relatives & family friends may step on your nerves. Unlike US, which is a individualistic society, people around you in India are interested to give opinions on what you say/do. You are 'bound' by the society.

5) Cost of living has gone over the roof. I used to pay Rs.10 to go from my home to the Nungambakkam railway station. Today, I pay Rs.20. The cost of groceries, vegetables, fruits etc., have sky rocketed. At times, I wonder how the common or middle-class folks are able to even survive.

6) There is crowd everywhere. Traffic is really really bad. There is no lane discipline. You cannot maneuver through the roads without honking or without getting honked. Two wheelers have grown exponentially. There is lots of cars on the roads. But, infrastructure hasn't been developed proportionate to the traffic growth. You'll get squeezed in crowds/queues. Be it a theatre, park, beach or any public place - there will be crowd. You have to develop patience to stand/wait in long queues. You can be an exception only if you become a big shot in politics or movie.  (Also read: Self adjusting traffic - miracle on Indian Roads)

7) You may miss your friends/society in US. For example, most of my friends today are in US. I always had the luxury of contacting someone if there are any questions. Today, I have to figure out things on my own. Also, I don't have many people to hangout with. I run into either very junior folks or very senior folks.

8) Your time in India is not valuable. You have to wait wherever you go. When people tell you that they'll be at some place by 8 am, they show up only at 9 am. If you are punctual, you'll be punished.

9) Majority of the places are not clean/hygienic. If you are too used to the westernized world, you'll notice this right off the bat. Dust/dirt has become part of our everyday life. Kids will notice it more than you - because they were born/brought up in US. In public places, you may run into folks who stink. Street sides are still used as rest rooms. Pet animals (dog/cat etc.,) roam on the roads. Animal wastes can be seen everywhere.

10) Work environment or working culture hasn't changed much. People still work for 12 - 14 hours (out of which only 7 or 8 hours are productive). Bosses continue to breathe behind your neck. There is no work/life balance. If you try to strike a balance, people look at you differently.

In the interest of your family/kids and your future, you should be making a very conscious decision. I have seen several folks returning to India in good spirits, but rushing back to US in a year's time. Hopefully, you don't land in a similar situation.

[Note: These 10 points are based on my own personal experiences. There may be folks who might not have faced these issues]

Related Posts:

Returning to India - 25 things to do
Goods in US market - lots of options & cheaper price


  1. hey saro

    where are you working right now. did u get a job, i did like ur comment when u said there are either very junior folks or very senior folks, i m also planning to R2I in the next 2-3 years. Would like to be in touch with you. Are you on linkedin, let me know


  2. Hi Srini,

    How are you?

    You can search my full name (Saravanan Velrajan) in LinkedIn. Yes, I found a job while I was in US itself. That is the right thing to do when you move back to India.

    - Saro

  3. The 11th thing that you would already know is that you lived in this country with the exact same lifestyle before you left for the US. So it shouldn't be too much of an adjustment. Agreed the cost of living has gone up, but so has the salaries. People make more in pensions than what they paid in their actual work time. All these points will weigh less when you think of the support system you get in INdia where your children can grow up in tune with the Indian culture. Just my 2 cents since I am planning on going back as well.

  4. Yes. There is nothing that is comparable to the support system we get in India.

  5. Saro, I was on the verge of quitting my job and r2i - without a job (screw it -just do it) ... I have been making solid plans over the last one year ... but all plans failed miserably in the execution phase. Reading your post gives a dose of reality :-) ... now I have second thoughts :D

  6. Saro, Im in the middle of my r2i. may 2011 I should be in India. Found a job that will transfer to india.. looking to sell the house etc etc. If you have kids... 1st thing to do is find them good schools.. start 3 months before October of the year before the move to look for schools.. (July/Aug 2010 if moving in May 2011).

    Krishna - do it for the right reasons.. and the plan will not fail :)

  7. Wishing you all the best with your move, Ajay !

  8. Hi I want to know exactly which schools will give seats for NRI's immediately like say in April 1st week in chennai?Want good schools with less burden on the kids.One is in 5th and other is in 1st here..Please need help.

  9. At least, a couple of schools that I know of are Schram Academy & Chennai Public School. They'll give seat any time. These are newly established schools and the infrastructure is world class. They have Montessori curriculum also.

  10. Hi Saro,

    Really reading this is giving me clarity.We are planning to r2i either this or next yr. Have an 8th grader in 201-2012. Seriouly thinking of schram. Does ur kid study there? Any idea of the quality of coaching in 8th /9th grades? Second language is a new concept to my 8th grader and I also hear they have to do a 3rd language too(Hindi/Tamil)How are other kids from us taking to this? pls advice. Eager mom

  11. Sorry. My kid doesn't study in Schram. I don't have any idea about their coaching. But, I have seen their facility and they have a great infrastructure.

    Please find below a thread which might be useful to you. You can also post your queries in Indusladies forum.

  12. schrsm and cpc has 8 section of LKG Large no of students and less staff . Both school show their buliding in outskirts and admit far off the city. The staff keep hopping frm one school to another.Go with HCL backed up THE PUPIL SAVEETHA ECO SCHOOL CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY only 30 to 35 students in a class good infra.

  13. Saro, You have kept down very nice points of what we would be seeing once we return from US. We are still in dilemma to return back to India...Only bcos of the work environment there in IT. We dont like someone to be at our back like the bossy attitude, kind of thing constantly/daily....bcos i have heard from my frnds, even though they have some 6-8yrs exp, they face this...


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