Foreign-returned desi boys
Third week December going into first week January is reunion time. Heavy duty NRI presence. Chaddi buddies descending from Obama country. Tough on the wallet, tough on the liver, tough on the vocal chords — I feel spiritually spent, not just because of the excessive single malt nights but my single-minded defence to these brown ‘Americans’ that Mera Bharat is still mahaan. A sizeable chunk of these school/college pals split to the US to study…, some via scholarships, some slogged hard, some sailed in courtesy Papa’s paisa, but all of them stayed on. And every December this bunch of ‘Nostalgic Resident Indians’ return to their roots. ‘What’s this Maambay, man..whatever happened to our Bambai?,” they ask, condescendingly, with the annoying twang that kicks into the accents of these American desis.
There are three categories of foreign-returned desi boys — the first lot, racked with familial guilt, fly back to nurse aging parents, to discover their inner Florence Nightingales. The second sub group, even if they’ve managed some upward mobility in the tough Yank world, are dying for some of mama’s daal chaawal over packaged meals. The third category, are the most complex and truly get my goat — they come back to their birth nation, with a serious chip on their shoulder. Some of them have returned for good, because in the aftermath of Lehmann Brothers, they got laid off. So tail between their legs they join dad’s businesses, try to take on the Indian bureaucracy with angrez attitude. And in their spare time they engage in India bashing. The West kicks them out, so chalo India is an easy target to haul over the coals, over a scotch on the rocks.
“It doesn’t have the bright lights of Manhattan and the mid west, but hey, Mumbai’s not too bad. But so much garbage, dude, how do you live here?”
Look I might think that we’re a country on the edge of ruin, Arvind Kejriwal notwithstanding. But it’s my home and it’s where I will always live. You, my confused friend, don’t have the right to criticise a country you abandoned 30 years ago in search of a better tomorrow, got it? Just because your American
Dream turned nightmarish, don’t treat India as your Plan B, your back up plan. You haven’t earned that privilege.
One friend, Devashish Bangera, socialist student-turned-capitalist corporate, who’s changed his name to Dev Bain, to suck up to his ‘gora’ bosses, gives me that clichéd, line — “Bro, you can take the boy out of Bombay but you can’t take Bombay out of the boy”.
I turn with irritation to another American Indian Chaddi Buddy —“And you, Srikanth Krishnaswamy…why are you back? Uncle Sam doesn’t want you?”
“Oh I’m going back, dude. But after Polar Vortex, man!!!!! All 50 US states are freezing. Versova is warmer for the moment,” he says cheekily.
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62 @gmail.com
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.