From A Non-Resident Indian To The Residing Indians

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Things we need to make clear to you guys:

1) I want to clear out the first misconception you have of us. NOT ALL OF US ARE RICH. You guys need to stop equating “living abroad” to being rich. Your definition of what’s costly applies to us too in several cases. In fact, I know of people settled in India willing to pay extravagant prices while they shop while there are so many of us NRI’s who’d rather go shop in one of those road-side bazaars where they sell reasonably priced things.

Think about it for a second. Why would we be studying here? Sure, a large number of Indian parents send their kids back to India in hopes they’d become “street smart” and shed some of their “spoilt attitude”. The main reason for a huge number of them to send their child back home is because the cost of education is so much cheaper. So stop with the sterotyping. (Admittedly, there are quite a few kids who come from rich families but I’m talking about the majority of the NRI’s here.) Also, chances are, we live in a hostel, PG or an apartment where we’ve to take care of ourselves. As a result, we tend to live a sort of budget life.

2) Yes, many of us are scared of bugs and stray animals. Where most of us come from, they aren’t a very common sight to see. We are humans and it is our nature to be scared of unfamiliar things. I come from the gulf and the most “wildlife” I have to deal with usually is a small fruit fly, a tiny cockroach or a scared stray cat in the parking lot that runs away at the sight of a human being. I personally have gotten used to the presence of stray dogs but I know a lot of other NRI’s haven’t. Heck, I know quite a number of Indians who’ve lived in India their whole life who get startled by stray dogs.

3) You guys tell us that we whine about every other thing. It’s true, I can’t deny it. We were just brought up with a different standard of living. We are just used to being surrounded by a cleaner and well maintained environment. You really can’t blame us for it, we can’t help it. Most of us come to India about once a year (but some families come home more than once and some go for like 5 years without visiting India). It’s just not we’re accustomed to, I’m sorry. It’s not that we’re trying to degrade the country, we do love our country but you have to admit, it is quite dirty and poorly organized. I know a large number of Indians residing in India would agree. As a result, we come off to many of you as “neat freaks”.

4) This is something that is not applicable to some people but it’s something I’ve noticed with quite a few NRI’s. Some of us are super fussy eaters. Many of us refuse to eat street food in fear of getting ill because we just don’t trust our poor little tummies to handle it. Then there are many of us who have set really high standards for the food we eat. We expect the meat to be cooked to perfection and everything to be just right. I don’t exactly fit into that category but I know people who do.

Many of us NRI’s can agree on one thing though. You guys put masala and spices on random things unnecessarily. You guys have this compulsive need to add extra flavor when it isn’t needed. It is nice in some cases but why nachos? Personally, I like my nachos without all the masala on it. Again, all this fuss is merely because of what we’ve grown used to over the years.

5) We keep forgetting about the concept of tax. Where I come from at least, there is no tax system and I keep getting a mini heart attack when the bill comes after a hearty meal. We purchase things after all this calculation and what not but when the bill comes to the table is when we realize there’s that one thing we haven’t accounted for because it just didn’t cross our mind: the goddamn tax. Despite being here for two years, I still forget every single time and it is quite frustrating.

6) Here’s something we absolutely suck at: bargaining. We just really don’t know how you guys have the confidence to do it. How do you know what’s reasonable and what’s not? I really don’t get it. The number of times I’ve struggled with getting an auto because I couldn’t bargain and then finally give up and agree to whatever price the auto-walla says is just sad. Kudos to those of you who’ve mastered the art of bargaining.

7) Another thing we suck at: crossing roads in India. In a country where road rules don’t seem to apply, how does one cross the road? It’s such a scary task. The bigger vehicles drive like they own the road and give no regard to the people crossing. The two-wheelers are like the vigilantes, they appear and disappear out of nowhere and sometimes, they drive the wrong way too. How the car drivers react to the poor souls walking on the road is very subjective to how nice the driver is or if he/she is in a good mood so you can never be certain of anything with them.

Bottom line is that we’re just humans who’ve lived a different lifestyle through most of our lives and we really do hope you guys could be a little more empathetic to what we go through. Don’t hate us for whining, we really can’t help it.

Also, whatever I’ve written is not necessarily applicable to ALL NRI’s and I, like a lot of other fellow NRI’s have grown out of many of these problems but still deal with many of them.

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55 thoughts on “From A Non-Resident Indian To The Residing Indians

      1. It is an issue of proportion to be made into a blog, wasnt it?

        I disagree with your points in a large number of ways.

        – you come from the gulf and yet somehow seem to compare with Indians from India. (maybe I am confused here, are you an Indian in the gulf or do you come from India and live in gulf for whatever reason?).
        -” You guys put masala and spices on random things unnecessarily. You guys have this compulsive need to add extra flavor when it isn’t needed.” Really? I like it and most of my NRI buddies too. Maybe this is a personal point to you, but its not applicable to all of us. I and I believe most of nris would rather not have be spoken on behalf of.

        – nachos? In india? Seriously? That, in itself, is kind of stupid. I mean it has not originated in India, of course they are bound to make mistake and fuck it up.

        – whoa whoa “we keep forgetting tax”. “WE!?!”. again please don’t speak on the behalf of all the nris and please maintain that these are your person views and opinions and it is not shared by everyone. I come from Canada. Specifically quebec. do you know the taxes here?! 15%. Hence dont speak on behalf of every NRI out there.

        – the blog starts with “Things we need to make clear to you guys:”. Point 6 just praised the Indians in India but point 7 is completely irrelevant to the whole blog in general. To be honest it just looked like you are shitting on indian traffic system (which is poorer than the western world) in the last point. I believe that does not hold in the blog.

        But these are opinions and my views only. also I have noted, when you bring a negative point, you start by saying “I” while you use “WE”. Example: the tax point.

        I think most of the gulf NRIs may relate but not everyone so just start with a disclaimer to make sure the indian readers (may be mu buddies lol) Don’t imply these on me , a Canadian Nri.

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      2. You do make a good case and I agree that I should’ve mentioned that this was mainly applicable to NRI’s from the gulf but there are some aspects of the post that the other NRI’s can agree with
        Admittedly, the extra masala is nice in certain foods but it isn’t pleasurable in some other food items
        Sure, nachos aren’t an important part of the Indian diet but neither is it in Dubai but they don’t change the very essence of what it should be
        Also, the nacho reference was just a random example
        I didn’t intend “imply” anything on you or the general NRI population which is why I mentioned that it isn’t applicable to everyone
        You may not relate to the post but multiple others do, else why would it be circulating with people talking about how it relates to them?
        The point is, this is from what I’ve been through or from what I’ve seen with my NRI friends and I don’t want you to assume that I speak for every single NRI

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  1. And a whining rant this is 🙂

    I am an NRI, and really, such posts only make the residents opinions worse. What is the point exactly- I am who I am, let me be? you are calling me a whiner, and I dont like it , let me whine again?

    The problem I see is that while a lot of us NRIs are exposed to many different cultures, and have “seen the world”, yet for some reason, we are the most critical of local Indians, their opinions and how they react to us. If you are who you are, and yeah, not-quite the same as other local residents, then there is no need to get bothered by what they think. If on the other hand you want to OWN being an Indian, well, eat the masala.

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    1. I understand that the post may make some people think less of NRI’s but that wasn’t the intention at all
      I tend to get remarks from my friends who’ve lived in India all their lives saying that I whine about these things or they make jokes on me being too rich or they mock my being startled or confused by certain things and this is kind of an overalll reply to that in a way
      It’s my way of telling them that its just that we’ve grown accustomed to a different lifestyle and these things are fairly new to us and that we shouldn’t be mocked for it
      It really isn’t intended to demean us, but rather to explain ourselves and the little things

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  2. Bruh. You like, nailed it!

    I am kind of like a pseudo-NRI moving in and out of India for the last 8 years, but God, can I relate! Especially the cleanliness factor!

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  3. I thought NRI is just a term banks use to segregate their clients! Officially, government of India does not give us a title, and we are known as someone who does not vote and pay taxes, but someone who is valuable as we add a significant portion to the country’s coffers!

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  4. Wow I’m an NRI from Dubai and I go against every single point on this list. But then again I wasn’t born there. However, most NRIs I know are pretty adaptable to the Indian lifestyle.

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    1. I’m an NRI from Dubai too (born in UAE) and this post is obviously not relatable to everyone and it’s very subjective
      You don’t relate to it but many others do and I have adapted to the Indian lifestyle but these are just some hurdles I’ve faced before and have gotten used to or I’ve seen others deal with

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  5. What about the time when people look at you in incredulity when u say that you want to join the armed forces. “Arrey you should join Dubai army noe. You guys love the sheiks Na”.

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  6. A nice piece with indeed.

    This is a real issue for NRI kids and especially when they are without their parents to guide them.

    When they come from relatively cleaner, quiter and healthier environs to the noise, chaos and clutter it makes them scared.

    Somethings that I take for granted like getting into a running train or bus or crossing the road willy-nilly can never be accomplished by someone that can get fined for doing such things.

    That said this is the beauty of moving countries and cultures and in the long run makes one richer for the experience

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As a former ‘Gulfie’ NRI, I find this post quite relatable especially after I spent all night trying to file my IT returns! But over the years, I think most of us have grown accustomed to the life of the everyday Indian. There was a time when I avoided road side food and drink – now I can’t do without my Tapri chai. There’s a lot more to this debate but well done on the post. NRIs and residents a like need to understand and respect both sides of the story.

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  8. It is really funny how NRI kids get tortured for well being an *NRI*. It wasnt our choice and at the same time our parents had to branch out not for the luxary but because they had none and they wanted to change their life a bit. People need to get that in their heads.

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  9. The below mentioned is applicable to NRIs who react to situations in India which, the world knows, are a common sight in the country:
    Just like you are entitled to a reaction to unfamiliar things, the unfamiliar thing being the Indian setting; we resident Indians are entitled to reacting to your reactions as it’s not very familiar/ normal to us. What’s the big fuss if the residents react to reactions of NRIs?
    You can’t go to a place knowing that it’s ‘dirty and poor’ and what not and then react to it publicly, all shocked like you just discovered it, it puts the others in an uncomfortable situation. Deal with it in a better manner. May be, the unnecessary reactions can be avoided and you can instead share your opinion about the country when asked about it. A loud unnecessary reaction is like shouting out an opinion without being asked for one which is what annoys many residents.

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    1. Nobody is really making a loud and unnecessary statement here
      And NRI’s aren’t going around whining 24/7 if that’s what you made out of this post
      Yes, you do get to react to someone complaining about things which is exactly why the post was made as a form of explanation and not whining

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  10. Hey this is soo true. Like I myself am an NRI and lives in dubai. But ppl here think that NRIs have trees that give money when shaken. No we work hard and earn all we have. This is exactly what I feel. Thanks for the amazing post. U write really well!

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  11. This maybe true. I being one myself has felt at some point.
    But there are a few things you really didnt look into while writing.

    Firstly NRI just does not mean “MIDDLE EAST”. Stop generalising. If you are then speak of Gulf NRIs.
    You know whats missing in this Article?
    How these NRI kids don’t know how to change, and always think of their other country as their home. Let me remind you, when the time comes, nobody is going to let you stay at that home.
    I would say only a handful of people get to the next stage to get a citizenship.
    I had my hostel only with NRIs. I have seen like 100-200 (vague as there are other foreigners as well)
    None of them could adjust to reality or life in India. It was too dirty, or it was too noisy, too polluted, or sometimes it was just that they were too spoonfed that they didn’t know how to get a JOB!
    Most of them don’t know what happens in India, politics wise, law wise, state affair wise and just normal things.
    Dont mistake this for me lashing out at your article,
    Its just that I find it pathetic and sad at the same time.
    NRI kids need to get more exposure. Solve hard problems.

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  12. OMG! I swear each and every point relates! You’ve described all of my 3 years of pain in one single post. And every gulfie NRI faces these problems after getting settled in India for higher education.
    A gulfie from KSA 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is so true i could easily relate to this thanks makes me feel that im not the only nri who goes through theses problems
    Im NRI from Kuwait

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  14. LOL, as an NRI who finally got out of Indian college life, MOST of these are applicable. x’D
    Especially the tax. WHY CAN YOU NOT INCLUDE THE TAX, AREN’T WE SUPPOSED TO BE THE HUMAN CALCULATORS OF THE WORLD? ;n;
    Also, the bugs. After FIVE. YEARS. All I can say is that I won’t scream at a bug, but I still won’t be in the same room as it. -_- Nice one! ^_^

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  15. Nicely written. However, as a 30 year old Indian (never liked the term “NRI”) from Sydney, I’d clear some misconceptions. This is a rebuttal from an NRI on behalf of a resident Indian.

    1. I think a lot of people in India relate to a stronger financial or economic support structure to describe the meaning of “rich”, in the context of an NRI. For example, the parental support structure that I have as a backup in India (they are not rich but they have assets to cover my risk if required). Spending power is a very superficial way to look at what rich is and I know a lot of students and friends, who do not necessarily see being rich as having a higher spending power. It also means a higher likelihood of securing an opportunity in a developed city that comes with huge benefits, as compared to an opportunity with similar credentials in India.

    2. I would be extremely surprised to find a person who has lived in India before and not seen a stray dog or cat. Anybody who has been an NRI after being an RI, should have had that experience. I am not exactly sure of what to think of an individual who lived in India and has not seen a stray dog. However yes, having lived in India, I can say its good to be careful around stray dogs, instead of amusing oneself.

    3. A lot of us NRIs also do not whine about every other thing. In fact, we see two different cultures very closely and therefore a lot of us understand the reasons, why issues like overpopulation/resource limitations can lead to poor organisation, when in fact a lot of the NRI specific countries do not share these problems. Imagine what may happen to a city with a population of 12 million. So I would argue that indian systems are probably better organised to handle such scales when compared to a system that does not scale to such large populations. Finally, I’ve seen NRIs getting drunk, house parties and a lot of them. It does not really get neat and does not even look like good behaviour.

    4. I have probably seen a very small population of NRIs who don’t apply spices to their food. After days of living on spaghetti, pasta etc., one starts cooking rice, making roti and the indian dishes just to feel happy after a hard day’s work. With the street food, a lot of NRIs tend to be “been there and done that” type. In a shorter trip, it’s makes sense not to risk your health, however it’s fine to indulge just a bit, so that one can recover before returning back. However, I have seen very less NRIs being paranoid about street food.

    5. Well a lot of us, who are NRIs after working in India for some time, are experts in making accurate estimations of tax deductions from our salaries. Generally, the percentage you talk about is very less.

    6. A lot of us NRIs are excellent at bargaining, because we have done that before in India. I don’t do it now, because I don’t care. Specially when I compare the transport costs I have to incur in a first world city as compared to an Indian city. You don’t have to pay $13 to an auto to travel 4 kms in any Indian city. So it’s not that we don’t know, rather we do not have the motivation to do it anymore. Finally, “negotiations over salary” is very similar to bargaining. And a lot of NRIs are very crafty negotiators of salary. It’s wrong to think they cannot bargain.

    7. This comes back to living in India. Anybody who has grown up and lived in India knows how to cross roads in India. These are behaviours which are embedded in us. Yes if somebody has never lived in India, then you he or she will not know.

    Your statements might be the views of a very small minority of NRIs. But most NRIs are not like the way you described.

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  16. This is literally my own thoughts penned down. I mean, after moving to India after having been born and brought up in Gulf for 16 years was a nightmare. I still havent adjusted to this place yet. And then there are many ‘patriotic’ Indians who lash back because I find the cons of living here and love my birthplace. They might be street smart but they are very self centered and impulsive. If you compare a native Indian with a fellow NRI, the latter will be much more matured mentally.
    Honestly, I just could never put my thoughts into words because of all the harassing and bullying in my initial years. I have always wanted to speak back and put up the facts but being a sensitive person which most natives aren’t, I simply went into depression and cut myself off from everyone.
    Also, I noticed some of people in the comments section saying against this post. I would like them to know that it doesn’t take much to be empathetic and kind. Instead of disliking or hating this country, maybe people like me will get a reason to love it despite its shortcomings. Because after all, human nature is much more appealing than materialistic things like crammed roads and dirty streets.

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  17. Pretty much spot on for a NRI from Gulf but I can see why NRI’s from different countries could have mixed feelings about this article. Also another thing to add to this list, the public transportation…. Now I realize that this aspect is an uncomfortable situation for even the locals but the NRIs are just completely out of their habitat and as people pile on one after another in one bus and you start seeing your life flash before you due to suffocation, you can only pray that you can actually get out at your stop and not leave with a few broken ribs :P.

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  18. Sigh! And all this time I thought it was just me who felt out of place. I agree with all the points. And I still suck at bargaining!

    Well written and thank you for writing this article! Cheers… Hope to read many more…

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  19. Very well narrated. It’s a fact, however much one denies it, that an NRI is judged for his acquired habits, criticized for his obscurity, censured for his naivity, chided for his sensitivity and castigated for his apathy towards anything native. That he deserves a benefit of doubt to make it to be a domesticated Indian considering his long (mostly) tenure abroad is essentially denied. Of course, flashes of new found riches displayed by some NRI punster gives sufficient reason to abhor. But, as the author said, not all NRIs are rich. There’s a overwhelming majority who sweat the heat out to make ends meet — which they mostly don’t, sadly! When such people come down on vacation, once in 3-4 years, they would display exuberance. That’s only natural. Bear with them…..please!

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  20. I agree with all your points. But still instead of blogging this you could take measures to improve something in our country.
    And When you guys lived here for years and went abroad for just few years, you guys can adapt to that system of living but can’t change yourself to this system of living when you come back?
    How ridiculous it could be. (I am asking this to the NRIs who stay abroad for a short period of time).
    Change your mind.. Try to do something to improve our country instead of blaming it or posting something so harsh.
    If you cannot do anything then don’t blame it. Start it from yourself to change and question if others don’t.
    In India the “Goddamn Tax” is received to improve our country at least in some way.

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    1. I was born and brought up abroad so no, I’ve never had to deal with living in India till now
      And don’t know about the others but I do my bit to keep the place clean from my end and I do it religiously so you can’t hold that against me
      But yes, the majority don’t care about the surroundings and everyone here finds it acceptable to litter and throw things everywhere so you can’t make that NRI specific
      Also, yeah, the country drains out tax from us but you really think they’re doing anything for our benefit? In my opinion, I don’t see the change
      If you do, tell me

      Liked by 1 person

  21. All of the problems that i face in my life are because my mates cant accept the fact that im brought up in a different environment. Btw i am an ex-NRI from Qatar.

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  22. Nice post, many are relatable even though I’m in USA. Why stop at 7? If I could few more.. 8 – Every time I visit India, I find Indians more American than my family visiting from America. I tend to speak in mother tongue but the reply comes in English. Not only that, we tend to learn and teach our kids shlokas and meaning of festivals and what not, The people in India do not know as much, may they take it for granted. To humse kuch sikho hum desi nahi hai. 9 – NRIs do not mean everyone has to have latest iPhone. We tend to pay much higher price for mobile phone and data and sorry we really do not have time for WhatsApp at the pace you guys able to post. 10 – NRIs work probably five days week if employed which may be equivalent to all seven days of average Indian employed. With strict timings and little chai-paani breaks. So, consider work ethics are the reason most NRIs are well-settled. At the same time, NRIs are able to afford quality family-time lot more.

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    1. The 8th issue occurs mainly due to the fact that Indians try super hard to “modernize” and they have this notion that the Indian way is the lesser way whereas people living abroad tend to crave the littlest things the culture has to offer. It’s like appreciating it because it’s not the normality where you live.
      The 9th point is really very subjective for the whole WhatsApp thing but the rest makes sense.
      The 10th one, well, there are a lot of Indians who work much much harder than NRI’s but they just don’t get the amount of money they deserve. Also, we need to consider that the difference in currency sort of gives NRI’s an advantage when in India. Not that I’m saying that NRI’s work any less, I’m just saying in general :3

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  23. I was nodding all the while reading it. Yes. yes. Yesssss.

    Every word is a truth. I am an Indian living in America and I know exactly how difficult is to explain to people how different life is here than what most of them imagine it to be,

    Great Blog !

    Liked by 1 person

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