Diary of a returning NRI to India in troubled times

The lull this time in posting was because of a hectic annual pilgrimage – home for an NRI.

It was as wonderful as stressful. The stress does not come from the increased physical activity of meeting up on friends and relatices nor does it come from the innumerous little tasks or paperwork to sort out personal finances, property and other transactions.

Much as it hurts to say, and at the risk of sounding like an old laggard, the stress comes from seeing the state of affairs and the direction Indian economy is headed.

It is a wonder people have not revolted on rising food prices. Worse thing is the feeling that part of the problems are not India’s making like the depreciating rupee or concerns in Syria. It could only get worse.

There was red tape as usual and things still move at a snail’s pace in a fast-moving city like Mumbai; from the trains to getting a new property registered.

It is all not gloomy, too.

There were relatives who formed a bond, better and sweeter than before.

There were occasions when it was difficult to decide if the once middle-class predominant young India was indulging too much into expensive smartphones; And whether it had a connection to the increasing tarnish on the country’s image as an unsafe place for women.

And then there were lighter moments, too.

On a long-distance train trip from Nagpur back to Mumbai, a teenaged girl got into our compartment (s9) and tried moving into the next connected one because the train halted at her boarding station for only a minute.

And then she panicked. She shrieked, started sobbing. Turned out she assumed her compartment, which was s10, was next to ours. Quite logical to assume, but hey, this is India. Turned out s10 was on the other end of the train, 12 bogeys away.

Given the insecure environment, we thought it was a genuine girl who needed consolation. And then came the shocker.

As my wife and many gathered around to console she called up her male friend/brother who was to meet her at the next station. “There, you are sorted. No need to worry now,” we said.

“What ya, I am screwed,” she replied wailing.

And we were stumped.



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