India, Musings

Realities of life in India!!

Yes, this is another post about the ‘Realities of life in…India’ not ‘USA’… πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ This post is mostly applicable mostly for families, individuals, couples who return after a foreign visit that lasts for 2+ years or more…so here goes…

  1. We are warmly greeted by “Sirs” and “Madams” in our personal and work environments…I was pleasantly thrown off by this sudden respect…(I did not know what to think of it initially – except,”Please,please don’t call me “Mam” – I don’t mind being called by my first name, however older I maybe to you” πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ !!) In India, I had forgotten, if somebody was older to you even by two years, we automatically became “Mam” and “Sir”!! Luckily, most of my remote acquaintances have only called me as “Jayanthi”…
  2. Remember the “loneliness” that I had written about in my US-India posts? There is nothing like that here… we have friends from our school days, friends from our college days and more friends and still more friends and counting…:) And in a city like Bangalore which has a constantly moving population, the friends circle only grows all the time…and no shortage of family too… So, none of the loneliness business – if at all, we are swimming in a sea of humanity all the time which is lovely!!
  3. As I see it, most of us in India do very well financially and personally too…if at all, the only hitch might be too many people trying to influence others decisions. So, anybody going to the US or other foreign countries for better financial prospects – not to worry – life is good here!! πŸ™‚ ( for the middle and upper middle class)
  4. India, as I have observed after my US stay has a highly dependent culture. From the time we are young, children are dependent on parents and later in life, parents are dependent on children(again, no right or wrong here – just prefer the “independent” system so that we don’t stress the relationships around us) Consider these points:

a. In the US, children as young as nine months are taught to feed themselves and by the first year, they are eating independently with no help from parents. Contrast that to the Indian culture, where parents are continuously running behind the children with a bowl and spoon in hand helping them eat!!

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b. This continues to teenage years and beyond. As young teenagers, their Western counterparts are encouraged to step out of the house and start working at restaurants to understand the value of money. Is this even a feasible thought in Indian culture??(Plus,Β  it is absolutely unnecessary too – but there goes our independent thought!!)

c. Parents in the US are also encouraged to start planning for a child’s college education from the time they are born. Working professionals are encouraged to start saving for retirement once they start working, buy a house and finish paying the mortgage by the time they retire. This ensures that the child becomes independent when they enter college. Adults are independent and have enough money and own the house when they retire too!!

I am sure all this is prevalent in India of today – but up to what extent it is being done(or can be done) in India is highly debated…

d. Who can forget the maids, drivers, baby sitters, cooks of India? Every family’s routine relies heavily on the maids of India. We are heavily dependent on them for our daily chores and life is not same even if they are ‘off’ for a day… πŸ˜‰

5. Children grow more naturally and are not confused about which way to go – the Indian way or the Western way or grasp both ways…

6. I cannot resist saying this again – but just the freedom to be able to work or study or do what you to do in life without visa restrictions is indeed a huge blessing! I feel for all the women or spouses on H4 visas(H4 visa holders cannot work) who are languishing their lives abroad with fantastic degrees and not being able to put it to good use…

7. In India, we are not the first to receive the cutting edge tech products(like the latest iPhone or the latest iPad) but it does come to us eventually! πŸ™‚

8. Inter-caste and inter-religion marriages are better accepted now… I cannot imagine such a thing some 20 years ago…

9. India has a much more disciplined and meticulous life. I don’t think I have seen anybody coloring their hair, have interesting hair styles, wear different types of attire to school. Having a school uniform regulates a lot of things for school going kids. Women might try different attires but only in a city like Bangalore or other bigger cities – the smaller tier 1 and tier 2 cities expects women to be fully clad…

10. Engineering and medicine are still the most sought after professions in India! And getting into IIT is still the greatest dream of every Indian parent!!

11. And last but not least, cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad have considerable number ofΒ  children born in the US. These children have returned back to India with their parents and there are plenty of schools that accommodate them. Even colleges have a separate category on their forms for children born abroad – “OCI”!! So it is all not only “brain drain” …the reality is that there are parents who have decided to come to India for goodΒ  and India loves to accommodate these returnees!!

Cheers!

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India, US

Realities of life in the USA – 2

I thought I was done with writing about India and US but I was watching a Tamil movie ‘Achamundu Achamundu’ yesterday and all my thoughts coherently aligned yet again for another reality post!! πŸ™‚

  1. Loneliness is a huge killer for Indian families in the USA…especially, women. If you are neither a student nor are working, loneliness will grab you in her arms and never let go of you!! 😦 If you live in a cold place like Detroit, Minneapolis, Boston, Chicago -you can be certain you will be in her arms at least once in your time there.
  2. Most women who are neither working nor studying, will end up making friends in the local library, school, college, parks or other social gatherings.
  3. Friends will be the real social strength for immigrants in the USA. Anybody from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka,Β  Bangladesh and any/all Asian countries – we become extremely attached to them because of our common culture! πŸ™‚
  4. Social gatherings like weddings, engagements, pre-engagements, baby showers, baby arrival gatherings and more will come and go in India and you will be cut-off from them. You will see them in all probability only when the child goes to kindergarten or beyond…
  5. You will really not see many people outside walking on the streets like in India.You will definitely see cars, cars and more cars…

 

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6. Doing laundry everyday is really not the norm in the USA. It is something that visiting parents and in-laws will find difficulty adjusting to.

7. And if your apartment, has a common laundromat – be prepared to carry your clothes to the laundromat…(don’t we miss the maids in India?!! :))

8. Most families will not get the newspaper in paper format either. Again that is a fact that many visiting parents and in-laws have to get adjusted to.

9. If you get to visit the USA as a student, finances will be absolutely tight. You will be trying to prove yourself as a good student and you have to manage all the finances all alone for the first time in your life too.Β  This is probably the toughest path for an immigrant and the most satisfying one too. You will enjoy the American system of education which is fundamentally different from the Indian system.

10. One eye or rather both eyes will keep track of every movement in India too!! πŸ™‚ Who has won the election, what is the trend in women’s fashion world(for women), what are the children of India studying currently – might be some thoughts that are constantly whizzing through us – this is also the way to keep in touch with our motherland…

11. If you have decided to settle in the USA, you will be visiting India more than 2-3 times a year for different reasons and excuses!! πŸ˜‰

Read the first part of ‘Realities of life in the USA’Β Β here…have I missed any other realities?

India

CBSE vs ICSE – always a good battle!! :)

As most of us from India might be aware, CBSE and ICSE are the two popular education boards in India. While most of us parents are strongly attached to one particular board for any which reason, putting our child into either of the boards is a perennial dilemma for most parents. We choose one board and then after a few years think the other board might have been better and we keep see-sawing on the decision.

However, with my son having completed his Xth grade from the ICSE board and XIIth grade from the CBSE board,Β  these are a few of my learnings over the years:

  1. When he first started school in India in fourth grade, we had safely forgotten the nitty-gritty details of boards in India(remember – we returned after a long US stint) We saw the first school, liked it and he stayed there, irrespective of the board. It was then we learnt that the school was an ICSE school and learnt the ICSE way of approach.
  2. ICSE syllabus is vast. Writing ‘vast’ in the English language is easy – but understanding the word ‘vast’ and studying the ‘vast’ syllabus in ten subjects is not easy.
  3. There are ten subjects in the ICSE board for grade 10 – yes, TEN!!Β  They are Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Hist/Civics, Geography, English language, English literature, Computers/PE/or another optional subject, 2nd language.
  4. There will inevitably be 50 chapters in Math, 50 chapters in Physics, 50 chapters in Chemistry and so on for the final board exam!!Β There have been times when my son has always been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information in Xth grade and has always asked me one simple question “How can I look at all 50 chapters the night before the exam?” The answer of course is quite simple – you cannot look at all the chapters before the exam, you can only look at the weakest ones before the exam. The ICSE exam thus needs a lot of exam hacks and cracks to be successful in it with less stress.
  5. Most parents feel the CBSE board offers less stress – because the subjects are clubbed together(like Physics, Chemistry, Biology as ‘Science’, History/Civics/Geo as ‘Social Studies’) Now, I cannot say for sure whether the CBSE board till Xth grade is less stress or not – but you sure have to study all the science laws and Trignometric formulae to ace life’s academic tests.
  6. In hindsight, XIIth grade CBSE board was a relatively easier and happier experience for my son.
  7. Now, the final irony was that when the grade X and grade XII results for both the boards were released this year, the ICSE/ISC students were awarded full marks or centums in many subjects such as Math, Computer Science, History/Civics/Geo while not many were awarded centums in Math and Sciences in CBSE schools!! ( And I am a sucker for centums! :))

Quite a twist in tale, right? The supposedly easier syllabus had lesser known centums and the grading was harder (atleast from what I have seen around me) and the supposedly harder syllabus had more centums and more students got better marks than they expected!!

I am not sure which syllabus had the last laugh?

Family, India

Women’s Day

It is March 8th and yet another Women’s Day..while we rejoice this important day and women’s equality is always discussed in all spheres of life in every part of the world,Β  I keep wondering what can and should change for women. It should not be a one day affair that we talk about it and forget about it later in the year. From career choices, to pay checks, to household chores – there is always something that a women wants to speak up for.

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While I have always been very lucky in that “I” have been the only one in my life who always made my choices in how I want to work, whether I want to work and how my life will be, I know many women might not have that luxury. They are boxed into certain “careers” or “likes” from a very young age. They are told(directly or indirectly) they should be married at ‘xyz’ age and not study too much(because they will not get an equally educated groom!!) (All this might not be as prevalent in the bigger cities of India – but it is definitely present in the smaller cities)

Women in bigger cities of India have definitely come a long way but still I feel we are “boxed” into certain categories “working before marriage”, “should not work after marriage”, “must work after marriage” etc etc. I am sure most of us are helping in any little way, but I would suggest the beautiful woman to take charge and decide what is best for her and her family… after all the woman’s happiness is the family’s happiness!

Help her choose what she wants to do and stand by her!

Cheers and Happy Women’s Day! πŸ™‚