Going home.

It’s been 6 years. When we came to the US, I never thought I wouldn’t go back for this long. My sister had been in the country before me, and she visited home faithfully, once, sometimes twice a year. I thought I would do the same.

For reasons that are too complicated to go into, that didn’t happen. The first few years in the US, I was terribly homesick. Then I discovered Vox , and stopped feeling quite so lonely. The parents came for a visit, and the homesickness got better. I started watching Bollywood movies again, befriending desis on twitter without getting an ache in my belly. Even now, reading books about the diaspora is hard. As are the festivals. Every time I find a piece of clothing that I like, it turns out to be Made in India.

It’s time to go home.

Will I be able to come back? I don’t know. There is a job for me here, but the paperwork road is long and painful, and there are never any guarantees. My very expensive lawyer says so. It might be safer for me to just stay put and wait for my visa to come through, but I’ve chosen to take my chances and go home.

Family and friends want us back, permanently. There are jobs to be had in India. There is family. The monsoon. Chai by the roadside. And as a friend told me, ‘You will actually be able to afford help.’

I’m torn. Unlike most would-be immigrants, I did not come to the US looking for wealth. Unlike my husband, I did not come looking for excellent training, though it found me. I came looking for a meritocracy. And I found it, in a workplace where people do their jobs without asking for bribes, where medications aren’t adulterated, where cars stop for pedestrians. As scary as the current political climate is, America is still the most diverse country I know, and Americans the most accepting of people. (I say this having lived in the deep south for a year, and rural Appalachia for another three.)

Yes, I can probably make more money as a physician in India. But can I live this clutter-free life? Can I make a living without compromising my values? If I have children here, they will be American, not Indian. They will never identify with the rain, with Holi and Diwali, with dhotis and saris like I do. But they will grow up being able to practice what I preach, being able to learn that you can survive without being corrupt, that you don’t have to pull someone else down to get out of the bucket.

There are no good answers. The decision is still a couple of years away, until A finishes his training. In the meantime, I’m going home. If they let me back in, I’ll be happy. If not, I’ll extend this vacation and travel the world, until I find another place like this.





About purplesque

Psychiatrist, cook, bookworm, photographer. Not necessarily in that order.
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21 Responses to Going home.

  1. gregsmithmd says:

    Bittersweet and heartfelt.
    Thank you for sharing this.


  2. rlbates says:

    Ditto Dr. Smith’s comment. Best to you!

  3. jshaily says:

    As you said, there are no good/right answers….I will still go back to India ( if the decision was mine and only included me) in a heartbeat despite all you said just for the smell of home. Believe in God/destiny or whatever you believe in, that whatever is supposed to happen will happen and will be for the best. Take care.

  4. Melissa (DrSnit) says:

    What a painful and beautiful post.

  5. Zaid says:

    Perhaps people like you coming back may help change things here at home..the corruption, the adulteration ..even the ‘not stopping to let pedestrians cross’. Maybe that’s the silver lining

  6. Lurkertype says:

    I think you need to see home again now that you have some perspective. It’ll help you make sure that you know what your path ahead should be.

    But we need good people here, so I hope you come back to help us and possibly raise some kind, generous Indian-American kids.

    Whichever country you settle in, they are lucky to have you.

  7. aubrey says:

    I can see where your heart is, and there are times when you should follow it. You can have a successful life here, but will you be content? Will ‘what if?’ questions harangue you daily?

    I think you should visit your home – though it takes you far away from most of us – and see what your heart says, see if you are content and see what kind of answers you find at your door.

  8. mizunogirl says:

    Lots to think about. I’m not sure how I would handle such a decision. I imagine though that a visit to home may put it all into perspective for you!

  9. Boston Margy says:

    You face a difficult decision and you have my support and good thoughts. Home is home, even though there are some obvious dangers. Is there some way your experience in the US can contribute in some way to improving the situation in India?

    India is becoming a world power economically. It will have to deal with the instability at some point or another. Yes, the US has a lot to offer, even now, but it’s not the same as being home.

    Good luck, whatever you do.

  10. Pingback: The Diaspora Dilemma | Scepticemia

  11. Pranab says:

    Very well written account. I am touched. So much so that I started out writing a comment and it became longer and longer and I made it a post on my blog! 😛 I hope whatever you decide, makes happy. Guess that is what matters in the long run!

    I hope everything works out well in the end mate. Keep writing on how things evolve!

  12. beautiful post, beautiful thoughts & beautiful description of inner turmoil in so little words.. simply beautiful… welcome back home… 🙂

  13. BlueMist says:

    I don’t know if there are answers for these things. I know how it feels. I am always torn with these feelings.

  14. No place like home. It seems that most young people go home when they have children, understandably so.

  15. zottavox says:

    That’s a very deep post, purplesque. Good one. I think that whatever you do will work out fine, because your a good, honest, smart and hardworking person. Myself I might find it tiring to fly all the way over to India, as I’m relatively sensitive to jet-lag, but it sounds like a great idea for you!

  16. Cimmorene says:

    You’ll still blog to us, won’t you, mer?

  17. I hear this from the Indian in-laws too—they’re terribly homesick, but they hate the corruption, the lack of public services, and the disorder back at home. They do visit India regularly, but each time they come home shaking their heads and saying, “It’s too much! I can’t handle it, not after living here so long.”

    I hope you’ll find some satisfaction in going home, though I also hope you’ll be able to return! A warning to you, however: When I went back to California and saw my parents that last time two years ago, I knew I couldn’t stay away any longer. I packed up my old life in Minnesota, and while I have regrets, I’m also at peace with my decision. I know your circumstances are different, but when you go home, you sometimes confront things you didn’t know about yourself, and they change you. I hope however yours will give you comfort and strength. ((Hugs)) for you! And enjoy your travels!

  18. phantomxii says:

    It’s nice that Vox was a help to you in the face of homesickness. A reminder that we’re more than just a bunch of dorks noodling around with our computers. 🙂

    I wonder if there will always be some grass-is-always-greener for you. Two places, so far apart, entirely different sets of pros and cons. I’ve experienced a micro-version of that tension, trying to decide where to live in the U.S., often unsure I’ve made the right decision. (And the decision has been the hometown for most of my life; profound pros and cons, just like anything else, I guess.)

  19. robpixaday says:

    Oh, my gosh………………
    Yes, no answers, not easy ones, anyway.

    Have to admit I read this when you first posted it and felt SOOOOO BAD that you might leave. But seconds later I realized how silly that was: you could still be here, with us, with your “peeps,” even though you might leave the U.S. But I couldn’t bring myself to say anything then because I was worrying that you might just drift away anyway. As someone who’s done that on occasion I know how easy it is, and it made me sad.

    But here it is weeks later and I wonder how you are, what you’re thinking, how you’re seeing this decision…will it be a conclusive one, a “clean break,” if you return to india? Will you plan to leave us all behind? Or will you plan to stay here, too, to visit us when you can?

    I hope that whatever you decide about your life will be a decision that fills you with joy.

    Wherever you live you’re loved. Valued. Cherished not only for your knowledge and skill but also for your consummate humanity.


  20. Reading this late (just back into blogging and gradually tracking down all the ex-voxers) but tood post. I am only 1000km away from my ‘home’ but still feel confliced about it even though it is 20+ years since I first moved away and I now have a new ‘home’ and family to keep me where I am. I always feel really grumpy and disturbed for a few days after a trip back there.

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