Posts Tagged ‘foreign’

The NRI Effect

December 6, 2012

Growing up in a typical North Indian middle class joint family in Delhi’s Karol Baug; I, along with the rest of my extended family, was always in awe of Kake Uncle and Rita Aunty. Why? Not because they owned the biggest shop in the market, but because they went to Canada and settled there. The very first from our entire clan of Khannas of Karol Baug! They were the cool ones, the ambitious ones, the stars of our family. The chosen ones who would bring fame and fortune to the Khanna name, that too in global terms.

Such was their celebrity status that once a year when they visited India there would be a fight among the Khannas’ six houses to host them. Each section of the family would have bitter battles over whom Kake & Rita will be staying with. Each family went out of their way to ‘spruce’ up their respective homes to bring it to a standard that each family ‘thought’ would meet the now international lifestyle that Kake & Rita were accustomed to. From new bath linens to a special TV in the guest room with the channel ‘Star TV’; Lux soap instead of Hamaam; it was all there. And the food… Hasleen, Dolly, Simran, all these aunties would use different food-tactics to woo the foreign-returned celebrities. One would go the ‘you’ve missed home food rajma-chawl’ route, while another would go the ‘pasta in white sauce’ route since that’s what Kake & Rita were presumably used to now.

It was really funny. But somewhere, it also engrained a very fierce zeal to also aspire to this NRI status. The rest as they say, is history. I have been living and working in the UK now for over six years; having followed in the dream footsteps of Kake & Rita; and I made it too! I am living the ‘high life’, at least according to the Khanna family of Karol Baug. In terms of treatment back home, Rita & Kake have been replaced. I am now the star of the family. And all the same cooing and pampering is showered on me now.

But I have realized one thing. While I am leading a happy, successful, and rewarding life here in the UK as an NRI – the madness & obsession, the aspiration levels attached with living abroad, is over rated. Why? Simply because nothing compares to one’s own country. It’s like leaving your mother and calling someone else, your mother. It calls for a great amount of sacrifice & letting go. But then, that is, the NRI effect!

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Managing Expenses Abroad

June 25, 2012

When I left Punjab and came to the UK, it was not under ideal circumstances. My father had passed away suddenly. His business was taken over by his partners. My younger sister, my mother and I found ourselves, quite literally, on the road. The only way out, the little money we had saved, would be ‘invested’ in my education so that I could make something of myself and support the family.

And this is not my isolated story. It may not be under duress as it was the case with me; but an overwhelming majority of young Indians leave their beloved home towns and come away abroad, for one thing and one thing only – to improve their lot and that of their families back home. Very few people want to voluntarily just leave India. It’s with a clear focus, of earning well, and saving even more.

And that’s what I want to share with you today – my experiences post my education here in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world. It’s been two years now since I started working here in London. Fortunately, my very first job was good, at least in terms of salary. I could have comfortably rented a place of my own from the word go. But I never lost sight of my goal and of the larger picture and chose to stay in a cheap hostel. Slowly but regularly, I would save money each month. It was the kind of money management that no school or programmer could teach. Cook myself in the hostel pantry and deep freeze the daal rather than eating out or ordering for a take away – change three trains to get to work rather than taking one cab.

These, and many other frugal money management steps made me save a substantial sum of my salary each month. Even the money transfer service I chose was selected after a careful scrutiny of all the available options. Indus Fast Remit, from day one, is what I used to send money home each month. Slowly but surely, my mother with the help of an elderly uncle, was able to pay off all our creditors and got our share of the business back!

Thanks to those savings and savings that I continue to make, we have got my sister married as well. We have renovated our ancestral home. A lot has been accomplished. And while I know you may be thinking that I am showing off, the truth is, I am. Because, I am very proud of the sacrifices I have made, because that money management has helped put my family back on its feet. And that to me, and to several others like myself, Indians working the world over, is the biggest joy in the face of leaving our beloved homeland.


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