A few decades ago, when the IT boom started and many of us decided to relocate to the US,UK, Europe or wherever, India was developmentally in a different place. We did not have malls, large departmental stores, fancy gourmet specialty shops, movie multiplexes with large buckets of popcorn, etc. At that time our jaws dropped at the level of convenience, comfort, material progress that we saw, and we felt like we were in Disney World. Today, India has caught up a lot on many of these material comforts though yes, clean air and a few other infrastructural issues remain an ongoing battle.
We traded going away from homeland, away from all that was familiar to us, all that was dear to us or even something as basic as speaking your native language for a decidedly better quality of life. We morphed and fitted ourselves into the new ‘mother land’. Some of us morphed completely from eating Idli Dosa roti chawal to cereal, salad, sandwich. Others created a mini-India within their homes and stuck to traditional ways of eating and living while doing great at work and such and of course there are many shades of grey in between.
While on one side the parents of those who moved away from home are proud of their kids’ achievements, tremendous material progress, career success, etc., it is an undeniable fact that many of them are unable to stay in touch with their children as they age. In the first few years, aged parents are ready to take the long flights to hang out with the kids and grandkids during the narrow window of summer. It is not easy for them as they are usually immobile and heavily dependent on somebody to drive them around. They cannot just step out, hire an auto or a cab, go to a temple or talk to that chatty neighbour next door about the Tamizh/Hindi serial that has been going on for the past decade. They focus on enjoying the sights and sounds of a new place, new marvels to see, etc. But after a point, it gets old. As they age even more, a 17-hour flight becomes a nightmare. If they become saddled with a disease, overseas insurance becomes an issue. So, the visits reduce. The time spent with family reduces. People see their children and grandchildren once in a few years and sometimes even die before their loved one could come home to say goodbye. Ground realities.
This is the price we have paid for the material progress that we have made. I am not for a moment discounting the number of families that have been able to claw themselves out of difficult financial situations because one member of the family made it to the dollar world. Siblings could be educated and married off. Parents were bought a home to live in comfort. Yes, there was all-round prosperity, no doubt.
I belong to the category of people who lived abroad for a bit, had children there, acquired an education and then returned home. My kids were raised here. And now they want to go abroad for studying. Yes, I want my children to spread their wings and fly. Yes, I can afford to send them and fulfill their desires. But a part of me worries that I will never see them again. Even in the USA, children make it a point to go to their parents’ homes and have family gatherings at least for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. But for those of us, whose loved ones are so far away… Diwali, Baisakhi, Pongal goes by without being able to be with our loved ones.
The Global mobility – Is this now our new curse?