5 Reasons how the move to India worked for my kids

Every year a number of Indians who live in the US make the decision to move back to India. The reasons are many and varied, from ailing parents to cultural values. There is also a reverse trend happening. Some people decide to relocate to India and then find that it was not what they imagined it would be. The whole Malgudi days effect they imagined was not happening and they realize they have adapted to America more than they thought and decide to go back. Different strokes for different folks and things don’t work out for many people on the work front, kids front, relatives front and so on. But here are the reasons why for my kids, I believe the move back to India has worked out really well.

Friends:  The number one reason is the social life. We live in a gated community of apartments and there are, at any point in time, at least 50 children playing in the park. There is cricket, football, skating and a whole host of other games and activities going on for children and there is no need to set up play dates, appointments, take them to the mall play area and all those inconveniences that made life a little tedious abroad. Entertaining children is one of the active duties of parents living in the US, especially with small children. Here, you just take them downstairs to the common play area, when they are older they flee to the play area on their own. In fact, we have created a WhatsApp group of my kids’ friends’ parents in the community to find out where the child is playing at any given point. So liberating!family friends

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Family: Life can be very isolated in the US without family. Here, the kids have regular access to grandparents, cousins and extended family . They get to establish bonds that would stay with them through life. They get to spend summers with cousins creating wonderful memories instead of being forced to go to summer camps to spend time. The Indian wedding as we all know is an experience! I love that my kids get to have those experiences not  just as a bemused  spectator, but as an active participant!.kids with grandparent

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Diwali: The festival of lights! So many fond memories I have of Diwali and I wanted the same for my kids. We lived in Minnesota and of course we stashed some fireworks from 4th of July, but we had to wear jackets to go outside to light the fireworks and we stood quaking in 4 degrees Celsius holding sparklers trying not to burn a hole in our jackets. In India, Diwali takes on a life of its own and I love that the kids are celebrating it here with cousins, grandparents and with all the traditional trappings of how Diwali should be celebrated!Kids in Diwali

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A reality check:  Human beings can get accustomed to material comforts very easily, to a point where it overrides everything else. Even in India, I know of people who would refuse to spend a weekend at a relative’s house because they cannot provide the kind of material comforts that they are used to, and therefore, stay at a hotel. I am happy that my kids are exposed to a lot of things in India. They see children begging at signals and they ask me questions. They look at the slum sprawl next to the urban high rise buildings. They are exposed to a lot of what makes India what it is and that is a priceless education.

Roots: No matter how much you take your kids to Bala Vihar on the weekends (I did) and enrolled them in classical dance (I did), it is very hard for Indian kids to get a true sense of what it means to be Indian. They are caught between two cultures and largely relate more to their everyday reality than the ‘fancy dress competition’ that happens every now and then. I feel my children have a stronger sense of who they are because I chose to raise them here. Abroad, there seems to be a struggle of trying to fit in, wondering which identity you relate to more and the whole inner conflict of ‘who am I’. Indian parents abroad are torn between allowing their children to go to the prom with or without a date, whether they should send their child to the school dance or not and many such issues.

Of course, raising your kids in India is not without its own drawbacks. I personally believe the American education system is better than the Indian system. There is a lot more choice on what you want to study and there is no ‘one’ exam that can make or break your future forever! America believes in second chances and if you screw up once, you get to try again and make it all right. This is lacking in India. There is way too much pressure on high school kids here. The American system inherently also promotes questioning and standing up for individual rights and opinions. That being said, the Indian system teaches you the value of rigour, of adjusting with family beyond your personal preferences and gives you a broader perspective on human life. Of course, I guess we got lucky that our kids adjusted well and it all just worked out!

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