Relocating back to India..

.. and the cultural baggage that comes with it.

IHM’s latest post triggered this, but the ‘going back to Indian culture’ bit, I keep getting from people around here.Β We are relocating back to India this summer, and the most common conclusion that people jump to, is, that we are relocating because of daughter – so that she gets inculcated in ‘Indian values’.

We have some reasons to relocate to India, but daughter’s cultural well being, is definitely not on that list. If anything I worry if it is the best decision for her. In fact, I think for her, UK might be a better place to grow up in. The other day, I went to watch ‘Ek main aur ek tu’ with some friends. One of my friends remarked that it is going to be so difficult to bring up daughters when movies promote having boyfriends,sex and all that. She claims that it is easier in India -because of the ‘culture’. I couldn’t help asking her if she really thought that all this does not happen in India? Yes, people might keep things under the wraps – but it does happen. Just because parents refuse to acknowledge it, does not mean that things don’t happen. Yes, it is out in the open in the Western world – but as a parent, wouldn’t you prefer that you know what your child is up to, rather than live in blissful ignorance. And hopefully, she/he might be able to take you into confidence, and you might be able to explain why getting into a relationship at that time in life may not be the best thing.

Someone once told me that it is easier to ‘stay in touch with India’ than it was some years back because we get all the Indian channels here. She lets her child watch Indian serials so that she is comfortable with ‘Indian values’. Yes, those saas-bahu serials, those are just perfect, totally appropriate for 4 or 5 year old! Nice way of inculcating ‘values’, I should say! And what glorious values too!

One of daughter’s friends told her that they are learning Bharatanatyam to learn how to be ‘good Indian girls’. I was shocked when I heard that. I then explained to her that she is learning it because she enjoys it – not because learning a dance makes you a ‘good Indian girl’! Whatever that means, anyway! I had no ideas that there were such parameters to measure the ‘goodness’ of Indian girls!

But living here, I can see the tightrope some parents are walking, They want to do everything to prove that their children are as ‘Indian’ as people back in India. They live in dread that their children will compare unfavorably to cousins/friends back in India. So much so that they compare everything from cultural values(that they believe matters), to the education system. They also refuse to believe that India has moved on since the last time they visited.

They refuse to believe that in India we might face different challenges and sometimes the same challenges. Of a teenage child rebelling, of children testing their boundaries. At the end of the day, it is going to be the test of our parenting skills, no matter where we live.

When I see the way daughter is growing up here, as a confident person, who is never told that she is different because she is a girl, exposed to age appropriate things – I sometimes, wonder if I am doing the right thing, by moving back. Of course, there are other compelling reasons to move back, and I do believe that she will be fine, even if we have some initial hiccups. One thing is for sure, it is not because of the ‘cultural benefits’ that we are moving back.

All I know is that I want her to be a confident young woman, who is in a position to decide for herself what she wants in life. That I believe would be the same, no matter where I live. I certainly do not want her to be a puppet who does things because they are expected of her. I want her to know that any relationship she gets into, she should be happy and that she need not be a doormat to be happy. That any relationship that expects her to change into some other person, is probably not right for her. That things change, and if one has to walk out of a relationship, it is not the end of the world. And that no matter what, her parents will be there for her. And these things, I think, should not change, no matter which part of the world we live in.

39 thoughts on “Relocating back to India..

  1. hmmmmmmmmmm…
    Relocating back to india, one of my cousins is thinking of the same too and i gave the same statement to them, Kids . It will be difficult for them for sure. And sorry to upset you on this I dont think back home things have changed that much, they look to have changed but I doubt it.

    I know – it will be difficult for kids initially – but I do think that they are more adaptable that we give them credit for.

    Although I like it when you say you are not going back for Cultural values, GOOD , cause all those people who keep saying this doesnot happen in india etc etc well let me give you a GOVT. figure the average age of a young girl or boy who are into physical relation is 16, in some states of india. Thats why i said good its not the cultural values as a reason for youto go back, because we are losing them faster there.

    I agree – I think culturally – there are just as many negative influences as there are here. My point is, that wherever we live, we will have these challenges – there is no magical land – and as far as we are grounded, and help our children, when they need us- hopefully things should be fine.

    YEs there will be initial hiccups but I ma sure you and hubby are intelligent and know what is best for your daughter, All i would say is dont make a decision on WHAT others say.

    Oh no – this is not a decision made based on what others say. Husband and I have discussed this between ourselves a million times, and we both feel that it is the right hing to do. And anyway, we did not come here to live abroad forever- we always planned to go back.

    As you said as parents you will always be there , I think that is what is missing in india most families are missing that, We talk to people or friends but then how many people are friends do we talk to , they dont make the majority hence inspite of talking ot all of them whatever decision we come to it still maybe be what majority say, (if you know what i mean)

    My thoughts especially when kids are concerned is that I have struggled hard when i was in india to do something, my parents did it too.. SO now that I have made something of my life , for me to go back and start again would mean MY KIDS will have t ogo through the same struggle again, then what use was my struggle to be where i am .. (if you know what I mean)

    Yes, I do understand that. Also I think a little struggle will not hurt anyone.. We have struggled too – but to be honest, I think it just adds to our personality, rather than take away anything..

    but then these are my thoughts and my concern

    as you say you have a lot of other compelling reasons to have come to that decision, I am not the one who would say negative about what decisions people make , because we are all intelligent grown up people. πŸ™‚ well i think i am he he heh e

    πŸ™‚ Yes, we will have to assume that all of us are intelligent people πŸ™‚

    Living here on a tightrope is Silly i think, we are confusing our kids more with that Indian thing, rather then do that its best to go back to india . Sending kids to classes and all that is fine upto a extent but forcing the values and all will not help, kids will pick them up from their parents, seeing parents dwindling in their own values and living a double life as a foreginer and as a indian is agin going to confuse them more .

    I agree.

    you are right end of the day its going to be parenting skills no matter where you live.. But then a lot of other things come into the scenario, the oppurtunities that one gets , the facilities that one gets , the accolades or moving forward one gets for working hard .. are not same everywhere.. values or no values dont come in picture then , one can have high morales or values they alone dont help in life..

    sorry i have gone on and on and onnnnnn πŸ™‚ I am sure you guys will be FINE and little poohie will have a ball of a time with her parents looking after her..

    all the best in everything Smitha.. hey summer is not far away πŸ™‚

    Thank you πŸ™‚ Thanks for the wishes , Bikram πŸ™‚

  2. Bharatanatyam teaches you how to be a good Indian girl?? Thats most bizarre thing I have heard!

    I know! I was stunned when I heard that.. Some of the things i hear scare me, sometimes – the kind of stuff some parents tell their children 😦 I should do a post on them, sometime.

    I pity the parents who have such regressive and ridiculous ideas about our culture!

    Me too.. I pity the parents and their children – who bear the brunt of their attitude.

    “All I know is that I want her to be a confident young woman, who is in a position to decide for herself what she wants in life.” And that you will achieve irrespective of where you are. So good luck on the relocation and I hope and pray Poohi loves and lives every bit of her stay in India πŸ™‚

    Amen to that, Deeps πŸ™‚

  3. Its a delicate balance. I just had the conversation with someone: ‘How knowing Hindi is keeping close to culture’ I was quick to point out, its more to do with roots than culture. And of course, the other person just backed off!!!

    Absolutely! And who is a third person to judge whether or not we are ‘close to culture’ or not. Or if we even want to or not.

    Firstly, moving to India in summer, thats exciting, scary and exciting all over. Good Luck with the move… and the apprehensions that come with it.

    Thank you – we will need all the luck πŸ™‚ Yes, it is everything all mixed in – but to be honest, we are super excited πŸ™‚

    Now, i think for our kids, its more about values, than ‘Indian/ Western’ values. I often tell my husband, I want my daughter to have a normal childhood, her crushes, her dreams!! It does not help by just shushing them off!!!


    I have seen parents in India come a long way now in bigger cities. They are more open to their kids exploring age appropriate behaviours, be it going to rock shows as teens, or going for kids plays at 5! The more relaxed parents are, the more responsible kids are being.

    ‘The more relaxed parents are, the more responsible kids are being. ‘ – I think that is because the children understand that the parents trust them – and are less likely to break that trust..Rather than when they are forced to do things against their will..

    In smaller cities, I have sadly seen a ‘not so pretty sight’ again, my view is myopic to the set of family/ firends I have been exposed to.

    Anyways, I am with you when it comes to Letting the kids (whether boys or girls) be kids, confident, clear of their wishes and simple outlook.

    I agree.

  4. We (me and my husband) are not doing enough for our daughter to be Indian because we don’t take her to Chinmaya mission every Sunday so she can be in proximity with her Indian values. We are lazy parents coz we just ask her to have a video chat with her grandparents every sunday instead πŸ™‚

    And we are Indian parents with no Indian values, because we are not trying to create a ‘good Indian girl’ in daughter πŸ˜‰

    She learnt hindi by talking to us and not by taking classes but then because we are very lazy to take her to those classes πŸ™‚ not good for her at all you see..

    Not good at all! Of course not! How can it be good if it is not taught in a ‘class’? I know people whose children have hated Indian dance classes, but are forced to go – simply because at least they will leanr some shlokas. What is the point if the child hates it, and ends up feeling resentment towards that culture which makes her leanr all this?

  5. Pertinent post! I do hope she manages, and am sure she will because she will have wonderful parents to take her through the transition. Just that is a major major plus… that you will let her be her πŸ™‚ A move anywhere is a huge problem, but for a child coming from a place outside India back here, can be all the more, with all and sundry going on about how the “parents” have not sufficiently trained especially their girl children. Boys almost always get away scot free… 😦 It’s the girls who are always targeted. And I see it happening in schools too, the discrimination coming from teachers who cannot handle it! Sigh.
    Wish you all well, and hope that you can come through with as little problem as possible πŸ™‚ You’ll do ok πŸ™‚

    • Usha, I hope it all works out.. We can only do our best, and ensure that as far as possible daughter is not negatively impacted.. To be honest, I have a feeling she will adapt far better than us πŸ™‚

  6. It’s not the first time I’m saying, and won’t be the last time either…. i think, as a parent, you rock!!!!

    Where have you been??? Hugs!!!!! Missed you so much in the blogworld!! Thank you Crafty!

    more and more kids (esp girls…. i’m sorry i even have to make this disctiction, but i do) needs mothers who think like you do. so they don’t have identity issues / self-esteem issues or the burden of society expectations.

    I agree. More so girls because the society is out there, with the stereotypes, and expectations, so it falls upon the parents to work against all those influences.

    Because if your mom / parents / loved ones are cool… what the rest of the world thinks of you seems so inconsequential.

    I totally totally agree!

    bharatnatyam to raise a good girl indeed! what next… cooking and rangoli classes to secure a place in heaven.

    LOL! That might not be too far off πŸ™‚

    Smithu, salutes for that last paragraph! really!!! and tight hugssssss too! poohi kutty is gonna grow up to be awesome!

    Amen to that, Crafty πŸ™‚ She passes you hugs back πŸ™‚

    There def are pros and cons to shifting back, I’m sure…. but here’s a pro… you get more crochet stuff via courier! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€
    That is a definite pro πŸ™‚ And I remember the chocolate orange cake I have promised you πŸ™‚

  7. It is a toughie – would a child benefit from growing up amidst family and their bonding or would she benefit better from a society that gives you an option to be who you want to be.

    True. And there are loads of other factors too – which might be positive or negative..

    I, for one, am not a believer in taking the right decision. Because all decisions are shades of grey. What is important is the intention behind opting for it. As long as you have made peace with that, executing your decision should be fine.

    I totally agree with that,CR! That is exactly the way we are approaching it.

    Double standards of parents reminded me of an incident. A couple and their kid eat meat and their families don’t know about it. When the grandfather came to visit, they stopped cooking meat at home and asked their 3yr old to shut up as well. One day the child was craving too much and kept muttering ‘fish’. The father lied to the grandfather about taking the kid to an aquarium and took him to a nearby chippy and bribed him to not tell a word to grandpa.

    I was speechless!

    Goodness! Husband’s parents don’t eat non-veg. We, the three of us, eat chicken, and daughter eats chicken and fish – and they are aware of it. They don’t approve- but they know. It makes no sense to hide it – and worse still, expect little children to lie as well!

  8. Sometimes I think Indian parents living abroad are the most confused lot πŸ™„ They think it is cool to keep telling that even though they live here they prefer to do everything the Indian Way which is the right way. bahhh…it’s like someone has kept a gun on their heads and making them work here…sigh!! The sad part is that because of their ridiculous beliefs it’s the kids who are put to extreme stress. I think I can go on and on and on about this double standards!!!

    I know! If they are so unhappy or so paranoid that the West will corrupt their children, just go home! Why don’t they see that they are actually making it so very tough on the children. I can’t help feeling really, really sorry for the kids..

    Btw we are always given a lecture on what a careless parent we are by not sending the son to religious classes, not enrolling him for Hindi and Abacus classes, opting for western music instead of sending him to all those Shaimak Davar, Suresh Wadkar Academy!!!! 😑

    Goodness! You know your son, right? If he enjoys Western Music – why not? if he wants to do Indian music, I am sure you would help him with that too! But why this insistence on ‘Indian things’ ? That is what bothers me.. And anyway, I am not too sure I want my child gyrating to Bollywood music anyway 😦

    Come on Poohi is a super girl of super parents. She will turn out fine and even if she stumbles along her journey she will have caring and non prejudiced people around her to boost her up πŸ™‚

    We are just doing our best, Saks.. Hopefully, it will all work out fine.

    Hugs to you all and best wishes for the move.

    Thanks loads! Hugs to you and the little darling! He is so grown up now!

  9. Good luck Smitha.. wishing you and your family a very smooth transition..
    Loved every word of the last para of this post.. exactly the way of how I wish to bring up Adi… Good luck again lady..

  10. Bharatnatyam makes you a good Indian girl? No wonder I wasn’t one…I chose to quit after one year! πŸ˜›

    And I never learnt – though I grew up in India – I must be horrid!!!!

    I am always amazed at how skewed people’s perceptions are about culture and stuff. For me personally, I don’t think culture matters but rather, the values a family passes on to their children. I for one have never been sympathetic to the Indian culture or even felt part of it. Does that make me a bad person? Not sure. But I do know my parents have imparted values such as honesty and integrity which I continue to abide by. And I meet people from varied cultures that have similar values. Good luck with the move!

    And I meet people from varied cultures that have similar values.- Exactly! I don’t think we Indians(or any culture for that matter) are superior in any way!

    Thanks, PB!

  11. we are not permanently settled here…it’s till the company requires us to be day a family member commented that I shouldn’t make my daughter too americanised(btw my daughter is 16 months old) and should teach her indian values…. This was in response to my comment that I’ll never force my decisions on her, if her choices are different than mine or I have some objections, I’ll discuss but final decision would be hers…to this I got indian values lecture…. I asked that member, how indian values are different than any values that a parent wants in their children… After all we want our children to grow up to be happy, assertive, socially responsible, good natured human beings….would I be happy if my daughter cried every night before sleep to protect so called indian values that demand a girl to be doormat?

    I can imagine! It is never too early to ‘stop your daughter from getting too americanised’ , you see! Someone mentioned that a cousin of hers got divorced- she was brought up in the US. Apparently if her parents had sent her to her grandparents when she was growing up- this would have never happened! What do say to people who think like this?
    from that moment onwards I have never gotten “indian values” lecture..may be because I have lost those values(as per them)

    πŸ™‚ Good for you πŸ™‚ Now they know to never say that to you again!

  12. Smitha, very valid concerns. I think at the end of the day, its the home environment and parenting that really makes a difference and like u say, it stays the same wherever you are. I’m sure Poohi is both young enough and mature enough to adapt (as long as we accept that there will be hiccups). Having said that, believe me we jumped into the deep end of the pool when we moved to Noida from San Francisco and Ads did have some adjustment issues for several months esp the language barrier. Northern India is far more distant culturally from the South methinks than SFO and bangalore πŸ™‚ I think you are moving to Bangalore, right? It should be much easier there.

    Yes, we are moving to Bangalore -hopefully it will be alright.. I am sure we will have hiccups, but hopefully should be able to sort them out..

    One of my cousins recently said ” I think I screwed up my children’s education by moving back to India” but I think that is more a function of which school they go to than anything else. So many great private schools in the metros do manage to replicate some of the good aspects of education of the developed world.
    All the best!

    I agree. I am sure there are plenty of good schools around, and we as parents are there to help in any way we can.. . Thanks for your wishes, Aparna.

  13. People talk about Indian culture but what about safety for girls/women in India? Parents relocate to India to make their daughters better Indians (whatever that may be) – how about putting in more effort in raising better children (daughters and sons) wherever they are? If we had fewer misogynistic and chauvinistic men in India, life for women would be much better…If boys are continued to be raised to feel entitled then girls’ safety will continue to be an issue…Safety is the biggest reason we would like to stay on in Singapore…

    • I agree, Sraboney. Safety is something I really worry about. One of my biggest worries for daughter.. Infact a friend had suggested moving to Singapore instead -close enough to India, and with all the benefits that we typically look for..

  14. I think a lot of parents are over protective about their children. Indian parents take it a step further and are over-protective even when their child is 40 years old.

    I totally agree!

    The whole idea should be to let your child evolve and not to impose any culture on her. Culture is a very vague term. If you look around, there is practically no culture, only mindsets. Moving back to India so that your daughter grows up in your culture is the biggest stupidity anyone can come up with and thankfully you are not one of them.
    Anyways, for whatever reasons you are moving back, its going to be really tough. You will realize what an easy life you had there. Best of luck! πŸ™‚
    I am sure there will challenges, and hopefully we will be strong enough to tackle them…

  15. Loved this post. I wish you and Poohi all the very best. May this move help you and her in achieving all your dreams together. You are such a thoughtful mother – from what I have read on your blog so far – that Poohi need not worry. She is in capable, good hands. πŸ™‚

    Thank you TGND πŸ™‚

    I haven’t ever lived outside India as such, but hubby and I have discussed this issue several times over. I agree completely – even in India, things like boyfriends and extra-marital affairs and live-ins happen. It is up to you how you want your child to look at these things. It all boils down to the relationship you share with your daughter, I guess.

    I agree.. There is no magical place where all problems disappear..

    Oh, and don’t even get me started on Hindi serials. They are full of vamps, dumb women, doormats and husbands without a heart. Real life is so very very different. TV shows have a lot of growing up to do, in India. They still seem to be based in the 1920s!

    Totally!!! And all those people watching them have a lot of growing up to do as well.

  16. I’ve said this before, and I say it again, (and I will keep on saying it). We need more parents like you around to keep the world a saner place for daughters!! πŸ™‚ Hugs!!

    Thank you, Ash πŸ™‚ As I have said before – you are good for my ego πŸ™‚ I just do the best I can..

    I can still understand why teaching a girl Bharatnatyam would give her some exposure to the art and culture of India…. but how on earth will saas bahu serials help!! 😯 Where on earth do people come up with these daft, pathetic, twisted ideas??!!!! 😑 God!!

    Exposure is fine. But what I don’t like is the implication that others who don’t are not ‘good indian girls’. There will be plenty of girls who are just not interested – does that make them less Indian? I hate such ideas being put in a child’s head..

    I know of a lot of parents who shifted back from abroad because of daughters. This is the same thing I also keep wondering. Don’t they even have a clue what life back in India is like??

    I wonder too! They seem to think that India is a magical place with no problems 😦

    Sadly here is another generation wanting to raise good daughters-in-law, or else “what will society think”?! 😐 Just wish there were people intent on breaking this damn vicious cycle!!!

    Yes, that too 😦 I am sure things will change – they already are.. just not as fast as we would have liked..

  17. 1. I am a good Indian girl – I know Bharatnatyam..yayaya!
    Sometimes I think between you and Sangi, you teach me so much about parenting, that if R grows up to be a good girl, you both will get sashtang namaskar from RD, RM AND R!!

  18. From the stories that I keep hearing I get a feeling that Indians who have relocated out of India are burdened with a guilt that they have routed their kids from their “so called culture” and that is why they try to imbibe the same in them. This they do in the name of some classes, being strict to them etc etc. what they forget in process is that Indian’s in India is moving ahead. And I am not saying that these classes are bad but enrolling kids in them shud be based on their choice and will & not because Parents are feeling guilty. Itni guilt hai to come back to India na. Why burden your kids with expectations. It is the parents who make their kids what they call “confused desi”.

    ‘And I am not saying that these classes are bad but enrolling kids in them shud be based on their choice and will & not because Parents are feeling guilty.’ – Exactly!! That is how I feel! Yes, it is the parents who make children ‘confused desis’!

    And I so much agree with you when u say that the priority shud be making your kid a confident & Independent individual rest all things will automatically fall in place.

    Hopefully πŸ™‚

  19. hey smitha..great to know you are coming back to India. I made the same move 2 years back and believe me you will get settled pretty fast. There will be initial hiccups but they are there when we move to any new place. I know so many people who have come back to India from USA and UK after staying there for more than a decade. They loved it here…and I am loving it too…

  20. We went for a vacation to India this July. My daughter was watching Zee Marathi every day with her grandparents. (5 min of program and 10 min of commercials.) The one commercial she picked up and loved to repeat during the day. “Kama Sutra! Excite Condoms!”
    Gives me shudders. I am glad she is back with Arthur, Word Girl, Dinosaur train etc.

    We might have to back next year for good and I am so worried to keep her with the age appropriate TV. I would have to ban my MIL from watching TV. (as if I could!)

    • Welcome here, Jyothi. TV is one thing that so far, thankfully daughter does not watch. Although how long that’s going to last… But yes so many things are age inappropriate that it worries me.

  21. I am India born and always dream of going back to live in India. My husband was born in the UK but educated in India and shares my dream. In many ways India is like Hotel California “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave”.

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