Return to India – Why did I?

Now the post title is a big clue as to what this post is about – my returning to India. Lets get some facts out of the way first. I was in the US working on my doctorate for the past six years two months and few days. I am in India right now. Its not been even 24hours that I arrived.

My decision to come to India probably happened sometime last year. I dont know the exact date or even the month, as it was a gradual thought forming process, but by the end of last year I was pretty sure I wanted to come back to India. After that it was more of what I would be doing in India and getting that sheet of paper that says that I am done with school in US. So another fact is that I graduated and will be joining Yahoo Labs as a Scientist in Bangalore. I will start on the 5th of Dec.

But this post is not about facts, its about fact finding. The genesis of this post was probably few minutes before landing in India. I happen to have a seat besides Sabine – a student from Denmark who was doing her studies in psychology and religion living in Benares. That and the ever pressing question that I had to confront these past few months – Why are you moving back to India. Well, you must be wondering how does Sabine come into the picture. Not much relevance, just that in all of my air travels, ever, this was the first time I had an interesting neighbor to talk to, which I wanted to document itself and that she also reminded me of my reasons to come back, which is when I thought that those reasons need documentation in a blog.

Now, the simplest and the truthful answer to the question – Why am I returning to India is – I just feel like it. It truly is just a feeling that is bringing me back, not a concrete laundry list of reasons. But me being me, I cant allow myself to think that I just acted on feelings alone. So this post diggs into that feeling giving/finding reasons to legitimize it.

Let me start the first reason with a quote.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
–T. S. Eliot

Before elaborating on this, I have a disclaimer – this is a romance which is being presented as a reason, and I fear being judged, by you and by myself, on not being able to fulfill the romance in future, but then that is the reason for this post too, a constant reminder for why I acted against the flow. So the romantic reason behind the feeling is India itself. Growing up in India, everything was assumed to be the norm. The culture, the thought process, the people, the strife, the joy, the food, the sights, the everything – to me, as I saw it, was the only possible way it could be. I did not have a perspective. Its like I was in a maze, the way out I knew, but did not know the beauty of the maze itself. That you realize only when you see other mazes and start to appreciate the subtle differences that sets them apart. Earlier for me India defined the only possible maze. But then looking upon India from a view of being in the US, made India much more interesting. As T.S. Eliot puts it, I have come back to know the place for the first time. This ‘should’ manifest itself into reading more about India, its history, its current culture and traveling to more places to see, maybe the similar sights that I saw before, but now in a different light.

The second reason, is that I feel India at heart. No, that is not from a patriotic point of view. I do not wish to defend India, or argue for it, it simply means is that I am more comfortable and can relate to the culture of India. I tried molding myself into the American culture, but America for me just remained a learning ground. It taught me things that I would have never learned in India, infact for that matter anywhere else in the world. But India I think I carry it everyday. I feel that I belong to the unorganized, the chaos of India. I know it comes with its added disadvantages – the traffic, the pollution, the adulteration, the social chaos, the information chaos, the wannabe chaos – and frankly this is what I fear might turn my decision sour, but then I am depending on getting used to it in a while.

The third reason — now as I write it, I am not sure if this should be made public, but its more beautiful and more truthful to share it, so be it — is that I can get more for the same amount of hardwork in India than in America. Now, lets be academic and accept it is all about demand and supply. In America the demand for Phd’s is quite high, so is the supply, with the latter being in excess. In India, the demand compared to America is much less, but then the corresponding supply is much less further still. So, being a Phd in India puts you at a better balance of the demand and supply seesaw. Yes, its a bit of escapist attitude, but honestly so.

The fourth reason, without the need to elaborate on, but still requiring a mention is, family and friends.

So begins Incredible India! Reloaded!