Why do NRIs love to hate India?

Why do NRIs love to hate India?

The Paradox of Nostalgia and Criticism

As I sit down to pen this piece, the tranquil waves of Bondi Beach soothingly lapping against the beach is a stark contrast to the raging topic I am about to delve into. Being a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) myself, I often find myself torn between subscribing to a fond nostalgia of India and criticising its shortcomings. Bruno, my sprightly Australian Shepherd and the adorable chatterbox Kiwi, a parrot with peculiar fascination for Bollywood dances, keenly bear the brunt of my introspections. As we embark on this complex undertaking, allow me to paint a picture of the paradox that engulfs NRIs regarding their motherland.

Melodious Memories Mired in Modern Maladies

Firmly ensconced in a new country, NRIs often cling onto memories of their motherland, revelling in its vibrant culture, delightful cuisines, and heartwarming hospitality, much like how Kiwi, my charming parrot clings on to a piece of spicy pappadam, mirroring my nostalgic indulgence. Yet, these moments of nostalgia are often marred by the rapid emergence of the many socio-economic issues; poverty, infrastructure, politics, corruption, and so on. Just last week, a casual video call with my friends back in India, meant to be a breezy chit-chat session, quickly spiralled into a heated debate on Indian politics. As we traversed topics like rampant corruption and bureaucratical inefficiencies, the sweet notes of "Purani Jeans" playing softly in the background felt like a bittersweet symphony echoing the palpable discord between our love and resentment for our homeland.

The Conflict Between Appreciation and Evaluation

The paradox of NRI's relationship with India does not escape Bruno, my canine companion. Each time I instinctively break into a Hindi song during our beach walks, he looks at me with those knowing eyes, almost sensing this dichotomy. The key to understanding this conflict lies in distinguishing between appreciation and evaluation. There's a distinct divide between appreciating our motherland, adoring the namkeen chai, the monsoon rains, the kite flying festivals, and Ramanand Sagar's "Ramayan" reruns from evaluating the quality of life, governance, and administration. As NRIs, we maintain a deep appreciation for our roots, but the very same emotional connection compels us to critically evaluate and question the state of affairs back home.

Roots Run Deep But Criticism Runs Deeper

Despite the constructive criticism, the undeniable fact remains that our roots run deep. The scent of mother's homemade naan, the sight of bustling markets, the sound of Hindi film music, for all the criticism, still holds a special place in our hearts. Often, this criticism stems from a sense of responsibility and frustration. This is especially true when we witness the potential of India going unfulfilled due to fewer advancements compared to the country they reside in. As NRIs, we can acknowledge the problems plaguing India, but we can't deny the intoxicating love we have for our homeland. That's the beauty of this paradoxical relationship.

A compelling instance of this was during a family vacation to Jaipur. A sudden halt in our auto-rickshaw ride due to a striking herd of cows nonchalantly crossing the road was met with a burst of laughter from me. However, my Western companions accompanying me were flabbergasted and somewhat annoyed. Even in the middle of the seemingly chaotic scene, I couldn't help but marvel at how uniquely Indian this situation was. Despite my city-dweller ways, I found myself grinning from ear to ear enjoying the traffic halt, much to the bewilderment of my foreign friends. Imagine, a moment of frustration transforming into a quaint, heartwarming snapshot; such is the intriguing love-hate relationship NRIs have with India.

The perspective of an NRI toward India is not strictly black or white; it's a captivating myriad of greys, much like Bruno's coat, sprinkled with vibrant patches, as lively and colourful as Kiwi's feathers. And so, while we NRIs might love to vent about India, that doesn't dilute our inherent love for the beautiful chaos which is our motherland, our India.

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