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Monday, August 16, 2010

Getting ready to leave India

Noone has ever written a book on when to stop being an expat and when to repatriate home. There is nothing documented on it anywhere (apart from one chat forum on one website - more later), but plenty has been written about how to 'become' an expat in the first place and leave the shores of rainy England for some hot aspirational land, such as Spain or Dubai. You can read up on how to pack your stuff, and adapt to a new culture, how to dress conservatively and fit in to your new work place, but nobody tells you when to leave or how to leave.....
So, when the idea entered my head of 'returning' to England after three years working as a journalist at Hindustan Times, I had noone to turn to, noone to discuss it with. I felt very isolated. My Indian friends all sounded horrified at the mere mention I might leave, and my expat friends rebuffed the idea, telling me I was crazy , citing statistics about the recession in the UK, reminding me how much I loved India, pointing out what a fascinating job I had, how many Mumbai friends I had, and so on...and informing me I would never find a job in the UK.But a seed of desire to return to England had been planted in me and it just grew and grew....I couldn't quite explain to anyone why I wanted to go back.
"You are going back to get married?" my Indian colleagues would say. Knowing that that would be a valid reason why they might repatriate home to India, I said "Yes" just to appease them. But it couldn't be further from the truth. If anything, I have ex's I am still very fond of here in Mumbai.
So, I surfed the Net, as I do for every dilemma in my life, in the hope the answeres would be found, but nothing on how and when to return to England came up, apart from one forum on one website, that I stumbled across that was dedicated to expats 'leaving' their respective countries. My eyes scanned it with hunger looking for a clue, any clue as to when is the right time to leave, does one set up a job in England before leaving, how easy is it to find a job from a foreign country in England, do employers like returned expats? How easy will it be to readjust to England now that I speak a semi Indian dialect of English, and street Hindi? The answers were barely there...Most people on this Forum were whinging Brits in Australia, who, it seemed, hated Australia and were fantasising about aspects of English society, of grocery items, or shops, that they missed, but were too scared to return as they had sold homes/emigrated to Oz 15 years ago, and so were using the forum to vent their frustrations and share their dilemmas. I was surprised as I have several friends who have emigrated to Oz from England, who love it...Anyway, the discovery that I wasn't the only expat in the world thinking of going home with no particular reason to, at least made me feel better....I have seen many expats come and go to India...Many leave suddenly, without any leaving party, some fall ill, others have problems in their job...I didn't want to be one of those..I wanted to leave in style. I wasn't sure if I should leave...In fact, everyone was telling me to stay....but destiny had its own plans....

18 comments:

Mohana Chandrn said...

naomi..there is no regrets in life..follow your heart..that should be your mantra..you go places where you get that wonderful feeling of peace..india was a stop over..if you had claimed that was your ultimate destination i would not have logged on to your blog .(even being an indian).. i wish i was a free bird as you are naomi..all the best. keep on posting..

parijat said...

Hi Naomi,
It was a pleasure to read all your articles and to see India from the eyes of a foreigner.
It was very interesting to read various and varied articles.
one article that is on top of my memory bank is about how Nightclubs and restaurants give preference to Firangi v/s refusing to Indians!!
Being an ardent HT reader, i had visited your Mahim office to get a copy of some RUSH articles that got missed while i was travelling.
i saw you at your desk and thought of saying hello as its not a regular thing for ordinary readers like us to see their journalist in flesh and blood.
but then my shyness came over me and i went about my work..
I have read your articles but not your blogs – either on HT or on on blogspot so will do so now!
i am sure the Indian experience and the Indianess will stay with you forever.
We wish you all the best and also pray that India beckons you again!

projenator said...

This is most abrupt and unexpected although I did expect it to happen sometime along the way

Naomi said...

Hey, I agree it was all very abrupt...and sudden...I'm sorry about that...I am now back in England already! It's all been very hectic and crazy...

Naomi said...

Hi Mohana,
Ironically India has taught me to follow my heart now, instead of my head....I have learnt a lot in India...The experience was challenging for sure, but if it hadn't been I would have learnt less. In Gold's Gym there is a sign saying 'No pain, no gain'- and India is an example of that. I have acquired so much knowledge of not just India, but also of myself, my priorities and needs in life...I couldn't have paid for the experience India has given me..No master's or MBA could have taught me what I have learnt...

Naomi said...

Parijat - you should have come over and said Hello! Don't be shy!...anyway I am back in England now, quite jet lagged, but will certainly visit India again for sure:) More on what happened to follow...

projenator said...

Please write how is it far from the maddening world in the tranquillity of green meadows, clean air, clear skies etc.

Maximus said...

Hey Naomi,

Best of luck for everything. I've followed your blog all through on Hindustantimes. It was nice to hear about India from a expat's point of view. Your have the skill to keep the reader interested all through. I wish I could get out of this rat race and do what I want to do like you've been doing.
Have a wonderful life. Please keep writing on this blog.

monarch said...

All the best to you :)
Has been fun and should be fun reading your blog

viksdes said...

Hi I have been an expat in 3 countries now and each time the same question came to my mind -- if this is the right time to leave? Adapting to cultures is never easy and each place has its own impact on your overall personality I feel. If you really loved the place where you spent siginifcant time of your life then I am sure that place will always be with you. I left England and it was because my heart asked me to leave..there is so much more to see somwhere else and perhaps life takes you through a new journey once again...Have fun and enjoyed your HT Blogs.

Naomi said...

Hi, Viksdes...Thanks for your comments, but it is not always about the heart...There are also practical considerations such as a) where is your family b) where do you have the best friends c) in which country can you earn more money d) which country suits you diet-wise/exercise-wise/health-wise and so on.....What do you do if one country is better for your career and another better for you on a social front? Do you stay in the one that suits the career? Or is that wrong? There is also an element of fear when leaving a country - that fear of the unknown, as much as you one knew your homeland, you have lived out of it for so long, you can barely remember it....
That is why so many British people are stuck in places like New Zealand and Australia, wanting to leave but too afraid of, as they have been there 10-15 years...Read this http://www.telegraph.co.uk/relationships/7948405/Is-it-fair-to-uproot-my-family-and-move-back-to-the-UK.html to get an idea of how many other people face the predicament of when to leave, when they are an expat..

anish said...

Hey, I'd been following your blog on HT for quite sometime, and oddly enough I'm commenting on one of your last posts regarding the time spent in Bombay. Anyways, I loved reading your posts, and while I do believe that your writings about life in Bombay would trump the ones regarding life in England, thats just a personal opinion, and I look forward to reading about the new phase in your life. Cheers

PS: Yeah, I call it Bombay :D

Naomi said...

Today someone at church asked me where I had been living in India and I replied: "Bombay" (knowing full well it is meant to be Mumbai, but equally knowing many people, incl. Indians say Bombay) and she haughtily corrected me and said: "You mean Mumbai!"as though she was really smart and knew the correct name, and I did not. Little does she know that people say "Calcutta" still and the "Prince of Wales Museum" altho, to be fair Chennai has now taken over frm Madras. But there is a real kind of warmth about the word Bombay and people really like it - it has a jazzy element to it....anyway when I say Bombay, I am saying it deliberately, but in the full knowledge, the correct term is Mumbai. Same as you:)

Sam said...

Actually Naomi there is a large body of material on the subject of "re-entering" though nearly all of it is written by Christian missionaries returning home rather than professional expats per se.
It's kind of a sub study of the broader subject "third culture kids", people who grow up in foreign countries, not as immigrants but as kids of diplomats, missionaries etc.

http://www.springerlink.com/content/ut7553hl70t759q6/

Vlad Gladkikh said...

Hi Naomi,

Just came across a book about repatriating (haven't read it myself though):

Craig Storti, The Art of Coming Home
http://craigstorti.com/book3.html

Zack said...

Hi Naomi,
I was your neighbor in Mumbai. I hope you remember me,Nazim Lokhandwala. I like your statement about follow my heart instead of my head. I have moved back to Houston Tx, people told me about the recession in the US but after reading you blog I think I am right about my decision of moving back. Great going Naomi hope to meet you some day again. Take care.

Naomi Canton said...

Hi Nazim, Great to hear from you. If you want to email me you can do so at cantonnaomi@gmail.com By the way I had no idea you were torn between whether to move back to the US or not...I would be interested to know what was going through your mind, what was drawing you to the US and what you were worried about leaving behind! I really miss my old flat in Bandra by the way..I think about it all the time and want to go back and revisit :)

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