Diary of a returning son of the soil

Sameer Bhide

Sameer Bhide

After 32 years in the US and having spent much of my adult life there, I recently moved back to the motherland for health reasons. It was the right decision, but not an easy one. It was tough to leave my life back in the US. I am grateful for the love and kindness showed by the American people. I was welcomed with open arms. It was a bittersweet moment. On one hand, I was leaving behind my life in the US, on the other hand, I was going back to my roots.

Even though I was familiar with Indian culture, it was still a substantial change for me. I thought resettling back would be easier. While many things were easier for me to adapt to, there still are some things I find challenging to adjust to such as getting used to stray dogs barking early in the morning, the constant ringing of the doorbell, the potholes, traffic, turning the room air conditioner on and off each time you use it, etc.

I have had to learn and unlearn several things. Two things stand out – going back to using the English vocabulary used in India such as saying Flat instead of an Apartment, Terrace instead of Balcony, Celsius instead of Fahrenheit etc. and the other thing is the barrage of OTPs on my cell to get anything done. I noticed the differences and similarities between the two nations such as me pressing 1 in the elevator to reach the ground level, me keep going to right side of the car to sit on the passenger side, the extreme political divide between the right and left etc.

I noticed many benefits and positives. After operating in the self-service mode for more than three decades, I am now getting used to the convenience of full service here. I have seen what Digital India is about. Most people including providers and even domestic help are mobile-enabled. They use it very effectively whether for digital payments or work tasks through WhatsApp etc. It is amazing to me how a country of 1.4 billion+ is using technology to make life efficient and transparent for its citizens.This has to be the biggest change I have seen since I left India in the 90s.

Over the past three decades, I was the unofficial lobbyist of India in the US, making sure Americans understand India better and clearing any misconceptions. And now I will have to do it in reverse – making Indians understand America better and clear up any misconceptions. I have been blessed to be born in the land of Mahatma Gandhi and to have spent much part of my adult life in the land of Martin Luther King Jr. I am going to do everything I can to help my adopted land of so many years and my motherland come closer.

India now to me offers the best of both east and the west!

(Views expressed are personal to the author.)