Trials of Motherhood

As more and more friends, acquaintances and family find out about our plans to return to India, they reach out to me and ask me questions. Among other questions of why we are moving, when we are moving, and where we are moving to, the one question that everyone unfailing asks is “What does S think? Is she excited?”.

When my husband and I made up our mind back in October, we decided to break the news to our 10 year old daughter. She thought we were joking at first, but then quickly realized we were serious. It took her less than a moment to start wailing in protest. She did not want to go. She would miss her friends. India was soooo hot! She hated the mosquitoes, the traffic. She called out every negative thing a 10 year old could come up with about India. After much cajoling, and explaining, a few hours later she had calmed down some. We distracted her that day by taking her on a long road trip to to my uncle’s place.

Soon after, we started our preparations, and she went about her life without much change. She told her friends, and as we told ours, they asked her what she thought – and she either said she didn’t want to go or shrugged her shoulders.

As we get closer to our move date, she is realizing that there is not much time left, that she will have to leave the only home she remembers, and leave all her friends behind. She realizes now she will have to get used to living in a much hotter place, go to a new school which insists on teaching French, and make new friends that she may or may not like. As I stood in her room, waiting to take pictures of her bedroom set, so I could put it up for sale, she spread herself across the entire width of her bed and started sobbing. This was “her bed”, in “her house”. “I don’t want to go!”, she wailed. Few days later, the same was repeated as we put garage sale stickers on some of her toys.

All of this was not unexpected, but every time it happens, it tugs hard at my heart, and wears me down. It makes me second guess our decision, and at the same time pray that it all works out in the long run. The parent in me wants my daughter to grow up and be an adaptable person, capable of making herself at home in any new place and culture. I hope she can pick up the best traits of the east and west and become an individual with a global outlook. As an adult, I hope she realizes the importance of her grandparents in her life, and loves being in touch with her large extended family. Over time I hope she can build an appreciation for the complex societal structure in India that is so often at odds, and yet somehow works.

At the end of it all, I hope she understands why we did what we did, and does not resent us for it. Until then, I will hold on to my heart and remember what a wise colleague once said to me about bringing up kids – “No matter what you do, or how hard you try, you can never quite shake off that feeling that you screwed them up!”


The seller in me

Moving back home, or in general moving out of the US is no small logistics feat. I consider myself a fairly organized person, and after so many years of managing projects at work, this one still seems like the hardest one I’ve had.

For one, I am undoing the results of the last 12 years of reckless shopping that my husband and I have contributed to. O the things we have! I know it’s rather insensitive to complain about abundance, but when you find you have 4 or 5 of the same thing, three of which are unused, you really begin to wonder what you were thinking!!

Unlike my other work projects, there really isn’t much that I can outsource or delegate to anyone. My husband or I, and sometimes my husband and I have to look at things personally to decide which pile to put stuff in. Then, there are the times when we can’t agree if it’s worth the time to sell something, or we should just throw it out, and before we know it, we’ve already spent more time than it’s worth discussing the time it’s worth!

Growing up in a tambrahm family, I never really sold anything. My family sold an occasional vehicle, but that was it. I got my first taste for selling over the last few months, selling on craigslist and a few FB groups and distro lists. It did provide for some frustrating as well as entertaining moments.

  • $5 discount please! Oh I already bought it!
    I put up a set of kitchen appliances for sale. Desi lady calls my husband and says she is interested in cooker, asks where we live, how much it will cost. Then tells my husband she will need to ask her husband and call back. Husband conveys the same to me, so I call her offering to bring stuff half way to her place which she seems acceptable to. Then she bargains to reduce $5 out of the $15. When I refuse she points out it’s only $5. I point out its more than 30% discount she’s asking for. After finally giving in, I call her the next day asking if she’ll show up in the evening for the exchange, to which she coolly replies, she bought it elsewhere. I had fumes coming out of my ears!
  • Do you have the thing I want that you are not selling?
    I put up an ad for half a dozen kitchen items and send it the distribution list of International village apartments (could just as well be called Indian village apartments). Within 10 minutes I get a call, saying “I saw your ad. Are you selling a dosa tava?” I reply that I am not because I am using it, and that if I was, it would have been in the email. To that she asks “When will you be selling it?”!!??
  • Just checking if you’re really selling!
    I put up an ad on Craigslist, and I get all these messages – “Is it available?” or “Do you still have it?”. I respond that it is still available and ask when they can pick up, and that’s it, they vanish! It’s like they were just curious to see if I was really selling.
  • Spam!
    I advertise for a golu stand, and the people who respond have names like James and Ellen, and all of their responses say the exact same thing “I am interested in your Ad. Please contact me.”. Fishy right? I got off Sulekha after that experience.
  • GLWS
    I put up a hot item on the neighborhood FB group. Instantly get interest from a guy that says he’ll buy, but he can only come tomorrow. After dealing with #1 above, I am wary and let him know I cannot hold it for him. He gets jilted and says “GLWS, I don’t want it anymore”. I had to google GLWS – apparently it means Good luck with sale! Who knew they’d coin an abbreviation for that!
  • Bought at Target?!! No thanks!
    Tried selling some patio furniture on Craigslist. One guy goes back and forth about 10 emails in a day – How heavy are they? Did you use them? Were they outside or inside? Are there stains or not? Can you drop the price? When are you available? All answers are satisfactory, until he asks “Where did you buy them?”. “Target” I replied. “No thanks” was the response.
  • I can’t believe people still use this!
    Put an ad up for an old music system. Got an interested buyer who had moved to the US recently and didn’t have a car. So I drive 20 miles each way, and door deliver the old thing for $15. I get home and my phone rings, the buyer says I thought it would have USB, but this doesn’t even have that. I tell him I cannot drive back to pick it up, and he says “I didn’t think people would even have this kind of stuff anymore, or I would have asked!”. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry!

The hardest of them all is selling the home! It’s like trying to get your daughter married. You spruce it up, have it looking neat and bright, smelling good and well decorated. People come in and see it, then leave. Some don’t even respond with whether they like it or not. Others say “Nice home”, but don’t say why they don’t want to own it. It’s hard to fathom why nobody falls head over heals in love with the home that is like a palace to me, and the best place I’ve lived in.

All said and done, I am thankful to the people who did take things off my hands. To the others, I say – To each his own!”.

The Return of NRI Maami

I cannot believe it has been more than 5 years since I last blogged. Many friends, acquaintances and anonymous people have been asking me on and off when I would be blogging again, and after a few feeble attempts I gave up blogging. It wasn’t because I wasn’t interested or didn’t have time, but suddenly I felt like there really was nothing that I had to say, that was worth reading or listening to.

So, why then have I actually returned? Well, my life is going through some pretty interesting twists and turns and I think I may finally have something to say that is probably, just probably, of interest to some souls out there.

Over the last 5 years, I have grown older, wiser, grayer and chubbier. 40 isn’t too far away, and in anticipation of the mature years ahead, my way of thinking has changed. When the typical NRI conversation came up 5 years ago about moving to India, I had a long list of reasons for why I didn’t want to do it – everything from the India we know doesn’t exist anymore to why would I want to go sweat in that kitchen making three meals a day, and brewing coffee for unannounced guests all day long. However in the last few years, many things on that list have slowly lost their place of importance to me. Seemingly solid reasons have been overturned by more important reasons that tilt the decision in favor of moving to India.

So, over the last few months, we have been making plans and working towards D-day. Yes I am not just returning to blogging, I am in the process of returning home, back to being a non-NRI.