I was driving to work yesterday and heard a compelling report on NPR about the R2I phenomenon. R2I is short for “Return to India,” the story of so many who have perhaps studied and lived in the U.S. for many years and have now decided to return home. For many, it is the pull of the aging parents or maybe the desire to bring their knowledge and expertise to their homeland. There is no better time as the U.S. economy declines and the Indian economy continues to be robust.
With recent elections and the distractions arch-enemy Pakistan is facing, many Indian ex-pats are packing up their Silicon Valley, New Jersey or Dallas digs and heading home. According to Sandip Roy’s NPR report, web sites offer advice on everything from who’s hiring in Bangalore to how much gold you can bring home. Dubbed “a brain drain in reverse,” many of these folks jumping on the R2I train are in their mid–thirties, with families and higher degrees. When they return, despite their heritage, many experience a culture shock. One site offers a list of things one must be ready for upon return. Those contemplating R2I say they miss the food, but often upon return people realize how calorie rich and unhealthy the standard fare can be, not to mention hygiene and road safety. The romantic notion many hold of returning home can reap great rewards but can cause angst and turmoil as well.
In a casual search of many sites, I found moms worried about how their kids will adjust, some mentioning that they intend to have their kids return to the States for college. I certainly hope to visit India one day, but I know how hard it is to go home again when home has or hasn’t changed.