Life Beyond Medicine

The Diaspora Dilemma

Foreword: Well, those of my readers who do not know me personally (I am talking to you two there, thanks for coming to read it!) will not be able to understand where this foreword is coming from, but it is meant for a person who is very close to my heart. One of my best friends has taken his first three steps towards moving to the US of A and understandably, having had very few people like him in my life, I am dejected and elated at the same time. We have had chats about his decision to move time and time again and all the while I have felt excited at his chance to grow personally and professionally, I have rued the fact that this distance is going to kill our friendship. Thankfully, we have got one last chance to tango, which came to us quite unexpectedly, and proved once again, that if one wants something desperately enough, the universe conspires to give it to them (more on that later, but we are pretty dorky fellows, so don’t expect anything radical there). Reading this post by one of my favorite bloggers has therefore, touched and moved me at the same time. Now, to come to the point.

Sumpsimus is the blog of a Geriatric Psychiatry fellow in the US o’ A. She is a physician from India and in her last post, wonders about coming back to India. Having seen my cousin agonize over this very decision for over three years before finally packing up and coming back from the UK (I know it’s a much different deal over there), I know exactly what she is going through right now, and she has my sympathy. It is a hard decision that she is taking and she has my kudos for taking it from her heart. Her post describes in a few short, yet touching words, the beauty of how she feels. And it is an awful sensation.

The diaspora debate, to return or not to return, is indeed a common one fueled by the vast disparity in the lifestyles of the two nations. US, the land of opportunities and opportunists, offers a much better professional life, a much better lifestyle and more consistency than India could ever give. India, on the other hand, is the land of unity in diversity and is a learning curve everyday. Whether be it the satisfaction of knowing that our work as physicians make a difference (rural India – just go there and tell people you are a doctor and ask them how you can help them and see the reaction) or the crazy driving skills that require us to dodge bulls on highways. India – 1/ USA – 0.

The blandness of the the American life is a blessing as well as a curse. While it promises consistency and safety, it lacks the flair of Indian culture. Every month we have one festival or the other that lets us bring out the microphones and boomboxes and please the gods with offerings like these:

Beat that, US! India – 2/USA – 0.

Scams and cheats are a part of every political system, it is a basic trait one has to have if they want to get into the field of politics. America has seen its share of political disasters. For people like us, who have heard of Watergate or Reagan-antics, one name is quite enough – Bush. So goofy was this guy that an entire segment of the spoken English language was dedicated to his diction. But you have seen nothing, NOTHING, if you have not seen the political drama in India. Come on! In a nation of 1.2 billion people, half of whom are not making four square meals a day, all one has to do to get the force of the Government to feed you is to pick any one of their scams and start a hunger demonstration against it. BANG! The gummint jails you for missing a meal. Where else will you find a state declare its Independence after toppling a commie rule that spanned for four decades? Where else do you have politicians who can claim, single-handedly, scams that can feed the entire Sub-Saharan Africa for a decade? Where else do you see assembly meetings regularly turned into rugby matches between senile geriatrics garbed in Dhoti and Topi? India – 3/ USA – 0

CRICKET. We are either winning cups in heroic victories, or getting our asses whupped so thoroughly that in either cases, it becomes an outlet for the pent up frustrations of our own lives and gives us a great way to vent. “They won the world cup, who gives a damn man? We excel at a game that only 10 countries world wide play!” “They lost to England? Oh come on, even my grandmother can field better than these butterfingered overpaid actors besmirching the name of the nation. They should be summarily executed!” And you wonder why the US needs so many shrinks! All you got to do is to get them to play more cricket. India – 4/ USA – 0

One of the things that has always left my US friends flustered is that we have domestic help. That too THREE of them. They think that we are very rich, kind of like the English Lords and stuff, with our own scepters and courts and stuff. I have never tried to break them out of this illusion! Hey. They do the same thing to me by talking about their supergizmotechfreakology courses! India – 5/ USA – 0

I guess what I am trying to say is that at the end of the day:

So Sumpsimus, I have simply summed it up for you! Come back!


6 thoughts on “The Diaspora Dilemma

    • Sigh. I wish it eases the pain of the return… also the fact that your better half will have to stay back cannot be very comforting for you (or is it 😉 )!

  1. To survive in India, one has to have the adaptability and elasticity of belief, reason and conscience. To lesser mortals it may seem degrading, but many of us will find intellectual stimulation in beating the game. Would you find such stimulating paradoxes in US.. nah..
    If Darwin’s theory of evolution is correct, the most adaptable in this mad mad world are going to be the ultimate winners..

  2. Having been a stranger in a strange land for most of my life, both literally and figuratively, I can confirm that the Old Country has a strong pull. Maybe I’ll go back some day, although it might well be as a refugee from global warming.

  3. Awesome piece! Loved it! Though I don’t understand why I’m discovering this after such a long time 😛
    Parijat da got matched na finally?

    • I have no idea how and where you dug this one out from. Brought a smile on my lips. Was missing PJ tons, incidentally! Yes, he matched, into a University program and he went back just a couple of days ago. 🙂

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