The world of the accidental NRI – petrol is cheaper than water

I became an NRI (Non-Resident Indian) by accident rather than any design a few years ago. I had come on a part-time project that ran for about 6 months and eventually I was given the choice to join the time. It was a smooth experience as I moved within my Group company and to a role that I was well versed with.

It is interesting to review my experiences that have been exciting and educative but still leave a lump in your throat every time you watch a very Indian moment – the success of Mangalyaan and Modi’s speech at Madison Square Garden are two recent instances that come to my mind.

Collection:Moment Courtesy: Getty Images
Collection:Moment
Courtesy: Getty Images

But all the same I am rather fortunate as while I am away from India, I stay in a culture that is very similar to ours and the Indians are the dominant expat community. So our culture has seeped into practically every aspect of our lives.

So I am now based in a nice little island where we have a huge Indian presence and you don’t miss home that much. I remember my first trip when I got out of the airport to be picked up by an Indian driver who took me to a nice desi hotel. The receptionist was an Indian as well as was the porter. And my first meal was Rajma Chawal.

But there are few things that are obviously different and now I am very comfortable with the change.

Petrol is cheaper than water – This is a dream come true for every auto freak – not only is the fuel cheaper, it is just not a factor when you plan your travel or buy a car. In fact people really enjoy buying top of the line car models to satisfy their cravings. Typically one keeps trading in the cars every 2-3 years as newer attractions are always available to allure you.

Commute to Office – The ultimate heaven for it is only a 10 minute drive, motorists are disciplined, no one is honking or cutting lanes, there are no auto rickshaws and very few two wheelers on the road, pedestrians wait for the signal to cross and use the designated crossing, and it does not even rain (sigh I do miss that for a different reason).

Work starts on Sunday – It takes a while to get used to it but Saturday becomes a vital day to touch base back at home as people are free and available.

Right Hand Traffic – Just the exact reverse of what happens at home and the traffic police is rigorous in implementing the rules.

Smile you are on camera – Practically everywhere including many of the ubiquitous cold stores, the cameras observe the movements of the visitors. We don’t notice it any more.

There is Zero Inflation for three years now – Again a nirvana since I pay the same price that I paid three years ago – home rent, groceries, school fees, entertainment options, shopping – you name it and it is the same. Possibly just a marginal change in case of a few items but the trend is firmly static.

The exchange rate is my new Sensex – It is just as instinctive as the way one used to follow the markets. And we can spot the trend coming far more easily as I learn when I speak to my friends back home. Imagine USD being at INR 70 in the next 2-3 years – I would not be surprised if that happens.

Gold shopping is great – Thanks to the presence of the Indian diaspora you get the same designs like back home and we all agree that the quality and finish are superior.

Oh there is a Cricket series that is underway – The timings are different and not very convenient. And the local crowd does not follow it avidly. Over the years even my interest has waned and I know only passing details of the ongoing CLTwenty20 that is happening as I write this.

Respect for local culture and traditions – Indians have been here for long and are generally well appreciated. So it is a great education and opportunity to learn more about the local culture and traditions and try to return the warm hospitality that greets us everywhere we go.

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