Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The "Better" Life in the USA

I just read an excellent post by Arun. We seem to have very similar throughts and so its no wonder I like reading his blog. I am very glad to find people like Danesh , Arun and Ravi who dont feel that their only goal in life is to go and live in the USA . There arnt too many such people.
I know a lot of other people who feel that they have to go there. They sometimes act like they dont really care about going there but once in a while they make some comment or other that reminds you that they still have delusions of going to the "land of milk and honey". One such person "Y" wasted a couple of hours of my life trying to convince me that life is better in the USA. He has been to a couple of other coutnries but never to the USA. He was going on and on about a common "friend" who was quitting his job in one of India's leading IT firms(actually a globally known brand in IT Consulting) to go join a no-name body shopping company in the USA. Y seemed in awe about the pay packet promised by Mr No-Name Bodyshop consulting to our friend "P". Working through the numbers I was able to inform Y that P would be saving only a few hundred $ a month. It may seem like a large amount when multiplied by 43. Otherwise it is a pittance when you speak only in $s. In terms of % saved I think I am doing way better with my Indian paycheck. Y's best example of the "better life in the USA" was that a middle class person could buy a Toyota Camry in the USA while he couldnt buy a Camry in India. I agree 100% to that, but the difference is that the Camry is treated as a luxury car in India(less available space on the roads so this is a luxury car and is costlier) while it is slightly higher than an economy class car in the USA.
I did go to the USA and spend time there(seemed more like "doing time") but am very happy to be back home with family in my own country. Comfort wise I am not sure about what the USA offers that India doesnt. Only thing I can think of is there is much more of physical space per person. Everything one gets in the USA one gets in India. May not be the same exact brand but very similar. One should get away from being brand crazy as pretty much all branded items now come from India or China anyways. For e.g. Tommy Hilfiger clothes from Ranganathan street in Chennai cost Rs 50 while they cost in excess of $50 in the USA. You think it is a knock off - actually the clothes really are made in India ! All clothes sold by Van-Heusen / Arrow / Louis Phillipe/ Levis / Dockers are all made in India / China/ Pakistan/ Bangladesh. Most of all I missed the feeling of belonging which I have only when I am in India where I can truly say that I belong here and was born here. Staying away from my parents as they grow older was also somthing I cannot stomach and I know that sending money from the USA cannot bridge. But of course that is just me.
The purchasing power of the middle class in India may be different from that in the USA but from experience I know most of the middle class Indians in the USA live more frugally than their Indian counterparts. They still struggle to save money in the USA (which they spend only when they visit India) and live mainly on $1 movie rentals and curd rice for lunch and dinner. Breakfast for them is usuually the complimentary bagels at work ;-). Add to that they have no maids, no cooks,no drivers and most of all no support system from parents/ siblings/relatives. Most spend their weekends salivating at sales in the dollar stores where everythign sells for a dollar. I wonder if the great American Dream many Indians are dreaming about is really worth it. People who are at levels below me in my current company have all of that and more living in India.
I forgot to add the part of people going all the way to0 the USA to then have to work hard to preserve their Indian "culture" and "traditions" by eating only Indian food, going to only Indian events, having only Indian friends and watching Indian movies. These people should just stay in India. They also have to make the obligatory once in two-three year trip to India to complain about how India is hot,dirty, crowded, polluted, third world etc etc. Most come with sun-block to prevent their delicate BROWN/BLACK skin from becoming sun-burnt ;-). When I hear the dialogue of the litany of probvlems of India I think I would prefer to have a one time deportation of all the people who want to go to the USA so that the ones who want to stay in India can be left in peace. Ones that come back on visits just to complain should be banned from entering the country/ making calls to India/emailing people in India. They can come back in if they have anything constructive to do to remedy the problems they speak of non-stop. But of course it is just so much easier to complain and then go away.
I have to work on this some more as there are other points I think I am missing.

7-9-05 2:45 PM : I also want to state that I hate the way people "come down" as in "he came down from New York" to visit India. India isnt that low down. Antartica maybe one can go down to.

I also hate being asked when I will be going back to the USA. Just because I was there for a bit it doesnt mean I have to/or will go back there again.


Blogger Ravi said...

Sushil, thanks for your link to my blog. My feet were above air for a minute. You post said it all Sushil. I don't mind people wanting to go/settle in US but looking down on people who think otherwise is what infuriates me. Earlier I used to keep quiet when such remarks are made but now I retalite - what the heck! if they feel proud in saying that US is their ultimate destination, I feel equally proud for deciding to settle here. Waiting for the next sequel.

September 07, 2005  
Anonymous SV said...

Is this "Y" someone I know......

September 07, 2005  
Blogger Danesh said...

Great post Sushil! I think you've covered all the areas except the matrimonial part where the prospective son-in-law has to be in the US for things to proceed. It is of no concern to the prospective in-laws that he all he may be doing there would be cleaning toilets.

Another thing that I did not quite like was that people would "plan" their babies in advance so that they get born in the US and have an option of being a US citizen. Its a different thing if it happens by coincedence but planning for it.... I don't agree.

September 07, 2005  
Blogger Jiby said...

sushil, very nice post...i agree 100% with wht u say...i left india b4 i wuz mature enuf to realize wht i wud miss...but then i have recreated a little kerala of my own in Los Angeles and am proud of trying to figure out wht i can do beyond programming in Trivandrum...till then i'll just maintain the status-quo.

and tell your friend "Y" to do his research on the bo-sho's are sometimes real assoles here...i had a nasty experience with one...besides the huge cut he took from my salary...never paid me on time and took off with my last months pay!

September 07, 2005  
Blogger Arun R said...


Thanks for the link to my post, happy that u liked it.

I am not totally against going to the US... If there are better opportunities there, then u'd b a fool if u do not accept it..... but I'm am against settling there..... if at all I decide to go to US.. it might be for a max of 3-4 years... earn some money and come back to my good old India, and settle here!!!!

September 07, 2005  
Blogger Ravi said...

Arun, there might be people who value certain things more than money. So I can't fully accept your point when you say that "u'd be a food if u do not accept better opportunities". A "better oppotunity" is purely subjective. Money for some, a challenging job for some, a good place for some, to be with family for some...

But I would rather not have money as the driving force for everything. And I have seen many people giving the same "funda" of 'earning for a few years and settling back in India' but the number of people sticking to their words is very mearge.

September 07, 2005  
Blogger Sushil said...

@Danesh - I did miss those points . Thanks.

@Jiby - I maintained status quo for a couple of years ...then decided enough was enough. Am veey glad I did make the effort to come back.

@Arun - It is easy to go to the USA to make money. Figuring out when to stop is difficult. Coming back to India is even more difficult. Suggest you read
I do feel everyone has to travel outside their owne country to expand their horizons and understanding. But have issues with the way people then tend to view only the negatives after that point.

@Ravi - I came back :-) . Most of the people in my current company have come back as well and are very happy in India. No one spends time talking about my great life in the USA. They spend time talking about their great life in India. :-)

September 07, 2005  
Blogger Ravi said...

Sushil, you (and your friends) are among the "smaller list" who finally kept your word but the larger list consists of people (as your pointed out in your reply) who stick on to US than their words ;-) And hats off to your friends and you who appreciate the great life in India.

September 07, 2005  
Blogger Arun R said...

@ Ravi & Sushil:

I agree that priorities are different for different people..... but then, even I've heard of people who end up returning home after a few years there..... all disgusted with the life there.....

I was wrong to say that "U shud b a fool to let go of the opportunities"..... it varies frmo ppl to ppl.... I was just stating my views.....

Also there is a tendency amongst the people here that if a person returns from the US, he's been retrenched!!!! I feel that also adds to the pressure of staying there.....

September 08, 2005  
Blogger Sushil said...

@Arun ,
Going to the US is considered an opportunity by all around. I feel it should be considered an opportunity to see the world outside and learn from it and try to make things better.

I find your comment about being considered to be laid off if one returns to India very true as well. I have been asked many times if I really came back on my own hinting at the question if I was forced to come back.

September 08, 2005  
Blogger யாத்திரீகன் said...

Very True !!!!

some ppl are forced out here due to commitments (ya.. everone can say a reason.. but few bonded commitments cannot be swipped off on personal views rite..), so untill then i have to bury my views but surely not let them die :-)

September 08, 2005  
Blogger Arun R said...


You've been tagged..... visit my blog and look at the post titled "Se7en things.... I've been tagged!!!"


September 09, 2005  
Blogger wanderstruck said...

hi sushil, really good piece but i thought you WERE going to the US (inferred from a blog written a few pieces down the latest)..the 4 days one. in any case, those who go there can either stay there and make good use of their time there, or shut up and stay in India! good for you.

September 14, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ignorance is bliss. Indians in US living on curd rice. LOL. I can't believe that u have been to USA....

September 17, 2005  
Blogger silverine said...

Well said. the attitude of NRI's can be very high and mighty. But I have seen NRI's or recent returnees, who are so glad to be back that they enjoy the crowds, the color, the vibrancy,the bargain shopping, eating pushcart fare like steamed corn, peanuts etc. They seems more relaxed at the chaos and confusion now than they were before they left for the USA. Maybe a trip to the US will help in appreciating ones country too.

September 20, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

25/9/05 : Happy Birthday Sushil

September 25, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are advantages to living in usa over india.

I understand your feelings about living in india.

But do not post crap information like indians living on curd rice and dollor stores etc... that is insulting.

maybe your friends in usa are total losers.

I know a lot of peopel including me making a great living here, dont have to suck ass to get promoted , just perform.

I have also worked in india for over 7 years, it is much easier to move up the chain in usa than in india provided you are technically competent.

If you tell me that you can save more money in india , put forth some facts and figures, only opinions are not enough. I call that total bull, where are the people you know working , in burger king.

by the way i do own a ford mustang gt V8 not toyota corolla, never going to happen in india.

As much as i agree with the strong points about india in your blog. It is totally one sided and does not look at the situation objectively.

that is my two cents.

October 05, 2005  
Blogger Lightyear said...

I live in US and I disagree with your comments on curd rice,dollar stores etc. Please do not make stereo type out of some bad examples.

October 21, 2005  
Blogger Sushil said...

Hey 'other' Sushil,

I loved this write-up and kind of totally agree with it. Have actually been championing this thought that in this day and age living in India is actually better than in 'The Amyrica'.



November 11, 2005  
Anonymous Jomy said...

buddy...Amen to that.
Course, the fact that im in the UAE doesnt make me seem so different. But im "doing time" here - because my dad and mom want me here with them as they think i was wasting my time in Madras. Im longing for the day i can come back to madras and settle down somewhere there. In the meantime, keep writing. I'll do the reading.


November 11, 2005  
Blogger Damisa said...

Hello. I am an malayalee born, and raised. Even though i've lived in america just about all my life.

Whoever you know in USA, boy did you get gipped.

I've been to india several times, and yes I do rather love it.

But nothing can account for the US for me. As a female, i'd rather live in the US then in india where girls do mostly nothing but stay at home, fear for going out at night / on the buses / in any place alone without some sort of male chaperone. Which is just stupid on how immature and insane the majority of guys get with the girls. The same guys that are all over protective of their sisters / daughters / nieces and God only knows what other types of female relatives gets so over protective, and then they turn around and and go on ahead and do it to another girl walking quietly, with her mother down the street.

My family has been doing very well in America. My uncle has been doing so well as to afford several luxuary luxary cars. (Lamborgines, Lexus SC 430 fully loaded, etc, etc)

So either your friend is a dumbshit.
Or your even more of an idiot for being friends with that person in the first place.

Theres no curd rice, no pyscho guys that try to molest you (not as much. but at least it isn't like 95% like in india.)

Healthcare over there is horrible by the way. I've been to several hospitals over our stay in india. (viral fever, from your water, to say the least)

India does have its good moments, i may admit.

But USA Has so much more to offer for education / food (variety) / health care / jobs / PAYCHECKS / and one of the most importantly for indian girls going up. To know that they ARENT just expected after marriage to stay at home and cook and slave after their kids.

That they dont gossip and gloat about every stupid little thing cause their so bored out of their minds.

TO be independent and to try and make your own way.

And to know that if any mofo tried to mess with you, you can kick their ass.

Peace Out.

November 17, 2005  
Blogger Thanu said...

I was shocked when I read ur post, and then all these people agreeing with you.

Before I start let me tell you I have lived 16 years of my life in India and 9 years here in US. So I do know about India.

Ur judgment about Indians is US is based on few people who u met here. Yes I know people who come here on a work visa/student visa and share apartment with other people and don't own mattresses or TV because they are trying to save. But these kinds are very few.

US is a country where hard work pays off. There are very rare cases where episodes like Manjunath happen here. Where as in India, it is a daily occurrence. U can go to any government office and fill out form and pay the fees (just the fees) and you will get exactly what u came for. Our Dad personally had to spend 4 months in India running around here and there to get one of our birth certificate because he did not wanna bribe the officer.

I have been working since I was 16, and not it was not because my parents didn't have the money. I paid my way through college, so I graduated debt free and my parents did not have to fund my college education. This is not something I could have done in India.

I do agree with the above commenter Damisa, I have traveled in Kerala in buses going to school (I was 15) and used to have people touching me. I'm 16 for god's sake. Things like that don’t happen here.

Life here is better. Both my husband and I hold professional jobs and together we make a good six figure salary, drive good cars. We enjoy our jobs and come to a peaceful home after work. We do have family here and church here and a community here.

I can go on and on, but this is not my post, but just a comment.

Please do not generalize based on a handful of people u know.

U R exactly what ur profile says CONFUSED.

December 01, 2005  
Blogger Rays Of Sun said...

Oh really??
Or is it that you were expelled from the US??
Who said people here live on curd rice and get complimentary bagels at work??
Its maybe your good friend and you who have got that!
We also eat sambar, rasam, dal chawal and pulav. The difference is WE KNOW how to cook it and do NOT rely on servants and maids to make us even a cup of coffee..
Its people like you who think the world belongs to YOU and can make any random statements and get away with it.
We are more self reliant that you guys in India who expect their wives to get grocery and make a four square meal for every single day.
Guys here cook, eat an live their lives TOO!People like you are not needed here..and its disgusting that people are actally agreeing to what ever you have said here..
Dont compare places. You stay where you like, OK?
Just as Thanu says, You are AS CONFUSED as one can be!
Thank god we are not confused and appreciate best in both the places.
I know what India is about since I have spent 21 years of my life there.

December 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really liked your is something that I totally agree with, apart from the curd rice bit! India has so much to offer, and I can't understand why some Indians are so star struck with going to the US. With the way the Indian Economy is booming, it would be foolish to think of migrating. But most importantly, being with family and the sense of belonging is something one can never have in the US.

I was just reading through all the comments, and there was one by this person called Damisa. I think you have all your facts wrong. Women in India are not expected to sit at home and slave in the kitchen. That was probably the case 50 years ago! And it was probably the same in the US too. In the 1950's don't tell me that women were working in the US!! I have a working mom...and most of my freind's moms are working too. I am a working woman, and I don't know even one of my freind's who are sitting at home idle. And by the way, I live alone and have no male chaperone!! I go wherever I want, at whatever time...and guess what...i go alone!! And don't tell me that the US is really safe. Its the breeding place for psycopath serial killers. My dad, on his recent visit to the US, was attacked by a seven foot black man in broad day light for money! So before you type out total garbage...pls get you facts right!!

May 18, 2006  

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