Adjusting to being an NRI wife is not easy. Relocating to an unfamiliar place, without the security of family
and friends is a pretty tough task. And for a working woman used to being independent, the sudden change to depending on someone else for everything heralds a daunting new phase in life, writes Savia Rajagopal.
Writing draft after draft, I finally stopped to think for a moment. And reached a profound conclusion – I am no authority to speak on the challenges of adjusting to life as a Non-Resident Indian. I certainly don’t know how to make you stop wishing for the familiar sights and sounds from a land we formerly called ‘home.’
What I do know is that relocating to a brand new place, without family and friends is a pretty tough task. Take away the safety net of a secure job at a workplace where you know everyone and it can be a daunting new phase in life.
When I think about what I miss the most, I’m at a loss because I don’t know where to begin. Sure, mom’s savouries (and trust me, I get those cravings at weird hours of day or night) make me miss home. I miss the freedom of being able to hop into a welcoming rickshaw and zooming across the city.
Not being within a phone call away from my closest friend causes several moments of frustration and anxiety. But, apart from the emotionality of being away from those near and dear, the feeling of being dependent is the biggest challenge for me.
Having grown up in a household where we were given free reign to make our choices and face the consequences, not being able to step out by myself for who I am, is a thorn in my flesh. It’s not as though my new country of residence is racial, or unjust or just plain out there. But there is a certain sense of control and familiarity being in your own surroundings.
When I think back now, even smiling and chatting with my local sabjiwala was comforting in its own way. The impersonality of life abroad is something that many expats take a while to get used to. I am no different. I liked the constant chatter and laughter and occasional yelling in the city I lived in. In some strange way, it was reassuring and a reminder that all is well in the world.
When you move to a new country, you have no identity in relation to your surroundings. There are no familiar haunts that you can go to when you’re feeling blue or stores that you know you will find something just before that big party that merits a new outfit. You tend to feel the absence of your friends and family, since there aren’t too many people who you can call without a second thought.
For many who’ve moved abroad recently, finding employment is a major worry. If you’ve been used to working at a certain professional level, when you have to drop down a few notches on the hierarchy, your ego takes a beating. Still there are wonderful stories of many who make it big despite all their hurdles.
With all these factors at play, being dependent on someone else, even if it is your spouse, can be a struggle for someone who isn’t used to asking for help. Apply that concept in the important areas of your life and often you’ll feel as though you’re floundering and lost.
Despite this, most other NRIs tell me that giving it time is the best way to go. I’m often reminded that I shouldn’t expect this new place to feel like home right off. Everything takes time and you gradually ease into life. Driving on the right side of the road won’t seem too strange, nor will trips at the local grocery store without the rustle and sounds of your erstwhile veggie market.
And when you’re settled in, you’ll talk to more “newcomers” about taking it easy and easing into life there. I await my turn.