Thank you, bloggers
So it is safe to say that, no matter who you are and what is your life like, you will be able to relate to this story because at the end of the day this book is about the journey of a young girl to becoming a mother, from seeing the life as a party ground to seeing life as an adult who is responsible for another life. It is all about maturing through the years, adjusting to whatever life has to offer and seeing your priorities change
I feel that people who are about to leave the Indian shores in search of fairy tales, idealism and perpetual happiness should also read this book. It will help them develop a more balanced attitude, without actually getting discouraged.
So, how did I find it? I really enjoyed her perspective on life in America(or abroad anywhere, for that matter). Her observations of how people behave, some reject India completely, while others become born again Indians. The way she herself changed after her daughter was born, is quite interesting to read. In some places cliched – just the way, we have heard of NRIs behaving, and in some places interesting.
goodreads (I love this site)
The Lyon Review (my alma mater).
Excellen book. Must read for any Indian who has gone to the USA for higher studies.
Thanks so much, Anil
I guess this will be a more critical review than the other gushing reviews you’ve got so far.
I read your Return book in great detail, and then I went and read your earlier book Monsoon Diary.
In Return I really found only one argument to go back to India viz. you basically identify better (what you call more “visceral” etc) with India. I think its becoz you never got your own independent footing in the USA – for example you had to return home when your initial attempt at USA on your own just failed. I’m not sure if you are a good chef because your culinary efforts are really hit or miss (in both books) and you’re basically a part-time writer. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy your columns and books, but I doubt if you’d have made it as a fulltime journalist in New York.
Another reason I feel is because my wife (also from India after marriage) wanted to pursue cooking, writing etc i.e. non-professional career. Now after 3 years of marriage and a baby on the way, she is constantly wanting to go back. The problem is that I have built up my own life (I am an IBanker in NYC) and worked really hard to develop a circle of friends, interests, hobbies etc, and at this point I’d just be very unhappy in India, but my wife can’t really identify with anything in NYC. (She is also from WCC Chennai!) She tries real hard, but her Indian roots I think get in the way too much.
She loves your book because she identifies with the argument (more visceral love for India). When I ask her to give NYC an honest chance – she basically just says “if I love semia-payasam then I’ll just have semiya-payasam, don’t force me to have creme-brulee”.
I don’t mean to rant against your book or anything – but I just wished that someone as accomplished as yourself might offer similarly situated women some inspiration to try and pursue – just try – their own dream. Instead I just told my wife that you decided to give up and go back – yet again. This may be a harsh characterization but somehow I feel that after your kids began rebelling so openly you just got scared and started doing more Indian things etc. as you decribed in your book.
Anyway I may not agree with the content but the style is quite good.
Thanks for your review. You don’t know me but had you seen me in NYC, you may not have applied all of the above characterizations. There are many truths in what you say, but ‘independent footing’ is not one of them. The beauty of America is that it allows a young woman to develop an independent identity, which I did.
Also, my kids rebel against me here as well. “Kids” are not a reason enough to return. “Identity” was my reason.
I wish I could offer an appropriate response, but there are many themes in your review– all of them nuanced and complicated. So let me just wish you and your wife well.
Precisely the point – if you developed an actual “independent identity” then how did “identity” become the reason to go back? The independent identity you discovered maybe wasn’t independent after all – it was just an Indian identity. Lots of immigrants (particularly wife-from-India) go through a process of self-discovery and self-realization and, basically, discover that their identity is actually Indian. This is a comfortable Indian identity because in India it means exploring and celebrating and navigating (with great diplomacy) the enchanting & warm-and-fuzzy yet byzantine labyrinth of the extended Indian family.
One example – my wife *loves* to talk to her mother and sister (in Chennai) for hours together about the extended-so-and-so who is settled in USA or UK or Gulf. I keep telling her that these “stories about others” are interesting but irrelevant, but she finds it comforting so I just let it be.
Anyway… to each their own I suppose…
Hmm… I wonder if you ever incorporated research (e.g. like Chandra S who posted some great and relevant comments on [email protected]) into your book.
(1) You’ve written eloquently about what went into the decision, but it is telling that you first moved to Singapore because your husband got a transfer there. If it was so “visceral” then why didn’t you move to India in the first place? Your India decision was perhaps secondary to your husband’s (and family) sustenance. Someone asked earlier if you would have made the decision even if your husband didn’t get that transfer opportunity?
(2) Why Bangalore if your parents and roots are in Chennai / TN?
(3) To Chandra’s question at [email protected], and to another blogger’s point, your attachment to India was total i.e. no regrets in leaving USA. This is counter to what you have written above i.e. “independent identity” – your book does not indicate you fought to keep that independence. Again back to one other blogger post – would you have made the decision if you were a full career woman?
(4) Fill the void with India is an easy and unaffected choice. Not sure if this matters very much to you anyway.
For readers, Chandra’s comments are here:
Dear M. Nagarajan:
1. I didn’t move as an individual. I moved with my family. Naturally, it was a consensus move; not an independent one.
2. My parents are now in Bangalore
3. Attachment is hard to measure. How attached are you to the countries you inhabit? Can you put a percentage measure on it? Of course, I have regrets about leaving the US.
Independence versus being in harmony with the family is something that I think about a lot. Still haven’t figured it out.
What ifs are easy to speculate on. “Full career women” have made choices too about continuing, quitting, and moving continents.
4. Don’t understand this.