Sharath S. Srivatsa

BANGALORE: For some time now, Shamitha, an ayurvedic practitioner and a resident of Sunnyvale in California, U.S., has been planning to return to Bangalore for good. Today, it is unlikely that she can return in the immediate future.

Just when her family decided to sell the house before packing the bags, the real estate market in the U.S. collapsed. There were no takers for the sprawling residence in the upscale area where she lived at the price she was asking. The family’s plans went haywire.

Similar is the case for many Bangalore families that had firmed up plans to return but now remain stuck in the U.S., unable to dispose of properties bought with heavy mortgages.

The rumblings in the U.S. economy are being felt faraway from the American shores here in Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley. Many families here are very anxious about the fate of the economy and the future of their children living and working in the U.S.

Worried family members, in many cases, have been requesting the non-resident Indians (NRIs) to return home. “There is more than the usual frequency of questions about why one shouldn’t return to India where the economy is in much better shape than in the U.S.,” says Arjun Kashyap, who earlier worked in Wall Street but is now a student of Columbia University. “A couple of my friends in the financial industry were laid off from Bear Sterns and other banks but managed to find other jobs on Wall Street quickly enough. At the same time, some other friends in the IT industry actually managed to take advantage of the falling housing market to buy homes at really good rates — both on the East and West coasts.” It has been a difficult times for the family members of Suresh, who migrated to the U.S. in the mid-1980s armed with only a basic degree. “Since the time he lost his job during the U.S. recession in 2002, he has not found another, which has led to much anxiety among us here,” says Krishnamurthy, his relative.

“Not only did he lose his job but also his savings invested in some mutual funds. Today, he has migrated to Canada in search of a job, and his family lives off his wife’s income that comes from a part-time job,” he says.

It may be difficult for Suresh to land another IT job as the technology he was working on has become outdated. Also he has to compete with a better qualified engineering pool.

(Some names have been changed.)

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