Beware, all you US-returned

An open letter to our NRI brothers and sisters before you get on the plane home

Updated - March 04, 2017 11:26 am IST

Published - March 03, 2017 04:18 pm IST

Dear All,

As you put together a bunch of must-have items in your basements, wondering how this could have happened to you, and are packing them in your Briggs & Rileys – quietly, unobtrusively – so the kids don’t get to know what’s in the offing, allow me, on behalf of all the brothers, sisters and shadagars who have remained on these shores, to say ‘Welcome back, we have been expecting you.’

While we will receive you warmly (though not literally, of course, because it is best you make your way from the airports to your new homes in Ubers) and hope you make the transition smoothly, let’s establish some ground rules:

1. We know that, in your brief sojourn in the West, one of the first things you developed was a taste, or a very good pretence of one, for wine. You will miss it terribly when you’re here. So whenever the urge to go wine-tasting grabs you, for the first year, entirely on us, our friends ‘Painter’ Pandi and ‘Genset’ Babu have been assigned to take you on a TASMAC tour, a more matter-of-fact version of your own vineyard soirées, where you sample street food, follow it up with spontaneous public ablution, get over your grief quickly, and into the Indian groove.

2. While we will happily give you the right to vote in our country, it will be in exchange for your agreeing unconditionally to not come anywhere near Music Academy, Narada Gana Sabha, etc., during the month of December. For a period of 10 years.

3. If you ask for ‘yoghurt rice’ when you mean ‘ thayir saadham ’ you will be beaten on your head repeatedly with the old aluminium tiffin carrier you used to take to PS Senior Secondary School.

4. We will give you ₹20 for every dollar. Take it or leave it. We both know that’s the actual value. And no small notes, okay?

5. If Alabaman, Southern Californian or Upper Midwestern inflections creep into your voice, especially when you are speaking Telugu or Tamil, we will catch hold of your tongue and twist it gently to make it look like a Kurkure, the much-tastier Indian pretzel.

6. If you comment on how polluted, corrupt, sweaty, stinky or rude India is, we will just say ‘Trump! Trump! Trump!’ ad nauseum and dance around you till you beg for mercy.

In fact, whenever the urge seizes us, we will yell out ‘Trump! Trump! Trump!’ in a variety of sing-song voices, accompanying them with spit-takes and other dramatic ruses.

7. Keeping in mind how difficult it is for anyone to mirror things, we will display great compassion, and permit you to drive on the right side of the road. Or the left. Or in reverse. Or right in the middle of the road. Or on sidewalks. Or all these at the same time. It’s totally cool.

8. You will not be allowed to have any domestic help in your homes for the first 10 years. And you will not use the words ‘servant’, ‘maid’ or ‘maid-servant’. Ever.

9. Senior citizens accompanying repatriating offspring will not be permitted to wear Bermudas on their evening walks in our parks and beaches. Enough is enough.

10. No story of yours will ever begin ‘But back home in...’ If it does, we will do the Trump-Trump routine and bring out the aluminium tiffin carrier.

11. You will never mention the names of LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant or words like Dallas Cowboys or San Francisco 49ers. You will learn to love Virat Kohli and carry a picture of MS Dhoni in your wallets.

12. Once a year, whichever part of India you may be from, you will be made to go to Punjab and run in the mustard fields singing ‘Yeh mera India, I love my India’ while an Amrish Puri lookalike will chase you shouting ‘Mogambo khush hua , Simran, Mogambo khush hua !’

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