The life of a Non-Resident Indian, the book “The Namesake”, By Jhumpa Lahiri.

2 Years back, I have read a book The Namesake, authored by Jhumpa lahiri, a book about an engineer, who fly to USA in search for higher education, after his studies, he lands up into a job, comes on holidays to search for a bride, marries, settle with wife in USA and gets two children. This book details  his  USA life with family till end of his chapter! after reading certain events of his life, I got a big question to be answered people, who settles away from homeland!

What is the real meaning of a Life?

Each one of us might be having a different lifestyle, and definition to own a life, however relating to a e.mail story about an software engineer, I have copy- pasted below  that email story, which more or less relates to the book. I would like to leave some questions at end of this post and please share your thoughts on this.


A Bitter Reality

As the dream of most parents I had acquired a degree in Software Engineering and joined a company based in USA , the land of braves and opportunity. When I arrived in the USA , it was as if a dream had come true.
Here at last I was in the place where I want to be. I decided I would be staying in this country for about Five years in which time I would have earned enough money to settle down in India .

My father was a government employee and after his retirement, the only asset he could acquire was a decent one bedroom flat.
I wanted to do some thing more than him. I started feeling homesick and lonely as the time passed. I used to call home and speak to my parents every week using cheap international phone cards. Two years passed, two years of Burgers at McDonald’s and pizzas and discos and 2 years watching the foreign exchange rate getting happy whenever the Rupee value went down.

Finally I decided to get married. Told my parents that I have only 10 days of holidays and everything must be done within these 10 days. I got my ticket booked in the cheapest flight. Was jubilant and was actually enjoying hopping for gifts for all my friends back home. If I miss anyone then there will be talks. After reaching home I spent home one week going through all the photographs of girls and as the time was getting shorter I was forced to select one candidate.

In-laws told me, to my surprise, that I would have to get married in 2-3 days, as I will not get anymore holidays. After the marriage, it was time to return to USA , after giving some money to my parents and telling the neighbors to look after them, we returned to USA .

My wife enjoyed this country for about two months and then she started feeling lonely. The frequency of calling India increased to twice in a week sometimes 3 times a week. Our savings started diminishing.
After two more years we started to have kids. Two lovely kids, a boy and a girl, were gifted to us by the almighty. Every time I spoke to my parents, they asked me to come to India so that they can see their grand-children.

Every year I decide to go to India … But part work part monetary conditions prevented it. Years went by and visiting India was a distant dream. Then suddenly one day I got a message that my parents were seriously sick.. I tried but I couldn’t get any holidays and thus could not go to India … The next message I got was my parents had passed away and as there was no one to do the last rights the society members had done whatever they could. I was depressed. My parents had passed away without seeing their grand children.

After couple more years passed away, much to my children’s dislike and my wife’s joy we returned to India to settle down.
I started to look for a suitable property, but to my dismay my savings were short and the property prices had gone up during all these years. I had to return to the USA …
My wife refused to come back with me and my children refused to stay in India …. My 2 children and I returned to USA after promising my wife I would be back for good after two years.
Time passed by, my daughter decided to get married to an American and my son was happy living in USA … I decided that had enough and wound-up every thing and returned to India … I had just enough money to buy a decent 02 bedroom flat in a well-developed locality.

Now I am 60 years old and the only time I go out of the flat is for the routine visit to the nearby temple. My faithful wife has also left me and gone to the holy abode.

Sometimes I wondered was it worth all this?

My father, even after staying in India , Had a house to his name and I too have the same nothing more.
I lost my parents and children for just ONE EXTRA BEDROOM.
Looking out from the window I see a lot of children dancing. This damned cable TV has spoiled our new generation and these children are losing their values and culture because of it. I get occasional cards from my children asking I am alright. Well at least they remember me.
Now perhaps after I die it will be the neighbors again who will be performing my last rights, God Bless them.
But the question still remains ‘was all this worth it?’
I am still searching for an answer…… ……… ..!!!





The Question I have from that book & Article  “Just for one Extra Bedroom” is….

What is the real meaning of life?

Is it just about Money?
Is it a life to be lived with Family?
Is it a life to be lived in a Native/Home Village?
How importance is get-together with relatives,  by celebrating the traditional and cultural events at home?

Please share your thoughts.


  1. My eyes are filled with tears right now. I went to US in similar situation but after 5 years there, I came back when I heard from my mother that, my father is in the hospital for a week, getting treated for earing loss due to an accident he had a few years back.

    For 2 years I speculated about returning to India, but its a hard decision to leave US and come back and settle in India. That phone call I had with my mother on 30th June 2008 gave me a genuine excuse to leave. I should say that is the best and most smartest decision I have ever made.

    Life is so much better now. I am making money in 7 figures and I dont ever miss US in the context of MONEY. I only miss the food, lifestyle but now I have my family and friends close. Now I have been blessed with a beautiful daughter and everything i think of nowadays is what I can do for her, to make her life easier than mine. That does not mean I complain my parents of making my life hard, It was my decision to leave India.

    However I am gonna be a regular reader of your blog for two reasons, your posts are interesting and my wife and me are going to start developing apps for iPhone.

    Jai Hind

  2. Hello Raj,

    I feel happy about your decisions and you current focus which is on your Daughter and the family that is depend on you.

    This is where the Karma lies.

    Enjoy and Have a great time ahead.

  3. Each individual has to decide what is best for them, what works for one may not work for another, so trying to generalize weather coming to US, returning or not returning to India etc may not be apt and no one will ever be able to come up with the accurate reponse.
    The best one can do to try to response to the situation is to identify ones own needs and personality and decide what works best for them.
    Also no one is putting a gun to any ones head to leave their country of origin and travel to some place else, every one makes the decision with some expectations and when the expectations are not met they loose heart/ feel sad/ get bitter. In my opinion every mans life is their own and they should guide their destiny and if they are unable to do so they should live with their decisions and not wallow in self pity.