It has been disappointing

A few days ago the Brat and Bean missed a birthday party – the child lives in our complex. So I called up the mother and asked if we could drop by and we took over a gift. As we set off, the Brat waved to a little boy across the park and called out, “Hi xyz!” The little boy came running over to us and before I had time to react, he put his palms on the Brat’s chest and shoved him hard. I had the big gift carefully balanced and just about stuck a knee out to stop the Brat from falling backwards. “Go away, Brat,” he said – “I don’t like you and I don’t want to play with you.”

The Brat’s face fell, “I was only saying hello to you.”

Rude twit of a kid – Yes, but I don’t want to play with you and I don’t like you.

And then he turned to the other kids and said – Okay, everyone? No one will play with the Brat.

And then he began to push the Brat off the lawn.

I had been silent till then, balancing the gift and swinging between the violent urge to slap the little runt right off the field and letting the Brat fight his own battles. Then it struck me that while it might be okay for the Brat to get pushed around when I am not around, I am setting a rather bad example by standing there and letting him be bullied by an older kid. If I am teaching him to eat with a fork and now his fingers, tie his shoelaces and form his alphabets neatly, aren’t I also responsible for teaching him to stand up for himself?

And so it was that I dumped the gift on the Bean who staggered under the weight of it and caught the child’s hands and took them off the Brat’s chest. “If you don’t want to play with him, don’t. You don’t have to come running across the lawn to tell him that. And even if you want to tell him that, use your words – NOT your hands. Are we clear?”

The child wasn’t exactly a meek little thing and he glared back at me. “I don’t like him.”

Fair enough, I said. You don’t have to. I don’t really like your behaviour either, but I am not pushing you and you will not push him. Is that understood? Brat? If he doesn’t want to play with you, don’t play with him, but don’t you allow him to touch you roughly.

By now the maids of the children who had been standing around watching their ill-mannered, rough, rude, snotty little rich wards appeared near me. A couple had been chatting on their mobile phones instead of keeping an eye on the kids. They considered saying something to me, took one look at my thunder cloud face, and realised that their wards who were in the wrong, needed that talking to. Which brings me back to my old grouse. Another issue with our fast ‘progressing’ country is that the childcare situation is so dicey. You either stay home and bring up your child or leave them to the care of uneducated maids who would let their own children hit and fight in the dust hence see no harm in letting your kids do the same. Who won’t say please or thank you and naturally can’t teach your child any better. Who find it easier to just sweep up all the toys after playtime and will never teach the child to clear up after play. It’s rare to find a maid who can teach your kids the manners you expect or even be bothered with reinforcing what you teach.

Grabbing my two kids by the hand (and collecting the broken pieces of my heart) I swept away. Once there the children played quite happily with the usual cries of “Mama he’s not sharing..” or “Mama, I want that” all of which I and the other mother ignored, letting them sort their issues out peacefully.

This family too has moved back from the US six months ago and into our apartment complex. In conversation I mentioned the incident on the way to her home and she said something that I thought I’d run past you all. She said this wasn’t the way we grew up. And I agree. Growing up in my small town we were a huge group of kids running wild playing hide and seek from home to home, empty plots, haunted houses and so on. The ages ranged from about 3 years older than me to about 8 years younger, boys and girls of every religion. I can’t remember ever telling a child to go away. Yes, as kids we were rude about some kid’s weight and another kid’s nose (that would be mine!) but it was good natured teasing. Not this shoving off a playground.

Having moved back after 10 years with a very rosy picture of people dropping in at odd times and kids playing together happily, she said she didn’t regret it, but was disappointed by what she’d brought her children home to. Grandparents were the only deal sweetener in this whole picture. Other than that, the fact that 33% of our tax was going down the drain while we drove out of our gates and went straight into a pot hole, was just frustrating. I listened to her, nodding and agreeing with so much of what she said. She said she would give it a couple of years more and then maybe ask the husband to move back to the States. “Where is the Indian culture we moved back for?” she asked. “I didn’t come back for puja-paath. There are temples there too. I came back for a certain warmth and hospitality and I see people literally stepping on each other to get ahead. There’s a new self centredness that wasn’t there in those days. People don’t have time to contribute to the community – and these very same Indians help at soup kitchens abroad. Double income couples earn so much that they have housekeepers who walk their dogs – but no one checks the dogs pooping all over the playground our kids have to play in. We’re paying through our noses for these facilities and at night you see some parents walking around in their nightclothes while their kids pee against trees. Everyone is aspirational and grasping. There’s no sense of community anymore.”

And it’s true. I’ve seen the aunties in their nighties walking around the complex at night, their children peeing against the wall. What exactly are we building high walls up and insulating ourselves against? And what is it that we’ve locked ourselves in with?

The truth is that you see none of this when you come to India for a visit. Uncles and aunties fete you and throw dinner parties to welcome you home. You go shopping to a select few places and eat chaat. And then you head back. How many of you moved back to India and found yourself disappointed? Go on. Be honest. I can take it.


210 thoughts on “It has been disappointing

  1. hi madmomma,
    I have been following your blog and love your astuteness of observations. I am dealing with my 16-month old being too nice a boy and often getting pushed or shoved, and my heart tells me I should teach him how to be an alpha male, but my mind wonders if I am setting the right example by countering aggression with aggression.
    But you are right. Words can hit harder than a shove. May be next time.
    Btw, I have recently started a mommyblog and would love your views. Have added you on my blogroll and the link is

    • you know, my little brat was just like this when i started blogging 4 years ago. nothing much has changed. you cant change the basic nature of your child. and all you can do is hope that he doesnt hurt too much

  2. Know what MM, its not disappointing just for the guys who’ve moved back. You have been living here, so have we. We find it irritating too. Some of our peers have no manners themselves, what can we expect out of their children. Slowing down and setting priorities right might help, but societal pressures hardly help us with that. There are ppl who still are brave enough to do that. Kudos to them.

    • very true. people who didnt actively try to move abroad or turned down opportunities are as frustrated. it seems like we stayed back for something that doesnt exist. feel quite cheated.

  3. Hi madmomma,
    We moved back from the US 10 months ago, and my sentiments mirror that of your friends. The grandparents and extended family are the only deal-sweeteners. No regrets, but disappointment, yes. I am very very disappointed with the kids here. There is no courtesy, no compassion, only a deep sense of entitlement. These peers are not role models for my kids. There are definitely many advantages to being in India, but they are not the ones I anticipated! I think most Indians move back to India for the wrong reasons (culture, sense of community, lower cost of living (whazzat???)) and then end up being disappointed.

  4. Its sad, some kids have no manners..and I was appalled earlier when I saw teen on reality shows badmouthing and ill mannered, but now its percolated down to kids so young. Its our generation to blame who have not had the time and patience to pass down to our kids what we have learnt.

    I regret how we have to have a pooled Halloween(!) celebration with even kids paying up 250/-. Where are those days of having people casually drop by and just adding more water to the already brewing, tea and chatting. No more sending food to neighbours because you remember how much they liked your cooking. It still happens in smaller towns though.

    Brat will be fine, I am sure we will bring up our kids well. Love.

  5. Hi MM, I’m a big fan of yours…I grew up in a tiny town in Africa, and the one thing that irritates me with my peers is the pressure they put on me to be kewl, the pressure is unbelievable. They treat me with disdain and condescion in their voices because I made the mistake of telling them that I’ve never slept with someone (I’m 22)!!! It irritates me to no end when I know half of them haven’t either!!
    But other then that I am amazed at the level of confidence they have but also how materialistic they’ve become
    Overall the impression I got was that they are trying to be more and more western (or at least what they think it means to be western).

  6. I cant believe that kid would do that…Its so weird! and I hope Brat and Bean are fine now after this..Its sad but true that today kids seem to have lost manners..I think its a bad influence of TV if not anything where they see people bashing other people or telling other people that they dont like them..and then just replicate it in their lives…The parents need to be definitely more be honest, I come back home after picking up R at about 7.30 in the evening from her daycare, and I usually dont even take her down to play with the other kids because she is too young to be left alone with the other kids and the elder kids talk such weird stuff that too when their moms are around, that I am scared R will get influenced…of course how long I can shield her is another question!

    • that is true. and you’re right. what often surprises me is that the parents dont have an issue with the conversations doing the rounds. makes me wonder what they talk about when parents are not around.

  7. MM I see these totally obnoxious kids around me all the time, and I wonder why their parents just wouldn’t teach them a thing! I remember how my mom let me fight my own battles (overweight kids have a whole lot of them :P) and made sure while I wasn’t getting walked over by those chumps, I didn’t start any fights. I did once, never saw the end of it 🙂 And she made it look easy. You make it look easy. Aren’t other parents bothered anymore? Or have children become more difficult? And if they have, what’s the solution? Kids really have changed from the way we used to be. In spite of nose and weight battles, no?

  8. You know MM, I have never lived outside of India, but I completely identify with what you have written so eloquently about here. Times have changed since I grew up. I remember having a community to be a part of, having many kids to play with. Lagori, kabbaddi, fun and games. Yes, we did have our fair share of fights, but all in good spirit. It was never to put another down and gang up against them. These days I see my younger cousins, nieces and nephews, and they have nothing of the sort. They dont interact with kids, they’re tuck to their video games and tv sets. They dont learn social skills as a result, they dont learn to share, behave in a group. They dont even accustom themselves to culture, which is such a big lesson learn from being in a community. Its very sad when things like this happen and you see the truth of our times stare you in the face.

    It is for many of the reasons you stated in the last few paras of this post that I choe to move from the rat race of a big city to a small, less developed town. Yes, things are not as easily available here, the conveniences are fewer. But at least I feel like people are less selfish and more calm and collected and friendly.

    • you know.. i really want to find out more about how you moved to Goa. i want to take my kids away from all of this and show them a slower pace of life. there’s got to be a way to do it.

  9. My parents (and with them two children) moved back to India 20 years back and I still curse them for it and they deeply regret their decision. Full stop.

    • And can you believe that I don’t have any feeling for India after all these years?! For me it’s just another country on this planet. 😦

  10. True …., i keep hearing this and my own parents warn me about coming back to India . But don’t know….as cliched as it may sound,I still feel extremely attached to my country , my people (that explains the strong need to bond with Indians in Singapore) …. I am sure & optimistically believe that homecoming to India will be much more than just “grandparents”….

    On the other hand , My 5 year old son spends most of his waking hours with my most darling nanny and i chose to beleive that he is more well behaved than most of the chinese and white kids around ( nothing racial here , i am just trying to say that ill mannered children are everywhere , not just in India).

    I owe my son’s good behavior to the “quality time i spend with him” fantastic international school that puts no pressure on studies and focuses mostly on “child rearing” and of course my ever loving nanny who has been with us for the last 4 years !!!

    I am certain that given an opportunity , I will come back to India ….Amen !

  11. I so agree with you here. We moved to a midwestern city in the US when we decided to start a family . On any given evening I have 6-10 kids playing in my front yard,10-15 yr olds who engage and play with my toddler, neighbours stopping by with receipes, using their snow blower in winter to clean our driveway without being asked, coming over when I was all alone with a 2 week old to help without being asked and so on. I dont have a culure, religion or race in common with them. And yet I feel at home here. Its like growing up in the Bombay I knew. I dont see the strong sense of community that existed before when I visit Bombay. Its like everyone has somewhere to be and be first at that. I dont know if thats a good or a bad thing. I just dont want to be a part of it.

  12. I’ve returned to India twice, once as a teenager from the Gulf and later as a mother of a toddler from the US. I don’t agree some with what your friend said. Wait….lemme explain! 🙂

    I’ve experienced and heard about this kind of one-upmanship and aggressive competitive bullying behaviour in kids and adults both here in Bangalore as well as in the US. Some of the most vicious things said and done to me and hubby were by Indians in the US…both FOB plus many who’d been settled there for ages.

    Returning as a teen from the Gulf, I’d been treated shabbily by family and community in India, still carry the scars of the rejection and humiliation I was put thru’. So I had no illusions about India when I again returned from the US later.

    I think we attract what we abhor, MM. I had lousy relationships with family members, neighbours, co-workers for a very long time. Then I started making choices I’d always been afraid to make before…and my world started changing…found better friends, actually had deep friendships with certain neighbours, found many more amazing people thru’ blogging, forged lifelong relationships with other adoptive parents when I adopted, even found an amazing company to work for when I started WFM…I look around me now and I am amazed and thankful at having found these people…the lousy crowd is still there, but I keep them at arm’s length.

    I think that returning to India has been great because we didn’t have any expectations, so we weren’t disappointed. I didn’t grow up in India, there were no memories of the ‘good old days’ here!!

    We created our own culture, went and found friends and family we were comfortable with, volunteered, etc etc.

    We’re all going to be disappointed by crappy people and attitudes we find in whatever country…but we really should know we can find the people with the attitudes we like too…having a negative attitude doesn’t help.

    I’m totally inspired by returnees like Choxbox who’ve embraced and integrated so well, who are convinced and inspired, who contribute majorly back and manage to make a challenging experience enriching and take the best that India has to offer, and try to change the worst too!

    Bullying exists everywhere…the question is figuring out how to deal with it, with or without schools’ and other parents’ support. Nasty kids and their neglectful parents are around too…we keep away and take the trouble to go driving distances to find better friends for our kids and ourselves.

    You might want to check out Sangitha’s post on another aspect of return-NRI unhappiness

    • Starry – curious to hear more about these ‘different choices’ you referred to above?

      Open to trying new things, hence asking.

      • Just different from the ‘normal’ crowd I was hanging around with then, Anamica. When I embraced my differences, instead of trying to hide them…I found others who were just as different and more wonderful than I’d imagined. Includes writing, blogging, adopting, working from home, counseling, event management, feminist ranting (!!) blah-blah… Better to be yourself as you love yourself, and then you’ll find others to love and who’ll love you back too 🙂 Not blowing my own trumpet or anything…jus’ sayin’ coz you asked 🙂

  13. To answer your Q – Me. Been here since 2.5 years and not disappointed at all. On the contrary in fact.

    The stuff your friend said is all true, but it holds for folks everywhere. The world is getting more competitive, aggressive and somehow less considerate. or maybe thats what our kids will also say when they grow up – every generation thinks they were better off when they were little – may be its true in some ways and not in other ways.

    Just that in some places you’d get fined heavily (in terms of money or otherwise) if you littered or peed all over the place and hence the streets are clean. Take away the fine and then we’ll see.

    Okay will stop before this becomes a whole post.

    • I agree with Choxbox. Been back here for 2.5 yrs and no am not regretting it.

      But you know we did not try to fit into the society of the returned people or the society that the money that we now have fits us into. We came back to the same society, that we left 10 yrs ago and they welcomed us in well.

      The reason we consciously avoided that society is that for some this money has come in easy not with the values attached.

  14. As for aggro kids – we have them everywhere. Seen some superior specimens in London, seeing some here too.

    I have done and would still do exactly what you did. Whether or not the message gets to the other party, it certainly goes to mine – which I repeat ad nauseum – don’t hit anyone and don’t let anyone hit you either. A lesson that holds good for life.

  15. hey mm,
    i was going to comment re my relocation story, but then read the bullying bit from the link above. and have to say am in tears on days my son comes home and tells about how xyz slapped him/punched him/showed him the finger, sometimes for no reason, sometimes bcoz he tapped them to say something and they didnt like that, or becoz he tried to give his input on the project they were discussing. my husband tells me not to get all weepy over it, and definitely not jump into the issue, he shud learn to handle himself, but once when he was punched in his stomach and then when a boy threw a huge rock which caused a gash inside his lower lip i had to. what i cant understand is where do these kids get this mean violent streak from.
    the school counsellor gave him advise : your body language shud be such that no one shud dare touch you. try talking to the boys and tell them you dont like being hit and figure the issue w/ them” my son was like HUh? mom there IS no reason for the hitting, whats do i talk about, and what is body language? sigggh!
    and the bullies then teased him for taking the matter to his mom. so now he doesnt want me to come to school (and i think he shud learn to stand up for himself too) but how does one stand up to physical violence? tho i did talk to him and tell him that i have to hear from him everytime such an incidence happens!
    am hoping he finds himself soon and doesnt feel the need to “hang out” with such peers, or belong…and then finds some gentle souls like himself who can show him what real friends are like!

  16. My mild tempered daughter has been treated rudely by desi kids here too. The parents of the little boy have just stood around watching and even laughing about how boys are generally more naughty!!! In another case the parents of another rude child said “bacche hain” and proceeded to lecture me’ on how to go easy with kids while their daughter continued her cutting-in-line behavior at the local park. Sadly both sets of parents are friends of my husband. I see that sense of entitlement and over indulgence of parents with the Indian kids here too. So it’s not just an issue in India.

  17. 2+ years since I moved and I am not jaded. I agree with “starsinmyeyes” about setting expectations right. You cannot move back with the expectations of fantastic civic sense when you know it is a challenge in the country. You do your best to make a difference, be an example, educate as many people as you can and hope that the message gets through.
    IMHO, Your move is successful when you find a reason for moving back that is in your control [i.e. spend more time with ‘rents], make that work and negotiate on the rest.

    I remember emailing you many times about the apprehensions I had before I moved and I am very happy to say that most of what you said was true and real.

    Now if only you find me that frozen grated coconut, I’d be all set 😉

    PS: Give Brat a hug from me. You did the right thing – don’t even bother second guessing!

      • yes, i too think you did the right thing..the kid needed to be told by somebody how to behave(hopefully he will think twice before doing it again) and I am sure the Brat will grow up a more secure and happy being for having had a strong and sensible mother behind him..

      • MM: oh pls dont feel so. U have all the rights to protect ur child and NO MOM CAN SEE HER KID GETTING PUSHED INFRONT OF HER EYES.

  18. I completely understand what your saying MM, but how is the situation any different in the West? If anything, I think its worse. You have kids from a young age, left with a baby sitter with both parents out at work. So I’m not sure if its a culture thing but more to do with certain families their values, beliefs and life style.

      • Im not sure if being a little more educated really helps. Slightly better, probably, but whats needed are baby sitters who love kids and love what they do…irrespective of how educated they are. Even village women who come can be a whole lot better if they’ve been around kids and I guess if they have one of their own. The rest I feel is a matter of getting in sync with the family.

        • i’d pick a loving maid over an efficient maid any day. but i wish it werent reduced to that na? surely we should be able to offer our kids better care than just a gentle old maid who knows no better. a good friend has let her kids be raised entirely by this toothless old village woman and now the kids speak just like her – using the crudest words for bodily functions, they run around naked in front of strangers because the woman thinks nothing of it and refuse to say sorry or thank you. my friend works long hours and in the few hours she is home its hard to undo what the old lady does. and yet, in her place i’d not pick another maid because this old lady loves the kids. good daycares are hard to come by. why is it that we have to compromise so much on raising our kids?

          • Well, I do know of a young, well- educated and caring baby- sitter. Available from January onwards. Will feed the babies bhindi and ice-cream for dinner and run up and down the stairs any number of times, as required. Will even brush up her knowledge on animals,birds and fighter- jets. Let me know if you are interested. 😀

  19. I don’t get the “bacche hain” mentality??? Bacche hain ya monsters hain? Why become parents if you can’t teach your kids right from wrong?

    You did good MM. I would have done the same.

  20. Though I dont really get into my kids’ scuffles, but I do know when to step in. I am glad you stepped in there. Its tricky, you know. One can never really tell whether to give them space and let them be independent or to stand upto them. I just let my instincts rule me there – and I have found myself calling up some moms and telling them very firmly off. So, I guess, its required sometimes. Kudos to you !

  21. i don’t think rudeness/bad behaviour has anything to do with a country. why do we feel kids in white countries are better than our own?

    a lot of my friends are nris. i have yet to see any of their kids display *superior* behaviour. social graces like thank you and sorry – yes – but true care and concern? i think you’d find indian kids rate much higher.

    • i dont think kids in white countries are better, but i do believe that having social graces is important.

      how do we measure care and concern? atleast with a please and a thank you you can soothe ruffled feathers

  22. Hi MM,

    Agree with you on a lot of points…yes, children are getting aggressive these days,but its not only in India…there are bullies everywhere. It is somewhat understood that kids living in poorer sections may need to be a bully just to survive, but there is no explanation for kids of well educated , upper class people.

    The one point I do not agree with is people who return to India, and whine about the conditions there. I am myself in Canada, and of course realize the difference in living conditions, sense of responsibility etc. between here and there.
    But I feel that people who have lived abroad for many years and then plan to return to India want India to be the same as they left. Why? Have they been so out of touch with reality that they don’t think that India will change with the rest of world? And what is this ‘Indian culture’ we speak of that they want to return back to??? If the culture was so important to them, they would not have left India in the first place. Most people do not return for culture, but for the ease of life after earning enough money.
    Its also not that people coming back go to live like an average Indian…they want to live in gated communities,send their kids to international schools, and maintain the similar social circle as before with other NRIs…not that there is anything wrong with it.
    But I feel people moving back to India should not base their decision just on “once-in-two-years…going-for-a wedding” trips to India.

    • you make some great points. and yet, even i today have ended up in a gated community. daily life has become so hard in india. no electricity, no water, roads are a mess – and you slog all day and come home to that if you dont pick the gated option. i feel people are more aggressive here because resources are limited. very different to the way people would queue up for a bus in UK.

      totally agree with you on the culture point. if culture is so big to you – why did you leave? culture is the one thing you cant import wholesale unlike sambhar masala

      • No , no, I see no issue about living in gated communities.

        The point I was trying to make was that abroad-returned- Indians have so many things in their favor that an average Indian does not – living in a gated community provides access to 24/7 water and electricity in a safe environment, not having to struggle for school admissions , easy access to groceries etc.
        And the reason they choose to whine about is that they are not finding the Indian culture they left behind. Really?? Arghh.

      • and US has no culture? i really never get the point when ppl say they are moving countries for the sake of ‘culture’. wth?! every country, every community, every society has ‘culture’. having lived in both India and Canada, i really don’t know how indian ‘culture’ is any different than the canadian ‘culture’. Now in US too, people seem people to me. They are equally nice and loving and welcoming as they would be elsewhere. I really don’t get this ‘culture’ thing at all.

        • Agree with you fully…thats the point I was trying to make…Ethics, good habits, fashion sense, sense of responsibility etc. belong to people , not to a place.

  23. I am abroad for a short while and my son (3yrs) is ‘Sher’ at home. Generally he is well-behaved (loves music and calm downs immediately when I play some soothing ones) but sometimes he shouts and threatens, imagins things and makes announcements as to how he is not going to share his stuff with some hypothetical friend! I wonder where this came from. 😦
    I give him benefit of doubt that poor kid gets bored with limited set of toys and books and no friends around. But sometimes it really scares me. I surely won’t like my kid to be on the aggressive side. He better be shy and introvert and I am ok if he looses out on few things that the “smart” ones get.
    If MM, if my son would have sone to Brat, I would have slapped him right away..damn with the non-voilence theory..
    I hope my baby becomes peace loving irrespective of where the world is going..

  24. hi
    i have been following your blog since beginning of summer. I live in the US and have a 4 yr old son a 2 week old daughter. I have told my son that its not ok to be passive when someone is abusing you. You shd try tellin them politely and if that doesnt work, then u strike back too. Gone are the days when gandhian attitude worked. We live in a different world altogether now. I agree that kids in US are slightly better behaved than in India, but the problem of insensitive and ignorant parents and kids exist everywhere.

  25. See, this is the kind of post that scare us non- mommy readers. What are they, kids or monsters? And I am glad you did what you did – I would have spanked that kid hard and given him a piece of my mind.
    And I don’t mean to generalise, but why do I see single kids being much more selfish and self- centred than kids with siblings? I have been meeting a lot of kids lately and this observation struck me a couple of days ago. Nice kids mostly, but refusing to share things, wanting their way with most things, throwing embarrassingly loud tantrums and holding the parent to ransom, until they get their way.. pardon me if its too much of a generalisation. My sample size is about 10 single kids 😀

  26. Its such a insightful post for me. Why? Because we are thinking of moving back to India too after 10 years in USA. Have a 2 and 1/2 year old daughter. And Its such a dilemmna. Such a crossroad that I think one way for few months and then something
    happens and I think the other way.
    I also send my daughter to daycare and we both work full-time. But I have noticed one thing and that is teachers in a good daycare have a set-plan and routine for the day. My daughter talks about science and maths, recites 20 rhymes, count till 20 and do so many activities that I am rather glad that I sent her there instead of keeping her home. And this is after I was with her at home till she was almost 2.
    The teachers in a good daycare (mind you..good daycare means good and lots money) teaches them about honesty and truth and sharing. I know that kids still punch and fight but seeds are sown into their brains. “Help her” , “nice”. “Share” , “its not your turn to speak yet” this is what I have heard her teacher say to kids all the time. And my daughter is not even 3 yet.
    You might think I am bragging abt the place I stay but I think … its worth bragging. I know that maybe kids learn abt sex at age of 12 and abt boyfriends when they are 9. But they also learn abt so many other things too. They learn abt not stealing, not cheating ever EVER in exams. I have noticed in my own class while studying that students with tattoes, colorful- hair and mohak NEVER NEVER even take a peak at another persons copy while writing exam even though teacher is not around. They will say THANKYOU 1000 times, PARDON million times, wait for you to board the train all the time.
    So I think we should stop blaming WEST for everything. WEST has its own culture and is very clear of its identity.
    Ofcourse every society has goods and bads. But the differnce is If bad is WORST here then good is the BEST.
    But we as immigrants, rootless, confused desi are the problem here. We parents are more confused that kids. Do we want our kids to have western or indian culture? Culture is the word. Do I want my kid Indian or American?
    And abt the bullies and mean remarks and mean girls. Well.. its everywhere … we cannot escape it anymore , neither can we nor our kids.
    Just like a new disease we have to find the best way to immune our kids. Send our kids to not the “popular and best ” schools
    but schools which has good foundations and teach moral value. Just like …Like some swami vivekanand schools or rabindranath tagore schools? So its not only kids but we as parents who needs a reality check.
    I dont know where I am going with this. But I am still confused . Still at the crossroad. Still a rootless desi

  27. Hi MM,

    I think it is great topic to be debating on.

    I am living in a small town in US from the past 8 years. I am starting to think that the bullying might have somehting to do with a small town versus big city more than countries. Because, I have never lived in a big city in the US either, but I have heard from lot of people about how rude people in New York are, as opposed to a very loving community here in my town.

    But, until recently I was also thinking that it has to do with kids growing up in India because I have known two families very close to us return to US within 5 months of being there. Along with other reasons, the ‘kids not liking the peers/teachers’ was one of them as they felt everyone was being rude to them.

  28. We talked about moving back, and this was one of the reasons we haven’t done so, so far…the new attitude in India is *very* obvious, especially to those of us who grew up middle-class without maids at our beck-and-call.

    Some NRI friends who did move back to B’lore have moved out of these new swanky enclaves, precisely for this reason, and moved to the real parts of Bangalore, where, they say, things aren’t that bad yet. Of course, this means horrendous commutes for the working parent (and of the 5 families I know personally, 4 have one parent at home, 1 is lucky to have able and willing grandparents, as child-care options are so pathetic)

    • exactly. if you live here, its impossible to have a good work life balance unless grandparents are jobless enough. mine are young and working and i dont have those options. all i’m stuck with are maids that change on a regular basis and disrupt our life. and no steady full time job

  29. Oh and wanted to add: hurtful cliques always existed – I went to a rich school and went through several episodes until I found friends on my wavelength. But – what scares me nowadays is the very agressive me-first attitude I see all around in India – yes, even on visits.

    • cliques i think always exist. in the good old day it meant mixing only among your caste. today your bank balance defines it. but yes, its the me-first that we’re dealing with in this country.

  30. Hi!

    Came over because I had some serious traffic to the blog and was wondering what happened! So sorry to hear about what happened to Brat and I think you did the right thing.

    We moved back to India pre-kids. And have not been disappointed here because we have made for ourselves a good friends circle that thinks like us. For most part. We also have these playmate issues, mostly with my son. And this whole ‘you are not my friend’ happens. Sometimes they make up and in other cases, their personalities don’t match.

    I differ in the ‘we did not grow up like this’ angle. You were probably part of the majority that did not have to face it. I have always said it as it seemed to me and most people could not take it. Not talking mean here – just honest. And was always on the fringe until I decided to make my circle and that one sustains to date.

    People tend to get disappointed in India because it does not meet the ideals they build up for it. India will also move – sometimes to get us that imported piece of furniture right here and unfortunately also that McDonalds that I wish remained outside. Forever! Like all else, I end up taking the good with the unpalatable and working with what I can handle.

    There are more people out there like you, do keep that chin up, Mad Momma. And in standing up for your child, I am sure you gave Brat an example of how to not put up with c***.

    My bias: I don’t like gated communities. With money, one seems to see more snobs than not.

    • I too disagree with the point that “we didn’t grow up that way”.

      I grew up in Bombay & Chennai and kids were just as mean & selfish and completely clique-y. I think the one difference was that no one had money to buy fancy stuff. But in my opinion, that only made us kids more selfish. Some kids had “foreign” toys that they wouldn’t share (parents usually told them not to).

      I find my nieces & nephews live in more equal societies and because most in their apartment/school are in the same bracket, they are more sharing of their things. Parents are also less stressed about kids breaking toys or losing pencils (god, the grief I got for that!).

      To summarise, I think every gen is more or less the same. It just appears to us to be different as we get older.

      • I agree to SG’s last point. Each and EVERY generation said, is saying and will say ‘During our times blah blah blah… Where is this generation heading to?!’.

  31. Hi MM, Great post. I have an 8 month old and we worry about bringing up kids in the US and how we would like to move back closer to family. A lot has changed in India since we moved here and moving back is a tough decision to make. I guess one has to adjust his/her expectations according to the situation.

  32. dear mad momma
    in our place 30 yrs back in India we had the same situation ie kids not allowing some ther to play in the group and from batches,calling meek ones thief {ie writing with a sponge on the wall you are thief} many more
    then we moved to a city from this small town ,there we did not face all these kind of stuff
    till today my mother shivers thinking how bad those kids were and how they used to bully the meek ones,as I read your post today even before reading the comments I felt a warm tear rolling my cheeks remembering the worst few years in our childhood
    so I immediately felt the need to comment
    I worry whether my little daughter have to face all these
    it good you brought up this subject and will thank you from my deepest part of heat if you write more elaborately on this bullying and how we can save ourselves from this
    thank you mad momma for bringing this topic to light
    how are brat and the bean
    my lil’one just completed three

    • wow. really? i think i had a charmed childhood in terms of the little locality i grew up in. we played together happily, squabbled at times, but generally got along fairly well.

  33. i haven’t moved back yet. but i do come down every year.
    my kids play with my friends’ kids or kids in the family, who fortunately are rather sweet and well behaved. there are a lot of reasons why i’d come back (primarily because living in the gulf, you will always be the outsider here), and a lot of reasons why i wouldn’t.
    what really scares me about india is how parents seem to think if you are child is smart (read doing superbly in school, can play 10 instruments, and kickball), then he doesn’t have to be kind, empathetic, disciplined. that’s what really gets to me… that, and the fact that in india if you are child is ‘different’ there is no way he/she can be integrated into his/her peer group. different in terms of not being spoilt and indulged, different in terms of having any kind of disability, different in terms of sexuality…
    is it any different here? no. but the primary influences in my children’s life are me/husband, and people we approve of — because of the societal set up. and at this point, i am happy that’s the case. when they are older, and need to receive more exposure, i hope i have the wisdom to do the right thing…
    so, am i dying to get back to india? no. would i hate it if i had to? NO…

    • hmm… a very good point and one i often mull over. its amazing how parents will smile at a kid who is behaving like a hooligan and think he is “such a boy” – and then go on to tell you how smart he is. hello – what about being considerate or gentle. why do we only think in terms of those being feminine attributes?

  34. Me and the hubby keep debating on moving back when our little one is old enough to start school.

    I am all for it, keep arguing it is in our kids best interest to grow up in a ‘warm’ down-to-earth environment like India..

    This post is disturbing. .makes me think different. I’ll do my home work before I speak next 😦

    • i dont know what your idea of warm or down to earth is, babe. but i dont see it around me in Delhi or Gurgaon and I dont know where you plan to settle if you move back.

      most people are rather aspirational and they rarely have the breeding that should come with money.

      • i love this point you make. completely, completely agree. the new money has made people aspirational, even more money minded, and very very contained. and very in-your-face kind of boorish.

  35. Great post, MM.
    My Hubby always wanted to move back to be with family but I did not want to, till I took my trip in August. Now I am convinced because of my kids, how they got to play with their cousins made my heart swell.

    Mean kids are everywhere and at all times. When I grew up I did not face bullying but somehow my classmates always made me feel less beautiful and I would always be chosen to play the ‘male’ character in plays because of my dark complexion and what not.

    My close friends who have moved back, some chose gated communities/international schools and some others chose regular apartments/schools. Most of them are happy so far.

    I think I have rambled enough.

  36. I have not moved back but as you know my bro did (He had lived in the US for about 13 years by then, his wife for about 10 and their kid was a year old) and I should say they are very happy about the move. As many people have already commented, I think it pays to understand very clearly why you are moving and be sure that come way that is attainable. Also you need to go with an open mind and everything works out.

    As an aside, why should it be hard to re-adjust to a place/surrounding that you grew up in (like India) than moving to a totally alien place (like US, Europe) that you have no idea about? I don’t hear people complaining after the move (say lack of quality Indian restaurants or the weather), because they know what to expect when they move and make their peace with it. I guess moving back should pretty much be the same, isn’t it?

    • A-Kay – A very simple answer to your question: very hard to move back (be it India or some other country). The reason is when most of us immigrated, we were young. We were looking for a new experience, we did not have kids. By the time most of us start seriously thinking of going back, we are in our 30s. We are settled. We want stability, a certain lifestyle, we’re not so open about making new friends, we have kids to figure out how to bring up, we have to uproot ourselves from a place we spent a decade sowing them to start all over again. I think that’s why most people I know who have moved back did so because they had to (parents, some other compelling reason) and not because they chose to and decided they’d get a better life by moving back.

  37. Hi MM,

    I think I came across your blog while reading another friend’s blog and she’d mentioned your blog… anyways, since you write straight from the heart it never misses to strike a chord. I stay in the US too and have been here since the last 7 yrs, but believe you me I still want to head back to India. And family is the biggest reason you’d move back for and a sense of belonging a close second and everything else comes a distant second (public amenities being last on the list). What happens most of the time with people who come here is that they lose touch with how India is developing in every aspect and development must not always be confused with progress.

    If India has it’s issues, so does the US (and any other country). Life by no means is all that cracked up to be like they show in the movies. At the end of the day, people should be clear about why they want to move back and do an honest assessment of their expectations about moving back and realize whether they are looking at India thru rose colored glasses. I know it took me about 2 full years to settle in the US, I felt uprooted, alone and isolated in the beginning. So I’d tell anyone to be patient about the settling in process. Anyways I think I can write an entire tome here, but would answer your question even though I haven’t moved back. Irrespective of where you are or which country you live in, life isn’t always a bed of roses and one should learn to take the short comings in one’s stride. As far as the disillusionment after moving back, remember when you left it wasn’t the perfect country and when you move back it won’t be perfect either. If parents are your biggest motivation about moving back, then you wont be disappointed. However, if you are moving back based on motivators like better job opportunities, fat pay checks, international shopping facilities and the like and expecting the Indian infrastructure to be top of the line you’d likely to be disappointed in some aspects.

    Couldn’t resist, but you did a good thing with the other misbehaved kid. One can stand up for oneself without turning into the aggressive bully type variety. Oh btw as a kid, I would be fighting the boys in my class.. 😉

    All the best!

    • yes i agree one needs to take shortcomings in their stride, but it seems that in the last decade India has made a giant leap economically and somehow that hasnt resulted in better lifestyles. neither has it brought out the best in people.

  38. mm, not read the other comments but since you ask, i thought i would answer first!

    Been back nearly 10 years now. Its a long time. No, i am not disappointed in that sense of the word. I wouldn’t trade this for anything. The things you say are absolutely true of course, and one of the reasons I am happy to live in a house now and not in a flat and a complex, despite what it implies to my little girl. When we moved back one of the things in our minds was that we ought not to judge India as if we are outsiders. Its always tough when one has an idealistic, slightly anachronistic idea of a place. It will definitely disappoint, no doubt. I have found it a lot better to go with the flow, fight the battles that need to be fought, move away from those that cannot be fought and do my best to live in my insular world. I know this is not the way others like to live, but possibly this is why I have never been heard to (seriously) talk about moving back to the West. I do miss it, I do visit often and totally love it. But I have made my choice, and my peace with that choice. Much like I was willing to give a lot of rope to the Americans when I moved there…

    I am writing this in a hurry so want to add a disclaimer just in case, that I had my child after returning to India (mostly by personal choice aided by circumstance and peppered with a lot of luck) and sometimes that makes a hell of a lot of difference, and I definitely don’t want to judge anyone elses choices or belittle their problems…

    And also, good for you in doing that. How dare those kids say/do that to gentle Brattie.. Ridiculous…

    • but babe.. i’m not even judging it as an outsider. even as an insider i’m getting sick of the rot that has set in at the core. its hard to pay your taxes when you wake up every morning to a new scam.

  39. Hey – As a second thought [not going back on my first, however], this incident probably won’t make Brat any more popular in the colony, I suppose. The kids *might* be a little scared or wary. Coz even if the rest of the kids are not bullies, I doubt they’d risk the alienation.

    He will surely find his group – everyone does.. if he has not already. But you might want to talk him through that.

    My 2 cents..

  40. Dear MM,
    My son is 8 years old. We moved back from the U.S seven years back, and it has not been a disappointment.

    The clamor for money & materialism has reached a frenzy in particular sections of our society. This bandwagon is headed by people from the I.T., but includes others as well. Here, we have mediocre people doing mediocre work, and getting paid much more than what they are actually worth. The price, of course, is to work like a slave. When the work does not require great ability, you can only rise by demonstrating your slog ability – your ability to work harder and longer than everyone else. The problem is, others are doing the same, and so it keeps getting worse & worse.

    It’s a dog eats dog world out there – and children are seeing it. Parents know that it will be worse for their kids, and so, are preparing them for the future – can you blame them for looking after the interests of their child in the way they know best? I see this problem only increasing.

    (Before people fall on me with brickbats, let me say that I belong to the above bandwagon, and have found that the only way I can spend more time with my family is by letting my career stagnate – a choice I have willingly made).

    IF you want to see happy kids (like during our childhood), chances are you will not find them in the international schools that are sprouting up, nor in the elite high walled housing societies. A nice person who does not elbow aside others, will probably not get promoted high enough to be able to afford either (Yes, yes, I know there are exceptions).

    Have you also thought that we had happy kids during our childhood because both parents were not out making money? Either both the parents can earn a lot, or they can bring up your child properly – both are full time efforts, and cannot be done simultaneously. Unfortunately, unlike I.T Services, it cannot (usually) be successfully outsourced either.

    Frustrated with the rat-race, my wife gave up her HR career to teach primary kids. More than me, she has a ringside view of the changes that are happening, of the lack of time parents have for children, and the damage it is doing. According to her, if you think kids today are bad, as the Americans say ‘you aint seen nothing yet’.

    • similarly, the OA has given up on the fast track because its the only way to spend time with the children and not be their weekend visiting parent.

      and even those who had two working parents as children, rarely had two working parents who travelled so much, held down hectic jobs and worked long hours. and if they did, there were old faithful servants, lots of family and helpful neighbours.

  41. I am always intimidated by the posts and the comments here and normally don’t say much but one way to counter mean kids is by rearing smart kids. And smartness is learnt very well in the playground. Put the kids in a team sport of some kind and they were figure how to handle life, sixty minutes at a time. Bullying, RG-giri, aggression and enjoying oneself in spite of all this. Um, feel free to ignore.

    • *gulp* you dont mean that do you? i read your letters to Ragini and shake my head in wonder. you give the best parenting advice. me? i just bumble along with a little help from my friends.

      you make an awesome point. but tell me – HOW do you raise smart kids? the sports field is great but the brat isnt in to sports. i could force him but then i’d hate myself.

  42. Hi MM,
    About 2 months ago Yohaan was playing in the park. He was riding his own tricycle. Aong comes a 3.5 yr old pakistani boy, pushes him off his cycle roughly and starts to ride off. Yohaan ran after him and somehow managed to bite his hand. No the little boy wasnt hurt but he immediately burst in to tears and threw a huge tantrum. Enter his mom in the scene. She also happens to be my next door neighbour. We arent friends but say our occasional hellos. She gives me and my son a big shout and generally makes a scene. She also tells off a bewildered and a guilty Yohaan who wasnt yet 2 even! ‘Tumney kyon mere baby ko daant kaanta?’ – as if Yohaan will understand and answer back, he knows like 6 words in total for crying out loud! In the midst of all this hungama, I was already speaking to my son and telling him gently that he shouldnt be biting anybody. But i was so taken aback by that mother’s aggression. If she had stopped her son from being rough and grabbing Yohaan’s cycle in the first place, he wouldnt have elicited that kind of response from a toddler who knew no better so went ahead and bit him!! She was standing by quietly letting her son rough up toddlers and generally being a nuisance in the common play area. Her 3 children are becoming rather disliked in our building and I notice many wary mothers of toddlers hovering around protectively when this particular mother’s brood are out to play. Children dont know any better and so because of this stupid mother’s lack of teaching/disciplining, her kids are going to be taking a lot of flak now and in future social settings too. ALready they are being left out from play dates etc.

    And I really feel that the kids/ parents from the asian subcontinent are pretty rubbish now a days…I was a teacher for a brief period in DPS-Sharjah- nightmarish brats!!! Unbelievably badly behaved! Dont even get me started…Great post as usual MM.
    Now we would like to
    1. see ur house pics.
    2. wedding pics esp of ur sarees.
    3. ur opinion on madam dutt and mr sanghavi’s excellent journalism.

    see, so many post ideas!

    • aiyyo. dont get me started on madam dutt. i’ve tried really hard to stay away from politics for the last year. it brings in too many trolls. “mommy bloggers” arent allowed political opinions

  43. Hit home!
    I’ve been a ‘victim’ of bullying since school. Constantly being called fat, made fun of my premature graying of hair (at 13), ganging up on me and ragging me till I cried (this happened in class 5!)class teacher too hated me because I scored less in her subject (maths) thus isolating me from other class girls while sorting students into various ‘houses’..and much more..
    This has left me sooo scarred that even today I have self esteem issues! My parents were ignorant and never stood up to this madness. Today at age 24, I find myself blaming them for their ignorance and I am deeply hurt.
    If they had sat with me and observed my behaviour and helped me deal with it I would be a better person today, not someone filled with anger.
    My mother often used to make fun of me for having no friends. But now she has realized who is to blame and that has silenced her.
    To top it all off, I was molested by my uncle.
    A bit of me has died.

    • I am so sorry to read that, shoo. It’s unfortunate that you had to go through all of that. At least your parents realize their mistake now. Past cannot be changed but I hope you can make your present happy without worrying about future.
      The bit that has died … is the part that’s better left off dead along with all the bitter memories. Don’t feel guilty for leaving it all behind cuz if you don’t, you’ll never be able to smile.

      Much luck !! and you are a survivor … never forget that. 🙂

      • But you know, by blaming my parents the guilt eats me up. I cry into my pillow at night after I’ve had a showdown with them.Yes, past cannot be changed and in my case it is my biggest teacher, I’m thankful for that.
        I am giving myself and my parents a chance yet am unable to forgive easily.
        Survivor- the water is upto my neck already but I know am still afloat.
        Thankyou for your kind words Roop. Someday I will heal 🙂

        • Apportioning blame helps to deal with the pain, but it won’t take it away. You’ll need to come by that peace yourself, Shoo….
          Be compassionate to yourself. I say this after having dealt with a lot of my own pain that way. I also realised that there was nothing I could do but go on living – it was mostly time that healed (yes, another cliche), and nothing that I actively did. The only thing to do actively, is stop pulling at the scab

    • shoo and peccavi (sorry to take up the reply space, MM…) lots of wishes and hugs from someone who has been very strong – I wish I could be around you ppl: I’ve helped some women I know to stand up for themselves in small ways… no big rescue missions, but my two cents to our collective self esteem!

      • Thankyou ys. I totally agree with your opinion of standing up for themselves and that is what I have done by confronting my parents (regd many such issues)& cautioning them about my uncle. My sister is benefiting from all this. I’m grateful.
        ‘Setting an example- but at what cost’

        • “My sister is benefiting from all this. I’m grateful.
          ‘Setting an example- but at what cost’”

          Same is true for me, and I feel terrible about it many times. Why does she get to benefit at my cost? Etc Etc but alas, nothing can be changed. Like MM said, blaming the perpetrators might decrease the pain a bit but it doesn’t ever make it go away. Only time heals. And stopping to think about all the negativity surely helps.

          I haven’t spoken to my parents in nearly two years now … and boy, has my life changed for the better or what. I don’t deserve any negativity in my life anymore after all that they infused into my growing up years.

          If you need to talk, there’s always someone to listen. good luck!! 🙂

          • Hi Roop and MM,

            I’m feeling intensely guilty writing this but I have to talk to someone who has gone through something so similar before I shut the door to my cacoon even tighter.

            It is my mother who often insults me.I’ve had a happy childhood, it was only in my teens that I stared feeling left-out, shunned etc. I think this was the time I was ‘realizing’ why I wasn’t in anybody ‘list of likes’. I don’t even want to recall my school days. I have NO friends from that stage of life. My behaviour at College and work was like the growing plant of a rotten seed. I never made the effort to make friends because I thought I was worthless. That catapulted to allowing people in college to make fun of me. I was molested by my uncle at 19. I had no one to talk to. I think I had kept it within myself for so long that one day it burst out (of me) at my parents.

            My mother pulls me down. Her words cut through my heart. She suffers from Arthritis and I am always on the receiving end when she’s in pain (or not). I’m not a rebel because all I am asking is support (emotionally) from my parents. Is that asking too much? I have been struggling with weight since teens. Although I have never been obese, I have always been on the fatter side. Conversations between me and my mother always revolve around my weight -You are fat that is why this happens…..because you are fat……you can’t do better coz you are fat….you have no friends coz you are fat….you get my drift (I’m not obese for fcuk’s sake). Not once has she seen been appreciative when ‘my fatness’ has come of use. Also the negativity is stressing me immensely. I am getting married next year and all I hear from her is to lose weight so I can look good. The first time my man introduced me to his mother was at my place and all my mother could tell me was my bra-stap was seen through my salwar!!!!!!!!!!!! Wth?!? Come to think of it, not once has my mother ever appreciated my decisions in life.
            I’m sometimes in a state of extreme guilt & sympathize with her pain, but those insults keep pushing me to a wall. The whole world thinks my mother is goddess but its only me who thinks otherwise. Not even my sister consoles me, her statements are ‘how could you do this to parents’, ‘they have done so much for you’ etc. I hate such conclusions.
            My questions to their methods of upbringing has made my father think.
            I have spoken enough(about how I feel with) my parents yet my mother can’t stop herself from using that sharp tongue at me. I can never forget certain words she’s spoken- I quote- ‘I am scared of you because you are so huge’…’let’s see what kind of a mother you make’…’ your sister is better than you’…Sometimes she’s filled with love and talks to me like a friend but at other times I fear her words.
            I am filled with doubts, anger and fear. I don’t want to speak ill of my parents yet I can’t help but observe so many precious years pass-by in anger and insults when that time could have been used to build deep deep bonds and trust between child and parent.

  44. Lovely comments and post. Starry, Chox – you’ll rock.

    Sadly rudeness, lack of civic sense are also part of our “culture” 😦 How did people expect any different while moving back?

    I have lived in two apartment communities so far (gated) and love it. Love the community we have here – just like us. I just avoid the snobs 🙂

      • No MM. I too live in one of them communities – and my experience is – you can choose what you want. You want to avoid the folks with belief systems different from yours – you can. No one is forcing you.

        And always you find the sort of people you will (as I have) love to be with.

        • no, no one is forcing, but its sad to lock yourself IN to a community and invest money in it when its full of people you dont want. That said, i dont like gated communities in general. they go against pretty much all my beliefs. sadly that is the compromise we’ve made to give the Brat a decent education

            • I really want to know too…we’ll be moving from a small very down-to-earth middle-class type building to a gated community soon…am nervous about the crowd…but then the crowd here has its own issues. I think one can find the kind of people one is comfortable with, just may take more effort and time and maybe travel distances. I’ve learned not to expect great friendships with more than 1-2 neighbours.

            • well a few short points
              – i hate that the kids are locked into this carefully manicured existence
              – i hate that they grow up only with their own socio-economic class and i mean that in many ways. the building is full of corporate types (just like us!) and i’d like it to go back to our lives where we had artists on the left and musicians to the right
              – i dont like the system of veggies being home delivered in packages. i miss taking my kids to the veggie market and letting them see organic market places
              – i hate that all the houses look identical in a complex. its such a lovely feeling to walk along a street and see houses so vastly different from each other. that is something so essentially indian where you dont have rows of identical houses and lawns.
              – i like to have control over my own space and i dont like this system where a random committee votes that our lawns must only grow Champa flowers

              there’s a lot more angst where this came from, but i’ll save it for a post. suffice to say, community living is for some people who dont mind the organise life. i’m a bit of a free spirit and it clips my wings.

    • unable to comment under your comment so doing it here – but each of the points you mention (except the champa flowers – again, you CAN grow what you want inside your house/lawn/terrace!), is totally up to you no MM?
      you *can* go out to get veggies – which is what we do;
      you *can* take walks/bus rides outside – something we love;
      you *can* take your kids to play with kids outside, no law stops you;
      you *can* choose to interact with folks you like only;
      your kids can (and will) hang out with kids on their wavelength and the good thing in these communities is that you have choice because of the relatively larger numbers;
      etc etc.

      • disclaimer(!):

        i guess each community differs – depending on location/poshness/exclusivity and therefore access to the real world, so maybe we are on different pages here!

      • oh Chox.. you need to visit Gurgaon before you make these statements 😦 I have no idea about Bangalore’s suburbs so I will refrain from giving my opinion on them
        there is no public transport. There are only malls, barely any markets. so veggies HAVE to be bought from a store and theyre not really fresh.
        i’m just lucky that our rented home has a balcony – unless you’re very rich, you cant get a big balcony in a condo. those now only live on in the city. so what do i do if i can only afford a small place with a 2 ft balcony to dry clothes?
        no law stops me from taking my kids to play outside but once you move to the end of the earth, taking your children to meet their old friends is a two hour ride one way. how often do you see a working parent getting a chance to do that?
        I CAN choose to interact with only people i know, but what is the point of moving into a gated community where people teach their kids to pee on trees? what was the point of moving into this community in the first place?
        what I DONT like about such communities is that you’re forced to make friends because of proximity – not similar wavelength.
        anyway – why are we debating this? You clearly like gated communities.. but they dont work for me. on the other hand, i have no choice but to grin and bear it!

        • you do have a choice – come to bangalore!


          we are not in the suburbs btw (we also live where we do for reasons similar to yours) but have pals there who don’t have too many issues either. won’t say its a cultural thing – don’t know if i’m qualified to make that loaded a statement but hey the south of the country always works better for me – so gated communities or not, i do like this place.

          • I would love to, for a holiday. But to live, Delhi is where my heart is. That said – SEE – you live where you do for the same reasons but you’re playing devil’s advocate for no good reason!! 🙂 I also have plenty of friends who live this side and have none of the issues I do. In spite of having such varying ideas on what we want out of life we are great friends. But I still prefer a life where we’re more in touch with the world and less about the veggies being a phone call away.

            • but i would still like to live where i do anyway – so not being a devil at all 🙂
              i know you love delhi – i do as well, but same as you – it would be good to visit. main gripe is the weather, not much else. or who knows, if i start to live there, i might convert as well.

              okay, so when are you visiting at least?

        • Wokay, I got all your points and agree…it’s tough in your context. But Chox’s points are a reassurance in the Bangalore context 😀 Phew!

          Now you come down here…and then you can write posts about Bangalore gated communities 🙂

          And what is that about leaving the kids? Nothing doing!

          • Starry, that is one community. There are a few you have to see to believe – in Bangalore. The air is thick with money and a pettiness that strangely seems to come with tons of money. Go Figure! I think we have more of a choice here – have seen some places in Gurgaon that none of us would touch with a barge pole. No offence intended, MM. Just not for me.

            • none taken! Its clear from my post that I cant stand Gurgaon. Or, for that matter, any form of community living. The whole thing reminds me Floyd and Bricks in the wall.

  45. Good for you, MM, for passing on a clear message to your kids and the bullies. It’s a shame to see how parents seem to think that their responsibilities end with overfeeding and pampering their kids. This so called Indian culture is becoming more and more of a farce. We seem to be more concerned with appearances rather than values, and this is what we are passing on to our children.

    My husband and I made conscious choices when we were young not to live abroad, but I have increasingly come to wonder why anyone would want to move back.

  46. At a school meeting a while back, a child psychologist was invited to speak to us mothers of kids in the first standard. I live in Mumbai, btw. He started by asking how many had problems with angry kids. Nearly all hands went up. He then asked how many mothers had anger problems. Nearly all hands went up!! So who is responsible for the anger he asked?

    It shocked me to see how many of us moms are angry, frustrated, unhappy and what we are transferring to our little ones.

    We live in a pretty middle class area and fortunately have a really nice bunch of kids around. They play down together and any one hurt is promptly taken care of by the bigger ones and a whole committee deposits him/her to respective flats. Its more or less like how we grew up too – kids of assorted buildings all playing together. They have their fights too, but Moms keep out of it. Maybe the rudeness is a rich man’s problem?

    • Totally spot on manisha. When I dealt with my anger…my kids shaped up immedicately. Most problems originate with the parents.

      But I don’t think rudeness is a rich man’s problem. I’ve met plenty of rich people who’ve grounded their kids in reality. I think that we have to just ensure the riches don’t go to our or our kids’ heads 😦

  47. I moved when I was just 10 and after the initial rough, first year, I fell in love with it so much I never once went back. A huge part of it has to do with B’lore being so marvelous. But over the last few years, I’ve been getting more and more disillusioned and depressed. Still, the thought of leaving India is heart-breaking, but the politics, this new self-centredness, the rudeness, the games of one-upmanship and complete lack of social responsibility — I find myself thinking about a move more and more.

  48. OK – my son comes home in tears today (yet again). He’s 9. It breaks my heart to see him so upset… He’s crying because another boy prob – 12yrs old – called him and his friend (who is also crying) names and hit them. Now – i, obviously, do not go down to supervise a 9yr old playing. He is not a gentle sort, nor is he an aggressor. He’s like most normal kids…will take a little pushing but will push back if it gets too much. He and his friends fight often – telling each other they never want to see the other again. I never interfere. They sort it out just fine in a day or two. But how do i deal with this older boy bullying my kid often? Should i call the parents and tell them. The little i have seen of the mother – i think she will just be rude…which means my just-below-the-surface-anger will show and i’ll probably blow my top off at her. Or should i talk to the boy? I have been telling my son to go up and complain to the boy’s mother.

    Please -any/all of you – suggestions, ideas, help – welcome.

    • umm.. approach it with the mom. Ask her how will she feel if a 14-15 year old boy shoves and pushes and beats up her son. And calls him names. She will either balk or say of course the boy will hit back. Then say, suppose the boy is so big that your boy cannot hit back. Wait for her reaction. After that, ask her, what if the aggressor is your son? What will you do then? Thats the best that i can think of..

  49. Sorry – MM. I forgot to comment on your post. If i had been down with J in a similar situation – i would have responded the same way. What you did was just right. Though – to be honest – with so much nastiness – it would have been very tempting to give the nasty twerp a shove myself.:D

  50. I’ve been a reader for a long time, felt compelled to comment for the first time. I grew up in S Delhi and went to an exclusive school there. We had our share of bullies and cliques. So much so that I still get anxious thinking of my school days. I moved to the US almost twenty years ago for college. My kids were born here and I plan to never go back. Why? Because of my childhood in upper middle class India and the total lack of understanding on my parents part. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of good memories of friends I still keep in touch with, but I can’t imagine moving back. My kids are happy and feel part of the community…I think we found our corner in California that has the small town warmth we’re all seeking. Sad to say, your post is not surprising to me. From my own experiences, what would help them is exactly what you are doing- support and encouragement. Parenting…just dealing with having your heart hang outside your body.

  51. i agree completely with Manisha above. Its not a reflection of missing parents. Its a case of missing values in parents. Period. do a sanity check of values around you. How many parents still think cheating is disgusting as hell? Remember the near thrashing we would get for even suggesting cheating or lying? Do you see parents do that any more? Its not just the maids who are spoiling the kids. Its also the parents. This is an issue with the parents. With us.

    • very true. parents have begun to believe that ‘getting ahead’ is important. and the only way to get ahead is to fall in line with the system and not fight it. thats just sad.

  52. Hi MM,

    I’m so glad you told the littlw lad off. I don’t think he gets disciplined at all and it was high time he got some lessons.

    Rude kids are not just in Indai – that too rude desi kids. I have lived in the US for 10+ years now and appalled to see how kids between the ages of 5-10 behave. And these are all kids of so called highly educated parents and they attend various “culture instilling” activities all through the week!!

    Just yesterday, I was at a B’day party with my 7 year old, where this young lad of 9-10 just kept bothering the b’day girl till she cried, the mother who was there just carried on talking with the other moms like nothing happened. The girls parents really did not know what do do and were just consoling the little girl and boy was just unrepentant. Furthermore, he yanked a bouquet of balloons from the table and let the air out of each of them – again the parents did not utter a word!! I have also had my daughter’s friends being extremely rude with each other, waste food saying that it does not taste like what their mom makes or it’s plain gross, I have had my 8 year old desi neighbor girl ask how old I was and comment that I leave my 4 year old son too long at daycare!! All these happen with the parent being within earshot.

    The point I make is that most parents don’t seem to care that their wards are rude, selfish or ill-mannered as long as they get good grades!! I shudder to think of the kind of young men and women they will become in the future!! All I can say is jago maa-baap jago before they try this behavior with you – if they have not already started!!


    • you know its depressing to see the state everywhere. and it reminds me of my parents saying when we were kids, that kids were badly behaved. are we just getting worse with every passing generation?

  53. So all I want to know is when are you going to move here? By “here” I mean to my specific corner of Bay Area so I can make you a BFF and my kids(V and the mad dog) and the B&B can all become BFFs and when they shove each other we can yell at them to “shut up” while w go back to whatever we were doing in the first place.
    An inquiring mind want to know!!

    • you know… i really like this plan. maybe i should start actively considering it. i particularly like the part where we yell shut up and go back to whatever we were doing. thats my favouritest part

      • See.. I told ya:-) Yup, you should want to move here sweetheart. It ain’t quaint and dill haat and all that jazz but it’s a less harried life if you choose to make it so. And may I add that, I make a killer cuppa chai and will make the time to brew endless refills while we chitter-chatter on cool, gray Northern Cal winter afternoons while the kids go back to killing each other.

        Anyhow, I’m a little nervous reading all this as am about to set off on a month long vacation to India(Mumbai and Goa to be specific) after ages. As in ……10 long years. No, no, no…I have been back several times in the past decade but the visits have been fleeting and always because some home fires had to be doused or as in the case of the last visit when my dad expired. No time to make any keen observations on those trips. This time, the trip is supposedly for me to connect with pals and relatives and simply have a good time but the sheer excitement and nervous anticipation of a possible anticlimax has me down with a sore throat:-)

  54. MM, we moved back about a year back and if not for our immediate family, I wonder if we would have made that decision. Things have changed quite a bit and one thing that irritates me the most is the obsession with English and Western clothes…and don’t even get me started on the made up accent. Traffic is horrible, people don’t know about queues etc etc…But when my parents can visit me without worrying about visas and when I go home every other weekend everything is fine with India. 🙂

  55. It’s an eye opener for all who are thinking of going back and talk about Indian culture. We are more Indians outside India than in India

  56. Well, certainly I’ve always found that home’s home. Living in the US is rather insipid, and you get very little clue about the rest of the world.

    Most people are whining about how things change…well they have to. There is a culture of, I won’t call it sharing, but something like protection that simply does not exist here. Life here is always working around that knife at your throat. I’ve never felt truly relaxed here ever.

    I believe growing up in India is going to – in the long run – teach your children a much wider view of the world. And quite frankly, most Americans I’ve met are very nice and polite but they wouldn’t give two shits about after they’re done with you. Plus they tend to be dull. This is unavoidable I guess because of the insane levels of competition that exist here.

    I think most of the rest of the world simply does not operate this way. You cannot appreciate how differently life operates in a different part of the world unless you live there. Perhaps it is getting more competitive back in India, I don’t know.

    I do believe that there is certain ease of familiarity with people that you just will not get in the US at least. I’ve been friends with some American fellow students, and I’ve never, not even once, been over to most of their homes. Friendship is all about – okay lets do drinks at 6 then we can go bowling and get something to eat. It was, and remains, very different when I’m in Delhi. Then it’s all about random calling and visiting. You may not be able to appreciate this because you’re immersed in it.

    And, I’m not sure what to make of your tone regarding maids. It seems rather condescending – those dirty poor people simply couldn’t know better, dahling – and rather odd that you moan about the loss of value in today’s children when it looks like your own assessment of human beings is slanted. I don’t mean to be rude here, but I find your tone highly objectionable.

    • Yes, home’s home, but that doesn’t mean it is perfect. people who live in India will criticise what they find wrong, just as they will praise what they find praise worthy. I dont know anything about america, but that sense of protection no longer exists here either. I’d like to think that living in India will do much more than just give the kids a wider view of the world. And life in suburbs here is the same as anywhere else – nice and polite but no one really gives a f**k. And yes, it is insanely competitive here. I dont know if you’re still a student or an older, married man, but yes, life was all about random visits when we were students too. Now as married couples with kids – we have to set up appointments way in advance.

      I am going to give you the benefit of doubt regarding the maid business because you dont sound like a regular reader who recognises me or my tone. My own assessment of human beings per se has little to do with the fact that no maid is likely to have the same upbringing or education that you have and that includes many daycares. heck, at times even your own parents may not behave the way you do, socially. There is a certain way I want my kids brought up and no one other than me can do it. Maids, the least of all. They might be able to follow instructions on feeding and bathing to a tee, but if I dont want my child to walk up to the hostess at a party and ask for the return gift, I’m going to have to oversee that myself.

      That said, its rather strange that you seem to feel that you have a finger on the pulse of Indian/ Delhi society without a true picture of what the house help here is like. Are you unaware of the fact that most of the maids we have are uneducated tribal women who can’t even dial our phone numbers in an emergency? they may be kind and good to the children ( a fact I will not deny) but they certainly arent social role models for our kids. And as the people who will spend the most time with our children and are going to be the biggest influence, I dont know about you, but I certainly don’t feel it is the best I can do for my child. If you still find my tone objectionable, I’m okay with that. I’m brutally honest when I have to be and I’d like you to find me one parent who believes that a maid is the best person to teach their children social graces – which was the ONLY point I was making in this regard.

      Also, funnily, it seems that living abroad, your view of the househelp situation is through Western lenses. The whole notion that we’re looking down on them when very often its just a simple statement of facts without any judgment involved.


      • Wow, I’m just a bit struck by the abundant stereotypes painted above (not you MM). And also a bit amused that somehow the fact that you can drop by people’s houses at odd times makes up however we define “culture”. Americans, insipid, dull…amazing…300 million people have been described aptly? How about I talk about Indians – dirty, religious fundamentalist, nerds. Does that describe the 1 billion plus?
        K- it obviously sounds like America didn’t work for you but I’m not sure how that discounts the entire country and the populace, leave alone MM’s feelings and her post. I didn’t even comment till now because I have no understanding of urban life in India today and so I cannot claim to agree or disagree. As immigrants and residents, we face a lot of the same issues – if you came to America expecting India, maybe just cleaner and whiter, sorry. And same for those who return, going back to India expecting America but neighbors who drop in and no downsides, too bad. Every individual has to decide for themselves how they assimilate, where they fit in, what they like or don’t like and how they’d like to bring up their children. I know people who live in Brooklyn that look down on Manhattan, which is just across the river. Is K really surprised that he/ she found things or experiences she wouldn’t like in a whole different country?
        MM – sorry I know the conversation here is much larger but I had to chime in. I just don’t get how one person’s experience/ opinion is valid while yours (and others who have commented) can be easily dismissed.

          • It’s not just that. K might’ve moved away. But one person’s bad experience cannot broad brush a country; similarly a good experience cannot discount your concerns. Lots of people here seem to like their lives in India but they still recognize what you see – it’s just that we decide what we want to make work and what we absolutely cannot compromise on. For some it’s easier to accept the ills of one country over another and that’s how the decision of how to spend their life is made.

    • I am writing the following comment not because I think american life is better than Indian life but I find it ridiculous when people put down one culture in comparison to other. Personal preferences aside, there is no reason to generalize your observations.

      “Living in the US is rather insipid, and you get very little clue about the rest of the world.”
      Yes, if you don’t have a mind that cares to know about rest of the world and/or you don’t have access to internet, and if you don’t have money to afford tickets to travel. That, unfortunately, is true for any person in any country who doesn’t have resources to travel abroad or have access to any information about abroad. These people usually would have little clue about the rest of the world as expected.

      “Life here is always working around that knife at your throat. I’ve never felt truly relaxed here ever.”
      Life is what you make of it … anywhere. We have a very relaxed life here. No pollution, no traffic, no noisy streets, no dusty house every day, excellent restaurants, plenty safe for women to be out alone, a 9-5 job, plenty time in the evening to sit back and relax, weekends to ourselves not to be spent running after maids to get the house cleaned properly, friends who don’t drop by unannounced, a fun social circle who knows to not intrude upon our privacy … couldn’t ask for more.

      “And quite frankly, most Americans I’ve met are very nice and polite but they wouldn’t give two shits about after they’re done with you. Plus they tend to be dull.”
      From an american point of view, I could say that I find Indian people very intrusive. I would rather people not give a shit about me or my life if I don’t want them to. As long as I am dealing with ’em, well and good … if i want space, I’d rather be given space, which, I, thankfully, get in America.

      “I’ve been friends with some American fellow students, and I’ve never, not even once, been over to most of their homes. Friendship is all about – okay lets do drinks at 6 then we can go bowling and get something to eat. It was, and remains, very different when I’m in Delhi.”
      You know why? Cuz it is a different country! 🙂 We don’t have maids here or moms here at home cleaning up after us everyday so that the house is prim and proper to entertain without notice. When I lived with parents, and our grandma was staying at home with us, guests were more than welcome unannounced. But now that I am on my own, I’d really need a 24 hr notice. I hate it when someone calls in to tell me that they are coming by in an hour. I’d rather meet outside in that case. The going-out-for-drinks culture exists for a reason. I personally never impose myself on any friends either. I’d only go to their place if they invite. And if they don’t invite to home and choose to meet outside, I like it more because at least that saves me the guilt that I am making them cook/work for me or making them clean up the house for me.

      That’s not to say that we never meet at home. Our house is the meeting point for all of our friends because most of our friends live in smaller apartments. So our house it is for any major holiday, and I love having them around. I really don’t see how it is any different in India but if you say so, it must be. You know what’s interesting, none of our friends who are regulars at our house are Indian. :/ So there should be no generalizing about ‘others: the dull Americans’.

  57. I have been following this post for the last two days as to what people have to say. I have lived in Bangalore for two years before moving to the US and I loved it. I did not have a child then and am not sure how my child would adjust if I moved back today.The reason of staying in the US was mainly due to health as husband’s asthma flares up in any metro if he is there for more than 5 days. I am pretty happy here and my daughter had agreat time in India when she stayed there for 4 months. My parents live in a flat in a small town and the neighbors spoilt her and they still do when she goes there. Every place has its cons and its upto us to find the brighter side and enjoy living wherever we go. I cannot comment on a gated community living as I have not lived in one before.

  58. MM,
    It looks like you wrote this post on my behalf :).I have been in US for the last 11 years and plan to move back in 3 years, have 2 kids (6 and 1. We are moving ONLY because we can be close to thathas and ajjis. I don’t intend to work once we move back, I just want to take in what ever i missed in the last 11 years. Don’t care for the money, multiplexes, malls or maids. Definitely will stay away from the snobs.

    Regarding bullying, it starts early, my daughter came home crying because another desi girl ganged up with 3 other desi girls and called her ugly as my daughter has a dusky complexion. She refused to go to school. I finally had a talk with her teacher, now their behavior is in check and it is ok. I feel that the only way to handle bullying is to fight back. Gandhigiri does not work anymore. I was bullied by a girl non-stop when I was in 9th grade, guess what I did? I beat the shit out of her. I still have a few battle scars :), but it was soo worth it. I will teach the same thing to my daughter once she reaches 10 or 11. Poor Brat, he is such a lovely child, don’t ever let him get bullied by anyone ( I know you won’t), I some how feel that the Bean will fight back like me and beat the shit out of anyone who tries to bully her ;).

    Sorry for the long comment, this post is after my heart.


  59. I feel bad for the Brat. And yes, I get disappointed when I look around at changing societal norms when I visit (don’t know what I’d do if I had to move back…)
    I think the issue is nouveau riche. In fact you said it in one of your comments – “don’t have the breeding that comes with the money”. People have far too much money they don’t know what to do with. The parents themselves have a sense of entitlement. I have money, I own the world. It’s no wonder it rubs off on their children.
    Last time I was in India I witnessed little boys running around beating each other up in turns. So 5 of them gang up against the 6th, then the 6th joins and gangs up against 1. Kicking, punching – FOR REAL – I mean this was fight club out in the open in a cooperative housing society. I looked around aghast wondering what the parents were doing. That was the day I felt as though I didn’t want to raise my child in India. And for that matter, I never want her to see what I saw. It was savage behaviour and these were school going kids of so called “educated families”. Is this what they teach in schools? oh wait, they don’t teach anymore. Is this what mother’s are telling their sons – wait – they don’t have time to talk to their sons because they are busy in beauty parlors, kitty parties and their cell phones.
    We just seem to operate on auto pilot and I hope that the majority of the next generation is not like that. That there are sane people out there disciplining their children and teaching them well.

  60. “Everyone is aspirational and grasping. There’s no sense of community anymore.”
    I hate to sound judgmental, but I agree this statement laid it out plain as day what we encounter around us day in and day out.
    Imho kids are only emulating or acting out the whirl of confusion and stress parents saddle them with when they’re not around enough to love/advise/help them at challenging turning points in their lives. We’re just letting the schools raise our kids and hoping they’ll do a ‘passable’ job, instead of equipping our kids with life skills: the tools to help them cope with an increasingly unsafe, unstable, unpredictable world. I vote for a class action lawsuit against ourselves for abdication of responsibility. No kidding.

    Awesome blog by the way!

    • you’re right. we have no one but ourselves to blame. if the kids see us stressed out and tired, rushing from home to office to airport to meeting, what message are passing on? i wish we’d still have the moral science classes we had as kids. if as parents we dont have the time to teach our kids the difference between right and wrong, at least let someone do it. that said, the burden we lay on school to equip our kids for life, is just unfair.

      • My kids have moral science, MM. But I think it’s only when kids see their parents living by those values, that they also imbibe them. I see brats in my kids’ school…they learn moral science too but have no qualms about being mean or competitive in a nasty way. It’s coming from their parents.

        And yeah, it gets my goat too that a lot of parents think all they have to do is admit the kid, and the school will bring him up. 🙄

  61. hey,
    wanted to comment on this so badly. my child, as you know belongs to the other category… a bully. i leave no chance to ensure that he bhaves properly, but if a slip happens, i make him apologize for it immediately. few days back he was playing with his mates in school when he started a fight with one of the kids. he was trying to snatch something and my son wasn’t giving it. so in order to defend himself, my son pushed him. before i could run to pick the other kid, his grandfather came and in rage slapped my son son hard on his face. i don’t believe in entering kids fight and let them sort out the matters, but this action of the elderly man was something i don’t appreciate. he must be angry because his grandchild got pushed but slapping the other child isn’t setting good examples either, that too on the face. he could have done it on his back or his butt, but this was not something that called for slapping a 3 year old child on his face. i still made my child apologize and that gentleman turned his face and went away.

    • wow. i hope you let the old man have it. how DARE he slap A?
      i do believe in entering a 3 year old’s fight, regardless of whether my child is the victim or the perpetrator, because kids are still learning the rules of social engagement. but this is uncalled for. i’m going to come and shake you up the next time you let some stranger whack that poor child.

  62. i like community living in the older portions of delhi and noida where an apartment block exists in the hustle bustle of city, but not in gurgaon where in the name of community living it’s all plastic living.

    i loooove row houses and stayed in one for a couple of years but had to move because gurgaon is so damn unsafe.

    on kids – i think they’ve always been cruel in a moment and sweet the next. when i was a child i skipped a class and the older girls in the new class made a clique and ensured i was kept outside. but in time the barrier broke and i made best friends and good friends and so on. same when i moved schools.

    kids keep on fighting and making up. and they can be quite cruel when they fight. maybe not physically but then they say things without thinking. both good and bad. not sure if you should take it to heart.

    easier said!

  63. at the risk of sounding judgmental….i think a lot of it has to do with the amount of time parents spend with their kids and what they do in that time. With a lot of kids these days growing up with maids/nannies ….the kids are just left to their own devices….. to behave as they please.I strongly believe its the parents job to teach the kids manners and fair play. Unless there is adequate policing of behavior by the parents…..we are headed for a generation of rude obnoxious kids who are used to having their way all the time. And who gets bullied? our kids do 😦

  64. Oh MM…you sound like you’ve been jailed. Dont give up on your visions for your kids and lives…maybe sooner than later it will manifest itself and come true. As a second generation nomad who’s been spending years off and years on in India…I dont just feel, I know there’s a sense of disconnect and people are not your caring neighbours and memorable aunties and friends anymore. It’s sad and you know what your kids are missing out on. But look at the bright side…they have terrific parents who can and made the choice to move for their good, who made the choice to stay with them and only you know what else. Can you imagine what life will be like for B&B’s kids? Maybe what your kids WILL remember is your caring, your standing up for them and somewhere down the line make the connection. Stick with it…Im sure Brat will be a talker like his Dad and use that to his advantage rather than pushing, shoving and what not. B&B have awesome grandparents, a life full of people they meet and spend time with (your houseguests!) and the lack you seem to be talking about while true might not be that devastating for them. They’ll remember all the people traipsing through their home and things those people taught or left an impression on them with, all the influences of music, food and people you exposed them to….these incidents of rude kids are everywhere and have existed forever, especially when you have a sensitive child like the Brat….the only thing you can do is stand up for him and continue doing what you’re doing. I’ve always believed that hitting back is not a good idea but ask any Dad and they’ll tell you sometimes you do have to. (As in when they were boys, they did have to). Its not an easy thing to digest but each to his own.
    That Hrishikesh Mukherjee ( 😉 ) set-up you’re talking about outside of Gurgaon…yknow the lovely calmer, sweeter slice of life – we all crave that…you still have an odd weekend here, a vacation there to give that to your children…some of us – no. 🙂
    That line about champas cracked me up. I can just imagine your face at that proclamation and whatever you do – dont give up!

  65. Don’t get me started on the rudeness in Indian society! I was there last week. I was just amazed at how insensitive Indians are and totally clueless that they are in someone’s way or are actually staring at someone’s helplessness!

    India is not what it used to be 7 years ago. It is a rude and totally careless society.

  66. Ok, you were going alright till the middle of the post, but then you had to keep writing. There are so many things wrong with what you say after the middle part:

    1. Dirty maids: I am surprised that you think that maids should be delegated the responsibility to “raise” children. Values don’t come from hired help, but from parents – you can pay for education, but not values.
    2. Nostalgic BS: No, we were not any nicer in our time. I am sure you had a very nice little girl scouts club growing up, but that would make the group an exception. Bullies are not an exception, and everyone has seen them.
    3. Absent Community: You and your friend are completely wrong. People in India have been peeing on the walls for centuries, so if you or your friend thought they would stop just because you decided to come back from the US, two words: good luck. It seems the two of you miss New Jersey or San Jose, and the fact that living standards were indeed higher in the US. Gated community with nuclear, double income families are not the richest place to be communal, and if that’s what you chose for yourself, then why are you asking for something different?

    The point is your disappointment is a reflection of the utopia you had created in your head – a place that has every amenity as you did in the US, a sense of belonging without feeling a second class citizen as you might have, and yes maids. Stop blaming others for that disappointment, and please step down from the pedestal or it might just break under your lofty expectations.

  67. I agree with the last commentator. No we were not nicer in our time. It is just the rear view mirror effect. As time passes the view of the past becomes more rosier. One forgets all the negatives and the positives grow at an accelerated speed.

    In the past (particularly pre reform) the opportunities to display our materialistic gains were very limited. The politeness you look to instill in your children has been there but it is more hierarchical in nature i.e deference to elders and those above you in the social ladder. General politeness towards people one interacts with has not been part of our highly stratified and segmented society. Exceptions are always there and your family may very well be one.

    Chronologically first comes material progress and then that of values. And we have a very long way to travel before there is enough material progress for everyone.

  68. i was dissappointed when i moved back with a kid….as a working mother who had NO support..not a full time hired help ( who will always be around to clean up the mess and do all the odd jobs even with kid around) and unfortunately not even my parents…the work life balance sucked big time..and i realised that only after i had a child and worked sometime in us with a child and moved back to India with a child…it is DISSAPOINTING to say the least..unless ofcourse if i were happy to have a full time maid around…i was unlucky in that dept..and i guess i was ok and got used to it after a point…

  69. A post very very close to my heart MM but you know I am so very confused. And your post leaves me more so. So my response is just going to be a random hish hash of experiences and feelings:-
    1) Less than a month after we moved back, a neighbour, a mom with 2 kids whom i initially intended to befriend – rang the bell to our 2nd floor flat and very rudely asked me to remove our car because she couldn’t take out hers(ours wasn’t wrongly parked) – its just that one way to get out was temporarily blocked. That was my first taste of a changed neighbourhood.
    – After abt 4 months of moving, we went to a community function. Cramped parking which is a norm upset Ashwini so much that he shouted and bad mouthed a man who was taking longer than usual to remove his car so we could take out ours. i had never in my 6 years of marriage seen him behave even remotely like that. though he later realised it was uncalled for but nevertheless it made him behave like that with the kids ard and watching.
    – Over all ours is a pretty middle class neighbourhood where children play downstairs during evenings/winter afternoons but horror stories of kids being crushed by stupid drivers who don’t care a damn makes me chicken out of putting my children under that risk because traffic even on inside roads is heavy by my standards. They are still pretty young. This leaves me very very sad because one of my top most visions of my kids riding bikes, running ard carefree with other children, playing with mud – the way i did is beaten. I agree I didn’t take that into account while moving back that Delhi has changed drastically ever since I grew up but somehow it keeps hurting.
    – My heart swells when I see my children enjoying with distant cousins, conversing in Hindi (I would seriously loathe the accent at least initially if my kids were to grow up in US) even the very few times we can meet but i wonder isn’t the same atmosphere very very creatable with ur own group of like minded friends when abroad. Considering the distances and the travel time today, I feel its more doable there than here. I had freinds there whose kids met as often as thrice a week for Tamil/Hindi classes – not at all formal but mothers of those kids did on a rotating basis at their aptts, games, chants and the likes. I am yet to see what kind of adults they grow up into as opposed to kids here but gut instinct tells me they’ll be better off.
    – you have opened my eyes on gated living which i seemed to prefer till now.

  70. Loved this post, I have a 2 year old extremely soft natured boy and I worry about the same things. My husband and I often talk about moving back to India but what that lady described is exactly what I am afraid of. Now my son is a softy, loves animals more that life itself, says thank you, sorry and is a joy. BUt even the slighest thought that another kid in daycare hit him or bit him make me so hyped up that I have to learn to let him fight his own battles. Love your blog!

  71. MM, most people mentioned that bullying and nastiness is prevalent over the world, not just India. And I agree. We had the worst time with kids in Switzerland. Would you belive they bullied me, an adult? They would come up to me and say rude things in German knowing full well that my knowledge if the language is sketchy at best. In fact, the husband’s colleagues had a really hard time at school. He was regularly beaten (yes, with bruises that made him miss school for a while!) by younger children and the main perpetrator (inappropriate to use for a child, but it seems the best one for this kind of behaviour) was an angelic looking girl. Most of this was probably racist but this happens everywhere. You are right in pointing out that there’s no one to teach these kids the right things, what with parents being so “busy”. I think a large part of this behaviour stems from alck of attention. The parents are too busy, and the caregivers are least bothered. For all you know, they don’t like the brat coz his momma and dada spend so much time with him and do things that these other kids probably wish they could do with their parents!

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