A grandparent’s dilemma

My mother has been a businesswoman since I was eight. And her job consumes her, unlike the way I treat mine as a hobby. I’ve watched her sit up nights while she saw each business through its teething period. I’ve seen her build them, bore of them the moment the  challenge is over and then sell them off to start the thrill again. She has her blackberry on at all times, checking work email and her laptop slung on a backpack when she travels.

And in between this I’ve never seen her sit still. Making wine, cooking jam, embroidering huge tapestries. Her pickles are famous as are her hand-knitted sweaters. I haven’t inherited an iota of her talent or interests and that will always be a regret. Anyway, the point of this post is not to sing paeans to her but to tell you that her hands and brain are always busy.

Also, growing up, our home felt like MTv non-stop party (without the half-naked chicks of course). Upstairs my maama’s (aka Chhota Nana on this blog) room was booming with Modern Talking and Men At Work until the plaster fell off the walls. Downstairs my friends were spilling out of our room onto the verandah and the swings. Come exam time all our friends would be at our place and when we ran short of space they’d slide under the bed and lie there with their books, forcing my grandfather to curse under his breath as he cautiously stepped over prone bodies, making his way to the toilet. At any given point our home would be a shelter for some aunty making her way out of a bad marriage and often we’d have their husbands threatening from the gates. I think we grew up taking this in our stride because this was our life. Being the family home everyone came home to die and one room was the infirmary with someone or the other bed-ridden and needing round the clock care.

Also, for some reason, there were always displaced students staying on and taking advantage of our family’s hositality. The Palestinian who didn’t know if his family was still alive, the Bangladeshi who got into fights and often had to be given a yell by my mother and dragged away, country pistol in hand, the Sri Lankan who broke his foot at least twice a year and would often lie in bed drawing airplanes for the mad sibling and me, the Mallu who took 14 years to graduate and still didn’t. People floated in and out of our house, most often we didn’t know how long they’d stay, a week, a month, a year. And the kitchen always had the kettle on. Food was simple rotis and aloo subji – I guess I lost interest in food around that point. My grandfather couldn’t be expected to provide rich meats and wines for his never-ending stream of guests and I think that is around  the time that Tambi and I learned that food was only sustenance. Relationships and family and laughter and cheer and being a helping hand were what really brought joy. Today when the OA opens the door and walks in, he never knows who might be sitting in his living room. He used to crib at some point but now he’s grown used to it and understands where I’m coming from. All this to tell you, that I’ve always had a packed life and much more than me, my parents, who at various points during my growing years were both bedridden and fought their infirmity and got out of it stronger, while the house around them was still full of the sound of strangers frying up sausages and making chutney sandwiches. They are very used to being active and needed and social.

So when I was expecting the Brat in Madras it was understood that I’d go home for the delivery. Some teased me for the old fashioned ‘going home to deliver’ but I had no house help in Madras, was cooking, sweeping, swabbing, sweating buckets in the humidity, friendless and lonely. Certainly not the best situation to give birth in. And most importantly, my mother was working and couldn’t come and stay with me endlessly. So I went home, delivered the Brat, suffered through 45 days of missing the OA and rushed back to the heat, sweeping, swabbing a hundred times a day and loneliness.

By the time the Bean was born I ensured that I was in Delhi, had a part-timer to do the cleaning and a cook who did two meals a day and had found a fantastic hospital. No way was I going home. I was a pro. And so my mother stayed about 8-10 days and then left me and the two kids to my tender mercies  and went back to work. It was pretty clear – she had a job and if I wanted to be taken care of,  I needed to go there, she certainly couldn’t dump everything and sit at my place endlessly.

And so the moment the mad sibling had a baby and plans were made to leave work and go there, I called her up and gave her some emotional blackmail – Ah ha, so you couldn’t come to your poor daughter who was young and alone and scared. But you can go to your son even though his inlaws have already spent 2-3 months there, they have a support system and are much older and far better equipped, huh? Mother being used to me told me to shut up and I did.

And they went. For a month. And while she hasn’t said a word, I speak to her everyday and I can’t imagine how the woman of the non-stop working hands and hectic social life is managing. My dad left a few days ago and got back but until then the two of them were in the quiet suburbs with my brother, taking care of the baby and completely out of their element. When they come to Delhi (they come every couple of months) they know their way around, take my car and driver or get a cab or drive themselves and go shopping, meeting friends, exploring the city…

But once in the US they were different people. My dad can watch TV for a while but my mother isn’t a TV watcher. Like me she’d rather be online and after a while even that begins to pale.  The days are spent in the relative quiet of the house, doing a few household chores (something my parents haven’t done in years but that’s okay since there’s really not much work there) and they eagerly await the evening when they might step out for a break. Unused to driving on the wrong side of the road my dad already dented my brother’s car (*koff koff* , maybe now I can start learning on dad’s car ) and they pretty much refused to drive anywhere. Each day when they were off baby-duty they’d go for a long walk, sometimes walking an hour and a half at times… Chatting, admiring the beauty around them.

But this is so not my parents. They’re dynamic, young, energetic and this semi-retired lifestyle is not for them. They were dying to see their beloved grandson and that is the only thing that kept them there for over a week. Even a Delhi visit that lasts longer than 3 days is a little too much for them to be sitting still and they’re champing at the bit to go back to their own environment and businesses. The month took its toll on my dad for sure because he got back here and was ordering us all around to make up for lost time! I had to finally bundle him on to the train and send him home to get some peace! As for ma, she’s a ma. She won’t complain and yet the whole thing reminds me of those Jhumpa Lahiri stories of displaced Indians sitting on park benches that I hate. Thankfully my mother hasn’t worn sneakers with her salwar suit or a bindi with her jeans yet or else she’d complete the picture of the tormented desi Aunty who doesn’t know whether she is coming or going.

It’s only a 6 week trip and I shudder to think of what it would be like for them if it were 6 months. To say nothing of what it is like for the couple who need to include them in any plan or then leave them home while they go out to party, wallowing in guilt. As of now most of our friends are in the US and they’ve been picking my mum up for lunches, she’s met up with a couple of their mothers and they’ve had their own granny lunches. But none of this makes up for the fact that she is getting bored out of her skull. She’s not the kind of grandmother who can only change diapers and cook meals, so  once she’s done with those she is at a loose end. Baby goes for a walk in his stroller, plays with her for hours on end and no doubt any grandparent would love that but as she said, all the grandparents there are missing home.

Makes me wonder how much longer and how often they will be able to do this. Travelling abroad is expensive and you go there to help your kids out, not to party or see the country. Also, being expensive, it’s not something you can do once every two months like you would within the country – it needs to be a substantially long trip to be worth the money. But even those who are retired in India and have nothing better to do, feel so out of place and that seems to make up the bulk of the conversation when they do catch up. They want to help their children but it comes at a high cost. My dad loves the Gurgaon complex we live in and this time he caught me saying once or twice (I have no idea why I said it) that it would be nice once they retire and move here to be with us. And he got really mad at me (it didn’t help that he’d just spent one jobless month with one child and broken his journey here) saying that he would only retire to his grave and never before or to any other place.

I appreciate the way they feel. They are frightfully independent people (and that is their personality and would not change even if they were retired folks) and I wonder what they will do when old age actually slows them down. A friend wants to move back to India because the grandparents find it tough to travel to the US. My SIL’s mother who has had a lot of health problems was most unhappy at having to travel for 23 hours in a little cramped seat in a steel tube so that she could be there for the delivery and the first two months. And even though my parents are much younger and fitter, the truth is that the jet lag kept my dad out for the count for 4 days on his return to India.

There are times when the OA gets job offers that might require us to move abroad and this is the one thing that bothers me. What will we do so far away from our families? They love visiting us, they are dying to see their grandchildren, but the long journey, the strange country, the inability to roam around as they  could in India (jumping on to an auto or rickshaw) and the structured lifestyle is just not for them. I’ve always wondered how other old folks do it and seeing my parents do it for the first time it’s like a punch to the solar plexus. What are their choices? That they don’t see their grandchildren until they visit India? That they bite the bullet and go there anyway and brave the unfamiliarity? So tell me wise internetz who live abroad, how do you and your parents manage this? What do they do all day while you are at work, other than changing diapers and reading? How else do you suggest they build a bond with a child if not by being physically present over extended periods of time or often? What about active, unretired, not-so-old couples who are suddenly landed with a lap full of gurgly babies by their over-enthusiastic children procreating at the speed of lightning with no thought to the youth and social life of the grandparents? Or what do you do if they’re old and ailing and need help? Do you take them there? Do you move back? What?

No seriously, how many of you moved back to India because of this? How many of you are finding this a problem? And what do your parents have to say about this?

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176 thoughts on “A grandparent’s dilemma

  1. A complicated issue and one that I used to agonise over a lot before it resolved itself on its own. You have to weigh a lot of pros and cons when deciding whether to live in India or abroad, and generally, what it comes down to in favour of India is family. And maybe a sense of national/racial identity (but people can generally compromise on this).

    So one has family on the one hand (which of course is a big thing) and a whole lot of other things on the other – good infrastructure, a stress-free life because of that infrastructure, safety as a woman, jobs with decent pay and decent hours etc. In my case, I was leaning towards moving back until ironically I had my son. Then I suddenly realised that I had such great help and an easy life in Hong Kong and I’d be giving up a lot to go back and be stressed on a daily basis, not to mention that I wouldn’t find such an easy job that paid so well. I think our parents also realize that we have lots of benefits living away – even though it is them we are compromising on. A friend who ironically lives down the road from her mother told me it is not just children who have to compromise, parents too need to compromise. Thus, maybe parents can also compromise and move abroad if possible or visit. Or both can visit each other. I think different families have to find different arrangements that work for them. Not all parents are so unhappy abroad and not all countries abroad are as limiting as the US. In Hong Kong, it’s very easy for anyone to get out and do their own thing.

    My mum is fine visiting my sis for two months or so. My dad refuses to go anywhere. If we want to see him we have to go to India. Fair enough.

    It becomes tricky when parents grow older. For that reason, we will probably have to go back. But it is not unfair to ask parents to move also. For example, my husband and I are from different cities. We both have parents. To look after both sets, one set would have to move.

    • You’re right – the US is definitely one of the most limiting. In a place like Hong Kong you get a nanny – but the US walas barely get any support and they are the ones who the parents need to go and help.

      I think unfair or fair is very difficult to say. No doubt if our parents need to be taken care of, they have to come to where our lives are. Mine for instance is very clearly in the NCR. On the other hand, i personally feel really terrible at the thought of dragging them out of their comfort zone because that is part of what adds to their mental well being…

  2. We moved back as soon as I got pregnant because we wanted our children to grow up in India, as Indians, with their grandparents and numerous granduncles and grandaunts and cousins. Some of our friends are also moving back (after the kids were born there, as US citizens, after they took the US citizenship themselves – something I could never dream of doing; but then, to each, his own).

    My parents and in-laws are busy people too, and would never have liked to move outside Bangalore. Moreover, after a certain age, it becomes difficult to move out of your comfort zone. But MM, I really hope that our kids understand and appreciate why we did what we did.

  3. have been following your blog for a long time (2 years!!) but this is the first time i am commenting. cos this post prompted me to! all the discussions i have had with my mom or my friends regarding this topic is verbatim in your post!!!

    My parents have travelled twice to the US to assist with the delivery of my SIL and everyday my mom would call me to lament about the weather and how they are so dependant to even go to a super market. the weather atleast is a blessing if you are on the other coast else you are constrained within the house when the weather gets bad. and very correctly said people go there to assist their kids and not on a tour. so taking a break and going around also is not an option cos thats the last thing you want to do when the underlying purpose is something else. Like all parents mine did suffer i guess but then when it comes to children one can never say a no! but my bro has just moved back to india for good and my parents are more than happy about the decision cos now they are close to their son and granchildren and can defenitely offer a helping hand anytime they want! but in an environment in which they are totally comfortable.

  4. So many things I want to say.

    • Two years after breaking up from whom I thought was the love of my life, now I very clearly know why I didn’t want to marry him. I am used to and always want the kind of house you describe your Nana- nani’s house as being. I mentioned it to the Ex during a conversation (back then) – his face recoiled in disgust with an alarmed complaint on spending money on people and his privacy being intruded upon. I remember that look of disgust. That was one of my 2 deal breakers
    • Today when the OA opens the door and walks in, he never knows who might be sitting in his living room.- the last time I came to your house, the OA walked in, said hi, rushed upstairs to get me a drink and joined us in our conversation. All this in less than 5 minutes. I think I mentioned this to every single person as one of the things that struck me the most from the visit (not to mention insisting on and dropping me back so late at night). It’s the sort of thing you never forget about people. The small things that made a big impression.
    • My dad and his 2 brothers worship the ground my dada- dadi walk on; yet, the biggest and nastiest fights with them is over why they will not leave their small town and come live with one of us. My grandfather prefers his daily cycle rides, the lazy conversations with his neighbours of over 60 years (they are both 90+). He wants to die and be buried there and wants it no way, doesn’t want the cramped existence of a city that does not know him.
    • I’ve told my mum (who works) that I would hate for her to come live with me for 6 months, taking care of babies (in India or abroad) – it would cramp her style and I’ve seen cousins abuse this freedom that their parents have extended to them. But I am no mother yet, so stating it so easy – I wonder what I will do when faced with the situation.
    • My uncle cannot get myself to travel by a plane for 20+ hours (bad case of claustrophobia, we suspect). As a result, his 2 children who both live abroad, visit him once every 2/3 years. I feel sorry for his grandchildren.
    • And finally, just when I am trying to make big decisions around agreeing to a life abroad, you write this post. You just made it so much harder (given I was never pro- living abroad to begin with!) 🙂
    sorry, the comments are messed up, just had so much to say! waiting to read the responses from the NRIs.

  5. Wow apt one. Last week very dear friends of mine moved back from USA. Their story is – they want the kid to know about her roots, the family that she has. They wanted their child to know about India as a country and relatives as people who love you, not pictures and voices over the net. Ya, it did sound ancient to me a few years back, but now I see the relevance.
    True, both of them have already started pulling at their hair, but you can see the genuine smile at the end if the day…
    Again whatever rocks your boat…

  6. I don’t have kids or a husband, I just work abroad. My mom is quite young and I wanted her to come here for a holiday. She’s here now and I see what you mean about identity issues. Though in India mom is terribly emancipated, she drives her car llike a bloody auto, she works crazy hours and has her own music scene; here, she’d rather stay home and venture out on small walks, mostly touring only with me by her side.
    But I see how tough it is for my parents to live so far away and I think that in 5 years or so, when I do have a child, I will move closer to India – maybe Singapore or KL, where a week’s trip already justifies the cost of air fare. I’d love to live in India, but moving there would be an option only if I can get the kind of personal focus at work that I get in europe!
    Planning is easy but reality comes out of the blue, no? 😀

  7. Its a difficult choice to make. I’ve lived all my life with my grandparents and I cannot imagine life without them around. I’m so used to having elders around, that I want my children to have the same upbringing. As things would have it, if all goes well, I would marry the love of my life and move all the way to the US in just a couple of years. He is studying there, and not too keen on coming back. And all the things that you’ve written bothered me terribly at one point of time, and I had to make a choice – Madras, or the man? 🙂 I went for the man, and I haven’t had even the tiny twinge of regret. I’ve heard about grandparents turning into ayyahs abroad. I have parents with an active social and work life and I’ve always sworn to myself that I would never do that to them.

    This whole grandparents thing was really bothering me, until recently I noticed a couple of my cousins.. one set lives here with grandparents and ill-treats them terribly, with no care and consideration. The other lives abroad, and comes here once in a while, and when they do, and even when they don’t, everything is awfully pleasant and they are very close to their grandparents despite living oceans away. And I realised, that while physical presence does make a giant difference, what matters more is that time spent should be quality time, and young parents should make the time to ensure that little ones build relationships. Small childhood memories would go a long way to ensuring a healthy relationship. It is difficult, yes, but I believe it is possible.

    • oh no! you’re getting me wrong. This is not about ill-treatment. I think I ill-treat my parents when I go visit them! 😉
      this is about the sheer unfamiliarity and the lack of anything to do. it’s a strange country, there are no friends, no easy walking into the neighbour’s house for a cup of tea. Emotionally its not easy to be dependent on someone else for everything when you are basically independent people. And this is not a problem for my parents but I see so many parents who can’t speak English, going mad trying to even answer the phone or understand the accent while buying stuff at a department store.
      Also, taking care of a baby is not easy, its backbreaking labour and I got a backache changing cloth nappies and washing and bathing. caring for the child is what they’ve gone there to do, but you know, they’re older, it’s not their time to be bending, carrying, staying up nights, waking at odd hours and what not. Yet, if they dont do that, what is the point?! They have gone to help na? but its not an old person’s job. its for a young person and even at 25 I felt myself falling apart, so I can imagine how hard it is on them even physically.

      • No, I did understand what you said.. 🙂 I just meant that its possible to build a healthy relationship even with being far apart, and that living nearby is no guarantee for a loving relationship.

        • And yes, the unfamiliarity is a nightmare, but maybe it can be eased by meeting often at desi social events, or having a close knit community of friends…

          • I don’t mean to be argumentative, but I’ll say this anyway. Dismiss it if you like. I think that is what bothers them and me most. That they have to make the most of what is available. You know, after a certain age its hard to make friends. Yes, you can meet, go for walks, have tea, but it’s just making the most of the people there. a lot of the older people are able to settle there are those who are homebodies, who are into cooking and prayer and places of worship etc, again, my parents are not very like that. for working people, it’s difficult to sort of while their time away which is what it amounts to, to them. No offence to those who can adjust. just empathy for those who can’t.

  8. Move to Dubai! It’s only 3 hours away from Delhi. 😀

    I know pf parents who come every few months or so, and even know of people who travel to India every weekend cos they have family there! Of course, he gets to do this cos he’s *that* rich, but again, airfare is not all that expensive. And this place has a lot of Indian-ness. So people generally have a good time here.

    • @Sanjana: LOL, so true na? I also live in Dubai and we as a family absolutely love it here. My husband keeps getting job offers from the Uk but we have been saying no all along because dubai is so close to India.

      MM, I see this peculiar dilemma more in USA. Even Europe isnt sooo limiting since I have lived there as well although I wasnt married then and my folks didnt need to visit me while I lived in London. My parents are at least 10 yrs older than yours and not too well but thnakfuly very active still. My mom runs her own school and my dad got an extension on his profesorship at BHU, so they are both very busy and happy. They will never ever move out of Varanasi, be it birth/wedding and sometimes even death. They hate to travel with a passion. So what do I do? I visit them at least twice a year with a 5 day break in noida with my brother thrown in each time I visit. I spend a moth with them. Sometimes, I have travelled even 4 times becos is awfuly cheap to do so! 🙂 I think domestic fares are more expensive than flying in to India from Dubai!! I pay more from Del-Vns than from here! My mother came to be with me fro Yohaan’s delivery but frankly she was no help. She cannot even boil water leave alone do any housework or look after a baby. She is old, diabetic and overweight- not a great combo for a grandma to a new born! But that was ok since I had a full time house maid. My mom enjoys visitng me . She gets her TOI,India today and even Dainik Jagran-ha haha. She likes dubai a lot even though she is dependant on us to go out…but my dad wont budge from vns. Having said that, I visit them more often than my brother who lives in noida with his wife!! On the other hand a cousin had a baby in Detroit and my uncle-aunt were truly stuck, apparently they dont really have much public transport and every body drives their own car. They had a terrible 3 months stuck inside the house, as per their version. I also know another lady who stays most months of the year with her neice to baby sit their child and they pay her some $$$…the lady rather nonchalantly says it is her post-retirement employement, but at least she is open about it….seems to suit both sides. But yes, I do hear so many stories of granparents being ‘used’. A very Indian thing I suppose….i think both sides should make an effort for the sake of grandchildren.

      • I have to make a disclaimer here. my parents didnt get used at all. they had a lovely time with their grandchild. but having never done it with me or for anyone else, they really couldn’t just change diapers and sit still. they’d have happily bundled up the baby and gone places if they could. you’ve seen my ma -she’s young and active like Aunty Anita. there’s no chance of her not being of use or getting tired. its just, that she’s so young, most of her other friends’ kids are not even married, that she’s not the kind who can just sit and cook for us and be content. she needs a lot more mental stimulation, responsibility and activity.

  9. One of the reasons I moved back to India from the US was because I could not bear to see how old people(not limited to Indians) there are treated (probably full circle from them asking their children to leave home at 18 – a generalization I know!), especially after they cannot drive and live alone in places with little to no public transport.
    One of my cousins studying in NY made this documentary recently about Indians and growing old in the US. It was for a class assignment so probably not super professional but interesting addition to the conversation, I think.
    http://vimeo.com/user5473912

  10. This is an issue we think about constantly. So many factors to consider-
    1. The inherent nature and circumstances of the grandparents-some are happy to stay with their children and grandchildren wherever and for however long, with no great discomfort at being away from their own comfort zone. Others might have a great social and professional life at home which they miss and want to go back to.
    2. Location-A country like the US may not be very easy for grandparents to live in for long durations. UK, where I live, is OK. It’s easy for them to move around, go to supermarkets, visit places on their own, if they so desire. The public transport system is wonderful.
    It’s frequently a combination of the above factors and more. I grew up with grandparents around, and life was wonderful. I would definitely want Ananya to grow up with Dadu and Dadi and Ajja and Ajji around. Ultimately it’s about coming to terms with what we want for ourselves, our children and our parents (in no particular order), making a decision (and not calling it a compromise , for anyone) and making it work.
    On a personal note, we lived in the US for 6 years, and moved back to India when MIL’s health was not so good. Stayed in India for 3 years before moving to UK for professional reasons. That we will definitely move back to India is a given. When is something we have to work out-it could be next month, or next year or the year after. But my parents/in laws, their health, their desire to spend time to Ananya, and Ananya’s desire to spend time with the, are some of the factors which will influence this decision. My parents were here the summer before last, and although they spent most of it visiting/touring Europe, at the end of 45 days, they were more than ready to go back. So, I can’t see them spending extended durations of time here, same goes for my in-laws.
    All this makes sense in my mind, not sure how it translates in this comment space. Love to B and B!

  11. First time commenter here! 🙂 I think there are few points I wanted to make.
    1. Taking care of babies is hard work… but the whole idea of helping is not to take over the job – its to provide the support system. Maybe one person cooks a meal or two instead of taking care of baby. One person goes for a walk or something like that. Both sets of grandparents live here in NA with me. My parents both work, and while I went to stay with them the first few weeks after I had my son, they still went to work. I wouldnt have to do housework but nights and most days were for me to take care of my child. My mom would have meals ready for me in the fridge, and would give me a break for an hour or two so I could shower, shop, etc.
    With my second child, my inlaws came and stayed with us. They both are retired, and lead inactive lifestyles but within a week they left to go home… they just couldn’t handle a home with a newborn and a 2 year old.
    So I mean it has more to do with personality, etc.
    2. If your in-laws are visiting from another country I think its really important to ensure that they also have a network, support system, etc. They get to see a different part of the world and actually experience it vs. sightsee. I know friends whos parents visit, and volunteer at local charities, etc. With language problems, one friend set up heritage language classes at the local mosque that her mom would teach when she was visiting for 6 months.
    Others find social groups for them to join, etc. I think the onus really is on the child to ensure their parent is occupied, happy, and not just toiling away over the child.

    • I think you’re right. A lot is to do with personality. Mine are in a strange way in the prime of their life. Their kids are married and settled and now they are working long hours, travelling, socialising and doing things they couldn’t afford (financially and time wise) when we were kids. So the inactivity gets to them.
      I see your point about network and social system. It might work if you’re there for 6 months I suppose – but if you’re there for only 6 weeks its just hard to fall into a new routine. You’re right, the onus is on the child and I can say without reservation that my brother is one of the best sons a parent could ask for. I’m the cranky child! But that said, he has a job and is busy and really can’t be entertaining them all day.
      There’s really no toil in a country where there’s barely any dust and no unexpected guests dropping in at odd times – its more the boredom and the unfamiliarity that I think most people worry about.
      What is NA? And both sets of parents live there? I guess that makes all the difference. My parents are very comfortable in any part of India where they can catch ricks or drive etc. It’s the whole driving on the wrong side and having nowhere to go that handicaps you I guess.

      • Sorry – I meant North America (NA). My inlaws live about 6 hours away and they still couldnt adjust to a new “city”, not having their friends, not being ok with meeting the new people that we tried to set them up with.
        And I do think even if you are work all day you can plan activities for your parents. The public transport system may be hard to use, etc. but its not impossible. Especially for someone from India who would be used to using different modes of transport (generalization I know – but Im not Indian so what do I know!)
        Anyway – it definitely is a culture shock for them, and would take getting used, which is hard in a 6 week timeframe. Maybe expectations are a factor too. You send/agree to a child moving abroad then you can’t really expect them to move back for you/ for life to be the same there as it is here. Having adjusted expectations about your time there can help with making it through I am sure.

        • Actually in the suburbs my brother lives in, public transport is impossible for older people. They’d have to walk miles for a bus which is unreasonable and makes living there for older people, really tough. Again, they don’t need activities planned away from the house, because they have the baby to take care of and can’t keep dragging him everywhere. i think the difference is that homes in india are very vibrant. the maids, the neighbours dropping in, the veggie vendors on the roads.. everything. in fact i cant speak for other parents but i do know that its a matter of your own life being left behind. my parents leave behind a packed life and the quiet of the suburbs doesn’t suit them. Yes, you can always find something to do, but for people who already have a busy life, it feels like a waste of time. a lot of the others point out painting and courses etc- my parents already are doing all that. they sing, help with the church, embroider, knit, make jams… and on the relaxation front, being india they have enough staff so its not like they are cooking or cleaning and need a break anyway….

          Sending/agreeing doesnt enter the picture when its an adult child leaving home to go abroad no? What right do they have to tell an adult child where to work or live? they might have an opinion on where they’d like him to live, no doubt…. but the argument that once they have agreed they must have no expectations doesn’t work to my mind. Yes, they all make it through I am sure.. but I dont think its easy. No one wants their grandkids to go to daycare (its an Indian thing I am sure – I don’t either!) and so they suck it up and bear it. your kids buy a house, have a loan, both have to go to work… you do what you can to support them even if it doesnt make you leap over the moon for joy.

          You’re not Indian? 🙂 I’d never have realised. Sakina is a name I am very used to. But that said, most middle-class Indians have cars and only those in the metros are used to buses and trains. the rest are only used to private transport or maybe autos and ricks. Just FYI.

          • HEy,
            I have Indian “heritage” but my entire family is from East Africa. I was raised in the middle east and Canada, so have never even visited India. I guess I have never identified with being Indian, although most find it hard to believe with my brown skin…. issues for another post entirely!

            It is true, that if you live in an area without public transit life can be very difficult, both for grandparents, kids, guests, etc.
            In this digital age, could your parents continue working/communicating with their people in India for work to continue? It would require some logistics but that might be an option for them as well.
            Maybe its more old school/”Indian”/different to want to help your kids, not want to send them to daycare, etc? I know my inlaws would much rather send my kids to daycare than have to look after them themselves (they are from dhaka/Karachi). My parents will help how they can but both are active in their lives and so moving across the world for me wouldn’t be an option either. So I do think we are coming from polar opposite experiences.

            • 🙂 No I completely understand not identifying with being Indian. Why should you?

              And I think we understand each other well. Your parents are active – so would they come to help you out with your baby?

  12. A constant worry for me too…My parents and ILs, both refuse to come and settle in US. A few weeks visit they are ok with. But never for more than 3-4 weeks 🙂
    Having said that, I crib about it all the time. Because I see so many friends whose parents are keen to settle down in the US, and mine are so vehemently against it. Not trying to start an argument here, but I “think” its more common in Andhra and Tamil Nadu for the parents to get their green card/citizanship and then settle down here. Most of our friends from north India are facing the same issue we are. Parents not wanting to visit for long periods of time, not wanting to settle here etc. Most friends for south India don’t even have to worry about finding childcare during summer months. Its a given that grandparents will come and take care of kids for 3 months. Unlike my kids who I have to send to various summer camps as I work full time.
    I don’t know what we are going to do. My older one will be entering grade 1 in August. Me and the husband keep discussing this and we do plan to move back in 2 years. I like US, but I MISS India terribly! So most likely we’ll move back for our own selfish reasons 😀

    • All else aside – isn’t every decision for selfish reasons? Who moves for the good of the nation or something? Please don’t feel bad or think of it as selfish (if you do that is, else please excuse me if I misunderstood).

      • True. What I emant by our selfish reasons was that both my parents and ILs are in good health and do not need care now. The ILs are in late 60s-early 70s and my dad just retired last year. They both have tons of relatives living around them in the NCR.
        So our move to India will be primarily because I miss India and because of the kids. The husband doesn’t care much about where he lives. He is one of those cool types who can adjust to living even in Syria! But I worry that it will be difficult to move if the kids are too grown. I believe it will be easier for the kids to adjust there while they are in elementary school.

        Sigh….too many decisions to make. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t an adult and didn’t have to make these decisions. But then if I wasn’t an adult I would be miserable because I like the freedom that comes with being an adult.
        As you can see I am one confused woman 🙂

        • ha ha! most people are confused. I top the list.
          I agree – i think kids take longer to settle as time goes by. specially because getting into a school here is not easy. you will get schools alright, but not necessarily one that suits you and nothing compared to the schools you have there.
          its okay for army kids etc because they move to cantonments and the environment is suitable and conducive to transfers. our kids on the other hand move into schools where no one has moved in years and upheaval is upsetting i guess….

  13. You know, forget babies, I dont even have a ring ;), but I still wonder about this issue. Its all very easy for people (well wishers, no doubt) to suggest the parents moving to US once I am settled or they retire, but as you said, I have never seen my father rest for more than 33 secs at a go 🙂 He felt the constant need to explore, roam around aimlessly, visit, walk to nowhere when he was here for 3 weeks. Which is all very well for three weeks, but once its for a longer, permanent period of time, I can see very limited options. Like you said, life here is too structured, we have to follow a set pattern…and my parents being very independent masters of their home, I dont see them succeeding in changing their mindset. And what is more, I dont want them to. I feel like their spirits are cooped up in some not more than 25kg suitcases 😦

    No solution for your question, but I just wanted to share 🙂

    • 🙂 I like that line. Spirits cooped up in 25 kg suitcases. It’s also not easy for people who have run a home in a certain way to suddenly get used to the way we live our lives. As a daughter my home runs somewhat similar to the way theirs runs. But a son’s home will run the way the DIL runs it and that is so different to the way they are used to. I hate to think of people having to adjust so much in their old age. I can imagine my own inlaws, even living in India, would be really uncomfortable with the way I run my home if they had to stay for an extended period of time.

  14. Two things: personality of the people concerned, and the place you live.

    Both sets of parents in our family are much older than your parents, and only my father still works in India, and will never really retire. The paternal g’parents are the old-fashioned kind – their idea of a good time is spending endless hours talking/playing/cooking for the g’kids. My parents need their own time, but like being in the same house as the kids – and like interacting with them for short periods of time. I have a weekly maid, so no major housework, except cooking (which, both g’mothers, convinced that my poor kids are deprived of sustenance, take as a holy calling!). The maid also takes care of laundry and cutting vegetables for the week, which they like – MIL is not used to knives (she still uses the old “aruvamanai” in India) and my mom’s arthritis makes it painful. FIL loves house projects – we schedule all our handy-man work for when he is here, as he so enjoys supervising and helping as needed. FIL and father both drove here until they turned 70 – L is a very good driving teacher, and made sure both were very comfortable with the RHS driving, speeds etc.

    Where you live makes a huge difference – We live in an area with relatively mild weather, with a large desi population. There are plenty of local events that they enjoy going to, we have a large circle of friends whose parents also visit or live with them, so the parents have their own g’parents network here. They can visit neighbours etc. My parents actually feel they have a better social life here, as my father hates driving after dark nowadays. Our public transport is lacking, but again, large network, so someone is usually available to shuttle them around. They all universally hate the trouble it takes to *get* here – 24 hour flights are no fun for anyone, at any age. My mother does miss the general noisiness of life in India, but the other three parents enjoy the quiet. My father really enjoys seeing beauraucracy work the way it’s supposed to. He’s also a news junkie, and will watch endless hours of C-span. We have desi channels on TV, and the US versions of the Tamil channels feature some programs they don’t get in B’lore. We aren’t big party people, so don’t have the issue of leaving them behind to go out – get-togethers at friends’ houses involve all visiting parents. We try to take at least one trip with them each time they come – at least a long weekend, if not more.

    Someone up-thread mentioned the middle-east as a better place to be – my parents disagree. My brother lives in Abu Dhabi. They find the place very boring, the lack of women in public (my mother said she felt *really* uncomfortable going to the grocery story there), and the heat, all very difficult to take. There are fewer desi events they can attend (none in AD, they had to go to Dubai for everything)…things like that.

    S’pore is wonderful – all the conveniences of being abroad with none of the pain – parents can be completely independent there.

    UK – my cousin lives there, and my aunt/uncle are fine visiting for months at a time – again, they enjoy things working the way they should, public transportation is fine, and they like the slower pace. The weather can be a downer, but they’ve made their peace with it over the years, and now carry umbrellas with them wherever they go!

    This is turning into an epic, so will stop – like you said, it doesn’t work for your parents because they are at a different stage in their lives. It may never work, but that is a different story. For us, it’s been a great blessing – our kids are very close to their g’parents, and talk about wanting them to live here permanently. Health care *is* an issue – our desi community is large enough that we have some local doctors offering visiting parent rates etc. but anything serious is a huge deal. No good solutions there (win the lottery?)

    M

    • 🙂 I KNEW you’d have lots to say about this. Good to hear. Yes, it’s all about personality and the place. The place my brother lives in is fairly populated and its full of lots of our old friends. But like I said, it’s less to do with them making new friends and finding things to do, and more to do with them being taken away from a very full and productive life.

      UK they both love and would happily retire to, I have a feeling. they would catch buses and trains and go places, they were comfortable driving and they didn’t mind the weather at all.

      You know, the first comment of yours that I can recall (that is, when I began to make note of an M commenting and what she said) was about MIL and mother setting up kitchen to suit themselves. So see – even through comments I know so much about your life too! I agree. But it’s not just that. It’s things like where you can smoke, what kind of food you like to eat (see, we’re a mixed heritage family and every branch has their own likes and dislikes), sleep timings and lots of things. I’ve seen elders who object to dirty laundry being kept in the bathroom or in a basket in the bedroom. They’re used to India and lots of space and insist that you put it out in the balcony or something. It’s all small stuff but really funny!

      • heh – my lack of love for my kitchen seems legendary if even you (with your oft-mentioned bad memory!) remember it! 🙂

    • Yes, yes AbuDhabi is pretty dead girl…But I am surprised your mom didnt feel comfortable going to the grocery store by herself…women are more free here than India or even USA for that matter, simply because it is ultra safe- UAE is pretty much like singapore when it comes to women/child safety and is one of the safest countries in the world- and public transport is cheap- all cab drivers speak Hindi/english/malyalam, so moving around is never an issue. This is like a mini India man! Only cleaner. Indians are the largest expat poplutaion here, more than the local arabs so you can imagine the Hungama we have ! Is it possible that she feels more comfy with you because 1. you are ‘the’ daugther and not DIL 2. Maybe your brother doesnt have a large Indian social network or friends? Am just wondering, because Abudhabi has a huge durga pooja celebration for eg. But I agree the heat is a killer- but again we dont feel it because every inch of this country is air conditioned. If my MIL from chennai was to ever complain about the weather here, I would find it very hard to understand her! LOLLLLL.

      • Harshika, re: AD – my brother is single, so no DIL to contend with. My parents were there to set his house up for him (he doesn’t care, but they wanted to make sure the place was set up properly so they would have what they needed when they visited :)) Yeah no network either, which is certainly part of the problem, but my cousin in Dubai has a huge network of desi friends, and they all feel there isn’t much cultural stuff in Dubai either. Probably regional/language related – Dubai has a Tamil Sangam, but they tend to do more movie-related events, which my family isn’t into much. No carnatic concerts, no temples (that holds for many other places actually!) – those were sticking points for them. As for the safety issue, while not feeling herself in danger, my mother felt that she was being stared at much more offensively than in India. As for weather – we’re from Bangalore – it’s our birthright to complain about the weather anywhere else in the world! (actually they didn’t say anything abt the weather in Dubai/AD – it’s a desert – not much you can do about that!).

        • “we’re from Bangalore – it’s our birthright to complain about the weather anywhere else in the world “ lol… thanks for this line..**super like** it in FB terminology .I am going to use it the next time someone(including the hubby) stops asking me to be a drama queen when I complain about heat when its 80 F !

    • My parents came to help during baby time and mom was especially a big blessing but more than the baby, they are more useful around the house. Both sets came one after another to help us out when we had our second child and for that I am eternally grateful. It was peace of mind to know the child was in loving hands.
      What M says here resonates in my household as well. My in laws like the quiet, appreciate the infrastructure and most of all a well stocked public library within minutes of wherever we have lived. They like to go for long walks twice a day and its much easier to do here with well maintained walking trails and good, clean roads. Luckily the weather where we live (Texas) is mostly good so no trouble on that front.
      My parents complain about everything in the US. They have a great social life and support structure back home and they miss it. Also there is a misplaced sense of patriotism where saying anything nice about here means they are betraying their homeland 🙂 Basically personality of the folks decide how they cope being in a foreign land. In our case one set is happy and we will bring them here eventually, the other is not.
      Since my parents are fairly young and in decent shape right now I am not much worried about their welfare yet but yes, when time comes, unfortunately they will not have much choice. They will not be looked after by strangers and I don’t see us moving back to India.
      Great topic btw.

      • I think your parents are like mine. I don’t think its a patriotism case with my folks. they have no qualms telling me how nice and clean and organised it is. but they live in a B town and long walks in shady avenues, films, social life, libraries – there is nothing they dont get in their own small town, add to it the comfort of someone bringing you tea every half hour, doing your laundry etc and life for them is very blissful. the OA loves visiting my parents because he is waited on hand and foot unlike our very hectic Delhi life.
        It really depends on how satisfactory your life in india is and what gaps the US visit fills. For my parents, they have everything except things like the law and order or discipline. Which honestly, is nice if you’re driving or filing tax, but doesnt make much of a difference to your personal life unless you live there.

  15. Bah, can’t stop – someone said something about managing a home – again personality comes in here – I don’t care about managing my home at all – so each set of g’moms (yes, it is only them, not g’dads) sets up the kitchen to suit her, while she is here – with fresh food coming my way, I don’t care 🙂 They did have to learn some ways of working here (being careful with haldi, not allowing tadka to fly all over the place etc. )The one area of clash is how the kids are handled – I used to worry some, when the kids were younger, that they were picking up on the wrong lessons etc. but now that my kids are older, they realise that g’parents are here to spoil them, and that the parents are the ultimate authority, so it’s all good 🙂

  16. I am on of those people who is content with her life in the US. I love it here. When I visit India, I feel miserable that I am not home (India) where my parents and other relatives are but I deal with it and have never regretted it. Because the pros outweight the cons. Pros 1. I love my job. I will never get a better job in India – not just for the money, for the respect, for the freedom and for the fact that I do not have to please 10 people for my voice to be heard. I am a scientist and professor incase you are curious. 2. I love my independence. I do not feel like I have to watch out for my neighbours when I step out of the house. In Madras everybody is curious about what you do. So you cannot go to a party with your husband without people passing comments behind your back. 3. I do not have to worry about men brushing on me or catcalling when I jog in the streets. I can run in a bikini for all they care. Cons: 1. The grandparents are not there to celebrate every milestone. We send pictures almost dailty, skype and arrange for 1-1.5 year trips. They seem happy with that because they are busy with their lives. My uncles and aunts are still supporting their sons and daughters in laws financially and my parents feel that atleast we are happy and independent. 2. Food. I miss Indian food but I just look at myself in the mirror and the hunger vanishes he he.
    Anways to answer your questions, I might be one of the few desis who is actually happy here. When my parents come I ask them to enoy their peace as much as they can. My MIL actually thought it felt like a resort to her. She has been working her butt off till she was 58 and was so gla dot have nothing to do for three months. I take days off to work from home when my parents or inlaws or here so I can have lunch with them or take breaks to spend time with them. They do miss their loves back home but when they go back home they cannot stop talking about what a nice time they had here.

    • No, I don’t have a question about your happiness. I think every single person there is happy, which is why they choose to be there. And yes, I am sure they have a lovely time. My parents have seen a lot of the US, shopped a lot and partied like no one’s business (my parents are cooler and more fun than the brother and I put together) so that is never an issue. I think its the time that is of importance. For two weeks you can stay anywhere and in any discomfort. And this is no discomfort – as you said, its almost like being in a resort. After that you just ache for your local food, the smells, the noise, the friends, the routine and schedule you have at home. If you’re retired and just sitting at home with no social life I am sure its easier to go and at least sit in your child’s home. but if you have an active life (retired or not) I think you get tired of fitting into someone else’s life.

      On an aside, I think that is why I like living in Delhi. No one to pass comments no matter what I do, wear or where I go. Bombay too, is an equally impersonal city if you prefer that.

      • My mom is okay being here because she is a busy bee and does everything herself – cooking, cleaning dishes, vacuuming while we are away. Dad gets bored after exactly 2 days. But my MIL just relaxes playing with the baby and going into vacation mode, sleeping in, being pampered etc. I guess every person is so different. Sometimes I wish there were a sime/space capsule where I could step in and be in Chennai for tea…I mean for kaappi :).

        • Haan… I think that is the prob. My ma did all that – cooking, dishes etc and then ran out of stuff to do. As she says, the US is so clean, lifestyles are simpler and after the kind of housework we do in India, she’s so used to being efficient that she is done with all this in a couple of hours. then what? I mean she can read, watch tv, but all this is very unfulfilling for a person who is used to running her own business and being at work.

  17. When the husband and I decided we wanted kids, we swore we wont make our parents into babysitters and make them stay here bear the horrible winter and loneliness to just help us raise our kids. What we didnt realise that no matter how harsh the winter and no matter how lonely they got, they wanted to help. For the first year i had a parent with us at all times, we were ready to put our son in the day care system, had figured out a work from home routine so he wouldnt be in day care all day etc etc. But the mother in law didnt think that was right so she offered to come and stay with us for 6 months, and then my parents came until our son was a year old. By then we had found reliable help and had a system set. Now our parents can come whenever they like and spend as much or as little time they would like to with thier grandchild and leave. My mom is exactly like yours, i have never seen her sit with nothing to do but now she enjoys her time here, it gives her a break from the constant activity and she gets to spend quality time with the grandson. She also drives here now which helps her get around. I think after sometime no matter how busy or how social you are the grandchild makes up for a lot of it.

    • See, the entire reason they are there is because they want to help and because they love the grandchild. There is no denying that. No one bothers to go waste 4 months there on mere children. It’s the special incentive of grandchildren! I think knowing that the child will go to daycare if not for you, is huge motivation. In our case my SIL is a SAHM. So no help required – they are just there to see the grandchild and spend time with him. So even in your own head you can’t justify the just sitting there business after a couple of weeks. And yet, if you come home, you barely get to see the baby…
      A grandchild makes up for a lot, but I don’t think anyone or anything can make up for everything you leave behind. After all we as mothers go back to work saying that we need to work and feel productive no matter how much we love the child. How much more our parents who are thrown into unfamiliarity and unproductivity (did I just make up a word?) just to be with the grandchild, I wonder.

  18. Very interesting read 🙂

    You know I am on the other side of the fence..older son and d-i-l are in UK and younger son in New York. My husband doesn’t like to travel. I have never been bored on my visits abroad. I just love looking at/meeting new people (cultures) and places. I have spent afternoons just sitting in a plaza and watching life go by. Or doing more organized things like museum visits, plays, etc. Many of these cities have amazing public spaces..you can carry a picnic lunch and sit with a book in the middle of the city! Perhaps only New Delhi has that in India.

    Yes, UK is more comfortable because we can drive ourselves. But most of Europe also has good public transport. Even in the US, living in big cities is quite comfortable for parents..it is only the suburbs that are so car dependent that get to you (I remember a Danish girl on an exchange program in the US..where she tried to walk to the mall..saying she thought people in the US had cars instead of brains (inside their heads 🙂 I have had the good luck of mostly visiting/staying in places with very good public transport..New York, Washington DC, Boston, London, parts of Europe. Give me good public transport (and my independence) and I ask for nothing more! I go out in the morning when the children go to work, and come back in the evening whenever. I pick up lunches on the go.. I also plan some travel outside the places where they live in..it is easy enough these days with internet.

    California was difficult, because it is not a public transport place and I don’t feel comfortable enough to drive in the US and life was very (American) suburban. I have done field work in places like Ranchi, Valsad(in Gujarat), small towns in AP and Kerala and been perfectly comfortable in those suburbs. Again a lot of it is about being transport independent.

    But as I read in one of Barak Obama’s books (thought it was very perceptive of him)..he says about his grandmother (not the exact words)..’it was as if that time of life that people have in their fifties had passed her by..(when they are relatively mobile, financially independent, children grown up..).’

    At the moment, since I am mobile and love travelling, (and also no grandchildren yet) I do not have any expectations from the children.. nor they from me, I guess..but all that might change a few years from now, I don’t know..These days, I can already feel the slowness coming on 😦

    I think the trick is to mentally transplant yourself to wherever you are at the moment! But then I have never been away from India longer than three months at a time..

    (One of my aunts who lives in California told me many years back that (her life) was a ‘chinnada panjara’..meaning golden cage).

    Sorry for taking so much space on your blog .. it was really interesting for me to read what younger people think in such situations..our generation (mostly)did not face such dilemmas..migration was an economic necessity for many, so they never thought they had the option of coming back..Indian was not shining yet, you see!

    • Please don’t mind me saying this, but you remind me of my mum. I’m guessing you’re approximately the same age – she’s about 52. And you’re tech savvy, reading blogs, commenting, travelling… that’s a lot like her.
      She too has travelled a lot abroad for leisure and she and my dad are like a honeymooning couple when left to themselves. They still hold hands and go to a pub for a beer and are very self-sufficient. You’re right – transportation makes a huge difference. My dad is a careless driver even in India – the only difference is that its his own car he’s denting! So Europe suited them well so do places like DC and NY. Suburbs make it harder. Also, as you said, until the baby came, they’d go to my brother and travel from there. But now they adore the baby and think he is the Second Coming of the Lord. Which of course means they are torn between worshiping him and stepping out! It’s quite a dilemma 🙂
      Please don’t apologise for taking space. I love hearing from so many different people at different stages in their lives.

      Ps: I am confused. Someone up there said California has good public transport. I guess good too, is a subjective matter.

      • The Bay area itself has decent public transport – but California is a big state 🙂 Sacramento’s public transport, for example, is almost non-existent.

      • I take that as a compliment:-) your mum sounds like an amazing woman!
        and, oh, I (just) happen to be several years older than your mum 🙂
        reg California transport, I think M has already answered below..I should have been more specific..LA is also very widespread and not the best in public transport..

  19. Dont know where your brother lives but in heavily desi populated cities of US its very common to see visitng grand parents forming their own clubs and having parties/ get togethers in local parks on the weekends. This is so because we desis tend to live in certain neighborhoods of the cities (areas with good schools and good houses) so the whole community beocomes a little India — people visitng each others houses regularly and stuff. Infact, in my opinion, the viting grandparents do it more than us because they have more time and willingness to make more and more Indian friends of their age.

    Also, when my hsband’s parents were visiting, we would (like eberyone else) take them out on weekends with us. But even on weekdays we would plan out itineries for them and print pit all directions and maps or bus/train routes with exact details and directions on how to get around by themselves. I would give them my cell phone so that tey can contact us, jus in case they need. And to think of it they could undertans/speak just enough English to make it though. What worked for them was that my FIL was a willing to experience that and not get scared. From what I have read about your mother I think she is much smarter persona so I am gueesing it would be easier for her.

    Also, I personally dislike the idea of inviting your parents only to help you when you have your kid…how about invite them earlier at a time all of you can travel around the county and see all the places there are to see? I think its very mean to only invite parents to “help” you out.

    On, and BTW, in teh above mentione ddesi communities you can find desi Nannies a plenty, too.

    I have no answe to the long flights in crammy seats though!

    • Yeah so my brother lives in the suburbs but he has a lot of desi friends. I think the problem is that a lot of their parents are older and not as active. My parents are happy to hop on to buses etc (they’ve loved their trips to Europe and stuff) but the point is that they’re there to be with the baby and help out so no point running around sightseeing when you’re needed.
      I agree – I don’t understand people who only call their parents to help out. My parents have visited my brother very often but he has a travelling job and so they mostly went for two weeks where he requested his company not to make him travel and they had a blast and came back. This time its not just to help (my SIL is a SAHM and manages the baby beautifully on her own) but to just see him. I think they felt that they wanted atleast 1-2 months to soak up the baby… but I suppose they need to find a different solution. One that suits the people they are.

  20. Hi MM,

    I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago and love your writing style and sensibility. Also, I feel like so many of your posts resonate with how I feel about parenting or just about life in general. This one is something that I have thought about for years on end. My dad was a very, very independent person with a huge social life – and our house was like the way you described yours while growing up. We would never know who would stop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dad had a huge circle of friends (our mom was very social too and sadly died young) – so when I moved to the US almost 20 years ago I would tentatively ask dad to come and he would always have a reason for not visiting. I would always say to my friends that I wouldnt know what to do with him after day 3 because he was so independent and used to doing things constantly so wouldnt push him too much on the decision. What ended up happening is that he never visited me and passed away a few years ago. In the last year that he was unwell, he actually felt like he had to apologize to me for not visiting but I reassured him that I understood why he couldnt come. I have very mixed feelings about the whole thing – on the one hand, I always was very proud of how self-sufficient and social he was so I didnt really feel like it was right for me to torture him by having him visit and step outside of his full life – on the other hand, especially now that he is gone I feel really bad sometimes that he never got to see my life here. I feel better though that the decision was made on his terms and that it is after all not all about me (hard to admit but sometimes it just isnt I guess!).

    Fast forward to now – I had a baby last year and people kept asking if my in-laws would come. Now my in-laws are like how you describe your parents. They have a full life in India – my FIL is 75 and still works as well as travels incessantly. My MIL is a SAHM but has her own travel iteneraries and they both travel together a lot too within India. They get terribly bored in one place and hate not being independent. They visited us for the first time about five years after we got married after much cajoling and said that they would visit for two weeks. Initially, I thought that was ridiculous to fly for 24 hours and then to stay only for 2 weeks so I tried to reason and cajole – after the visit though, I realized how 2 weeks is a sweet spot for them. They dont get too antsy – everyone has a good time and they are back into their routines before they know it.

    When our baby boy came along, we decided that we would not put them through the ringer at all and we did it on our own entirely. They did offer but we were very firm in saying that we would have them over when we were ready – a part of this was because we knew that this would be too much for them and we didnt feel like it would be fair to have them help taking care of a newborn at that age. The first month was exhausting as hell for us; in the second month we got a postpartum doula to help when the hubby when back to work. I was on leave for six months but had had a C-section so it was hard but we actually came out feeling pretty strong from the whole experience. My in-laws came to visit for two weeks again when the baby was about six months. Then we did an India trip and got to spend two weeks with them when the baby was 9 months old. They are scheduled for another two week visit this summer when the baby will be about 16-17 months. So seems like this is what we’ve settled on for now.

    I occasionally worry about not being close enough to them as they age but seems like neither them nor my hubby are worried too much about that prospect yet – I think in my case, I use my dad’s example to worry that one can lose someone suddenly and then all that will be left will be the ‘I wish we had done this or that’ – but several people in the family keep reminding me that my dad was very, very happy in India – he had two kids there (my older siblings), several grandkids as well and lived and died on his terms.

    Plus, what helps me a lot is that both my dad and my in-laws have always been very clear on us having the life we want and they have kept saying to us that we should do what is best for us so that eases any guilt I may feel on the issue of not considering moving back. Hubby, on the other hand, is not conflicted at all – he is very clear on why he likes it in the US and why he never wants to move back. I dont think any option is ever easy but unless we are all living very close by to begin with, choices only get complicated with the whole living afar thingy.

    This got way too long before I even realized so will stop now! One parting comment – In summary, I think our parents generation for many of us is the first of its kind dealing with this so is having to learn the ropes with how to navigate this whole grandparenting thing with keeping their own independence intact unlike most people in our grandparents’ generation – I think we can help by letting them live the way they want to and by not making them feel guilty about any of their preferences. Much as we would want them around us, just like with our children one day – it is better to set them free so they are happy.

    • What a lovely comment 🙂 I watched your life unfold in it. And yes, people need to be set free. At a certain age you realise that it is not the children but the parents who need to be set free of responsibility. I think in future my parents will also only go for a couple of weeks. After all the baby will be much older and not need help. And much though they want to spend time with him, it’s going to have to be shorter stints because anything else will take away from the essence of the people they are.

  21. I guess this is going to be a long comment. When I first moved to the US 10 years ago, I didnt like this place very much. My friends were in India and I didnt know anyone here. Then I joined grad school and made tons of friends from all over the world. I cherish these friends and (sadly) dont have much in common with my friends in India (or even some who have moved here). It could be because I am in grad school/academia, so in a really different environment, but there is only so much you can talk about buying a house and getting a loan etc :). What I am trying to say is, I enjoy my life in the US, I have friends dropping by at all times of the day, friends who would fly hundreds of miles to be with us if we were sick, and everyday is a learning experience about a different culture and cuisine.

    When my parents and my in-laws came here from the India to visit us, we made a conscious effort to introduce them to our friends, new experiences etc. They really enjoy learning about new things, interacting with people from different countries/cultures etc. They also do a lot of web surfing reading wikipedia articles, reading science books that we have at home and ask us tons of questions when we get home. Their enthusiasm is infectious. They even learn calculus from khanacademy (we are a geeky family :)) When they go back to India, they are in their elements true, but it is the same old. When they come here, its like they have a new life that (they admit) they really enjoy. Now we have a baby and I hired house help (even though it costs a fortune) because I want them to enjoy themselves and not feel like they have to work all the time. They change diapers, feed the baby most of the time, but they dont absolutely have to to do these because they have help. Ofcourse, both my husband and I are scared stiff about what will happen if they get older or fall sick. We either have to bring them here or move to India temporarily. But for now, I am happy with this arrangement.

    I think at the end of the day, it depends on you, your parents, and what you are comfortable doing.

    • Yes, very true. As I said, my parents are already doing that. They are on their laptops, blackberry, iPad and what not all day anyway. So its not that they need us for anything. If anything they are at that enviable state where they are old enough to have savings and lend us money to finance a wild plan, still young enough to take care of our babies if we need them, still young enough to come up with new business plans for themselves and definitely don’t need us to show them wikipedia or anything.

      i’m seeing a pattern here… i notice a lot of parents enjoy the trip because of the rest and relaxation. i think the difference is that my parents don’t want rest or relaxation for more than 2 weeks. after that they’re chafing to get back to work. being fiercely independent and young enough to not make that independence a burden, they don’t want to make my brother take them places. the poor boy wants to take them but they feel really bad that he comes back after a day of work and wants to take them out. its very lakhnavi tehzeeb in a comical way. he wants to take them out, they want him to relax with a beer. in india my parents still travel a lot on work, driving 12 hours a day at times… so i guess the whole thing becomes a little restricting…

      • Therein lies the difference. Our parents come to the US and do the things that your parents seem to be doing in India itself. Back in India, for example, my MIL is busy taking care of her mom who lives nearby, helping her sister with her grandchildren etc. They are not very technologically savvy and they need our help getting around the computer and the Internet. The dads do have trouble not being “useful”, so we try to engage them doing small DIY projects like painting furniture and getting books from a nearby library. For jetsetting parents like yours seem to be, it will, for sure be hard. I think the problem or the heartache is when they are no longer able to make long trips or are sick. We have been thinking about options for the inevitable state.

        • I guess so. You’re right. My grandparents passed away some years ago after years of being bedridden. My mother spent her 30s taking care of invalids. My grandaunt, grandfather, grandmother… I think back and wonder if I could do what she did, considering I am in my 30s now. Thank God she is finally free of babies and old people to live her life…. It’s about time.
          Tell me about dads being useful 🙂 Everytime my dad is in Delhi, even for 2-3 days I have to engage him like a baby. I save up all the plumbing/ carpentry for when he is here and he sits and gets it done, shifts my plants around for the best sunshine, hangs my pictures up, fixes the water purifier.
          And yes, I worry about when they will be old. How will they see their grandchild? How much leave can you get? I know people talk of photos and skype and phonecalls. And yes, it’s a good thing technology gives us so many options, so I shouldn’t be ungrateful. But nothing can replace a hug, no?

  22. Warning: looooooong comment ahead!

    No kids but I’ve had parents visit multiple times, for months on end. It might sound like an easier state to be in, but they had nothing to do and nobody for company once I was off to work. For one of their trips, not even each other (my mom alone was visiting). And these were LONG trips (> 3 months each).

    They’re both socially v. active, with all their family living in the same city in India, as well as friends/neighbors they’ve known all their lives. It sounds like they’d have been miserable. On the contrary, they keep asking me when they can come visit me again! 🙂

    I’d like to think it’s because I’m a wonderful daughter and a thoughtful host 😉 but the truth is that it’s mostly because they’re highly adaptive people. We went sightseeing every single weekend that they were with me, and I took plenty of Fridays/Mondays off to make out-of-town trips with them. I worked from home every Friday while they were here. Over the weekdays, they’d spend their time exactly the way I would spend a day at home if I wasn’t out and about. They’d take a long walk every morning, go talk to the ducks at the local pond (“woh hamein pehchan-ne lagi hain” :-D), and then come back home to “get me ready for work”. What that means is that my dad would iron my work clothes and my mom would make breakfast. I know I sound like a pampered kid, but really, the purpose of those trips was to soak in one-another’s company, for me to take them around and show them a nice time which I did every weekend, and for them to make my life easier whichever way they could during the week so my evenings and weekends remained free for them. Once I was gone for work, they’d go to the nearest shopping complex to do their grocery shopping for the day (just like they do in India – every day!), then watch a movie/read a book/browse the internet, have lunch, and then GO OUT. Almost every single day. When my dad was here, he’d drive; when my mom was here by herself I was staying in NYC/DC so she got a hang of the subway/metro and ventured out to museums and stuff on her own. They never voiced a need for more company, in fact they remarked on how fulfilling each of those trips was.

    All that said, it was my full-time occupation for the length of their trip to make sure they were entertained and taken care of. I wouldn’t call them here if I wasn’t sure I could give them that much time and attention, and I totally understand where you’re coming from since new parents would have anything BUT time on their hands. Me? I got hands-on experience of what it would be like to have a couple of kids to take care of! (And I liked it!)

    If I choose to stay here long-term I’ve decided to only ever stay in urban areas. For one, even I’m bored by suburbia. Second, I don’t care for the larger house and the backyard – I grew up in a tiny space in a large Indian city. Thirdly, it’s MUCH easier for visiting parents to get around on their own. There’s usually some public transportation, or things are walking distance. More sights to see, more crowds all around.

    • I think where you live matters. My brother and his wife like the suburbs with the wide open spaces – really suitable for a baby and all their friends down the road. But yes, I think you’re right, temperament and state in life counts. My parents are working, so staying away from work for 2-3 months at a time makes them feel very wasteful. you know our generation keeps wanting to retire at 40 because we burn out so soon. their generation is made of better stuff and they have no intention of sitting around just yet. they could do movies and groceries for two weeks but after that they’re ready to get back to a productive lifestyle.

      • Both of mine work too, which if why I was pleasantly surprised that their first trip went off so well (for them). My mom who’s a highschool teacher had her summer hols going on and dad took unpaid vacation. They liked being pampered endlessly for the first time ever….my mom actually said she felt like a celebrity. She started writing a diary with the places she’d seen that day, the history behind them, the food she tried, the hotel she stayed in……saying she didn’t want to risk forgetting any of it once she grew “really, really old.” And I didn’t mean that movies and groceries would be enough to occupy anyone for months on end! I meant that they spent part of their day doing stuff like this (that they’d also do at home), and the rest of it doing NEW stuff. Constant attack of newness can also be a pain.

        Oh, also, I have quite the contrary opinion! I think our generation makes too much out of our jobs and careers and, for instance, the setback a 2-month long unpaid vacation would lead to. I’ve never taken A DAY of unpaid leave. Heck, I keep getting emails from HR because my paid vacation balance is always close to the cap. For them, it’s like “life is so long…..how does a small setback here and there matter?” Neither of them are nearly ready to retire yet, though.

        So….I don’t know, really :D! I can totally see myself taking a break from my “real” life and losing myself to an unstructured summer vacation like we did as kids (I never went to summer camp etc) if it came without consequences. I love a little PAUSE now and then. I probably get it from them. From whatever I know of you from this blog, you don’t come across as someone who could sit still or be unproductive for very long!

        • No no.. its not on the contrary. You’ve agreed with me. We do tend to make too much of our jobs at 30 which is why we’re burnt out at 40! Personally a career means nothing to me which is why I take one flexi job after another.
          You’re right – I cannot sit still for ten minutes. Unless I am reading. That said, I cannot sit at work for 10 hours a day either. I need a fuller life and I’m willing to sacrifice my move up the ladder if it means a breadth of life.
          Finally – i think what matters a lot is when in life your parents have come. Once you’re married and have kids there is so much else to do after work that its no longer easy for them to just roam around when they come there. After all, they too want to spend time with the baby, no? It’s not something forced on them. As I mentioned somewhere else, things would be very different if they had to fit the baby into their regular life. It’s the moving into unfamiliar territory along with the baby that makes all the difference.

    • Agree with you completely about living in city vs suburb.. I live alone here in the city with no friends around.. forget the parentals when they come here.. I for myself dread the suburbs.. I hold on to my little hippie street in the dread that I would be all depressed if am confined to a suburb.. I step out of my house here, I see life all around me.. I know many people who do not want this and want a pool and gym in their house (which can happen only in the urbs) and I know many who want this
      One other reason I hold on to my flat here in the city is of the hope that my parents would somehow take a break from their office and come here for a couple of weeks.. they may not feel so bored here with all the oportunities for people watching..

      Yes MM, my parents belong to that active young working category and though they want to come and stay with me for sometime, they really cannot take more than a couple of days break from their work at this point.. what with running a business and no trusted deputy to leave it to for sometime.. I too came to this country with the idea that i will be going back someday and that thought is what gets me going here.. For the short time that I am here, I want to bring them and give them complete rest from their busy lives for atleast a month.. one waits and yearns..

      • Same here. They both have businesses so it feels wasteful to be sitting somewhere dabbling in art when they have so much to do at home. And all that iced with the unfamiliarity. See, they are the generation that doesnt believe in sitting around. Even the things they do, are very useful. At home my dad will empty out the ornamental fish pond himself and get in and ensure that it is cleaned. My mum will embroider huge tapestries for us – shall show you when I do a house tour.

  23. MM I will go through the comments after a while…but what can one say? I would hum the following lines to myself every Monday when I would pack for the hostel:
    Mere Dil Mere Musafir
    Hua Phir Se Hukum Saadir
    Ke Watan Badar Hon Hum Tum
    Dein Gali Gali Sadayen
    Karein Rukh Nagar Nagar Ka
    Ke Suraagh Koi Payen
    Siyaar e Naama Bar Ka
    Har Aik Ajnabi Se Pochein
    Jo Pata Tha Apne Ghar Ka
    Sar e Kuu e Na-Aashnayan
    Hamein Din Se Raat Karna
    Kabhi Iss Se Baat Karna
    Kabhi Uss Se Baat Karna
    Kahon Kis Se Mein Ke Kya Hai
    Shab e Gham Buri Bala Hai
    Hamein Ye Bhi Tha Ghanemat
    Jo Koi Shumaar Hota
    Hamein Kya Bura Tha Marna
    Agar Aik Baar Hota

    and bear in mind this was only for a 40 km trip and I would be back weekends if not before that. It is tough, on parents, on children, you know my story…I will crave for a Kiron Kher (though I am proud that I have a Ratna Pathak) but aaj kal nahi hota, they are like hot house flowers…why kill their spirit. But I doubt whether it is a Purab Pachim thing. It will be the same if your brother was living in India, I think you look at their Gurgaon stay with rose colored glasses, yes it might be better than the States but in the end for our parents their own place, own gup shup, own bed is best. Its not that my mother is beating down my door since my whereabouts became more (B) Desh than bidesh.

    • No no, I don’t look at their Gurgaon stay with rose coloured lenses. I think its just that they stay here for short visits because its India and travel is cheap so they drop by for 2-3 days every quarter. It’s easier on them as well as good for the kids to keep seeing them and keeping the relationship going. And yes, nothing like home, but Delhi is still more like home than the US will ever be, so that makes some difference. The maids speak hindi, the driver is on call, the food is very similar to what they make at home..

  24. We talk about this all the time. I have the same questions. I think there are only two ways to this:

    You make the choice and live here. It has its perks, but it comes with a price. A big price in my opinion. You live away from family, you can’t ensure strong bonds between kids and grandparents, or even cousins for that matter, you subject your parents to a lot of inconvenience by expecting them to travel long hours and forcing them to live in an environment that most often pulls them out of their element. Or if they are unable to or refuse to travel, you live with the guilt of forcing them to grow old alone and deprive them of your presence. Most people are alright with this choice.

    Or else you move back after a while. When I moved to the US, I was clear about one thing – I have to move back at some point. Not only because my family needs me, but because I need them too. The ‘when’ is always the question looming in front of us, and it is a hard and critical choice to make, but it helps to give yourself a deadline, and work things out accordingly. Knowing that I will go home to be with them sometime is the only thing that lets me live peacefully in this country.

    • You know, my brother often says that everyone says they must move back… but they’re not able to do it because of the lack of a deadline. i think you make a great point.

  25. Ditto what everyone else said…depends on each family and the degree of independence. My cousin’s dad took to driving here and he used to be comfortable driving around wherever he wanted to go. In California – I see public transport is much better and people can go exploring without waiting for their kids to drive around. My parents were here before we had our son and we had a great time traveling and exploring places. Once kid came along, mom refused to step out of the house because she felt that we were exposing her precious grandchild to bugs.

    I think the status quo usually continues until one side absolutely cannot make the trip and hence the frequency of meeting eachother diminishes. We will then be forced to make the decision if we want to move back or, if the parents are ok being retired and at home, to bring them here.

    As of now, I feel like I meet my parents once/twice a year and otherwise each is busy with their own life.

  26. I can so understand and relate to your post. I had been to the
    US just for 10 days on a work assignment. I did not like the travel, I did not like the city and a lot more things. But London was totally a different ball game. I loved London the moment I saw it. May be it was so much like south Mumbai in terms of its structure. I did not miss India so much in London as I did in the US. I dont think I will ever shift to the US.

    Also, I have had many friends asking me to move over to the US and one of my main concerns was how will my family life work? For one, my parents are getting old and would need me when they fall sick. Ours is a very emotional family and just the sight of having their kids around them can heal my parents a lot better than any amount of medicines. And I am sure my parents wouldnt want to come live abroad with me. Even today my dad is not very comfortable living with me for more than 2 weeks (though we are in the same city). He just misses being in HIS home 🙂 The only reason he comes and lives with me even for a couple of weeks is his grandson!!! And my parents are not very socially active like yours, or working. They have both retired and are enjoying a calm and peaceful life at home. But still it is difficult for my father to get out of his comfort zone and come be with us (mom is staying with me to help me with my son), so I can understand how much difficult it would be for your parents.

    • You’re very right. As my father says, he wants to drink tea on his balcony and hear the koels sing. And he wants to take a crap in his own bathroom! Yes, my dad is known to say stuff like this in the same breath.

        • Since the conversation has already stooped this low 🙂 It’s not just dads 🙂 We have younger members of the family who will hold it in for days until they can get to their “own” loo! 🙂

        • Ok, that was something I did not put into your comment section earlier. Now let me admit, not being able to crap in his own loo is one of the reasons my dad does not like going out.

          I know few other guys who have the same reasoning… whats with guys and their loos?? Like I always keep wondering why do guys take hours in the loo….

  27. True for me. I would have loved to stay in US for the following reasons
    1. We love travel. And its a lot easier there because of good roads and spic and span places
    2. I love the way kids are raised in US. Taught the right values – honesty, integrity, cleanliness, discipline

    But here I am, sitting in India for the last 8 years. How will our parents manage if we move? They are getting older and require our emotional and physical support too. I also do not want to deprive them (and my kids) of each others company (and affection)

    • I’ll go with everything, but not your second point. Why would you say that? Values are what we teach our kids. No? And I agree India is nowhere where it should be yet, but it will get there if we all teach our kids the right things.

      • Yes, but what about external influences? It’s a lot more hard teaching those values in India where still the core value that people teach their kids is competitiveness

        • I suppose so. But I’m just not comfortable with the line you used. It almost felt as though we don’t have the right values to pass on. That said, we are the Indians who stayed on here instead of moving right? So we’re the Indians responsible for the state the country is in. All of us. Each person’s effort makes a difference. No doubt the amount of aggression, the fight for limited resources and the corruption exists, but heck, if we’ve stayed on here, lets do something about it. I agree it seems less there, but I am sure they have their share of problems.
          It’s hilarious I guess because you talk to the previous generation and they will tell you that the West has no values and their moral fibre is corrupted! That Western values have ‘corrupted our youth’. Yet we believe that the West has so much to offer us. So confusing….

          • I was talking about the general fibre of the country. Yes we are responsible for bringing about a change and we are making an effort. But I just love the way honesty, discipiline etc is in the basic fibre of the best. Most people are honest, integral, disciplined by default. People don’t cut lines. Most shops just expect you pick up your food and pay over the counter. Every place is so spic and span (and nobody is doing the cleaning all the time.) Kids imbibe a lot from their surroundings and peers. So, there, it is much harder here.

            I think the previous gen’s values are primarily related to sex before marriage.

            • ha ha!! ROFL.. you’re so right. premarital sex, chhote kapde. And yet, you think about this and all that is so pointless in the face of things like honesty, discipline and peace.

          • I am sorry, but I dont agree here.. I have worked in India and US.. I have had buddies at both places.. I have lived in both the countries.. I do not see any marked difference in honesty or integrity.. Well as I live longer here in the US I get to see that all of us are just the same.. Most indians here live in the suburbs and move with the suburban crowd.. the world is compartmentalized in the US.. We dont really mingle with anyone other than the professionals.. the kind of people we work with.. I am no mother.. heck am not even married, so I dont know what that perspective will be.. Didnt want to be argumentative here.. Ofcourse the child would learn here to stand in a queue.. But I was taught the same as a child in india, how many people would come in and cut the queues, my parents would never do that, I saw and I learnt.. The moral fibre in any person is an extension of the moral fibre of the family despite wherever he or she is..

            • okay. see, this is what i believe too. that personal values are very important. you can live anywhere in the world and if your parents teach you to rob, society will be able to do nothing about it. and vice versa. those of us who grew up learning to stand in a queue will do it and now I voice my opinion and take people to task for breaking rules.

        • I agree that personal values are more important. It’s just that in the west most of the people have my personal values as their personal values. And here they don’t. It’s going to be harder to convince your child to throw his sweet wrapper in the dustbin when the whole park is littered and other kids are throwing it right there. It’s just that. Teaching those values and even keeping them comes with a lot of heartburn and frustation. 🙂

          • I’m going to disagree Mors. I have lived in multiple countries and raising kids and will say this: what you teach them matters. Don’t think one can generalise.

            We have many non-desi lovely friends whose kids are most well-mannered – I show them as examples when my Indian friends talk about spoilt kids in the West, and similarly there are many kids I know here in des who are very well-brought up.

  28. Here are my two (belabored) cents. I’ve seen all kinds of parents come and go in the more than 20 (minus 5 Swiss) years that I’ve lived here. Those who come knowing that they are here for a limited time and try to make the most of it are the happiest. Of course, if you go to another country things are going to be different…very different. Some make the most of it…others keep wishing that social lives, life in general should be like the ones they’ve left behind in India. Just as those who visit India are miserable when they try to wish away the usual heat or dust or public pooping or nosy parkers or bad roads. Those things are not going to suddenly change. Those who go with the flow and make these inconveniences incidental have a blast. Others don’t.

    The US is not just about shopping malls and sad sad desi parents always out of touch. If the emptiness of suburban life gets too much for active parents there are things to do. Most places have a senior center or even the local extension colleges that offer short-term courses. These could water or oil colors or pottery or even how to set up a small business or whatever. I knew one desi mom who would come at a specific time of the year so she could take some kind of art or craft or language or whatever course at the local extension. The fees are either 0 or nominal. So…she would do that once a week. Gradually she even made friends–independent of her son and d-i-l–and met up with them for lunch or coffee, etc. Another dad, a retired judge would ask to be dropped off at the local court-house once a week and would be in heaven just sitting in on court cases seeing how a different system was run. He even made friends with the small town judges and lawyers.

    Heck, I live here and I drive but if I had to do the usual image of what an American life is supposed to be I’d shoot myself. But there are options, many options that do not involve incessant mall going or just weekend trips away. There are even more options for older folks who are adventurous and not wanting to do the usual thing.

    The point is that being unhappy in a place for 6 weeks makes the time go by slowly if you are an active person. And all the wishing in the world isn’t going to make America as comfortable for someone as India, for a visitor. But, if someone is comfortable with the Internet they can find many things to do that they might not find time to do in India. Local markets, book groups, discussion groups, author meetups, craft fairs, etc. etc.

    Yes…I just heard the second of the two cents so off I go to enjoy my Provencal day 😉

    • 🙂 I hear you.
      But I think the mistake my parents have made is that they’re not senior citizens left out to pasture. Right now they’re raring to go and have a full life – it just doesn’t appeal to them to go go to a senior centre or something. And you’re right – even the malls are not their scene. Yes, you can find ways to fill time but what would suit them best is probably a quick intense baby-filled two weeks and then back to work. But the long trip, the expense… makes it tough.
      Book groups etc make sense if you aren’t there to be with the grandchild. I think this might be feasible/ interesting to my parents when they get a little older and even the baby is older and in school or something. Yes, they made friends and had lunch with them etc but again, all the parents there just seem to be biding time until they go home. This might just be their experience but those they met mostly said they missed home and were only there because their kids needed help with the kids.
      I think the irony of this is that a lot of the young parents who go back to work thinking they have a right to their life post baby, don’t realise that their parents are done with child rearing and now have a right to their own lives. Yet, no desi grandparent can bear to have the baby go to daycare at 2 months and so they push themselves to go there and help out. In my parents’ case my SIL is a SAHM so there is no compulsion for my parents to stay long. They’ve only done it this time because its an expensive trip and the baby is young and they know they won’t get to see him often. In all this, they havent really complained,I just realise it myself.

  29. here after a while!!! u have your own place and it is holding up!! congratulations. 🙂

    as for the topic, i ain’t moving to India, so really … have nothing to say. 😀 fun to read though. my mum in law’s here now. i don’t think she’s bored at all. she’s one of the ‘active’ ladies too. here now, she’s painting. finished a tanjore painting. now trying out reverse glass painting. i take her out as much as I can. husband leaves early for work so he can come home early to be with his mum. yeh, u make adjustments but it works. for us, it does. she is not bored. not yet at least. i credit my entertaining skills mostly hahah i kid. she’s quite resourceful herself, and i appreciate that about her very much. but we won’t hold her back longer than 2-3 months. that’s long enough for her to be away from her husband and her life in India too. But she says that she enjoys this change for 2-3 months and enjoys her time with us. So yeh, all cool. 🙂

  30. Hey MM, senior centers in most towns and cities cater to the 50+ crowd which I presume your parents are. They’re not just for really old people who are happy to play cards, etc. Some of them organize day trips to interesting places. They even have workout and yoga classes.People can sign up according to their age/fitness level/interests. I guess the thing is that if they are there just to spend time with the grandchild that’s one thing but if they do want to do some other stuff in addition, then they can. I mean there are options *if* someone really wants to take advantage of them. In many communities, there are even free bus/taxi services for picking up people to take them to the centers…yes, even in places where there is limited or no public transportation. Some older people who visit, use the opportunity to do things (in addition to grandkids) that they might not otherwise do at home: take oil painting lessons or do jazzercize or yoga or whatever. Others just come to spend time with their children and grandkids and are content doing just that. I guess ultimately it comes down to the individual person and situation.

    • yes…. I understand what you mean. Talking to you guys helps me sort out my thoughts. And now I see it. The truth is it’s not just boredom. It’s the realisation that they have responsibilities at home. They have things to do and people to meet and they’re raring to go back and get to it. Perhaps if the lure of setting up a new venture were not so strong ma might have made her peace with other things…

      • That does make more sense – I know I get all antsy when on vacation, if I have pending work responsibilities. Your mom is, you said, very career focussed, so probably feels the same way.

  31. …oh, one more thing, when I talked about meeting up with others for lunch/coffee, etc…I didn’t mean other desi parents only though of course one can and should. However, then you do meet others who are as you said biding their time. What I meant was taking the opportunity to meet people other people as well, people one otherwise might not….my M-i-l would go to an international welcome center and made friends with either people from other countries but also Americans who liked meeting people from other places. Discovering commonalities among people who you think are so different is a rewarding experience in itself and makes one feel more connected with a place.

    On another note: Of course you realized what their experience was even if they did not complain…that’s because you’re an intuitive and loving daughter who thinks about her parents as people and not just according to their role 🙂

  32. You are one lucky girl along with all those whose parents either go and stay with their children overseas, temporarily or permanently, or atleast have that dilemma!!
    My parents wouldn’t even consider unless there is something in it for them (and that something has nothing to do with emotions or wanting to be with their grandkids or helping their kids through a difficult time). First delivery, my parents straighaway refused. Second delivery, I begged so much for atleast my mum to come cos I had no where to leave my three yr old son when I will be in hospital.
    Yeah, I am very bitter about it. Specially when I see my friends’ parents coming over to help untill the kids atleast reach school age. Really feel J 😦
    Its like they have washed their hands off me the day I got married or decided to move overseas (we moved soon after getting married so I dont really know their grudge). So, its me who always does the travelling. They dont care if they see their grandchildren everyday, every year, every other year or every 5yrs!
    I understand if they don’t really want to come here cos it disrupts their lives, their familiar environment etc…but there is just no dilemma there. They don’t care either way. Thats really sad 😦
    Recently I was chatting with my dad on internet and asked him if I die here or meet with a serious accident, how will he come if he hasn’t got atleast his passport renewed. He said he can say the same. But I keep my passport updated, haven’t taken citizenship yet cos if there’s an emergency involving my family there I wouldn’t have to waste time obtaining visas etc.
    That told me a lot about how he feels. When I get really sad or angry, I tell myself that they have no obligation whatsoever. They have done raising kids thing, now they have a right to live life the way they want. It still hurts though 😦
    I will settle in India one day…but now it won’t be because of my parents.

    • I’m sorry to hear this. It seems like there is so much more than just international travel at play here. The distance is in the hearts. or am I wrong?
      i was bitter when my parents refused to come and stay for the delivery but I realised the hypocrisy of it sometime later. I’m at peace now. It seems like we all don’t want our jobs and lives disrupted and want parents to come and help with the baby, without caring about how that upsets their lives.
      I realise that if I want them, I have to go to them. They’ve lived their lives taking care of us and its unfair that the responsibility never ends. Because soon I have kids and I want them to come here to take care of them! When does it end for them? When do they get a chance to do things that only suit them?
      Which is no judgment on your situation. It sounds sad and only you and they know why they behave the way they do. My parents are willing to travel but not to stay for so long because its really disruptive I can see. I don’t know about your parents but I feel I owe mine their freedom now. No emotional blackmail. I do at times resent the way other parents show up so often to help if their kids are sick or something but I realise mine have their own way of showing their love and I am grateful that they have a life of their own and don’t sit by the window waiting for me to call.
      Can you find your peace in that?
      Hugs…

    • I hear you, sista!

      My brother is also in the US, only a few miles from my house. When they had their 1st kid my mom stayed with tem for full five and a half months and all she did all day (and night!) was to take care to the baby and cook for everyone at home. Heck, she even made the baby sleep with her in the nigh so that she can take care of her in the night as well (my SIL didn’t care to breast feed the baby after just a few weeks ‘coz her friends weren’t doing it either and she idolized them!!) So anyway, my Mom was a slave (no exaggeration) to them for that entire period and I felt sooo bad and I decided I will never treat my parents/in-laws like that (I was still in grad school, not even close to getting married). The funny thing is she was more than happy to be taking care of the baby 24/7. And not only that, in the next few years she would keep coming (happily, may I add) to “help” by brother and his wife. In the last 9 years that I have been here, she has visited US 9 times (sometime more than once in the same year) and has only visited two places in US!

      Fast forward some years – it was time for me to have a baby. First my mom refused to come saying that my husband’s mother has the 1st right on the baby (the same line my SIL’s mother used to send my mother to “help” her out the because she herself was not interested in doing all the hard work that goes with a newborn. My mother, foolishly, bought her logic and till date praises my SIL’s mother for giving her the 1st right). My own MIL, on the other hand, was (a) not inetersed as I was having a girl child (gasp!) and (b) even when she came later she was not really useful because being from village and completely uneducated she cannot read/write/follow anything . So anyway, I did the tickets for my mom and told her that she doesn’t have to do anything, just be here for my moral support as it was my first time and I had absolurely no one to guide me about anything. So my mom came to US, but guess what she was “sick” all the time as would get OK as soon as she shifted to my brother’s house. So overall, she arrived 2 weeks before my delivery and spent about 2-3 days with me and moved to my brother’s house because she felt I was not going to go in to labor just yet. She was not with me or even in the hospital when I deliveved (and I was induced – which is a scheduled procedure – so it’s not like my delivery came by surpirise) Only husband was with me the whole time and he called them to inform when everything was done. Then my mother stayed with me for 11 days the entire time she kept murmuring “jail jaise life ho gayi hai, ab samajh mein aaya jai mein quaidiyon ko kaisa lagta hoga”. We begged her to stay until the 11th day as my husband’s family does some ceremony on the 11 day after birth. She left for my brother’s house from the temple as soon as the ceremony got over. She stayed there for another 2-3 months, visited me a few times during that duration. During this time I thanked God everyday, multiple times a day, for getting me married to my husband who was the only support system I had in my life. Once when the baby was 2 months old my husband had to go to Europe for a week on work he requested my mom to come stay with me for those 7 days (she was with my brother).

      My husband and I wanted to take her on a trip to some popular places but she refused saying that she’s too weak to travel. A few days later she told me that my brother has SIL have a business conference (Quixtar/Amway) in the same city we were planning to take her to so she has to go with them so that she can look after their 5 year old daughter in the hotel room while they attend the conference for 3 days – so basically she was supposed to travel all this far to stay in hotel room for 3 days and come back. That really hurt me – here I am not making her do anything all I wanted was her to be with me and she still didn’t stay with me and there my brother and SIL were using her for Nanny (and saving money coz I paid for her air tickets) and she was happy.

      At present my parent are here – guess where they stay 90% of time? And yes, my brother did take them for a trip. Can you guess where? The same two places they have been before (because it’s cheap to go there from here – just drive). My father wanted to travel the other cost and my brother has left it to me to fulfill his wishes, and I am taking them there next week. I will pick them up from my brother’s house on the way to the airport and drop them there on the way back because – yes, my brother and his wife have a business conference to attend that very weekend so my parents will babysit their kids!

      I hate the way they are using my parents and I hate the way my parent’s cannot see with their eyes.

      Sorry for the rant. I know it’s not totally related to the post but the above comment struck a chord with me.

      • I’m sorry to hear this. sometimes parents realise they are being used i think, but they crave love from the person who doesnt give it. i really hope this changes and that they learn to value you as well as themselves more….

        • I dont think they feel that they are being used. They believe that beta budhape ka sahara hota hai. They refuse to see that I, the daughter, has supported them as much, if not more, as their son with fewer opportunities and support.
          For them my brother is the wiser, smarter, more grounded and better person. For them he can never do anything wrong. Heck, he is the benchmark of everything good in my family. And, I am on teh other extreme — I am used as an example for everything bad…and I always wondered why. I think it would not have hurt me so much if I had atleast good in-laws. My in-laws are striaght out of Ekta Kapoor serials. I always find my self asking God why did he give me the worst of both worlds while there are so many not so innocent girls who are doted by both sets of parents (eg: my SIL) and get everything served on silver platter?

  33. Lived in the US for 7 years. Loved the opportunity to travel, easy life, independence etc etc. But one small problem: me and my husband never felt we belonged there. Going back after every vacation was a drama in itself. Finally moved back home 1.5 years back. Now we both feel at peace. Last weekend we went to a family reunion and while driving back couldn’t stop talking about how lucky we are that we are now able to spend time with our families and have all these experiences. Our nieces stayed with us for the summer, we meet our parents almost every weekend, see our relatives often…and often I tell myself, “this is how I want to live my life.” Our parents would have never moved to another country and we wanted to be with them as they were getting old. So it was very easy for us to make the R2I decision.

  34. Loved the discussion following the post. 🙂

    Like many others have said before me, it is totally dependent on the person and place. My FIL totally enjoyed his first few trips. Made new friends and loved the experience. Once the newness wore off, he decided his Sun TV and the joys of buying vegetables off the street cart trumped being miles away in an alien place. My dad hated it each time he was here. My mom in general likes it here but that is because her life in India or here is pretty much the same. Keeping house and endless discussions with her daughters. Now as an added bonus she gets to ensure her grand daughters are pleasantly plump. 🙂

    I have been mulling the R2I vs Stay in the US thing for a while now. The only thing that would pull me back to India is the sense of responsibility I feel towards my FIL. As for FIL, he flat out refuses to move here and I respect that. Mom is comfortable making US her new home. At this point, my kids tip the balance. I feel they belong here and I wouldn’t want to uproot them.

    It will be interesting to see how your parents feel a decade from now. 🙂

    • 🙂 I hope they decide to stay with me. But the sad part is that if they do, we’ll have to sell the family home. It’s been declared a heritage home by the government and if we sell it, it will be knocked down and replaced by ugly flats like the one I live in :-/

      • Digressing from the topic.. your family home is a heritage home?? Wow MM.. I know its a difficult decision.. As a traveller, as a person who is interested in history.. I fall in love with cities and places where buildings are preserved, where districts are declared as Historic areas and no modifications are allowed to the buildings.. I soak myself in the era that these buildings define.. But, sometimes, I used to wonder what a headache that is to the owners of the place.. some turn it into a hertiage hotel and stuff and make good profit out of it.. but well then there was this pub that we saw in New Orleans last week, which does not have electricity, because the preservation committee will not let them make holes in the walls (it was built in the 18th century).. Come to think of it, it is a big headache for the person who runs the pub, but well on the other hand, the same history attracts lot of people to have a drink in that place.. I hope you can preserve the house (well its easy for me to say that)..

          • True…but it makes me sad to see that happen..I wish there was a third way..like when a place has been assessed and declared as a heritage building then some third party takes on /shares the responsibilty of maintaining it

            • I wish… but our country isnt ready yet. in delhi there are so many old monuments just falling apart as kids play cricket around them

  35. We keep thinking of going back to India for good but my husband will have a difficult time finding a job as rewarding as here(he is a tenure track professor). But when I think of it, my FIL/MIL would not visit us that often when we are in India as well, because the routine of the new place will not match theirs. So it will be like your parents – 3-5 days every 4-6 months. And if thats what they will do when we are in India, then doesn’t 4-6 weeks every year seem like a similar deal? So can you not think of taking those 4-6 weeks in stride? I know language issues arise in US, but there are so many Indians here these days and most Indians tend to segregate so there is no dearth of familiar faces around. Yes, its not easy making friends and some people don’t like it. But unfortunately, thats how the way of life is. No one planned it this way, like you said, Thambi is still on the so called 6-month project assignment he came here for.

    I agree that Grand Parents have been dealt a slightly unfair hand. They lived in a joint family setup and now their kids expect them to come to a foreign land and help them out. They have had to be the most malleable generation to date to keep up with the times.

    How can we make life more interesting for them here? If they visit her in the summer, it is a nice time for outdoor fun. We get Indian TV channels for them to watch their serials and keep in touch, we have our friends come over and spend time with them. Isn’t family dinner time and evening time good to rid the boredom of the day? I think now that your mom-dad know what to expect in the US, their next trip will be easier on them.

    Tell me, if I were in India and lived in a city different from my parents and in-laws, what would they do when they come to visit? They would have probably stayed at home, spent time with kid, gone shopping with them and returned home. We wouldn’t have been able to taken too many days off to be at home with the parents because how do you justify that in India. We would be working longer hours and be dead tired after it all.

    I agree that you can spend festivals together there and more opportunities to be with extended family come often- but my in-laws were here last year from Dassehra and Diwali and we had a great time! My SIL and her husband visited us and we had a big family get together. I miss India, no doubt. But I am trying to make this a good setting as well. My mom visits my grand-ma most often when I am visiting Mumbai (3-4 times in 2 week trip or else its once every other month), because otherwise, its so hard to make time to travel around although they all live in Mumbai.So being in the same city isn’t going to increase time spent with family because of the mad-rush with other commitments. Of course you can make it work, but its not a done deal.

    When I speak to my mom about this, she tells me of her own experience of moving from Bhopal to Mumbai after getting married to my Dad. She was appalled at the stench, the lack of space, lack of neighbourly love and lack of dropping in and visiting friends without calling. But what I remember of my childhood, is lovely neighbours, lot of fun with lots of kids to play with and grand ma visiting and stay with us for more than a week at a time.

    Just that change from India to US is larger than a change from Bhopal to Mumbai thats all. The core issue is still the same. Just a bigger jump to get used to.

    • I think those of you who are there are naturally more inclined to enjoy it. You like it, so naturally you stay there. But others clearly don’t, which is why they are here.
      My parents have visited my brother many times- not just now but before he got married too. Mostly for about a week or ten days. I dont think its about knowing what to expect. They know what to expect and travelled abroad much before my brother got assigned there. It’s more a question of suffering it for too long. 4-6 weeks gets too long to live in anyone else’s house. and i say this as a daughter who refused to stay longer than 45 days after the birth of my baby. as everyone before you said, its a personality thing. i like my home, the way i run things and i love my parents to bits but i dont want to live with them anymore. i’ve flown the nest. similarly, they’re too young to come and sort of semi-retire so even though they love us to bits and would give us a lung or a kidney (!) they won’t be happy staying any longer. home is home.
      It’s one thing to make a change when you know you are moving for good. which is what you and my brother have done. you have to live there, you make the most of it and you like it. for those who are visiting, i think the timing is key. if it gets longer than a week or two i think they get suspended in inactivity. their life in india is on hold and they’re in a strange country at a senior age. they COULD make friends, but what we’re expecting them to do is go out make a new life when really all they want is to visit and leave.
      Again, tv channels etc work for those who are used to that in india. for people who are out working, travelling and getting things done, its constricting. its why i never expect any help from my parents even if i am sick or something. they’ve done their bit. i am an adult and have chosen to get married and have kids. this home, this family is now my job and short of something serious like getting laid off or getting bed ridden, i’d avoid asking them to come because i’d go mad having them tell me what to do and they’d go mad living with me 😉

      • I went to India for 2 months when I became a SAHM (I thought – yay – 2 months vacation – incredible opportunity). I split the time between my parent’s home and my IL’s home. I got really restless in 3 weeks. My ILs forgot that I studied in that town for 4 years! and they wouldn’t let me step out of the house without atleast one of them accompanying me as a bodyguard 🙂 It got a little claustrophobic in the end cos I couldn’t go for walking/shopping without feeling guilty about dragging them along 🙂 That said – I think I could still do a 6-8 week trip every 2 years if I could.

        • You could? I suppose its because you go after two years and miss home and everything. i go home once in six months, i see my parents every other month or so. they brought me up to be independent and respect their independence and privacy so now its too late for them to complain 😉

      • Hi,
        Been living in the US, and had a baby very recently (with both sets of parents visiting us one after the other), so I think I could really add my two cents. As someone said, it really depends on the parents’ personalities. My mom, (always active, travelling and a super busy bank manager) eagerly enjoyed the break – she browsed recipes on the Net, tried them at home, I taught her facebook etc to keep in touch with the younger crowd, watched old hindi movies on the laptop, read books from the library (phew! I didnt realise she’d done all these things then 😀 ) all during the frustrating wait for Jr. to make his appearance. And after he came? Cooking all the time (apparently ayurvedic recipes to help me recuperate), giving me an oil massage-cum-bath every day (dont ask me why), taking care of the baby and sleeping with the baby at night – all against our most vociferous objections (I even shouted at her to go get some sleep). My husband used to plead with her to stop cooking, that he would buy something. With all this, I really cannot imagine that we exploited her (!), she was most happy and eager to do it, crying (I have never seen her do that) when she had to leave her grandson…. but at the same time, happy to get back home to my dad, my sister and her busy career.

        Long one, but the point I wanted to make is that, MM, in the case of your parents, if they are not happy with the long break, then they should just go with the short 2 week baby-filled ones. After all, how can we decide what anything is “worth”? (in this case, an expensive ticket halfway across the world). Better for them to enjoy those 2 weeks completely with their grandson, and return rejuvenated with happy memories than spend an unhappy, frustrated extended vacation, no? If you can sense their discomfort, then surely your brother and SIL can too.

        • I don’t think anyone can sense what a daughter can 🙂 and I say this at the risk of alienating a dozen male readers.
          And yes, ‘worth’ is difficult to define. I dont think they’ll do it again. It’s not in their nature so no point going against it.
          How did your mom get so much leave? Awesome for her.

  36. I agree, it boils down to personality and what you are willing to experiment with. Another point you brought up is, home is home. Indeed home is home and this is my home. I would love for my/ hubby’s parents to come and stay with me. And when they don’t like it here, it hurts me, because I feel that I have let them down by being here. It is not what they intend to make me feel, but if your parents are not happy in your home, how would you feel?

    If your parents did not like Gurgaon, what would you do? Try substituting US for Delhi and India for Chennai in your case. What would you do to keep your parents happy in your home when they visit?

    • 🙂 my dad HATED my Delhi house. He said he didn’t get a good feeling. Never mind that we flourished there for 5 years, i had my kids, we got job offers, we made money, we had friends and parties and happy memories. everytime he came to visit me, he’d fall ill on the second day and leave by the third. i think he willed himself into being sick because he hated that it was in a busy south delhi locality. never mind that it was posh, it was close to all the best markets, was a big house with a lawn, was convenient – nothing. he just decided he hated it and wouldnt stay.
      i didnt do anything to make him like or stay longer. how could i? i had to live my life and in this case, he didn’t need to stay with me so I guess its not valid. i had the bean, managed by myself and took care of my life and the brat. even when my knee packed up and i was house bound and curfewed, i stuck it out and didnt get them to help. see, people have their lives, i have mine. i cant expect them to come and live in a place they dont like. and let me tell you, they have so many friends in delhi that everytime they visited me we’d have a dinner for all of them, they’d take the car and go visiting etc. but my dad still hated it. everyone else loved the house.
      that said, my dad loves this gurgaon house and i HATE it with a vengeance 😀 i just dont have the guts to move out because the OA will kill me. we’ve just about settled in and he will die if we have to go through the headache of moving again. so i’m suffering in not-so-much-silence.

      • 🙂 Trust MM and her Dad be at loggerheads! 🙂

        I guess to each his own. We hope to have the ideal scenario of everyone sitting around the dinner table and having fun, which I know we all do when parents visit!

        Now now, can we convince the OA and you to move one last time? to the US 😉 we will all be happy to have you here 🙂

        • Arre I am happy to come for holidays, but as I said, we live such a satisfying life that I cant bear to move. Househelp, enough money for holidays, jobs we enjoy, family. Yes, the law and order sucks, the roads are a mess, the red tape makes me want to cry. But hey, you win some you lose some. I think what I like is that we can earn here and still party there. This year is tough coz my passport expired last year and I cant renew it till we’ve been at this address for a year. But come next year, I’ll be getting the best of both worlds 😉

          As for my dad and me, my God we are so alike that we scream, we bang doors, we refuse to eat at the same dining table and my mother and the OA go mad trying to make us reconcile. i think between us we’ve shaved 10 years off my mother’s life. I tell him he’s a stubborn old mule, he tells me i’ve got the worst of him as well as ma which makes me a menace to society etc etc. we make up new insults. i tell him i don’t want to go to madras with him, he tells me he hates my house. deep joy.

          but when we’re friends and on the same team, we make others cry.

      • Off topic but i think i can understand what your dad feels about the house. I haven’t see much of the new house but whatever you have posted so far gives a nicer feeling compared to the Delhi house. No..No..not that the Delhi house was bad but it’s just the feeling inside. can’t describe it with words 🙂

        • You think so? I can’t stand it. Am waiting to move out of here to some other place. Can’t begin to tell you how un-homely (i think i made up anther word) it feels

  37. We moved back to India after our first child was born, because we wanted him to be able to spend more time with family. Even though my parents and in-laws are in a different part of India, it’s still possible to go see them more often than if we had to take international flights. All said and done, India is home and I want my children to feel that way too.

  38. In our case: both sets of parents will try and do anything they can to help their kids in the US. They want to be close to their children but not come for more than 4 weeks at a time unless there’s a clear need (example: childbirth, health issues, etc.) So we are extremely lucky in that sense that our parents don’t outwardly complain about having to come visit or help. However, there is always the boredom, the lack of freedom to be able to get around, the lack of company (kids being gone entire days, very little time after returning etc.). But at the end of the day – both Mom and MIL would much rather be “in their own home” than anywhere else in the world. Not in “daughter’s home/kitchen/life” or “son’s home/kitchen/life”.
    As much as I miss India, Bombay, Family, friends and as much as I know that no length of stay ever seems adequate when we visit, when I return back, I feel a sense of home, my home, my space, my freedom.
    I think I would have felt the same in India, even if I could visit my parents at a whim, I think I’d still prefer to “stay” at my own house. May be there’s something very primal/territorial about it…but this is how my mom and mil have both felt. Infact there’s a saying in Sindhi “painjo ghar, guruajo darr” – apna ghar bhagwan ka darr (as in darwaza) literally. It’s not to say that they don’t enjoy visiting/traveling/being with their children/grandkids, but they like to have their own space.

    • precisely. parents love us, want to be with us, and will come if there is a crisis. but anything longer than some weeks and they are itching to get back to their own lives.

  39. MM, your parents would love NYC. Because you could replace that with any higgeldy piggeldy (to use a term you would) city – Bombay, Delhi etc. It’s chock full of no name shops, people of every color and language, fruit and veggie vendors on the street, ample public transportation. And of course the real estate prices to match. It’s probably why those of us who live here feel like aliens when we go even to another part of the US. When I visit my in-laws in the suburb I love it – it’s peaceful, like vacation. But it never feels like real life.

    All that said, home is home. It’s integral to who you are and it’s in your bones. (This coming from someone whose conflicted background and life you know). I am an only child and their old age care looms large over my head. Maybe it’s easier said than done but I cannot and won’t expect my parents to move here. It is not fair to them. They did not spend a lifetime building a life they thought was best, to go live any other way in a foreign country. So it’s very clear to me. When the time comes, the compromises and moves will be made by me. In action I have no idea how to go about it or even start, but try I will.

    • They did love NY 🙂 Dad still tells me its the place for the OA and me! except that he grew up in the plantations and lives in a huge heritage home. give him ten days in an 800 sq ft flat and he’ll be climbing up the walls saying

      he can’t take a crap in peace because we’re talking too near him 😀
      funny, but the moment i read your second paragraph i knew what was coming. that is just the person you are. i feel the same way. if they arent happy and i cant give them the life they want, i’ll go to their life. its just unfair that they spend their entire life to my convenience. that would be a very raw deal indeed, as Amy Chua says!

      PS: also, you owe your mom big time for that fantastic bone structure you’ve inherited. a pound of flesh wouldnt cut it.

      • If NY is SO you…you must visit at least, pliss. You have no idea – I’ll make it such a visit you’ll forget you ever lived anywhere else.

        I look very little like my mother. Maybe as I grow older, a little more. But for your sake and your increasingly poor eyesight I will thank her.

  40. MM,

    Like you rightly mentioned so many times, your parents are still working and not into the retirement mode. That makes a huge difference. My dad is 68 and still works full time. He likes to come and stay with me in the US but then after a while he gets restless and therefore makes short trips. I understand that because he is used to a 10/12 hour work schedule and there is nothing here that can keep him so occupied. I guess things can be a little different if parents are already leading a retired life in India.

    But all in all it is difficult for parents out here. They miss their friends, their social life and most importantly in the US, most of them cannot drive. So very little for them to do. And there is only so much you can walk in a day :-).

    I think the fact that they need to depend on us to drive them around is something that bothers them most. At least it does to my parents. If not anything in India they can get a driver or take a metro now :-).

    And also my Ma says “Nijer baccha nije manush koro. Aami nijer ta nije korechi”. You speak bangla, right ?

    • Theek boleche ma. Nijer bachcha ke nijei koro. And yes, the sudden dependence on a child makes a huge difference to fiercely independent parents. There are parents who are willing to gracefully hand over the reins and take a backseat and live with their kids. my parents have already said they want to drive off a cliff together when they grow old because they dont want to be dependent on us and fit into our homes and lives move to our cities. I see where they’re coming from.

  41. My mom comes here for long trips. She’s retired now, but has an active and independent life (lives by herself in Bombay, drives her car there, meets friends for lunch, goes for overnight and overseas holidays etc etc). In NYC, where we live, she does grocery shopping, goes to the library, cooks, calls friends, watches TV, checks the computer, reads the Wall Street Journal. In the suburbs where my sibling lives, its much harder for her as she doesn’t like gardening or other pursuits that would make suburban life bearable. She’s talked about doing some local volunteer work with the community college or something but I think she hesitates because she sometimes doesn’t quite understand the accents (which can be brutal) and the system. So I can understand your dilemma.

    We take her out on weekends, book trips for her to visit her brothers, spend time with her in the evenings and so on. She loves to cook and we love to eat so that’s nice. We also “use” her – to get buttons stitched and things done and pickles made and all that mom stuff that you generally exploit mothers for.

    My in-laws who are much more dependent and much less used to traveling in the US came for one trip to see their grandchild and I think are not keen to go back – they were slightly traumatized I think (didn’t help that they came from Delhi where it is much more about meeting friends in their social circle!). My mom is quite bored when she comes but given that all three of her children and three grandchildren are in the US, doesn’t have a choice if she wants to see them for more than 2 weeks at a time.

    My reaction? I used to drive myself nuts worrying about this. But then I realized that, just as we used to be told that boredom was good for us as children, its true for adults -boredom is good for them. If I went to India for three months on holiday I would find something to do and I expect her to do the same (of course I keep giving her suggestions but its upto her to take it. Ditto the in-laws). Plus of course they are getting to see their grandkids almost at the same frequency as their parents saw their grandkids (us).

    The keeping in touch is easier: Skype, loooong phone calls (yes, some bills but its all worth it), etc etc.

    We won’t relocate to India only for parents. It sounds selfish but really in the end being self-sacrificing will always lead to unhappiness. We’ll find some midway solution which will take time and money or both but in the end we feel that’s the best way. In a few years we get US citizenship and that makes things much easier in terms of moving around.

    Of course if they were ill or profoundly depressed or anything like that, we would drop everything and go home. And figure out what to do then.

    So. There’s never a perfect solution. The perfect solution is to have your children live right next door to where you are and somehow meet only on weekends or something and never interfere in each other’s lives, and have your kids fulfil all their dreams and everything. Then again, the last I heard world peace wasn’t being bought in eight pence, either. So we live.

    n!

    • ha ha! I like your last rather idealistic solution.

      I think my parents would be easier to handle in a NY. They’re not the sweet old couples who like the slow pace. They love NY and can party with the best and watch films and take metroes and go to the theatre. So where you live makes a lot of diff. Also, since they’re still working, and they’re business people, they will never retire. Which again, makes them not just bored but worried when they are away. they organise business remotely and feel rather neglectful if they stay away for more than a week…

      Also, if both of us were in the US I think my parents would spend more time there and make their peace with it. Right now even my brother says he wants to move back to india (hopefully bangalore!!) in some years so they’re really not looking at a long term plan. They know both kids will be in India and so there is no real finding ways to work with the community etc. I guess if they stayed 2 weeks it would be okay. if they stayed 6 months they’d find something to do. the 4-6 weeks suspension of life is tough.

  42. Very thought-provoking and interesting!

    Well, in my case, you know how it works. All four parents (mine and the husband’s) usually come together – they are good friends and prefer it that way. So our long-term plan is to have all of them over to stay with us. Let’s see how it works. At the moment they are happy to go around to their children’s house when they feel like it and go back to their own place when they wish to. As they grow older things might change.

    The good thing is that both sets have close familay (as in siblings) in our city so their social life is fairly active here. Plus since a driver is an affordable option in India they can go around wherever they wish to.

    In London when both sets visited, they loved it. It was not a trip to help us out, it was to see the place. Thanks to the excellent public transport system which is very user-friendly, plus given that I worked from home I could drive them around, they had a ball. It is a great place for all sorts of folks – young and old. They also happen to have old college pals who they loved meeting up with. They enjoyed the parks (we lived close to Regent’s Park) and the museums and the 100 other things.

    My ILs visted the US recently (to their other child’s place) for about half a year and yes given that they could not go around themselves they felt very boxed in. Plus they are used to having domestic help at home in India – there they had to do stuff like hoovering and the dishes, which they did without complaining – hey you gotta adapt types – but it is not fair to expect them to change so dramatically at this age. They said they would not go again unless they had to – especially because they hated the long flight up and down.

    So in a nutshell, yes, parents will do stuff for their children, but it is not fair to expect them to do it after a point.

    • Wanted to add – in London you get relatively affordable help easily while in the part from ILs visted in the US, it is out of question. And since they had gone to help with the baby, they felt they had to pitch in with everything even if it was tough for them – being both old and not used to it.

    • And we agreed again. I tell you, life is getting most predictable these days, chox 😉 seriously though, as you said, they meet up with friends and they do stuff but everyone has a life, distances are insane and after a point its really not fair to expect people who are used to 6 maids to vacuum and wipe kitchen counters etc. Yes, they will do it because they love you and want to help you, but its not really what they are used to.

  43. Usually I don’t comment though I am an avid reader, but this is an issue very very close to my heart! I live in the US and would come back in a heartbeat if I could. I am an only child/daughter and my parents are all alone and aging. They really need me. Of course, my Mom keeps nagging me all the time to come back as well.
    However, my husband does not want to go back (no kids yet). He feels that he will not get the kind of job he wants to do there, which is kind of justified since he works in pure computer science research.
    So I am absolutely torn- the two people I love most in the world want me in different parts of the world. Can’t leave neither, can’t live without either.

    My parents came here and hated it- all the usual issues that have been covered/ you mentioned. Loneliness, strucutured life, no social life, no familiarity, and of course, they are set in their lives and ways at home. They were here for 2 months and couldn’t wait to get back! They would do anything to have me and my husband back. Not to mention that they are quite old and getting older by the minute, something that worries me all the time.

    I really don’t know what to do. I keep thinking about this situation nonstop. Par pati ko chhod ke nahi jaa sakti (you know how people in India talk). Torn!!!

    • 🙂 pati ko chhodne ki naubat aani nahi chahiye. have you considered other options? friends in Singapore, HK etc tell me its easier for Indians. I feel for you. It’s not easy to be in this position.

  44. Not to mention lack of any household help. I think one day I’ll get so sick of cleaning bathrooms, that that will be the tipping point 😉

    • ROFL! Yeah… I’m at work and I go home to a shiny clean house. That said, the damn houses here are swept and swabbed sometimes twice a day because of the dust in Gurgaon.

  45. I was just thinking ,As parents (most of us) we change our life to suit our kids at all period of time. Our comfort zones are chipped to accomodate them. On the other side Kids growing up take everything on their stride thinking thats life. At one point When kids are adults should parents change their life style and continue parenting or let the kid/ adult handle the situation and the parent / adult catch on the life style which they have cultivated. I have no clue.. but my personal belief is parents have done their best for us its not fair taxing them more and we should allow them age gracefully where they wish. Then whether parents choose that freedom or the constrained life with kids is their choice……… Life was /is never easy.. As a woman your heart is pulled two sides your parent and your child.

    And i think MM if your parents were staying there for longer periods they sure would have made it a little haven for all desi with their Spirit.

    • I agree with you. parents have done enough. Today as a parent myself, I see what it takes and I don’t believe its a ‘duty’ to our parents, but i think its ethical (IMHO) and the fair thing to do. They did as much as they could and now its only fair for us to do what we can. that is what family is all about and i’d feel terribly selfish if i just kept making more demands on their time. today i’ve moved out of my city and changed jobs so that the brat could get a school. my parents quit their plantation lifestyle to be with me. It’s time I gave them their space and their comfort and i dont care what it takes, but i’ll do my best to keep them in the maximum comfort. honestly, i cant bear to think of them unhappy.

      that last line is so sweet. 🙂 Yes you’re right, if they stayed longer they would. i think the odd period of time left them with not too many options.

  46. It’s about attitude, adjustment and perspective. As my mum said, “I am here for my grandchild and to help out at this new stage of your lives. It’s just a couple months from the rest of my busy life”. Sure, given her personality, she was bored at times, sometimes frustrated at the lack of public transport and dependency on us for so many things that she does without a second thought back home. But, as she said, she will get back to her life, what matters for now is that she is with people she loves, enjoying her grandchild. For our part, we did everything possible to make things as easy as possible, let her choose the duration of the stay and share the load knowing that it’s not her age to get fully immersed in the responsibilities of baby care (funny how much these tiny beings demand of you)!
    I look at my own child and already anticipate these stages of life. Hope and pray to God to keep me and the OH in good health and cheer so that we have that ability and position to help out when it’s needed. That’s what most grandparents over millennia have done. We just need to tweak it so it fits current lifestyle needs.
    For all who feel guilty about being away…don’t be. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, familiarity breeding contempt and all that! Just make sure the keep the connection going.
    For me, atleast, it’s not the occasional visits for pregnancy and baby-care that occupy mindspace but old age. As long they are youngish, active, fit and busy all it requires is a mutual respect of each others lives and it’s demands. But old age and attendant health concerns have me thinking about what is the best or correct approach.

    • True. But it is about attitude, adjustment and perspective on both sides. Sometimes I think we forget to see it from their perspective. After all they are also individuals with their own lives and personalities.

      🙂 I love how we Indians count on adjustment! You reserve a train seat and some unreserved guy will come and tell you, ‘Thoda adjust kariye’. And all I can think is, Dude, if I wanted to adjust and sit on half a butt even I’d be lazy like you and not buy a ticket! Err.. getting back to the point though…

      I feel really happy for people whose parents are comfortable taking the time out to come and stay with them. It suits them both, that is great. But that wasn’t the point. My worries are more about the parents who have jobs etc at home and are very independent in thought and action. They love their kids equally but the stay isn’t an easy one for them. It’s like working moms who love their kids but can’t stay home and must go to work, and equally SAHMs who love their kids and have the temperament to be able to handle the break from work. It’s not really a question of adjustment alone – but also one of your lifestyle and personality.

      Mothers helping their daughters with a newborn is a very traditional way of life. For centuries girls have gone home to give birth and be pampered and helped with the baby. What has changed is that we are no longer traditional daughters but we still want the parents to hold up their end of the bargain and help with the baby. If they find it tough to give up their lives and come there to deliver, we think its selfish on their part and inconsiderate – but we don’t realise that its our baby and if we want help, we need to go to them, not expect them to come. Either we go whole hog and go back to our parents’ homes or then we go the way of the west and drive home from hospital with a baby seat and manage the best way we can. But if we want to hold on our jobs and get the advantages of a child born in a certain country, then its not fair to expect all parents to drop everything to suit us. And if they don’t like it, then label them as not adjusting, or not having the correct attitude.

      I’ve begun to understand that a grandparent’s job is to enjoy the grandchild and pamper them. Period. Their childraising days are over – physically and emotionally. They’ve done their bit. i was a little annoyed the first time my mother said this but I totally understood it after a while. Now i find it hard to pressurise and say, oh but i have to go to work/do xyz so you have to come here else your grandchild will suffer. it is emotional blackmail and no parent who loves you can say no to helping you. Sure, in a crisis, if i have to rush for a week on work related travel or break my leg, i wont need to say it, my mother will come. but if its something planned, i drop my kids to my mother’s house so that it is convenient for me as well as her. She loves them, is happy to take care of them and eager to help me, but its not fair to put the onus of leaving her home and coming here on her. and this i’d say even if my mother werent the businesswoman she is. after all even home makers have their lives, responsibilities and schedules that need to be respected.

      and you’re right – one does worry about old age and health problems. right now we’re lucky that they dont need us, but its not something we can avoid dealing with some years from now. oh well, then i’ll come back to talk to you readers about it!

      • Nah, the train guy sounds rude, don’t know why he popped up, but when I mentioned adjustment, it’s not my expectation that my folks adjust, but their mindset about how they want to adjust their priorities at that point of life.

        Can only speak for mine, my parents are just like yours, only older! I had this discussion about my concerns regarding their stay and what I wrote was what my mum’s opinion.They were taking time out for me and their grandchild. And later go back to their hectic, active lifestyle. That was what I meant by adjustment, attitude and perspective…on her part.

        I am sure most of us would love to go home and be cared for! But, since we are talking about considerable distances, traveling during pregnancy and bringing a newborn back on long-haul flights is pretty darn tough, so folks keep the tradition alive by doing the traveling themselves…practicality! I do know of some women who did opt to travel and birth, back home.

        I don’t envy grandparents who need to take an active, virtually full time role in raising their grandkids… nuff said!

        • :p The train guy pops up in my head everytime I hear the word adjust. Or the bus guy. Travel by public transport long enough in India and he becomes a fixture in your head. It seems to be a word only we use!

          I actually know a number of people who travelled back in the 8th month as well as took back newborns. I myself took two long train journeys first to my inlaws place and then my parents’ place for the csec. Of course if there are health complications in the pregnancy then its different. That is when they’ll jump in without you having to say a word.

          And yes I agree. It is about priorities which is why they come at all. Do they enjoy it – not all of them. But they come out of a sense of responsibility. I wonder if its only desi parents who do this. Is there a higher percentage of desi parents than other parents worldwide, disrupting their lives? Any idea? And at which point do they leave us to sink or swim? I know mine haven’t :-/

          • On sheer anecdotal evidence, most asian parents are the same way. Most of my Chinese and Vietnamese colleagues and neighbors have parents either living with them or staying for long periods, much like desi parents. Women also have a similar time of being pampered after birth, but their networks are large enough that most of them hire a night nurse cum massage therapist person to come help for the first 40 days.

      • Compltely agree MM.

        Grandparents’ job is to enjoy their grandkids company – NOT look after them. That I think is completely unfair – but hey thats my opinion.

    • Very interesting read. And a topic close to my heart. I have read only some comments and I’ll be sure to come back and read every single one of them. But I agree with everything on the comment above. I HAVE to comment :)! My parents are very active, have a very active social life back in India, my mom retired but dad being his own employer still works to keep himself busy. When I tellask my parents (or in-laws) if they feel that they need to adjust when they come here, the reply comes right away that it is out of love they do, not out of pressure. They come not ‘cos we call them, they come ‘cos they WANT to come. I remember my mom telling me..that if you were single, you’ll have no emotional or physical stress, but you still decide to get married, have babies ‘cos the kind of satisfaction that brings to your life is priceless. My parents (and thank god my in-laws too) feel the same way about their 3-4 month trips every 2 years to US. They get break from scorching heat, they do not mind little break in their business (and sometimes it means monetary loss for them but at this stage in their life it is not THAT important) and their social life, spending 3-4 months quality time not only with grand kids but also with SonDIL and SILDaughter. We visit them every other year, but they bond with my husband on totally different level when they are here. Like my father and my husband doing dishes together while mom and I taking care of yard LOL! Totally not happening on our visits to India 

      I realize that they could be taking the same break and travelling independtly to Europe or some nice holiday destinations in US or just chilling out on beach, instead of changing diapers or cooking for their kids, but that way we are still very Indian family (if you know what I mean). AS you said it is each individual’s perspective. We do our bit by never going for party alone when they are here (out of love and consideration, not out of pressure). We plan number of small family friendly trips. During their stay here we eatcook what they like and really it is not that bad. It is actually fun for them and for us. It actually recharges the entire family. My kids, look forward to spending summer with grandparents. It might not be for everybody, but their visits have been really a win win situation for us so far.

      I know a long comment..but my point is “adjusting” done out of pressure is bad, but out of love has been part of life.

  47. Uh-oh.. I’m getting here really late. Hope ur not already bored of reading the comments. I’ll go ahead and say what I have to say anywez

    Hmm.. so the way I grew up is dead opposite to yours in the matters of number of people we had at home. Ours was a hardcore urban family..with everyone out of the house by 8:30 am and returning at 5 pm or 8 pm based on whether we went to school, college or work. My ma even worked on Saturdays and Sunday was time for cleaning the house and some family…as in 4-of-us time. Guests every now n then were okay, but definitely not on a day-to-day basis. N that’s how we lived and loved our lives.

    My parents have never visited the US , My inlaws visted, 2 years back. Before arriving here, they wanted to know if they can stay for longer than 6 months but once here, they decided to leave in 4 months. So, obviously they were bored. They enjoyed their stay for the 1st 2-3 months I think…’coz we went out every weekend and they took walks and what not. But after that they got bored I guess, ‘coz , I’ll be honest,there was only that much we could alter our lives for them. We had yet office work to take care of during the weekdays.

    My parents both work and are excited about visiting us sometime..They and specially my pa wants to see me manage my home, eat the food I cook, see me a drive a car etc…u know how dads gloat over simple nothings that their daughters do?!.. I am sure my dad will be restless after 3 months, Hez already made it clear to me that he won’t visit for longer that that…n I’m perfectly fine with that ‘.

    I donno how it’ll work for ma…will have to see after she gets here..Shez so different from the typical ‘grandmom’. I often ask her to slow down, but V disagrees, ‘coz he loves how she has so much energy as a 51 year old.

    I would never ask my parents to move base. I know they will not be happy doing it. My nanaji and nani have been invited to Blr a zillion times…atleast to skip the Chennai heat during summer. But they can’t do it…they just don’t feel fine anywhere but in their own home for longer than 10-15 days..and I get that.

    I also feel that a li’l bit of distance sometimes makes bonds stronger. Though we are not planning on moving back to India anytime soon, I tell V that if we do, I don’t want to move to Blr, though I love the city. I want some distance from my parents and for my children to visit their g’parents homes during vacations, the way we did as children.

    For now, I love how ‘Free’ we feel here in the US. Have never seen anyone in India experience this kinda freedom.

      • Omg! I re-read what I wrote and I realize how offensive that can sound to people back in India. Sincere apologies, I didn’t intend it that way.

        I just returned from an awesome trip to the smoky mountains, which involved a 17-hour drive one-way(I’m writing an email to you about it..so more details there) and I’ve got the wind in my hair and the sand at my feet..and I guess its thanks to the emotion from that vacation that ,that line ended up being phrased that way. Just telling, not making excuses. Sorry again.

        Hmmm…I know there are all kinds of people everywhere and I’m just talking about my experience. I grew up in Bangalore with a lifestyle of being busy with our own lives. My mom is not into socializing at all. She takes forever to make friends and is the kind who likes to spend time by herself. N what gossip can be one associate with a family , like that rite? n yet…I have seen people comment about us. When we were around mabbe 15-16 yr olds…a neighbor told my mom that she saw us let boys inside the house and shut the door. Fast-forward to adult life I’ve seen people make comments about how my parents are super rich ‘coz 4 of us were earning in the family a t a certain point ( li’l did they know that my parents didn’t take a rupee of what my sis and I earned), about how my mom’s dream house was a waste of money ‘coz what’s the point in a “old” couple living in such a big house(this when my parents were in their early 40s), about my sister’s working hours, about the time we girls were allowed to return home at night, about how I should not be living in my parent’s home after being married , how living with my husband is more important than having a job, about when my sister should have a second baby… u get the drift?

        Out here too…there are some ppl like that. But not as much, the Americans may have the same thought as desis but they don’t voice it . Honestly, it’s the desis who have opinions about how its high-time we get serious about life, or about how me exercising so much and walking 6 miles a day can’t be good for me ’coz I’ve not yet had a baby. Frankly, I would never want to live in places like Edison that’s filled with Indians. Where we live…we have a good mix and for now that’s how I like life. I know I shouldn’t let what others say influence my life, but yet there is only so much you can tune out. After a point, it gets a bit much. So, not having to hear opinions about your decisions for your life feels like ‘freedom’ !

  48. I think the public transport thing could be a huge contributor to the issue. Uncle and Aunty could easily navigate through Amsterdam and they had a great time – looked like two pub-crawlers, exploring the nooks on their own. Amsterdam has excellent public transport and is a very small city.

    Friends – woh to nahi hoga, neither the ghar ka maahol, this would be a temp. thing unfortunately.

    When Masi comes I take a few days off and take her to museums, cafes, sit in the park – picnic laid out – just the two of us. She comes for short periods because she knows we’ll run out of things to do and stuff to say. She does manage to go out on her own – the bus leaves from in front of the house, the tram is down the street.

    With Bigger Bambi’s parents they love to take short walks. They read books, listen to music, surf the Net, cook and we drive off to nearby places for the day just to take a break. They are besotted with Bambi but they only started visiting after he turned one can could play with them – either with the ball or give him piggy backs. They try to make him learn his music – which is sweet to watch.

    As the baby grows the interaction levels will increase so it might help with park activities, or say taking the toddler for craft class, or doing things together.

    Better solution for transport – taxi for long-term hire. Someone who can come once a day for a few hours to drive them around to places. GPS tracker for directions.

    They are not solutions I offer but just a few measures. It is very tough. I suggest short trips – 2-3 weeks max., let the little one grow up a little bit and for you – stop worrying – this is not something you can control over a point. Life is like this. And life is good… 🙂 I love you.

    • And I love you right back. although I have a feeling you and my parents love each other more than you love me. but I can deal with that. it’s all good.
      and yes, they enjoyed their trip to you. And went everywhere and did everything and some of them I have a feeling were illegal! that said, you’re right. another year or so and they will be used to it. This is the first time they did it since they didnt have to do it with me. maybe baby steps? 2-3 weeks? and maybe then Tambi will move back anyway and we’ll be spared this!

  49. My parents enjoy their stay in the US but mostly because their lifestyle is almost similar to the one they are used to in India. Both are retired now. They take care of my grandmother when in India and their grandkids when in US. My dad reads newspaper in India. He reads news online in US. They watch only one serial on TV and they follow that here also. Both my sister and I are here. So they spend 10% of their time with my sister and 90% with me. The reason being the grandkids. My dad goes for a morning walk in India. Here they take both my kids to the park everyday. Instead of talking to friends directly, they chat on the phone. I think or at least hope they are happy staying with us. They keep saying that they will come as long as they can but not force them to come and stay here permanently. I guess then it will be our turn to move back to help them out. So basically their life is not that different here when compared to India and the added bonus is spending time with kids and grandkids.

  50. The USA or any western country is for sure so debilitating in terms of what desi parents who are really their own element back home, can do. I live in Abu Dhabi and heck even then my parents have come visited me only once for 2 or 3 days and I was MORE than happy when they left. Because my parents are very active people with their own life back home, their own system, their own everything. Why coop them up in apartments, while we go live our lives, and they sit waiting for us???My parents have lived abroad Middle East, Nepal, so they are confident about venturing about, but still with age comes certain inhibitions really.
    I have no children, but my mom is always quick to assure me that if I ever did she would come here and do whatever it took to take care of the kid. That is just wrong to be honest..mostly and this is what I tell her, this kid..I DECIDED i will have…I should be responsible for it and not pawn it off to my mother while I go back to work or have a great social life. At times in the west, it really really seems as if parents are the glorified baby sitters while the women go back to work, or want to have some life of their own. It galls me..its your kid..why did you have it if you pawn it off to your mother?
    I for one, will just go home to have the baby..tearing and uprooting parents for our own selfishness just borders on so cruel on so many levels

  51. Babe, this sorta thing is never easy, I tell you. My folks are quite the same. Every time, my mum is the only ‘mum’ that advances her trip and returns home weeks ahead of schedule cos she is bored out of her skull. And we lived just outside of London, with fab transport links so she could travel anywhere she liked. I searched for Tam channels on my comp and made sure she could watch some of her serial syllabus. But still, it isn’t the same. As for my dad, he has visited me a grand total of 2 weeks in the 10 years I spent abroad!
    So I thought if my kids had to get to know their grandparents, I had better do a ‘mountain to Mohammed’ deal. Of course now, mum’s like ‘crap! there were so many places I wanted to visit abroad but with you sitting here, who’ll put me up?’
    Parents, I tell you, are there to make us tear our hair at the roots.

  52. I am so much like your mom..fiercely independant, and really its a very catch 22 situation for both the sides. when I go to my children abroad, I long for my home in India, and when I am in India, I long for my children. Secondly children who live abroad for long period adapt themselves to american way of living and that is so discomfortable to desi Indians like me..even grand children are not the same as they would be if they were brought up here.
    sometimes I feel that it will be only visible in the next 10 years, what all we shall be loosing hile trying to gain wealth.

    • oh you are so so right! it is heart-breaking to see my 74 year old paati try and speak english to make her england born and bred grea-grandson understand that she’d like to get him his lunch and what are his preferences. these are the times i feel thankful that whenever i visited india, my kids took to it like fishes to water and did none of the “oh i am from abroad” hoity-toityness.

  53. 🙂 Your mother was nowhere close to sporting a salwar and bindhi.. she looked super hep in a tank top and jeans!! It was nice meeting your family MM 🙂

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  55. am curious to know what your parents are involved in. i know you’ve mentioned business…. i am guessing some kind of furniture business….

    its refreshing that they have their own life and are not dropping everything to become babysitters. i have an uncle and aunt who are doing that, they’re bitter and tired all the time and their grandchild i hope hasnt been permanently damaged because of this….

    • Nope 🙂 It isn’t, although I think they’d be fantastic at it. They have an eye for detail and my mother has sat with the carpenter and filed and sandpapered some of her favourite bits of furniture.

      I am happy for people who want to drop all and take care of grandkids. but I also feel bad for the subtle and societal pressure on older people to support their children endlessly and eventually give up all semblance of a life so that their daughters and sons can have one

  56. Pingback: Trying to be a better person | The Mad Momma Online

  57. US is the best place compared to India to raise a family & kid .
    Speaking both from experience and horror stories of friends whose kids experienced asthma and went onto full time nebulizer …lots of stories ..no patience to write 🙂
    You have a lovely blog .
    In this case the grass is truly greener on the other side ,the USA side .Heres the thing tho , adaptability , being open minded ,honest ..gets a very peaceful healthy life here,
    Access to books for free,lovely roads , clean food at affordable prices ….GOD I can go on …for the same quality of food I had to spend a TON in India .

    Also the people here ,wow ,honest ,disciplined , introspective ,always willing to change , ….no old people will be like that only we still have to respect them crap..here

    Most important of all the qualities the positivity ..ALWAYS positive people here.

    Unless you(not you per se ) have lived here you wont know…..kinathhu thavalai story comes to my mind

  58. I understand it’s an old post but wanted to share my experience – we moved to the US when I was 3 years into my marriage and my child had just turned 2. We detest using parents as “nanny” – however ensure both set of parents get to travel alternate years for a length of time they choose. That is usually between 3-4 months. I also ensure my child is at school or summer camps – as the intent is to let our parents relax and get quality time with thier grandkid and not have them babysit my child.

    Luckily for us – we can afford to have parents visit each year with the dual income (alternate years for the same set of parents) and our parents are able and willing to travel. We have made 3 trips back to India in less than 5 years on top of our parents visiting (5 times in all) – so they do feel connected and there is an ongoing grand kid/parent relationship and bonding.

    I’m in a unique place as I have seen both sides – my child spent his first 2 years living with his grandparents – however I still believe the pros of moving here outweighs the cons of missing out on support. For us as a couple – our quality of life has drastically improved – we spend 10X the time together now than we used to there – In India everyone wants a piece of you (Atleast thats how I felt) – I had to deal with a full time work, manage parents and in laws expectations along with the extended family expectations ( Siblings in laws and thier kids) and I should say I was ready to make the move and have some quiet and peace! (I want to state that I have well wishing/good parents/in-laws and extended family)

    However – we believe a “kid in need” is a “kid indeed” – so if in the future our parents health fail and they need out support in person – that is what we would do.

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