Image by Jan VaĊĦek from Pixabay 

Being NRI means so much more than the perfume, food and gadget filled luggage that arrives with "Sharjah-COK" written on it.

It means so much more to the people who are labelled with it than the nosy neighbours with stiff stereotypes. Being an NRI is leaving your home town to slave in another country. It is to make a home away from home and raise kids who might not follow the parental heritage and culture. It is the risk of leaving your aged parents alone in a two storied house guarded by a dog and neighbours who might check in once in a while. It is not out of the lack of love that people do this, but because they want to get saved from the impending poverty they experienced as children.

Nothing about being an NRI is ever easy. They have to make their living from scratch in the countries they migrate to. Start all over again as they scramble to find a home amongst the new people. That uncle whom you take pride in about being the manager of a company abroad was never invited to that position overnight. All of the unseen toils and the unheard difficulties of an NRI washes away with the sight of the shiny packet of fresh dates or perfume they gift. As they painfully turn each of their sweat drops into savings for a life that they have no guarantee they might be able to enjoy they dream about better days and greener grass. Being an NRI is to know the true pain of uncertainty in the blind hit or miss shot for an escape from poverty.

It is definitely not easy to live in a foreign country whose rules and regulations may not necessarily favour you because no matter what you say they will only treat you like second class citizens in that country. It is this sweat and tears of years of toil that you see in the houses that take shape back in their homeland.

Unfortunately, people would never understand. All they see is the airport taxis laden with luggage fastened by ropes and kids who speak accented English struggling to make it through their Indian vacation full of minor inconveniences and bugs in a country that they would never truly know or experience. The shine and shimmer of being an NRI just starts and ends in those 3 letters. To truly understand an NRI you must either become one even in the smallest or smallest ways. Shake off their shoes and climb into their brown tanned skins to truly understand the endless tears unseen by people.

In the end, when all is said and done most NRI have to climb the plane back to a land that once was their home. As they struggle to navigate themselves amongst the endless plethora of questions about how they lost their job or what they are going to do next, they struggle again to make a home amongst these never-ending questions and judgements. They must acclimatise to their new home and live another cycle of painful existence realising how better everything was in their foreign dream of being an NRI.

Being NRI is not to live the rosy-tinted dreams of going abroad to mint endless money. It is the sacrifice of giving up their homeland for the joy and sadness of living in a country that will never truly feel like their true home.

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