Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Being an expat

What’s it like being a foreigner ? An expat living outside his or her home country ? I am an expat myself- an Indian living in China. Many readers of this blog are expats themselves. Most of us are expats because our jobs, or the jobs of our spouses, took us away from our native land.

The Economist has a beautiful article on “being foreign”. A superb and stimulating article I strongly recommend. My favourite “newspaper” is The Economist – the magazine calls itself a newspaper, in a quaint British tradition. OK, OK, I am nerdy; anybody who publicly admits to The Economist being his favourite magazine has to be the most “uncool” character in the world.

The article is so good that I offer it for your reading pleasure with no comment. What is your take ?

I’ll post my own view of being an expat later this week.


VA said...

Yeah, indeed, it is all about the choices one tends to make. With every renunciated choice comes a new set of ecstasy and agony. However, it is a real challenge and a painful feeling to come back to your homeland only to realise that they are foreigners in their own home, where society, people, politics and culture all have undergone radical chages.

This is why perhaps I have chosen the pleasures of belonging till now. Look forward to read your view on "being foreign"

Athivas said...

Can relate to the article. And the book- Namesake, it said it all- the uncompromising mind of an expat, which had to accept her own children living to the new culture. It touched heavily!!

I do miss home, I do feel alien in my own place, I do have a pain of having to live away from my land, and though I felt it hard to accustom to this place initially, I think I am getting along well,now! The spohistications- the freedom to do things... yet, still, in the core of me, lies that longingness to get back home, which used to be mine- not being a stranger there!!

Athivas said...

Eagerly waiting for your take on the expat-life!!

Ramesh said...

@VA - Very right. Its all about choices.

@athivas - I can relate exactly to what you feel.

A journey called Life said...

I so hated this place when I first came in. It was the complete deal, being away from a place I'd called home for so long, not being gainfully employed other than just sitting around and being an expat's wife, this was a place I thought I would NEVER call home (even by the widest stretch of being accomodating).. slowly things began to change, its a synergy- giving a little of one's own to an alien place and imbibing a lil of the said place's practice. Now I feel comfortable around here and it is a nice feeling to be able to think that I finally belong..

Ramesh said...

@AJCL - I can understand your sentiments exactly too.

gils said...


home is ver the heart is..ilaya :)


enaku indiakullaye expat mathiri than iruku...leaving market....ennoda mylaporela kooda my irukuna parungalen :D

Sandhya Sriram said...

on one side, i very much tend to agree with GILS. Sometimes, one dosent feel at home in your own home. from a typical tanjore based family, i have been married into a pallakad family and till now i am learning and adapting to a change in every thing - language, food habits, favourite temples, festivals and what not.

But on the other end, when you are away from home and that too in a foriegn country, it isnt the same. with internet and low cost travel and improved communications, we still are better off than what it used to be earlier, but sometimes, you feel, wish i was in my country.

By and large (except say you are struck in saudi or such country), distance is a factor of the heart but its nice may be not necessary to be with near and dear.

kiwibloke said...

Brilliant article- especially the part about nostalgia. Reminds me of a number of Fiji Indian friends I have in Auckland - for most India is a distant memory passed on over 4 generations and their India concept is based on Bollywood. Each one of my FI Friends has an aspiration to 'go home' and see how it is. Sadly in 9 out of 10 cases that do 'go back home' to see how it is, they return with a feeling of being more foreign in India than in NZ. Some day would love to read up what happens to the third and fourth generation Indians living in far away lands!

Ramesh said...

@gils - Very right. You don't have to be out of the country tom feel foreign ; I had the first taste of it when I left the state to go to another state in India.

@sandhya - Even with the best of communications, it is a different feeling to be in a foreign land.

@kiwi - Very true observation. Same in South Africa, West Indies, where Indian went a long time ago. Bollywood defines India for them and when they visit they feel even more strange.

Deepa said...

It hasn't been a year even and I miss my home! I used to miss it in Bangalore too. Although, there is no attachment to a place because of the nomadic life I lived. But like GILS said, 'home is where the heart is'. But I also can't deny the fact that the person I am, is because of what I have imbibed from the places I've lived in.

Ramesh said...

@Deepa - Yes, its the classic give and take . When you are a nomad, you don't have roots, but still you become a richer person by imbibing a little of where all you have been.

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