Reality of Coming Home

This is my Competent Communicator Level 2 speech script (CC2) @ Toastmasters!

How many of you have lived outside India or out of your home town?

To me both the experience are more or less the same – to have a smooth transition I would say that you need to keep 3 important aspects in mind:
  • Pace & prepare
  • Setting right expectation
  • Adaptation 

Like most of us, when I went to live abroad, I was all excited. This excitement alone helped me to cope up the new situation, in spite of not being prepared.

Our World Tuesday Blue
But the scenario dramatically changed when we came home as repatriates. We thought of giving ourselves some time to decide if we really wanted to stay back. 

While we were trying to figure out the right school for my daughter, I took up this new full time job after being a freelancer for more than 4 years. I was apprehensive about the work culture, in terms of timing and commuting. Suddenly, everything seemed too much for me, and the worst part is I was not prepared for what was in store for me, I just was overwhelmed. Even to take an auto or bus was a challenge because the dust and pollution was taking it’s toll on me. Some of you, R has seen my initial days in SW. How I used to get rashes and cough constantly. This was mainly because I was trying to rush things and get going. Instead of giving time, I thought that self- driving would help me to overcome the situation, without realizing that I would have road-rage.

It is all about expectations, I think I was having very high expectations on my driving skills. I was trying to follow road rules and be courteous on road, but I found everything on road was chaotic and couldn't believe that I used to ply the same roads without any difficulty! I was getting all worked up and swear that the road users had no civic sense. Basically, my expectations were incorrect and I was unable to cope up. When I tried discussing these issues with friends it was not well received. I was scorned and criticized that I was behaving as if am living in Chennai for the first time. If only I was more tolerant and set my driving expectations lower, I could have easily avoided getting into this reverse culture shock!

Once you know what to expect, adapting should be easy. But, since I was not tuned to setting expectations, adapting was also difficult. Usually, we do things habitually, so for anything and everything, we try to draw parallels based on our past experience. During my initial expat days, while shopping or be it vegetables or dresses, I used to convert Ringgit or pounds to Rupees and used to wonder why it is so expensive. When I came back, I had to re-learn in using rupees on a daily basis. I was getting all excited about how cheap things are. But, this excitement was taken as snobbishness and any casual remark was scorned. Finally, my mom did knock some sense in me by reminding that there is nothing to be excited about, and now, we were earning in Rupees and not in Ringgit!

See, everything boils down to preparing for the situation, setting right kind of expectation and adapting to the situation. Basically, when you are in Rome be a Roman. You can easily escape typical jibes of being labelled as ‘foreign returned’!

As soon as I saw the green card for 5 min indication…I rushed to finish and skipped to talk about this! So the speech had a tone as if am not happy to be back home. Actually I meant to close by telling how it is not always necessary to unlearn things that you have picked up as an expat!

Then, it doesn’t mean that you need to unlearn whatever you have learnt as an expat. For example, when a stranger smiles at me I used to turn back and see to confirm if they were actually smiling at me. Because, normally here I was not used to this simple act. But, now I still continue to smile at strangers too, without a second thought as a good will. 
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