While giving up the comforts of a foreign land was tough, things are falling in place for the Bajpais
By Khushboo Rajput
On a sunny, wintery Sunday in Gurgaon, the Bajpai family of Shreesh, his wife Anumeha and 2-year-old son Shreyas make the subject for a perfect family portrait. At 33, Shreesh is already a veteran in the mining industry, having worked across geographies, and has come back to settle in India. “I am the only son and my parents are getting old, so it was only a matter of time before I had to make this decision,” he says. Although he tried to relocate his parents to join him in Australia, it did not go very smoothly.
“My wife was also working in those days and we were leading a very busy life, leaving very little time for my parents,” he recounts. Though retired, the senior Bajpais had a life of their own in India unlike the one in Australia, where they had to depend on their son and daughterin- law for almost everything. They decided to come back to India in 2014. Shreesh, on the other hand, found professional satisfaction and life in Australia far better than in India. An alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, he had almost made up his mind to stay there forever. It was only natural that both he and his wife took up Australian residency, to avail of the support and benefits that are provided to the citizens.
Anumeha took up a job as a software engineer and found it equally rewarding and satisfactory. Things were good till 2012 when professional advancement resulted in Shreesh leaving his permanent job in Australia for a contractual opening in Indonesia. “I had specialised in underground mining but the job in Indonesia was in the open cut mining sector. I wanted to give six months to the contractual job before deciding what to do next,” he recounts. Although there was no stability in the contractual job, it paid handsomely.
Change in plans
He left the Indonesian job in late 2012 for a better opening in New Zealand. “The job opening allowed me to try out yet another country,” he says. The couple decided to start a family in New Zealand but by March 2013, the company where Shreesh worked collapsed due to environmental issues. Unemployed and facing familial responsibilities, Shreesh thought of coming back to India and starting afresh. However, Anumeha felt it would be better if she delivered her child in Australia, given the better medical amenities. Shreesh landed a job in Australia in July 2013, which coincided with the birth of their son. Shreesh’s parents paid him a visit in May 2014, but decided against settling there permanently and returned to India in October, the same year. The couple decided to move back to India following that “The Indian mining sector was opening so, in that way, it was a good time to be in India,” says Shreesh. While the entire process of relocation and paperwork, and the anxiety around it existed, they felt they had age on their side to start afresh in India.
By now, the couple had not only accumulated a lot of worldly goods, they also had a small child to think of before planning their next move. It took them some time to decide to settle in Gurgaon, which is close to both their parents’ places— Shreesh’s parents stay in Lucknow and Anumeha’s live in Kanpur. To make the transition smooth, Shreesh started planning for the relocation six months in advance. He started applying for openings while he was in Australia and landed a job with Adani Enterprises. The company helped him a lot in relocation. “We moved back with just our clothes and a few things that I felt I would not find easily in India. I got them shipped to India and was reimbursed by my current employer,” he says with a sigh of relief.
The process of relocation to India was very different from his earlier experiences in Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand. “You should have enough savings before you think of shifting as those savings will help you bear the cost of resettlement. When you are new to the place, sometimes you end up paying extra for even a plumber or an electrician,” says Shreesh. The city is crowded and traffic is another issue the Bajpais had not factored in, including pollution, which they are just about coping with. “Nothing is organised and it is difficult to trust anyone easily. I miss the long drives we used to take in Australia. I don’t consider Indian roads to be safe at night,” he says. But that does not mean that he is unhappy with the move. “We like eating out and the variety here is just too good to complain. Besides, we find time for our parents, which was not happening despite the comforts we had in Australia,” he says.
Another reality that has struck Shreesh is the cost of living in Gurgaon, which he feels is quite high. “We could live very comfortably with a single salary in Australia, but it is a challenge here. In that sense, life was easier in Australia,” he adds. He is also looking to get into investing so that he can work on his finances for their long-term stay in India. He already has investments in the form of a plot of land in Kanpur and a flat in Lucknow, but is in no hurry to buy a house in Gurgaon as he feels prices are likely to fall. “I am also looking for a good time to convert my Australian savings to Indian rupees,” he says.
With no state-provided benefits, he has enhanced his medical and life insurance cover and also taken Rs.2 lakh medical insurance for his parents, other than a government provided cover for his father. “When you are relocating to a new country, buying a medical policy should be your primary concern,” says Shreesh. He is also saving each month instead of borrowing money to buy things for his current home. The couple is also fond of travelling and is hoping to explore India with their son in the coming years and take frequent family holidays.
While Shreyas is yet to get into a school, the couple is not really worried about his future as Shreyas is an Australian citizen by birth, which means his education will be free in Australia. The couple intends to send him there for higher studies once he is old enough. With things finally falling into place, the couple is keen to give time to their relocation to India and make the most of this stint before facing what life has to offer next. “We want to spend time with our parents for they are at a stage in life where they need us, a trait that we want to pass on to our son as well,” quips Shreesh