June 25, 2021
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Hyderabad: 'I Love My India, But...'

Two first hand accounts from the Cyberabad of India.

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Hyderabad: 'I Love My India, But...'
P. Anil Kumar
Hyderabad: 'I Love My India, But...'

Raju Velu and Padmini Raja

Raja Velu, 33-yr-old cinematographer and animation artist, a veteran in the Telugu and Tamil film industries is keen on making his own Telugu feature film but also wants to move to the US and give that a shot.

Wife Padmini Raja 33, beautician and co-owner of "Cutting Edge", one of Hyderabad's most popular hair and beauty saloons is less enthusiastic than her husband about moving. But she, however, is seriously weighing the options as her green card application (applied for by US resident sister 10 years ago) has just matured.

Padmini: "This is not the first time that I have thought of moving to the US. In fact I've already passed up two chances in the past but now both my sisters who are already there, feel that I should not pass this chance also.

"I don't feel any reason to move but yes both my sisters are there and we don't have any other siblings and our parents are also green card holders so everyone thinks I should get a green card also. 

"Here my business is doing very well so I will continue to be a partner in the saloon that I started with two others. However, if I am going to be there I will also have to find something else to do also but all that will depend on where my husband finds work."

Raja: "Abroad people, especially in my line of work are very professional, unlike here, so you get good job satisfaction. Also if you've worked abroad and then come back people tend to respect you more here. 

"Right now in the US lots of people are getting laid off and the competition is very tough so I am will have to be flexible. But I am sure I will land some work because I have multiple skills. I have experience as a cameraperson plus I have done a one and a half year course in animation in Vancouver, Canada. In fact I had even found a job there after my course finished but I came back because my wife didn't get a visa. But now that the green card is coming through the situation has changed again. 

"However, though I am keen to go abroad and work, things will have to work out otherwise there is no point in hanging on there. While I was in Canada I met engineers who couldn't find proper jobs and were working as taxi drivers. I don't think I could do that. Sure I am willing to be flexible within my profession, in terms of finding a job but I wouldn't settle for work as a taxi driver or a gas station attendant.

"I love my India and I love this city but in terms of the lifestyle there is no comparison. The traffic here is so chaotic and there is no mental peace because people are so unprofessional. Abroad if your work is good you get respect for it no matter who you are but here things are all based on nepotism and networking.

"It's not like I don't know how difficult things can be abroad. The first time I went to Canada I cried for one week. I was too miserable and lonely. I was all alone because my wife didn't get a visa. I was so homesick I just wanted to come back. So I know how difficult and different things can be there but I think it's (migrating) still worth trying for once. We would like to live and work abroad for about five years and then come back. If we are not happy we can come back even sooner."

Sanjeev and Sangeeta Reddy

Sanjeev Reddy, 40, left for the US in September this year after wrapping up his business, supplying yarn to the Reliance Industries and resigning from his post as bookmaker at the Hyderabad racecourse. He is currently in the US on a business visa and has taken over the franchise for the sandwich store chain "Subway" in LA. The deal was struck while he was visiting the US with his family in the summer of 2002.

Wife Sangeeta 38, and daughter Sanjana 9 are hoping to join Dad in March 2003. Son Sankat, 15, will follow a year later when he completes his pre-university (class XII equivalent) and is ready to join college in the US. 

Sangeeta is primarily a housewife but she has also worked as a school teacher in alternative schools such as Lumbini and Sloka: 

"Actually there is really no need for us to leave as we are quite comfortable here but my husband is thinking about the future. We want our son to go to college in the US so my husband feels it is best if we all go there and stay with him because he is still quite young. The other reason why my husband wants to leave is because as a businessman he believes the opportunities for economic growth are much better abroad.

"My sister has been in the US for 15 years so I am happy I am going to her but on the other hand I am also worried about leaving my parents. We are only two girls and my father who is 70 is not keeping too well nowadays. My mother is 60. My parents are feeling bad that we are leaving but they are also encouraging us because they understand that this move is to make our future.

"She has been there for 15 years but our first visit there was only last summer (2001). When we got there my husband really liked the lifestyle so this summer we went back there with the kids to decide whether we'd like to actually settle down in the US. We also looked to see if we could find a viable business to invest in and that's how this Subway franchise thing worked out.

"I have mixed feelings about leaving. We have a nice comfortable, centrally located flat and a big circle of friends here. In fact friends from my kitty were shocked when they heard we were planning to migrate. They can't understand why Sanjeev took this decision because everything here has been going smoothly for us.

"I know that things are going to be very different there. In the beginning it won't be easy but I agree with my husband that it's important for us to be there for our son. After about five years when he is older and more settled we can easily come back. In fact my husband says we will come back after five years, that is the plan so though he has wrapped up his business we are not selling any properties.

"I will be going to the US in a few weeks to visit my husband. He is really missing the kids because this is the first time that he is away from them for so long. He says sometimes he wakes up in the morning and thinks 'Oh, My God, I hope I am doing the right thing uprooting the whole family like this.'"

Sankat, son, 15, first year junior college. (Class XI):

"I am not very sure how it's going to be? Here I have my circle of friends but there everything is going to be different. I am not sure either what course I'll get or which college I'll finally end up in."

Sanjana, daughter, 9, studies in Hyderabad Public School:

"I am quite excited but I think life in India is better. There we will have to do our own work. We will all have to help in the house and I know I'll have to clean my own room and things like that or I'll be grounded."

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