This afternoon, on my way to a meeting to Versova, I decided to meet up with one of my new expat friends in Juhu for some coffee. Juhu is such a beautiful area, with its beach and real fancy hotels, stunning boutiques displaying colors and fabrics that were magical and unique, and tall palm trees that beckoned me to the beach and the setting sun. This part of Mumbai is tres chic and I often find myself mesmerized by all the shops and cafes that envelope this part of the city, making it one of the more expensive areas to live in.
We had our coffees and were chatting about life in Mumbai – how I used to crib about it all the time, and how I am now trying to find the positive things about Mumbai. She then asked me WHY I moved from the USA to India, perplexed by the absurdity and bizarreness of our decision. After all, these were two countries that could not be more different from each other. I explained to her that my husband and I, after living in the USA for 10 years and after seeing that India is in a very fertile phase of economic development and advancement, decided we wanted to contribute to our motherland, that we wanted make a difference to our country and her people in whatever little way we could. We wanted to do something for our country – we are patriots. Her next question stunned me, because this question has never been asked of me before: “But, what has your country done for you?”
I swear to god, I usually do not get stumped, but this time I was. I actually had to think for a moment and after a few moments passed, I still did not have an answer. She also said, “Your country has done nothing for you. Why have you come back? Look at other countries, such as those in the Middle East, Europe and North America, they take care of their people.” In many ways, she is right. What has my country done for me? To this moment, I am still speechless where this question is concerned. This is not to suggest, by any stretch of imagination, that I should only contribute to my country if it has done something for me. In the same vein, I pay all my taxes, I follow the law, I have a healthy civic sense, but I do not feel that I am living the quality of life that I did in the USA or in the UAE, where I felt that the government really took care of its people; be it having good roads, having accessible medical facilities for the well off and not so well off, by having adequate and consistent law enforcement, and so on.
I am still reflecting on her question, disturbed by the fact that I do not have an answer for it. It is even more disconcerting that I probably may not have an answer to this question. I do not know. But, if you can share your thoughts on this subject and shed some light on what your country has done for you, I would greatly appreciate it.