September 24, 2009


As I near the end of my PhD and have started looking for a job (a difficult task in this economy), almost everyone has one question: Did you consider going back to India? And hence, I have been considering it a lot these days. So I have a lot of pros and cons for both staying abroad and going back. But I am not writing this post to enumerate them.

I am terrified to go back to India. And it’s not about politics, bad governance, corruption or any other number of problems we have. I am terrified of going back to India as I don’t harassment1think I can take those street Romeos and their wandering eyes and hands any more. I distinctly remember all those times when I was harassed on road by strangers. All the times when I was reduced to tears and thought that this is the punishment for the crime of being a woman. I cursed them: “May they be born as woman in India in their next life.” That was the worst curse I could think of! I would wear the baggiest cloths and try to look my worst possible so that I wouldn’t draw attention to myself.

In past five years in US, I have become comfortable being a woman. I am not sure I can go back to being penalized for being a victim again. I don’t think I can go back to India and curse my own existence every day again. For once, I don’t need to apologize for being a woman and I love it. Call me a spoilt NRI or a traitor or whatever you want, but I am not going back. I simply can’t.


  1. Hey, no need to feel like a traitor or spoiled NRI....its a fact that we all got to accept about Indian society. we all wish that our society grow forward, like other developed societies, in the way the people in the society think, treat others n live.....Indian society got a long way to go.....But i strongly believe that youth like us (though i am 31, i consider myself politically a youth) got to change, as society consists of people who live in it and if one can influence 5 others, slowly (i mean real slowly, cos of d huge population) things will change. If not us, the next generation will see d visible change. So if u get a job offer in India, dont refuse, as anything untoward happens to u on d street, ur KENPO KARATE skills will come handy n use them liberally.......

  2. I don't think you are a spoilt NRI or a traitor. IF anyone calls you a traitor, they are likely to be men. :P I totally get what you are saying...when you walk on the streets or travel in public transport outside of India, there is no constant worry that someone is going to pinch your butt or grab your boobs or brush up against you. You can wear what you want without getting lewd comments or stares. You can be comfortable. I read somewhere recently that India was one of the most unsafe countries for women apart from the war-torn countries. I was dreading even going back for holidays after 4 years for this very reason but I'd made up my mind to be more assertive this time. Luckily, while I got stares, there was no touching. A friend of mine back in India worked for a month in the corporate world and quit because of the sexual harrassment. So I can understand you wanting to stay on in the US. You are not a traitor. You are just a woman. :)

    And good luck on your job hunt!!! What field are you in, by the way??

  3. @ Gopal: It's not as easy as using Karate on them. It's not simply the prep, it's also the attitude of every one around you. If you raise the issue, you are told that it's your own fault. I am done with being blamed for being a victim. I don't want to be there anymore. I quit.

    @ PB: Thanks PB! I dread going back to India every time. Unfortunately I live in North India where the problem has gone worse over the years... :(
    I am a Geophysicist and would be looking for a job in Oil industry.

  4. Five years is a long time, well as far as bangalore is concerned its very much changed, though they are minor incidents, It all depends on the region & culture, as u said may be in north.., but Ogling u cant help its going to stay till there is life on earth.

  5. @ Sunny_raju: Somehow a guy telling me that things have changed in India, is not very reassuring. Guys usually have no idea what-so-ever about what's going on.

    In last 5 years I have been to India twice and found it worse than when I left so I don't have high hopes.

    I am not sure I can get a job in Banglore anyway. You see, unlike IT industry most of oil industry is either Bombay based or have fields in some remote part of India so I have to think carefully before considering to move to India...

  6. I couldn't agree more..!! Am referring more to these comments than your post itself !

    All men commenting here seem to somehow think we've got to face up to it or it's not rampant as it was..but how can they ever be the judges I fail to understand. The emotional scars are not something they can ever fathom...

    Thinking out loud - are their mothers failing them by not teaching to respect women ?? Or is it the usual case of woman lives in the shadow of father / brother / husband / son that these men pick up from Society...

  7. Oh I so agree! Though its not about being spoilt. Its about wanting your own dignity. And that is NOT WRONG.
    Men just don't get it. They did not grow up being mauled and felt all over etc. They were not told to come home before sunset every day.
    I can never forget the fact that I used to be SCARED of EVER going out after sunset.
    And I still am in India. I get home before dark- or try to!
    Here its different. I have walked in the streets at 3.00 AM and its fine- did I mention I was alone?

  8. This may sound strange (being a man), but this is exactly the reason, I so don't want to go back. I cringe everytime I think about the absolute lack of respect for women (in India) in every facet of life. Dowry/Eve teasing/Lack of security, you name it. Even many educated men don't know/understand the injustice to women.

  9. @G3: I know what you mean. But then Indian family usually don't discuss adolescence or any changes related to it with their kids. And still there are few decent guys who don't do such things. So I guess it depends how much respect women get in their family that decides how they turn out to be. Though I am not too sure. You can find jerks in the best of families...

    @ Rachna: I remember those days very well but all these things did happen in broad day light too. I remember the indignity and shame of being treated as public property by one and all. You know its hard to explain to anyone how it feels to be molested in a public place in broad day light by absolute strangers. And to add insult to the injury, you are told to ignore it as somehow it is your fault. How can a man ever get it?
    No wonder we feel safer and bolder once we are out of India...

    @ Pradeep: Thanks Pradeep. I understand what you mean and its not at all strange. It is simply disgusting to think about the state of women in India even though we are making "Progress".

  10. I see what you mean. But with the very tough job situation now hopefully a way of comforting yourself is to think of India as plan B (or C), and that you can move elsewhere so it won't have to be permanent. A Ph.D in your area can also take you to other parts of the world like europe etc.
    Academic funding is seeing some growth so kuch nahin to post-doc hi sahi?

    Also consider staying longer in school..push your graduation by a bit?

    I'm sure u mt've thought of all this, so no need to respond to my qs, they're just unsolicited advice, take what is useful. i also know its tiresome to keep getting advice during such phases. :)

  11. @ tgfi: I know. That's what is scary. India is slowly turning into plan A from plan B. The government's current policies are making it harder for me to find a job here. In the job fair scheduled in October, most of the companies wants only American citizens. And that's why I am so terrified: the idea of going back to India is very scary to me now...

    I am trying Europe too but protectionism is prevalent here too. Just my luck..