Dr. Ernest N. Prabhakar (
Fri, 12 Apr 96 12:30:43 -0700

Now you know why Rohit is the way he is. :-)
-- Ernie P.=09

Lots of other stuff on the site. Especially recommended:

The X =3D X + 1 Syndrome

When an Indian professional becomes a 'Non-Resident Indian' in the
United States, he soon starts suffering from a strange disease. The
symptoms are a fixture of restlessness, anxiety, hope and =
The virus is a deep inner need to get back home. Like Shakespeare
said, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." The medical
world has not coined a word for this malady. Strange as it is, it
could go by a stranger name, the "X + 1" syndrome.

To understand this disease better, consider the background. =
middle-class, the would be migrant's sole ambition through school =
to secure admission into one of those heavily government subsidised
institutions - the IITs. With the full backing of a doting family =
a good deal of effort, he acheives his goal. Looking for fresh =
to conquer, his sights rest on the new world. Like lemmings to the
sea, hordes of IIT graduates descend on the four US consulates to =
the holiest of holy grails - the F-1 (student) stamp on the =

After crossing the visa hurdle and tearful farewell, our hero =
for the Mecca of higher learning, promising himself and his family
that he will return some day - soon!

The family proudly informs their relatives of each milestone - his
G.P.A., his first car (twenty years old), his trip to Niagara Falls
(photographs), his first winter (parkas,gloves). The two years roll =
and he graduates at the top of his class. Now begins the 'great
hunt' for a company that will not only give him a job but also =
him for that 3" X 3" grey plastic, otherwise known as the Green =
A US company sensing a good bargain offers him a job.
Naturally, with all the excitement of seeing his first pay check in
four digit dollars, thoughts of returning to India are far away. His
immediate objective of getting the Green Card is reached within a

Meanwhile, his family back home worry about the strange American
influences (and more particularly, AIDS). Through contacts they line
up a list of eligble girls from eligible families and wait for the
great one's first trip home. Return he does, at the first available
oppurtunity, with gifts for the family and mouth-watering tales of
prosperity beyond imagination. After interviewing the girls, he =
the most likely (lucky) one to be Americanised. Since the major =
for the alliance is his long-term stay abroad, the question of his
immediate return does not arise. Any doubts are set aside by the
'backwardnes' of working life, long train travel, lack of phones,
inadequate oppurtunities for someone with hi-tech qualifications, =
so on.

The newly-weds return to America with the groom having to explain =
system of arranged marriages to the Americans. Most of them regard =
as barbaric and on the same lines as communism. The tongue-tied =
is cajoled into explaining the bindi and saree. Looking for =
homely, the couple plunges into the frenetic expatriate week-end
social scene compromising dinners, videos of Hindi/regional films,
shopping at Indian stores, and bhajans.

Initially, the wife misses the warmth of her family, but the =
of washing machines, vacuum cleaners, daytime soap operas and the
absence of a domineering mother-in-law helps. Bits of news =
through from India, mostly from returning Indians, is eagerly =

In discussions with freinds, the topic of returning to India arises
frequently but is brushed aside by the lord and master who is now
rising in the corporate world and has fast moved into a two garage
home - thus fulfilling the great American Dream. The impending =
of the first born fulfills the great Indian Dream. The mother-in-law
arrives in time: after all, no right thinking parent would want =
off-spring to be born in India if offered the American alternative.

With all material comforts that money can bring, begins the first
signs of un- easiness - a feeling that somehow things are not what
they should be. The craze for exotic electronic goods, cars and
vacations have been satiated. The week-end gatherings are becoming

Faced with a mid-life crisis, the upwardly mobile Indian's career
graph plateu's out. Younger and more aggressive Americans are
promoted. With one of the periodic mini recessions in the economy =
the threat of a hostile take-over, the job itself seems far from

Unable or unwilling to socialize with the Americans, the Indian
retreats into a cocoon. At the home front,the children have grown up
and along with American accents have imbibed American habits
(cartoons,hamburgers) and values(dating). They respond to their
parents' exhortation of leading a clean Indian way of life by asking
endless questions.

The generation gap combines with the cultural chasm. Not =
the first serious thoughts of returning to India occur at this =
Taking advantage of his vacation time, the Indian returns home to
'explore' possibilities. Ignoring the underpaid and beaurocratic
government sector, he is bewildered by the 'primitive' state of the
private sector. Clearly overqualified even to be a managing
director/chairman he stumbles upon the idea of being an =

In the seventies, his search for an arena to display his buisness
skills normally ended in poultry farming. In the eighties, =
is the name of the game. Undaunted by horror stories about =
red tape and corruption he is determined to overcome the odds - with
one catch. He has a few things to settle in the United States. After
all, you can't just throw away a lifetime's work. And there are =
like taxation and customs regulations to be taken note of. Pressed =
a firm date, he says confidently 'next year' and therein lies our
The next years come and go but there is no sign of our
McCarthian freind.

About 40 years later our, by now, a old friend dies of a scheduled
and it so happens that his last wish was that he be laid to rest in =
city he was born in India. So our friend at last returns to India =
But by now the people who were so looking forward to see him return =
his homeland are no more.

In other words if 'X' is the current year, then the objective is to
return in the 'X + 1' year. Since 'X' is a changing variable, the
objective is never reached. Unable to truly melt in the 'Great =
Pot', chained to his cultural moorings and haunted by an abject fear
of giving up an accustomed standard of living, the Non-Resident =
vacillates and oscillates between two worlds in a twilight zone.
Strangely, this malady appears to affect only the Indians - all of =
Asian brethren from Japan, Korea and even Pakistan - seem immune to =