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San Diego Desi  »  Articles
Rich Desi, Poor Desi and the Smart Desi.
By: SivaKumar Nadarajah
Viewed: 39239
comment belowpost article
After a very long time, I met a Desi head hunter , or body shopper if you will, at a weekend get-together. The gentleman was looking for qualified techies for his consulting house ( a.k.a body shop). I was very interested to talk to him to gauge his pulse about the industry. Although you are reasonably settled in your life, you always have this tendency to learn the trends of the job market just for the sake of curiosity and interest.

The person made some interesting points that exerted an impelling force on me to rethink the trends of Desi techies.

He said the job market is pretty good that he is finding it extremely difficult to hire well-experienced people to fill some key jobs. Then a friend of mine interrupted and said that many experienced Desi techies prefer going back to India now. My friend also said that they could live like kings in India for the good money that they get at multi national companies these days.

Good point! Another guest nodded.

But then the headhunter shot back and gave some numbers which he felt they were sure as eggs is eggs.

A guy with more than ten years of experience gets around twelve lacks of Indian Rupees per year at a good company in India. Thats around one lack per month. Thirty percent goes for the tax, which brings the net salary to 60,000 Indian Rupees. Thats around 1400 dollars per month. With sky rocketing expenses in high tech cities like Bangalore, and got used to American life styles , the guy hardly saves about 20,000 Indian rupees, which comes to around 500 dollars. But an average Desi techie saves more than 1000 dollars per month in the US. Now you do your math said the head-hunter.

Good point, too. I nodded.

So what is the right thing to do Going back to India and live like a king as my friend said, or live in the US and save 500 dollars more

This is a lingering question that every Desi techie asks or thinks about these days. It comes up in our house too, ironically, whenever my wife gets a traffic ticket. She feels that the life style is so hectic in the US that she now has to worry about the cops and traffic tickets and so forth. She feels she could live like a queen if we go back. I dont agree with her. For two good reasons.

One: Although some of you would disagree with me, I just love this country as much as I love this planet, primarily, for its flawless system, law and order, and equal opportunities. I was teased for my American patriotism when I wrote the same in my book. Hey, its just me. You dont have to agree with me.

Two: I still think the opportunities are greater and available wholesome in the US, and ultimately you would earn more money here in the US.

My dad always said that Money is not everything . I believed him until I came to the US. In a capitalized and globalized world, Money does come close to everything. If you ask Robert Kiyosaki, the famous author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, he would classify my father as a middle class loser, which my father would take it extremely personal. Money may not be everything. But Money has solved a lot of problems in my life, including saving my Moms life. I wouldnt have solved them if I had not come to the US. I still solve a lot of problems back home with money. I dont think I would be able to do it to the current extent if I go back and save only 20,000 Indian rupees. I may live like a king, but I would be a miser king, who would find it very difficult to write the charity checks now and then for my well-wishers.

In my opinion, majority of Desi techies who work for companies in the US, could still only be classified as Poor Desis. You still havent reached the threshold to be called Rich, unless you own your company and make more than a half a million dollars a year. The savings you have is not sufficient for you to be called Rich and is not enough to go back and live like a king. The moment you start your normal life in India, the reality will strike you.

But here are some exceptions. These are the ones whom I classify as Smart Desis.

There were few folks who came to the US hell bent on the decision of going back at any cost. They never bought a house in the US. Never bought a new car. Never thought about exploring the US, never bought into the idea of American way of living, and on top of that, they never bought anything new. They did smart decisions to invest their savings in real estate in India, bought multiple properties in India, rented them and made sure they had a steady income in addition to what they would earn when they go back. Now they, of course can go back and live like kings. Not me.

But if you in fact buy into the idea of just like my wife - that money is definitely not everything, then going back is the right thing for you. You will be closer to your family. You will not miss the great social life that we are used to, back home. You will not miss Cricket for gods sake. You will get a chance to mingle with your good old school friends who were unfortunate, and never made it to your scale. You will have your family taking care of your kids, which would definitely be a boon to any young couple. You will get a chance to see your favorite cinema actor and cricketer. You will get a chance to eat at the roadside food stops. You will get a chance to comment on your bad guy politician. You will get a chance to see all the Desi TV channels. And above all, you dont have to worry about the insurance claims, medical bills, confusing telephone bills, phone cards, green cards, INS, H-1B, spitting pan parak on your driveway, curry smell on your jacket, medical insurance for your parents and for the gods sake, the freaking cop and the traffic ticket.

So my point is, poor Desi techies, like me, cannot go back at this moment. Rich Desis will never go back. Smart Desis can go back, and most probably will go back. So if you are a poor Desi, who is struggling to make a decision, then the first thing you should do is to become a Smart Desi. But there is a catch. If you become super Smart, there is a possibility that you could become a Rich Desi. Rich Desis never go back. Never!


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Purvi Shah Real Estate Consultant


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