I must admit that this is one question which I wasn’t well prepared for after I left Microsoft and headed back to India .
More than the question , it is the startled tone of the people who ask it
"Why did you come back ? "
One might wonder what in this question makes it blog-worthy .
No one asked me anything about this in Redmond because :
a) its natural for people to leave the big tech companies for start-ups ( their own , or someone else’s )c
b) Moving back home is the natural thing to do
c) Many Indian / foreign born techies want to take this kind of a plunge
d) Regardless of all the problems with India – moving back to India is not like going to sub-saharan Africa or Afghanistan.
e) Someone who is more than happy doing the very same thing in the very same place for more than a couple of years ,
specially in the mid-twenties ; has more problems than someone who doesn’t want to .
Every time I hand out my direct honest answer to this , here in India , people are extrememly suspicious .
Now I don’t have a filmy pardes/swades answer of the type they might like to hear . Nor do I have a sob
story of racism or pink-slips to require their sympathy . This was a logical decision , not an emotional one .
I wanted to run my own thing , and didn’t want a 9-5 for at least a couple of years .Given limited resources
and work visa issues , it would be impossible to do this in the US . And I didn’t see any problem being back
in India and being based next to home .
The general feeling is , that coming back voluntarily to India is out of question , so I must have been laid off
or on the bench ! Questions about "work quality" and concerns about my adapting to "work culture" also
follow. What is irritating is not the perception , but the length of the needless discussion I am
often dragged into . Now , many of the people who ask these questions are typically the wine – glass
holding types , for whom India is shining – that is , till the day they queue up in the consulate of The Promised
Land to get their L1/F1/H1/B1 stamped for the cretentious task of writing cobol code for the banking automation
framework of a financial conglomerate .
Fortunately , in my immediate circle of family and friends , everyone is sensible enough to know that we live
in a globalized world where the importance of geographical co-ordinates is diminishing day by day . So I haven’t
wasted any verbal energy on this front .
I have engineered a workaround for this question . To bring closure to such a conversation as quickly as possible ,
in the few cases where I do need to have a polite response , what do I say ? I pretend to have an extremely
well calculated answer . I throw out statistical figures and references to India’s growing GDP , "economy"
( on which everyone who reads TOI is such an expert ) , and convince them all that I am convinced
that India is the next superpower , etc , etc ; "untapped markets" with awesome business potential , and
the place to be , and successfully bring the discussion to an end . Any more suggestions ? Wheww…