the great repatriation (welcome to united state)

But first, two pics of my trip (solo) to the Wagah border closing:

No but seriously, it was really fun and I highly recommend it.


I’m back in America now, for good.  I’ve waited a while to post because:

1. I’m back in America why would I want to be doing anything other than wandering around staring at everything and eating All The Food, and

2. I wanted to get some perspective on the repatriation process to see how long it would take to feel “normal.”

The answer is four-five weeks to feel okay, and two months to feel pretty much Amurrican.  It took about four weeks to stop thinking someone was going to kidnap me at any moment and put me back on Air India to Mumbai.  It took about that long to stop stock-piling fresh berries and compulsively watching HBOGo.  It took two months to realize I don’t have the right clothes for almost any occasion.

Obviously, living in India has had a permanent impact on the way I view the world and I’m thankful every day that I was able to have such an earth-shattering (literally?) experience.  I’m also thankful every day that I get to leave such experiences.

I’ve made this chart of how the general adjustment period works (for me, at least), broken down week by week.

That’s the general flow of things.  But you shouldn’t just take my word for it.  I asked my friends who’ve immigrated back (only those who were in India for similarly long periods of time, although to be honest, I’m starting to think only 1yr+ is what matters) what their experiences were like.  About twenty of my friends took a little survey I made, and here are their responses [I gave them the option of writing in their own answers at the bottom of each question]:

Good lord, I do miss the mangoes.

A lot of my friends left at the same time, and we’ve been trying to talk it out as we go through this weird transition.  One commonality is that many of us still find ourselves perpetually geared up for a fight, particularly with people in the service industry.  When I have to call to make a doctor’s appointment, pay for a taxi, or call the plumber, I immediately begin loudly yelling in basic English, ready to start cursing in Hindi.  But my doctor’s office is really polite, my plumber speaks English, and taxi drivers always have change.  Stores have everything in stock, places have addresses, and most things are done correctly the first time – but my blood still boils in anticipation of a battle of wills.  When I wear shorts, I’m ready to passionately defend this “position on Western wear” but somehow no one cares.

I also have very few fears left – fear of being the only one in the room who [x], fear of being misunderstood, fear of being eaten alive by bugs, fear of being in a meeting that’s literally in another language, fear of something undefined streaming down my legs, fear of being stranded somewhere unsafe at night – been there, done that, horribly embarrassed myself, ready to move on.  Bring your worst, business school and then the rest of my career, I’ve already seen some shit.

As for this blog, I think it’s mostly over.  Maybe I’ll go back on and rant if I feel the need.  I am going to be writing for a few other people though, and I’ll post some round-ups of those links.  I think I’ll also post a round-up of my favorite angry commenters.  How many times can people call me a whore on the internet?  Let’s find out.  TOGETHER.  

I love you,



MMNFD, though not really that numbing since it’s what I saw every day:

Foreign Policy had some amazing short responses to the Great Indian Rumor Mill:

  • India will be the world’s next great power: Not so fast
  • India’s growth is inevitable: No
  • India can help contain China: Hardly
  • Tensions with Pakistan have eased: Not really
  • India will be a good global citizen: Perhaps
  • India will have serious power projection capabilities: Not quite
  • Hindu-Muslim tensions are history: Unfortunately, no
  • India can be America’s most useful ally: Probably not
[Special thanks to CM, the light of my life and the only one left in Delhi.]

Also, just what the hell is this shit?!

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18 Responses to the great repatriation (welcome to united state)

  1. Anant says:

    Whore whory whory whore whoa whoa whoa whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

    Like reading your blog though :D

  2. Gail says:

    the end of an era!

  3. hahahaha hilarious! I still can’t imagine (as I have forgotten) what it must be like to go to one store and get everything, like it would sell groceries AND meat AND wine AND bread…. Actually blows my mind

  4. raj says:

    Amazing, reading all the negative things you and your friends had to say about India.

    And people wonder why Indians and the Middle East don’t like westerners.

    Stay in your country please! And no we will never be allies!

  5. raj says:

    Also the comments about attractiveness of Indians is hilarious. You are certainly not all that attractive yourself, and neither is anyone who posts on this blog. I guess in the west where everyone is “special” no one tells you the truth about yourself.

  6. Pingback: The challenge of “moving home” « from Norway to India

  7. John says:

    Amazing, that there are negative aspects to India. I refuse to believe it.

  8. Katie says:

    i love this blog! you are brilliant and talented. hope to see more from you in the future.

  9. poorindian says:

    My god! You look so ugly. You should never post a pic of yourself anywhere. I am sure you are not married yet. I guess there must be many unemployed dumb men in your country who can stand the sight of you and actually marry you!
    Though I love your blog. You write well. All your posts are hilarious. Yes we Indians may never live up to your standards. But it is a pity that you are so narrow minded. Do you know what it means to be born in poverty and struggle to make a living? Do you know what it means to live earning less than a dollar a day?
    Consider yourself fortunate that you are born in the US? It’s just an accident of birth isn’t it?

    • sheetal says:

      As if marriage is the greatest measure of a womans worth! You are obviously a typical Indian male or a poor deluded Indian woman growing up in a sad sexist patriarchal society from which she has no hope of escaping. Open your eyes! India has gone to the dogs! Most well to do people are making their money and investing it to get richer and make more for themselves, not make india better or make the lives of Indians better!

      The moment someone from outside comes and shines a light on what’s not right, we as Indians get our panties in a knot and hit below the belt and start insulting instead of stoping and trying to see, that perhaps there’s merit to what’s being voiced.

      Just my opinion.

    • *Dheeraj* says:

      Addenum to Sheetal’s comment:
      You are beautiful and I’m gonna miss your blogs!!

  10. amruta231 says:

    Hi hillary, I landed on your blog from Sharell’s blog.I was not going to comment after reading a couple of posts and some of the offensive comments left on your blog (especially on the About Me) page but I am writing nonetheless.
    I really enjoyed some of your posts, the overarching hilarious tone of your posts, but still after going through a lot of posts I felt sad. The reason is not that you are criticizing India or Indian way of living in shit all over the road or whatever specific annoying details you mentioned; but the fact that your perspective on India is highly biased by your own vision of how Indians should live or how India should be. While that is completely your opinion, I understand why you feel this way (I might be wrong in my perception, but still read on) I think you might have a had a pre-conceived notion and expectation about India being in a particular way but your stay proved it otherwise. I think we all educated Indians get frustrated by defacation in the open, gender imbalance in public life, lack of infrastructure,corruption and other problems, but still it is OUT country, our motherland and our problem! I think your irritation is misplaced. Anyone who will read your articles will feel offended because they may feel that ‘so what my India has million problems, why do you have to make fun of it?’ Hillary it hurts when an American criticizes India like this, American society also has its own issues and I feel no expat Indian living in USA should write the way you have written about India, especially Mumbai.
    Every day when I wake up in Mumbai, I feel frustrated for a million things, but I would be frustrated in any corner of the world for different reasons.All countries and especially developing countries have their own issues, and we better be empathetic and respectful,even of the problems.

    I am myself a development professional, educated in vernacular medium, did post grad in UK and worked in NGO’s for a couple of years, I am also a Ph.D student researching development issues. My mind somehow linked your blog’s content to the typical attitude of ‘development professionals’ from western countries who come to India in the hopes of gaining mastery over Indian misery, re-discovering the reasons why India so poor, and those who try to find salvation in ‘helping’ the poor in India. Sorry to say hillary but no you are not entirely hilarious without being offensive.

    One more thing, you keep on saying India-India-India in all your posts, but hey you mostly talk about Mumbai. I am reminded of many western academicians, researchers and development professionals who work in a small part of India and become experts on India.

    Last but not the least, I know you meant to rant about your frustrations about your stay and nothing more, but please think deeper as to why you are so resentful? Is it because of problems of India or because it shows something fundamental about your own self?

    I know, I have written a lot…and I shouldn’t read your blog if I don’t find it interesting , but when you write a blog and make it public, you kind of have to take the criticism.

    I still wish you all the best in life in whatever you do, but please be more understanding about people, cultures, cities, countries when they are not your own.

  11. Raket says:

    All this post says is that the west is accustomed to “facilities” and finds it intensely unbearable to do without it. It maybe but im aware of these two western guys in india who are totally hardcore.

    Hardcore as in the sense that they have no prob becoming red in the sun, regularly eat street food without getting diarrhoea, use indian toilets, travel and wear regular(non-fancy) indian wear.

  12. rajesh says:


  13. ddos vps says:

    Excellent blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any tips? Cheers!|

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