He is a fool who praises the fruit of a tree and forgets its roots. The roots of a tree say how good is the tree and how good fruit it bears.
Here I share my experiences and the ” tried and tested” tips in how I handled the challenge and that you may want to try out on your next trip to India or even if you are currently on a vacation in India so that the transition is less uncomfortable and your children will have more happy memories to cherish.
Living in a foreign land I always have the fear of, my children not getting rooted to their own culture and values, the culture of their homeland and instead of getting carried away with the Western culture. I try to leave no stones unturned in getting these values from my girls. Inakshi and Ayona have grown up in Bahrain, with a wide influence of a mixed culture Middle eastern and western culture. They have a very limited knowledge of their hometown Guwahati, Assam, in the northeast of India.
Where is my country?
Well, I was born and grew up in the city of Guwahati, Assam, a northeastern state of a large country India. Well, I would love to give you give you a little glimpse of the country where I live now. Bahrain is a small country. In fact, so small that you will find difficulty in locating it, the Middle East approximately the size of Singapore. Tucked between Saudi Arabia and Qatar this group of islands is a nice place to stay. In fact, if one has a choice it is the best place to stay on the Middle East. a general overview people have over the middle eastern countries about social restrictions. Here, I would say the social atmosphere is the real strength of Bahrain. There are no social restrictions, visitors face no restriction in visiting night clubs, pubs, no dress code until and unless they don’t wear anything… hahaha! unlike other middle eastern countries, Bahrain is a safe and relaxed place to live. to give an idea, we celebrate all kinds of festivals irrespective of any nationality and religion. There are several temples, churches, gurudwaras all over Bahrain.
Bahrain is a cosmopolitan country like any other modern cities of the world and English is widely spoken and so it is termed one amongst the friendliest nations in the world. All in all, Bahrain is never boring.
Like any other kid, they too have a fascination for pizzas, burgers, fries, shawarma, and grills. But I tried to develop a habit of loving our Traditional food, rice is a staple, fish, khar, tenga, payox, laru, pitha, jolpanand not to forget the Assam tea. It has been an exciting experience for them to know about ASSAM, from past two years and they look forward to the yearly visit to Assam during their summer break. The hot and humid weather turns them down for the first three to four days since they are used to air conditioned homes, schools, offices, public places etc but do not take a long time to get adjusted to the local life and its weather.
“Within sight within the mind” could be the perfect antidote to “out of sight out of mind” syndrome. If you are living away from someone or someplace dear to you, you need to keep in regular touch to keep the bridge intact.
A personal visit is still the best way to keep that invisible thread of bonding alive, technological advances in communication notwithstanding.
Tips on making NRI children get adjusted to the Indian environment when on vacation
- Health is Happiness. Give your child/children a clear picture of how the place is going to be. Keeping that in mind, not only travelling to India but to any other country, it is always best to stick to hot food, if possible home cooked food. Avoid eating out, unless the restaurant/place seems hygienic. I would always prefer purified or Bottled water or any hot liquids like tea/coffee than sodas ,shakes and smoothies, until they were grown enough to develop body resistance.
- Though they are used to a different lifestyle with your cleanest surroundings, prepare kids in such a manner that they not to crib about the weather, dirt, mosquitoes, flies, pot holes, muds, Indian toilets, bucket and mugs and so on. I used to tell Renee to jot down the names and number of insects, creepy crawlies( named given to the insects by my girls) and share the information with her friends and teachers back in school. In this way, they will take these rather as new and exciting facts and experiences to know of a different place.
- To make them aware of the traditional food habits at an early stage of life in order to order to get them accustomed to the same each time they visit.
- To make your kids learn your mother tongue because this helps to make them as well as other people in India feel more comfortable.
- Reading them out with books and tales by Indian writers with which you grew up. To name a few Tenali Rama, Malgudi days, Jataka tales, tales from Ramayana, Indian comics etc.
- If your child has a hobby explore it further. Keeping children occupied is another good option which is beneficial in two ways, learning and adding more to their hobby, and there is no chance for complaints. My elder daughter Inakshi has a keen interest in art. Even during this summer holidays, I got her enrolled in private lessons in a reputed art school. What’s better when passion and learning go along with holidays.
- Compassion is an important life lesson that parents have an opportunity to teach by action and support right from the very beginning. Talking and explaining about the hardships of many underprivileged children they see in India make children understand the scenario. My children find joy in sharing some of their belongings with other children and this has been going on from a long time that now when they buy anything small to give their cousins in India, they will never forget to buy the share of their underprivileged friends in India.
- Spending time and talking to the old people, spending time, taking pictures of any small or big moments with people in your extended family spreads love which reciprocates in lots of love and affection from them. Children will not value it then but will cherish those moments when they see the pictures back home.
As you can tell from these suggestions, it is next to impossible to raise your children as true Indians while living outside, but can always make a little effort so that they can proudly represent their motherland.