One AmaraMom took her kids skiing, one took her kids to the beach. Same weekend. In California. (Granted there wasn’t a ton of new snow, or the beach wasn’t balmy, bake-in-the-sun weather, but still).
My sister visited us recently from London and my husband and I got into the usual “should we stay or should we move back to India” discussion. This has taken on a totally different hue for me lately when the ground got pulled out from beneath my family’s feet last November, and I feel an urgency I’ve never felt in the past. The theoretical nature of this debate, the almost great-chat-over-cocktails-conversation material with other Indian immigrants who still have family in India, has turned 180 degrees into something more serious for me. My sister, who will move back from London to Mumbai this year, will likely face the largest lifestyle change in many ways. Hence I thought that when I told her of my serious desire to return to Mumbai, even if only for a 5 year period, she would jump. Jump she did, but in the opposite direction to what I anticipated. She was adamant my husband and I not even consider returning. Not even for a little while. Nope. No way. Nada. “Why would you leave this?” she said. “Why would you leave the life you have in California?”. I began mumbling about how expensive it was, and how far away from everything and that I’m suddenly beginning to feel our kids should grow up closer to their roots, and ‘their own kind’ (that’s in quotes for a reason so bear with me – I don’t have that defined in my head at all – it’s more a generic anxiety about raising a pre teen and a teen (on Feb 5) far away from family).
She of course challenged that right away. “Own kind? What does that mean? They are exposed to such diversity! Expensive? And Mumbai isn’t?? Your kids bike to their schools; schools which have campuses and fresh air; you have a million things to do with them over the weekends, your commute to work is on one of the most gorgeous highways in the country…and you want to move back? I don’t think so”.
Wow. I wasn’t expecting that at all. I thought she’d heartily agree with me, to return, to be there for mom, for her; easily accessible and sharing the burden. Those are still questions we struggle to answer. They will remain painful and challenging, and a constant pull. Her reaction did make me think again of the life we live here, the life we can offer our kids. Is California really the place to be? What happens when we get old? Will we have the same support we see back in India? I guess that’s up to those of us who continue to debate the issue, but live on here, year after year.
However, for one full day until my doubts raised their insistent voices again, as we were driving my kids to Pescadero on Sunday (to the beach), and I heard from the other AmaraMom that they were in Tahoe, I thought…”Oh California”….!