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Homecoming: a Sydneysider moves back to her Indian roots

Ahmedabad to Sydney, and back: Nehal Chhatrapati reflects on her family's decision to migrate back to India during the pandemic

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Migrating to another country to live and work is a fairly accepted notion, especially in contemporary India. But reversing your steps and moving back to your birth country – not so much.

It’s a decision that’s bound to be greeted with lots of questions, raised eyebrows, doubts, and yes, even unsolicited advice.

Our story was no different.

It was in the middle of the lockdown in August 2021 that we decided to bid goodbye to our beloved Sydney and go home to India. A beautiful place we still call our ‘home away from home‘, having lived there for two whole decades.

And yet, the challenges of COVID lockdown saw us engage in some profound self-reflection. Indian roots

The moment for our homecoming had arrived. It was time to go home to India, reunite with family and prioritise what truly mattered in life.

The next step was to sell off, donate and pack up our worldly possessions. These personified the twenty years of dedication and resilience we poured into constructing our lives from nothing. The most saddening part was bidding farewell to our home – a home that captured emotions and cherished memories that we’d nurtured over the years, making it an irreplaceable part of our lives.

Nehal with her family before the move back to India (Source: Spplied)

As we bid farewell to our friends-turned-family in Sydney, it felt like the city was also bidding us a solemn goodbye in its own characteristic manner. For an entire week in November that year, the city was drenched in continuous rain: perhaps this was Sydney’s tearful goodbye to us.

(And yet, if we weren’t going home to India, I would be in my comfiest PJs, sipping hot drinks and watching TV – one of the fondest memories from wet Sydney afternoons).

After our warm welcome in India by family and friends, we got busy hunting for a temporary rented house to crash in till we could find our feet on the ground and buy our own. And thus commenced a series of unexpected and unforeseen mental battles and trials adding to our hardships of settling in a new country.

Every person who learned about our return after two decades, leaving behind what seemed like a picturesque life and possibly jeopardising our son’s future in a foreign land, reacted with the same set of questions. Their faces bore a mix of surprise and disbelief, as if struggling to reconcile our decision with their expectations. Neighbourhood aunties and uncles, extended family, real estate agents, home help, and even school teachers and principals, couldn’t resist but ask: “What made you take such a drastic step?” “While there’s a long queue of people going abroad, what made you come back?” “What if you can’t settle here now?” “What will happen to your son’s future?” “Why didn’t you think of having your parents move over there?” “Did you both lose jobs and money?”

And even worse: “Did you do something over there that forced you to return?”

Nehal moves back to her Indian roots
Nehal in her new life at Ahmedabad (Source: Supplied)

And perhaps my favourite question: “Were you not able to settle there?” (This after learning that we were very happily settled in Australia and actually uprooted ourselves to be with our families in India)

Yet, this list is not exhaustive! Indian roots

I do acknowledge where some concerns might stem from, but it’s essential to recognise the diversity of people’s perspectives and priorities. And that from time to time, our outlooks and values can shift, influenced by our evolving life experiences. What may have once seemed of significant importance might now hold less significance, and vice versa.

It’s been two years now that the wheel has come full circle, and we are delighted to be (re)united with our Indian roots.

Watch this space for more stories of transition as Sydneysider Nehal became an Ahmedabadi gal once again.

READ MORE: Leaving home… to go back home

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