Reasons Indian Expats Visit India After Moving to the US

Posted On: April 21, 2015

Being lulled into slumber laying beach side under a coconut tree or umbrella, being served tender coconut water in a coconut, while watching others leisurely stroll by leaving their footprints in the sand as they pick up shells and leave their cares behind.

This may be the split second imagery a typical American may get in their mind when a coworker, friend or employee prepares to take a vacation to India.

Of course visions of Taj Mahal, temples, and other landmarks may pop into their head, but when an American especially from a ‘cold part of America’ hears someone taking days off to go to a hot place, this kind of scene may play in many of their imaginations. And, while seeing that in their mind’s eye they wish you a ‘fun time in India.’


Little do they know that visits to India do not always include outings to resorts or off-the-beaten track vacation spots, but are packed with hectic family visits, family administrative tasks and even work! The fun comes in the form of shopping, eating, hanging out with friends and family at weddings, family events and baby naming ceremonies (usually not at a beach!).

So if you ever wondered, “What do my Indian friends, employees or coworkers do on their vacations to India?” here is an abbreviated to-do list of various things your Desi friends may have on their ‘vacation’ to-do lists:

  1. Get Engaged/Married – Single Indians who were born and raised in the US often return to India to get engaged and/or married. Sometimes because Indians working in the US do not get as much vacation, engagements and marriages take place in the span of a week or two.
  2. Religious Ceremonies – Depending on an Indian citizen’s (or NRI’s) religious background, some may prefer to come back to India to participate in various festivals, especially if all or most of their family and friends are still in India.
  3. Classes for Personal Development – Some may come to India to take meditation, yoga or meditation classes for recreational purposes.
  4. Celebrating Indian Festivals and Family Functions – Though family functions and holidays are hectic regardless of India or America, some Indians think of these events as ‘killing two birds with one stone.’ Attending one or two get togethers is much easier than traveling to everyone’s house personally. These events come in the form of formal parties, engagements, weddings, baby naming ceremonies, birthday parties, and various holiday get togethers for holidays like Diwali, Onam, Eid, and Christmas.
  5. House and Property Buying– Indians want to buy property in India. Meeting with brokers to purchase undeveloped land, newly built homes or possibly book homes in up and coming gated communities.
  6. Investing – Trips to banks are made for a wide range of Non-Resident Indian (hereafter, NRI) investment opportunities. There are many banks that cater specifically to NRIs in this regard.
  7. Property Management– NRIs who own homes in India may own homes that lie vacant. These houses are purchased solely for investment purposes. Some NRIs will use these homes as their ‘vacation home’ when they come to India, while others rent these houses out to NRIs that move back to India or partner with companies to rent the house as a paying guest accommodation. It is during visits to India that the NRI may come in person to check on the smooth functioning of the home and book any maintenance that is required.
  8. Shopping – saris, kurtas, gold, kitchenware, holiday and celebratory decorations and party favors (for Indian holidays to be celebrated in the USA at a later date), food items, and basically anything else desired under the sun. Some NRIs even go car shopping to buy vehicles for their family members.
  9. Training and Work – Though your Indian colleagues will be on ‘vacation’ and gone for up to a few months, sometimes there is an understanding that they will be doing “work from home in India”. Depending on one’s job, some may be doing work from home, while others may actually be making site visits to offices, clients or fields where projects are being undertaken. Some others may also be attending professional development training in cities away from their hometown. Others may actually be forging networking connections for your company to expand in India for offshoring or outsourcing projects. Some workers may actually be doing research to move back to India on behalf of the company for expansion in India.
  10. Visiting Family and Friends – The network of family and friends can boggle the mind of most Americans!
  11. Health care– Visits to the family doctor for small or major medical requirements, opticians, dentists, and numerous other allopathic doctors can be consulted. In addition, some may consult with ayurvedic, homeopathic, and natropathic doctors. Generally NRIs settled in the West do not return to India for giving birth, but some NRIs do return to India to deliver babies and be at home with their parents after the delivery.
  12. Caring for Sick or Dying Relatives – Some Indians take ‘vacation days’ to come to India to care for their sick, ailing or dying relatives. Especially if your Indian colleague is the eldest son in the family, he may be responsible for coordinating funeral arrangements, taking care of the passing rituals or coordinating death anniversary rituals. If your colleague or employee is going to India to manage these heartbreaking details, keep in mind many Indians observe one year of bereavement. During that one year, the person and his family would avoid big parties, grand holiday celebrations and other festivities. If he or she opts out of attending work related Christmas parties, Fourth Of July parties or other related festivities within a year of their family member’s passing away, be sympathetic of these customs.
  13. Site Seeing – If time exists, people may go site seeing. For many, this may not even be on the list of things to-do if the list is already packed with the things already mentioned above.

If vacation is defined as “planned time spent not working,” how many Desis live up to this idealistic definition on their regular trips back home? Even those who ‘plan’ holidays to hill stations or landmarks have reported at times feeling so rushed they forgot their cameras or to take photos, or had to cancel their plans altogether because of logistical travel headaches, family sicknesses or other emergencies. Of course, there are Indians visiting home who do have completely relaxing and enjoyable memories without a care in the world. Most likely students enjoy this scenario more than those Indians growing up through their career and family life. Do keep these things in mind when your Indian friends go away to India. They have a lot of obligations and plans when traveling home and it’s often way more hectic than staying back in America for a staycation!


Related Posts: 
Mission R2I (Return to India)
Myths of Returning to India
Tackling the Issues of Hiring NRIs
Special Challenges of Moving NRI Children to India



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