Monday, May 31, 2010

How To Return

I am starting a new life and today is the first day. This is a private note I shall keep, and publish after a year.

Being on the verge of my 42nd year of life, there are promises to keep. I said I shall change my life completely when I am 42, which will be on 2nd June 2011, and this gives me more or 369 days counting today.

As of this moment, I am rather desolate though. I am just coming out of the clutches of the worst company I have worked for. A lapse of judgement for me, surely: I took the job because I liked the position and the scope of work. To be honest, I have got some exposure and learnt interesting things. But, on the other hand, the three years with these cowboys were exhausting. The company is just unreal: ego-driven, irresponsible, speculative. This is a man who got rich because he was at the right time at the right place when Northern Ireland peace came about, and then lost all his bearings. My job was to make international his company, which has as much sophistication as my village grocer back home, while being alternately abused and patronised for my racial origin everyday. This was some experience.

It took a lot of courage to walk out of their clutches without a job in hand, which I have done now. This enraged my employers, and they have come after me in their usual ways: Not paid my expenses, did not give me my release documents, and even stole my phone number. However, more they do this, I know that I have taken the right decision by walking out. This was hugely risky, indeed: This is a bad job market. I was ready to go back to India if I did not find an worthy job, but was not ready to compromise any further. However, now that I have managed to get an offer from a college to handle their branding, it seems that I can plan the return with less hurry.

The college I am going to join has just emerged out of suspension by UKBA. But they are a credible college, with good infrastructure and a track record of good accountancy education. My outside impression is that they got caught in the chaos: I am sure they were dizzy with the success last year when the international student market exploded [particularly for Indian students coming to UK on the wake of racial violences in Australia], and were unable to cope with frequent and unpredictable rule changes by UKBA. I have quite a challege at hand building the brand all over again, and this is going to be a job much bigger than just sorting out the communication. Part of the job entails taking the college to newer markets, to China primarily, and it is surely going to be an interesting exposure.

However, this is also a time for me to plan my return and trace out my steps for next one year. There are certain things which I have decided:

(a) I want to return to India by December 2012.
(b) I want to make Kolkata my main home.
(c) I want to retain an opportunity to travel and see the world.

This plan has various elements and it is not easy at all. I have got used to a different lifestyle, access to information and public infrastructure, and will surely find it difficult to adjust in Kolkata. Besides, I am a British Citizen now and there will be a number of restrictions if I live in India. Besides, Kolkata is quite a slow-moving, parochial place, and it will be difficult for me to have an opportunity to travel for work.

But, then, Kolkata is home, a part of my identity which I want to keep. I also believe a place is made by its people and I must do my part - and also teach my children to do their parts - for the community which has given us so much. That's my private deal with my private God: I have got whatever I wanted, and I must give now.

So, I roughly have 30 months to actually gather everything and go back. But the process must start much earlier, as early as today. Because this will entail defining what I do back in Kolkata, picking up skills and expertise, making available the necessary resources, sorting out houses and places to stay and work - all of that. This private journal is to trace these steps over next 12 months, after which I can possibly make them public and reassess the progress.

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