It was sometime in the summer of 1982 when I first set foot in Saudi Arabia. I was a 7-year-old and don’t remember much of it now. When I reminisce, I remember going to the Pakistani school in AlKhobar for the 1st year as I couldn’t get admission in the Indian school. That was the first and only place where I learned Urdu – it has stayed with me over the past 36 years. I was there for a year and then moved to Indian Embassy School in grade 3 in 1983.
After completing my 12th, I moved to Pune, India in 1994 to pursue my graduation and post-graduation. Post college and a 2-year employment tenure in Pune, I moved back to Saudi Arabia in 2001 and since June 2002 have spent the last 16 years as a professional.
I have spent almost 2/3rd of my life in Saudi Arabia and between my father and myself – 43 years as professionals. But the question now is – till when? This question started pricking me around 3 years ago and I started analyzing ways and avenues to pack my bags and return to India.
Over the past 3 years, I have thought deeply and analyzed the reasons for returning to India. And as time passed, the reasons and outcomes were crystal clear why I wanted to and should leave Saudi Arabia.
Dependence on Gulf Countries –
I hail from Konkan region of Maharashtra, India and many Konkanis have been able to have better livelihoods for themselves and their families; being employed in Gulf Countries over the past 4 decades. Unfortunately, the economic and socio-political situation in most Gulf countries is drastically changing and this will result in the exodus of many expats including Koknis.
It is time to reduce dependence on Gulf countries and look for avenues/start building something back in India.
Family/Children Adaptation –
My wife has been with me in Saudi Arabia since our wedding and all my children were born in Saudi Arabia. But I don’t want my children to spend the rest of their lives here. They should live, grow, learn in their own country and contribute in building their nation.
So, the early they go, the better would be their adaptation to life in India – although initially difficult.
Social Impact – student guidance/career counseling –
Many students from our village and nearby towns (or in entire Konkan) are still confused with what they want to achieve in life; what career path they want to take. I have spent time with many of them on earlier occasions and found them to be puzzled, worried and clueless.
It’s time to provide guidance and coaching to our young generation (in whatever small way I can) who are the future of our community/country.
Nurture Entrepreneurship –
With the current scenario changing in Gulf countries, I felt that it is time to start building a solid base for Konkanis and Konkan – in Konkan; with an objective for long-term growth/sustainability. And the only way out as I see is through fostering “entrepreneurship” – small, medium, big.
Sow seeds for new thoughts/mindset change –
Today, it is required to build avenues & opportunities along with an atmosphere to embrace failures as steps towards acceptance of entrepreneurship on large scale. There must be a paradigm shift from being ‘job seekers’ to becoming ‘job creators’.
Hope for new generations –
The Konkani youth of today are the torch bearers of tomorrow. They have dreams, aspirations, and ideas. There are many who keep asking me what they should do. There are several who still feel the best opportunity for them lies in the Gulf countries. This is because they have seen and lived this phenomenon all their lives. Someone from their family, near ones, relatives or extended family has been in the Gulf. So, the only green pasture seems that side.
But this will not be the case in the long run. We need to create avenues for our new generations back in Konkan and India for their future and development. And the seeds for that should be sown today.
Someone’s got to take the lead –
All or any of the objective I have mentioned above would not be achieved while sitting here in Saudi Arabia. It requires collective approach, thinking and action to make it achievable – as it is a long-term vision and would require several hands and minds. But hey, someone’s got to take the lead.
So, I said to myself, I’ll go. I am sure others will follow suit.
The joy of building something –
Over the past 17+ odd years, I have worked in different roles, managed varied projects and been part of teams which have delivered great results. The joy of achievement has been overwhelming. I have engaged my time, energy, mind and efforts to accomplish the objectives of the companies I have worked for.
But now, it’s time to build something of my own. That joy will supersede all the past joys – I am sure about that.
With these aspirations, I have decided to leave Saudi Arabia and dedicate myself to establish the project on which I have been working for 3 years now. I call it my “Return To The Roots Project”. And possibly explore other projects. I think it’s time to move ahead from only talking to start doing. Nuff said!
And the earlier I go, the better it would be.
Yes, it’s going to be a difficult journey. But I hope and pray God gives me the strength to sail through.
Hausla Hai to Safeeno Ke Alam Leharo;
Behte Dariya To Chalege Isi Raftaar Ke Saath!
Twitter – @GulzarWangde
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