At 1.4 million Indians easily form the largest ethnic minority group in the UK. They represent 2.3% of the country’s entire population. It is widely known that Indians take their culture everywhere they go. Nonresident Indians in the UK are no exception. For the most part their lives consist of toil. The vast majority of Indians move to the UK for better work opportunities. They regularly send remittances to their families back home via international money transfers. These are often the only sources of income for the families. However, NRIs can play as hard as they work.
For the love of festivals
Indian festivals are occasions for large numbers of NRIs to come together and revel in the communal celebrations. One of the best examples of this is the colorful festival of Holi. Some special occasions are strongly connected to certain cities in the UK. For example NRIs partake in fun and games during Eid celebrations in Manchester and Birmingham. On Vaisakhi they gather in Trafalgar Square and Southall for the clamorous celebrations. During Diwali they flock to Leicester for an extended two-week carnival, exulting over a radiant display of lights and fireworks. Indians tend to make the place their own wherever they go en masse. In all communal events the feeling that NRIs most cherish is the sense of togetherness and belonging. The way the community unites irrespective of casts and religions is a sight to behold.
Remedies for the homesick
A commonly heard quip among NR Indians is, “You can leave India, but you can never get away from India”. While NRIs love living in England they do get homesick every now and then. There are many ways to get around this, particularly in the UK. Some take a stroll down Southall Broadway in London, a place so ‘Indian’ they have signboards in Indian languages. Most of the merchandise on display is of Indian origin. Many NRIs march into Indian restaurants and street food joints to indulge in chicken tikka masala, parathas, samosas, bhel puri, pav bhaji, or one of many other Indian treats. Some NRIs beat homesickness the spiritual way, by visiting one of the temples, mosques, or gurudwaras in the country. After spending an hour or two reconnecting with their culture and religion they feel good as new. Others simply choose to stay home and dig up old photos and videos to reminisce.
Longing for families
Like all expats NRIs miss their families the most. As hardworking as they are, many of them miss out on weddings and birthday celebrations in the family. A video call over FaceTime or WhatsApp certainly helps ease the longing. Sadly modern technology has its limitations. Video can never make-up for the comforting hug of a mother, or time spent with a loved one.
All about the money
Living in the UK doesn’t come cheap, especially by Indian standards. The cost of living in places like London and Birmingham is notably higher than in most Indian cities. NRIs in the UK mostly focus on saving money and sending it back to their families. Traditionally they used to rely on banks. Lately NRIs depend almost exclusively on international money transfers. With a widespread network of agent locations in the host and home countries services like Ria Money Transfer are favorites. The Migration Observatory, Oxford stated in its most recent report that in 2018 British NRIs transferred GBP 2,975 million to India.
Workhorses and party animals
While the weekdays are all about work, NRIs’ weekends often focus on fun. Men enjoy cricket and soccer matches. Women pamper themselves in salons and spas. The young and adventurous chase romantic pursuits in nightclubs and pubs, while the intellectually inclined lounge at home with their favorite books. Many stalk Facebook and other social media pages to keep track of all the events and people. NRIs in the UK certainly know how to have fun.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.