Wednesday, July 9, 2014

NRI's Behaving Badly

I waited quite some time to write about this because I wanted to make sure we no longer had to have any contact with these people. With some of the news reports this year, I'm thankful we didn't get caught up in worse.

While hubby was looking for a job he decided to try some age-old Indian methods of job hunting. That means he asked around for other Indians to help him find a job basically. While this isn't really how things work for Americans here, it seems that Indians still operate this way. Hubby enlisted the help of an elder who was generally trying to help him. Unfortunately it turns out this man knows too many people and some of the scum of the Earth have misused his position to find slave labor.

Hubby got a bit excited, it took less than a day for this elder to find him a job lead. Hubby contacted the person and felt confident he could do the job, though it wasn't really what he wanted. So off we go to check out this job. Then comes our first disappointment. Hubby told them I was an investigator. Suddenly they didn't need his help and stopped returning his phone calls.

Hubby again goes to the elder to sort things out and the elder returns to tell him that the man didn't want to hire him because they were scared of my job. Interesting. That's okay, elder had another job lead, a better one and told hubby he didn't want him to deal with shady people like that. Awesome.

After hubby talked to the man about the next job we again embarked on a journey to that city (none of these jobs were local btw). This job sounded like just what hubby needed. They guaranteed him all the hours he could stand to work, a place to stay for minimal rent (Indian style of course -multiple men sharing the same house) and a ride to and from wherever he may need to go until he could get his own transportation. The pay wasn't bad and he would be management. Nice.

We get to this house he's supposed to live in only to find it was a gutted basement which was far below sub-par living quarters. The floor was ripped up, the cabinets removed, no appliances, no heat or AC or fan, no lights and it was filthy. Hubby really wanted to work and I could see the wheels turning in his head but the look of disgust on his face told me he wanted out of this one. I didn't blame him. We again returned home and considered the options for this job. Hubby asked for more money or for them to make the space livable. Needless to say, neither was granted and we again returned to the elder for help.

Job #3. I'm not even sure how to define this one. Hubby accepted the job, working with a very sweet-seeming older couple managing their store. Hubby packed up, they had a room available for him with a friend nearby who also seemed nice and this room was indeed livable and affordable with the salary they promised. I dropped hubby off and returned home - 2 hours away. Things seemed okay.

No sooner than I got settled at home and relaxed hubby texted me to call him. I called. No answer. He texted me again that he would call me soon. I got a bit worried. Another message - "Come get me. Don't tell anyone. Don't call." OMG. Something is definitely wrong. Another message - "They won't let me talk. Come get me quick. Just park outside and I'll come out. Don't come in." The messages came and really shook me up. This is not like my husband and something is very wrong.

Race back up to the store to get him. I get there and he basically runs out of the store and jumps in the car and tells me to go before they notice he left. He then begins to tell me the story. After I left they had told him they weren't going to pay him for the first week of work and after that week they would decide if they were going to hire him or not. (They had already hired him!) They were following him if he walked outside of the store and telling him to come back inside. They kept making comments about how they weren't going to let him leave and they wanted him to work 90+ hours a week for work - at a much lower rate than previously agreed on. The whole thing seemed surreal and terrifying - like something you only hear about in horror movies.

What's more scary? These people had hired other Indians and mistreated them this way before. The filthy house had other Indians living in it and working for that same man. None of these businesses was legit and while I'm not slamming illegal labor with this post, I am outwardly rebuking slave labor which is exactly what this was. These Indian business owners were literally preying on new immigrants who needed money and a place to stay after arriving here. They didn't realize my husband had family here.

I've heard of this kind of bullsh*t but I didn't realize just how real it was until this happened to us. I can't help but wonder what would have happened if hubby hadn't been able to sneak those messages out to me or I hadn't been there to see these things with him and keep him out of trouble.

While these businesses were not 7-11 stores, this scam was not much different than what was happening in this news article.

A couple months after our bad experience with these people, some of the stores/owners were involved in this scandal.


  1. Wow, could it be possible to lodge a complaints under condition of remaining anonymous? Just to add to the charges already put on these stores? Violating labour laws is a serious enough thing.

  2. I suggest you lodge a formal complaint against these people so that they are brought to book. I think your husband needs your help. It is also obvious that you husband has not able to find a suitable job all by himself. In order to ensure that he does not fall prey to such people again, you will have to get him a job using your contacts. I know American do not operate like this but sometimes you have do certain things for the family. Don't get me wrong but this may be the only way.

  3. I think I'd stay away from that elder.

    I had some NRI neighbors when I lived in a posh community in California that were up to some 'bad behavior'-

    Santa Rosa collects $1 million from 'prostitution' motel owners

    They had to pay a $1.1 million fine & had to pay for the 'flea bag' hotel they owned to be demolished. It was interesting, I watched the the police 'raid' their house & bring out huge boxes of cash.

  4. You must listen to this. This is Canadian man speaking in chaste Punjabi. I am not an expert in punjabi, but his Punjabi seems to be the classical Punjabi from Punjab. He is speaking Punjabi better than a Punjabi.

  5. I can bet that almost all of those Indians living in the filthy basement were illegals and quite likely uneducated. They are the only ones willing to put up with such treatment. A little bit of prison time would do a lot of good to those sweet-seeming older couple and the likes of them. I would have absolutely filed a police complaint in that situation - no sympathy whatsoever on account of being a fellow country man.

    As for your comment,

    "While hubby was looking for a job he decided to try some age-old Indian methods of job hunting. That means he asked around for other Indians to help him find a job basically. While this isn't really how things work for Americans here, it seems that Indians still operate this way"

    - this is not entirely true. Firstly, Indians with professional abilities (usually backed up with at least a 4-year degree - yes, despite all talk of street smarts etc, education still counts), take the same route as the rest of Americans in finding jobs. All previous (and current) jobs I've had were by applying online on etc. No favors asked for and none provided. On the flip side, there are some Americans (and most of them fall in the "rich old white boys" club) who, when it comes to finding jobs, operate in pretty much the same way as those sleazy NRIs you described - with the exception that there's absolutely no horrors of slave labor and illegalities involved. You would be surprised to see how many unqualified people occupy seriously high-paying senior management positions in some industries (to be honest, this applies to certain lines of work only....for instance you can't be a renowned brain surgeon and an idiot at the same time) - schmoozers with only claim to fame being their proximity to people in right places.

  6. I'm not sure if we could or not. It's been a while now since all this happened. Hubby just wanted to be out of the mess and I don't blame him.

  7. Wow. We don't have any contact with that elder any longer. He kept trying to refer us to the same type of people and we decided he wasn't going to be a good lead. My mother actually applied for a job at a local Indian run motel for one of her foster kids and they wanted to pay the girl $3 a room to clean them and it would all be in cash. Against our urging the girl agreed and took the job. They tried to work her like a dog and wanted her to also run the office for them while they went out. That wasn't a good experience either. We did ultimately turn them in.

  8. My contacts are useless to him. All of my contacts are criminal justice people and state employees. His field is IT and he's not a citizen. I've tried to help him with what I could but it's hard with the career gap. I know nothing of IT. He has since made some good quality friends who are helping him with tailoring his resume and finding opportunities.

  9. Lol. It's funny you say he speaks better than a Punjabi. I've had people correct hubby's Punjabi LOL. Of course, I've also had other English speakers correct my English so I guess grammar police are everywhere.

  10. Yeah they would do good having some jail time but you and I both know that's unlikely to happen. I urged hubby to file a complaint but he was hesitant to do so and I just had to respect that.

    I'm glad to hear that educated Indians job hunt like the rest of us. Hubby has his Masters and 3 bachelors and one associates. I send him job links as I find them but our job market down here is tough right now. He's had some interviews but there's inevitably more people interviewing than there are positions available. I hope he reads your comments so he'll get out of the mindset of thinking networking is his only option. He's been a bit discouraged lately.

  11. I am not an authority on punjabi but a non-punjabi myself, I can make out whether a punjabi belongs to punjab or delhi. Punjab's punjabi has more words and thicker accent. A delhi punjabi's punjabi is understandable, but he cannot go on an on in punjabi. He is more comfortable with hindi. The younger generation ofcourse does not know a word of punjabi. What is interesting about this video is that the person uses words of hindi/sanskrit and then lapses into english just like an Indian. I specially like the way he pronouced "Toronto" as "Tooronto" like a punjabi.
    Speaking about languages, in Delhi parents talk to their in hindi and english and the child replies in hindi. So Tamils don't teach tamil to their children, Bengalis Bangla and Punjabi Punjabi. Children grow up not knowing their language, leave alone culture. It is most irritating to see children taking to their parents in Hindi and not their mother tongue. This is what is called lazy parenting. I grew up in Delhi but can speak my mother tongue. I cannot write but read the script that too in printed form nto somebody's handwriting. India has lost many languages due to neglect and soon it is going to loose all its major languages.

  12. Wow, I have heard about such cases and they operate even in India. So many girls, even educated ones are sold to prostitution in this same way. There are even some small foreign companies who provide white girls from abroad to bollywood films for acting and dancing. Producers pay those companies and in turn they pay those girls, and while most of them might be paying good but I have heard of few ones who treat those girls like slaves. I don't know but I won't be surprised if those bad ones are involved in selling girls to prostitution. I think such type of hidden underground networks are actually in all countries.

  13. Can your husband go back to school for some extra certifications? The way it works is through professional networking and for that you have to have some contacts either through a school adviser, a professor, etc. It would be awful to waste his IT talents in dead end jobs but he does need to network and build his confidence beyond motel-type desis. And turn in those damned slave drivers. They deserve jail time.

  14. Its diffuct finding a job ad an american yet alone someone who isnt a citizen. My bf is having a difficult time too. He goes on imterviews but then no job offer when ge says they have to sponsor him. Thank god he is working on his phd. That gives him a cushion. How come he isnt a citizen if you are married?

  15. I agree that is lazy parenting. It's no different than many other populations are doing or have done. Languages come and go. Cultures unfortunately change this way. You know though, Americans are just now getting a culture. 50 years ago kids weren't taught things like family tradition and family history, etc. Many in that generation actually feel like they grew up with no culture (which of course means they just didn't know what their culture was).

  16. Human trafficking is still one of the biggest industries worldwide unfortunately. It's sickening. So many people don't realize they're being sold as slaves and leave home willingly (as I'm sure these Indians likely did) on the promise of a good life. Even those in movie industries likely don't have it very good. Most actors/actresses don't make much money until they become major actors (like Katrina Kaif or Salman Khan). Last I heard the background actors in Hollywood made less than $100 a day. Some other key roles may make a little more but no one is paying them the big bucks. I imagine Bollywood operates in a similar fashion.

    It really sickens me the way some people think they can treat other humans like slaves or buy and sell them as if they owned them.

  17. He won't go. He has done some home study in preparation for certifications though. He's just not interested in more schooling. Our original intention was to just get him any job so he could start earning and get some experience and make some contacts here. Since that wasn't working very fast because our economy is in a slump, he started networking through social venues and that has been good for him. He's met some much more reputable people who are local and not trying to ship him off to some remote location like these jobs in the post were trying to do. There's a serious racket set up to lure unsuspecting immigrants into slavery here. He was getting calls on a daily basis from so-called consulting companies that only wanted part of his paycheck in exchange for training him and getting him a job. I'm not against consulting companies but these places were not legit. It has actually been somewhat scary to deal with these people.

  18. You're absolutely right. I've been job hunting myself since last October so I can move along in my career and I'm just now getting interviews and potential job offers and even then it's only 2 out of about 150 jobs I've applied for. There's always someone out there with higher degrees and more years of experience than me applying for low and mid-level jobs because they can't find anything on their level and then of course they select them over me.

    Hubby has his 10 year green card. He can apply for citizenship next year. He's debating it because there's a lot of reasons to take US citizenship and a lot of reasons not to. I think it's going to be a difficult choice for him.

  19. Once bollywood actor Amir Khan said in an interview with BBC that he has never read a book in Hindi in his whole life. I am a great fan of Amir Khan but just imagine he works in hindi film industry but does not know the language. Many bollywood actors read hindi dialogues in english script in which they are comfortable. It is often lamented that we do not have good scripts or script writers thus bad movies are made. There is such rich literature in hindi and regional languages but our film makers make bad rip off of hollywood movies. We have 26 national languages recognized by our constitution and thousands of dialects and each of these major languages have tonnes of literature and literary giants. Imagine the cultural treasure we have. I have always felt that Indians are callous and unworthy inheritors of a great culture.

    There are a few who come from small towns and also have that literary background. They make brilliant movies. Rest of the bollywood consists of americanized desis and NRIs who have no idea about India. Imagine if these people could tap into the local literature of India and make movies. There is no dearth of stories in this incredible country. Language is the key to open the door of culture. if the door remains closed due to the fact that you don't have the key, then it is your loss.

  20. I have heard that certain foreign degrees are not accepted in America. Indian doctors have to sit for another exam or maybe study all over the same thing which they have done to apply for American residency. American MBBS, I understand is of seven years compared to four years Indian MBBS. I had cousin who went to England after his MBBS. He could not pass the exam there and was in tears. He eventually did. But I can imagine what he went through.

    I think it is the same with other professional careers also. Whatever I have read on the internet tells me that you have to have certifications under your belt to make headway in america. Software professionals have to keep on learning new languages all the time. It sure helps if you know what you are looking for in a foreign land. It is all about enhancing your skill base. It is lot of hard work.

    Your hubby may have to get certain certifications to be more competitive in the job market. What is the area of specialization of his bachelors and master degree??

  21. He should still enroll in school for a few terms. Not for the education - he will probably know more than most students but it's the networking that will help him in future - profs to write him references, classmates to socialize with and discuss opportunities with, librarians to help with research projects, and a diploma that local companies will recognize. He can go to school part time if he doesn't want full time status. I would really recommend this if the other irons he has in the fire don't work out.

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  23. Doctors do have it rough when trying to work in the US on a foreign degree. Hubby has his Masters in Computer Engineering and Artificial Intelligence, and Bachelors in Arts, Public Admin and Political Science. His associates is Computer Science.

    He's currently doing getting his MCSA certification and he's also got his manual testing and software testing certifications since he's been here.

  24. I just told him to come read all the comments so he can take in the suggestions and decide what he might want to do next. Thanks for your suggestions!

  25. @apple: There is no such thing as MBBS here in US. That degree only exists in countries like India, Pakistan etc. All doctors graduate with a MD degree i.e. graduation is at masters level not bachelors level for medical degrees. Americans need to have a separate bachelors degree before they can even get accepted in a university for MD - usually in a somewhat related area like BS in Biology track (BS = Bachelor of Science - all bachelors degree in US take 4 years which is why India's 3-year BSc has no recognition here as being inadequate). As for other professional degrees like BE/BTech in India, they are already 4 year degrees so they line up well with US bachelors degrees and therefore recognized here. Americans are usually close to 30 years in age when they become fully-fledged doctors after finishing their course, internship etc.

  26. @AP: Unfortunately, it is a chicken-and-egg situation to get your foot in the door for the first job. American companies look for US corporate experience - past experience in India is heavily discounted to the point of being almost worthless. It becomes a lot easier with at least 2 years of relevant (the key word is relevant) work experience here. Certifications and good US references are very important at this stage.

  27. Alexandra MadhavanJuly 18, 2014 at 7:14 PM

    It is so typical for people to take advantage of new immigrants, and especially people who are working illegally under the table. In college as international students, we were only allowed to work legally at the college itself - which only paid $5 per hour, way below the minimum wage. The majority of international students I knew HAD to work illegally in order to get some funds for their education and living expenses. Even working illegally paid about $7 per hour at the time, but the bosses always were asking you to do extra things or were abusive in some way. It is hard.
    Not to mention, Indian bosses are notorious for being terrible, even amongst Indians. The stories I have heard from friends and family having Indian bosses are the worst. It is like the bad ones do a type of college style hazing on newcomers.
    I don't blame your hubby for trying to look through the Indian community as so many connections are made by word of mouth.

  28. Yeah he's still working on the word of mouth thing and then applying where he knows people. I think that's helping him a lot.

  29. Oh my goodness, I now want to read all of your posts. This was so edge of my seat interesting. I'm so glad that he was able to contact you.

  30. Thank you for sharing this story and alerting fellow NRIs! I have a similar experience to share. In 2012, after 8 years of being a full-time mom, I decided to step back into working full-time. After 1 year of fruitless searching in the Midwest, where we live, I was getting desperate. I am not really a networking or social media type of person but I threw myself into exploring these avenues as well...Then I happened to meet a very well-dressed, successful, and beautiful Indian businesswoman who owned an IT contracting firm - a small one. I was impressed by her manner and bearing and introducing myself, offered her my services. Now, I am a triple Masters degree holder with 8 years solid international full-time experience. This woman could have hired me with the full trust that I would have been a hard worker and more importantly, a loyal worker. She had the gall to string me along endlessly for 3 months, baiting me with a carrot and then drawing back. Finally, she offered me a dumb watered down role for the princely sum of - get this - $10 an hour! Needless to say, I didn't take her offer. And a good thing too. Today I teach at a local American college, under an American boss, at 15 times that rate per hour - way more than she bills herself too, I'll bet. Appearances are indeed deceptive and definitely much more in the case of this woman who has made a good name of sorts for herself in the community. If only people knew her true colors...! I'm sure if I were to scratch beneath the tranquil surface of her 4-5 employees, I will find a good bit of dirt that matches her true persona.

  31. Yeah it seems this is a common thing (not every Indian but more than there should be). I'm glad you found something better. Maybe she strung you along thinking you would take the small salary out of desperation.