Will it be a good idea to invest in an NRI FD which pays 8-9% interest?
Worried about the $ lost in currency exchange (including repatriation) and India's skyrocketing inflation. Thoughts?

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Not recommended. No arbitrage as same net rate of return ( rate - inflation) across geography.

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Fisher effect!!

Better idea is to invest in FCNR (in USD) which gives you higher interest rates compared to the US and you don’t have to convert to INR. Taxes will need to be paid regardless. It all depends on what your objectives with your money are and what’s your risk appetite.

As long as they do this, I will have faith in Indian currency and FDs.

Where are you getting 8-9%?

Highly not recommended

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