The New York Times on the New Wave of Immigrants

The New York Times is running an interesting series entitled “the Next Wave on what they call, “the transplanted New Yorker.” Profiling the stories of 10 different transplants, obviously one had to be brown.

The brown portrait was written by photographer Sanjna Singh, who writes about the voyage she made one summer from her home on the Upper East Side to the man-made India in the Jackson Heights section of Queens. Sanjna’s portrait is interesting as it contrasts the modernity, if you can call it that, of Indians living in India to the self-made constraints of tradition that many immigrants from South Asia bring with them into the diaspora. Sanjna, who immigrated to New York from New Delhi about eight years ago, labels her reaction to this phenomenon aptly, as “being in the grip of a bizarre reverse culture-shock.”

She notes later,

“here in New York, I didn’t think of myself as an immigrant, because for me, the door leading back to Delhi seemed wide open, and I could return anytime I chose. Yet as I entered my eighth year in America, I was forced to recognize that this open door grew more illusory with each passing year. As I drifted further from my own country, I started to feel the need to grant space to my Indian self, right here, in New York.”

Click here to read the full profile, and click here to see all the profiles.

2 thoughts on “The New York Times on the New Wave of Immigrants

  1. They were equally bemused at this apparent contradiction: an Indian woman … photographer? The word conjured a turbaned Sikh with a Nikon and a blinding flash that accosted them at weddings and birthdays saying “smile please” and “family only please.”

    Picture Singh!

  2. The author, Sanjana Singh, says, with a hint of condescension:

    ((I was part of the fortunate generation of Indians, born into a democratic country whose colonial presence was happily a memory. My family were freedom fighters in the struggle led by Gandhi, and by their grace, I grew up in relative comfort. But despite my advantages, I saw no avenues for creativity in the conventional lifestyle – office worker, then faithful spouse – that seemed ready-made for people like me. Overwhelmed by the prospect of forging a new path in a regimented society and enticed by the myriad offerings of an effortlessly prosperous America, I decided to taste that life for myself}}

    It is interesting that she notes that this Sikh family emigrated to New York twenty years ago, 1984, the year in which ten thousand Sikhs were killed in lynchings and pogroms following Indira Gandhis assassination. Cosseted in her liberal bourgeouis home, Sanjana Singh was “born into a democratic country whose colonial presence was happily a memo”

    Not so democratic to punish the perpetrators of a genocide that took place on her doorstep, a worse genocide than that commited by the “colonial presence” whom her family fought against, about which she has nothing to say when talking about the great, democratic, oh-so-liberal and righteous place she comes from.

    I have always believed that India is in deep denial about its genocidal recent, and present history. (Witness Gujarat 2002)

    Iy is easy and comforting for Sanjana Singh to chirrup about the great democratic country she somes from, that allows organisers of pogroms to walk free, with barely a protest from the bourgeoise liberal descendants of the “colonial presence”, who can then write articles about her great struggle to forge a creative career, as opposed to those petty and backward Sikhs in Jackson Heights, who are to be pitied for (shock horror) getting married at a young age.

    Educate yourself about 1984 and other state sponsored lynchings here:

    My apologies if I have offended anyone