I’m always a bit hesitant to write what might be viewed as a “personal” entry on these pages. I used to have my own personal blog for those types of musings but decided to give it up because of the pressures of a full time job and this blog. I also don’t want to be presumptuous and assume that the vast majority of SM readers care about my life (as opposed to my writings highlighting something of interest or importance to the South Asian American community). That being said, today is a holiday (when SM readership plummets for obvious reasons), and so I figured I’d get away with some personal blogging. Since many of you seemed to enjoy my previous entry about my arduous toils in my basement, I thought I would serve up one more entry based on the booty recovered from the nine tons of refuse we removed from down there over the last three days.
And Frosty? Please. The only large snowball I care to associate with is a snow cone with watermelon syrup:
Digging some more I found these pictures in an old, overflowing brown suitcase with a broken zipper…at the bottom of a stack of boxes. I am guessing that they are the final pictures that my dad took at his home before embarking for America with a few dollars in his pocket (literally) and admission secured at the University of Cincinatti’s Graduate School.
Next, I found this old student i.d. card in a small envelope in a box full of junk mail from the 70s. My dad will not thank me for this one. You can see he has let his hair begin to grow out to fit in more with the 60s culture in the U.S.:
Among the heaps of old pictures, I found nearly 500 “biodata” type shots my dad had taken of himself posing in various locations. Most of the backgrounds appeared warm and sunny and a disproportionate amount of them featured large cars. Again, I haven’t talked to him about any of these (interpreting these pictures for myself is actually much more fun) but my guess is that when you leave India to come to the States you want to convince your family back home that you are happy, doing well, and living the American dream (the latter would best explain posing with all those cars and the glamor shots). Your family in India will thus feel less apprehension about the fate of their child in America.
I was also desperately searching for pictures of my mom from Uganda. I think I may have found a few but I don’t want to post them here attributing them to the wrong location if I am incorrect. I did find two of her that I really liked though. Again, looking through the pictures I have this strong sense that many were taken to convince relatives back home that life in America was ok and they need not be overly concerned. From the perspective of my mom, she also had to convince her mom and siblings (her father died when she was young) that married life was ok and that she wasn’t sad or lonely.
Of all the things I hoped to recover from my basement (old pictures, cherished toys, home movies) there was one item I was searching for with more desperation than all the others. It was the one item that my mom pleaded with me to find before she left for India last week (and she has been pleading about this for years). “Abhi, please find my pharmacy school diploma.” My mom was never a pharmacist here in the U.S. The diploma from a school in Ahmedabad didn’t transfer, and she would have had to have gotten re-accredited or something. For a woman new to the States, who had to support her new husband who was in grad school, dreams of her own career died. She took a number of odd jobs when she first got here (including making cassette tapes). For most of her career she worked in department stores (my mom dresses me, which is why I’m such a good dresser). She was once the top sales associate in the nation for her large department store chain. Still, my mom is really smart and that diploma was proof of that, proof one can hold. She had to give up her own dreams for her husband and kids as many of our moms might have had to. I really wanted to find it for her but it just wasn’t there. I talked to her yesterday and tried to convince her to go back to that school and talk to the dean. Maybe they still have a record of it. I will keep pushing here and keep SM readers posted.
As I continued to sift through stuff I discovered the little books that my parents used in their (ultimately failed) attempt to teach me Gujarati when I was a kid:
I’m going to save these so they can try again when I have kids someday.
I also found the record/book I played incessantly as a child. This, of course, helps explain why I am such a sci-fi/fantasy fan. I heard Bilbo battle Smaug hundreds of times (often right before bed):
And finally, I found this picture. It must have been taken at our house in Chicago when I was 1 or 2. I was a precocious child and enjoyed the company of tall blondes back then. I remember clearly that this woman had an Easy-Bake oven in her basement. Which might also explain why I love to cook.