Indian Americans are #APAEverywhere
In April, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center issued a national call for Indian American stories and photographs from people in states we hadn’t yet traversed while curating Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation. More than 100 entries were generously submitted from nearly 20 states. Submissions confirmed the theme of this year’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, namely that Indian Americans, and Asian Pacific Americans, are Everywhere. Thanks for sharing your stories and photographs with us! Here are a few highlights from Connecticut, Nebraska, and Vermont.
My parents came to Connecticut in September 1969. They formed the community in Fairfield County made up of families from Hyderabad, India. Between weekends playing ghazals on the harmonium in our living room, my dad was an architect in a small firm in Stamford with a modern design sensibility that seemed at odds with the Cape Cods that dotted our neighborhood. After school, my sister and I would visit his office on Strawberry Hill Avenue, and watch Scooby Doo and play with the mechanical pencils and eat jelly donuts from Mister Donut while my dad would draw the lines that would someday become our home.
In 1970, my husband Samuel and I migrated to United States. It was a big adjustment to move from Ahmedabad, an Indian city of 2 million, to a town of 800 people – Newman Grove, Nebraska. Even some of the road signs were different. “Watch Out for Livestock,” was one that we didn’t know what it meant. Sam became a pastor and we worked as a team. Our passion was to serve minorities including organizing a ministry for Latino migrant workers. Like pioneers, we made Nebraska home. But we have always been minorities: in India from our religion and in Nebraska from our ancestry.
Springfield, Vermont. Summer 1977. Vermont was green and lush like Kerala, and our neighbors were warm and kind. We were Malayalees living as Vermonters do – apple picking in the fall, skiing in the winter, fishing in the spring, and swimming in the summer. Our home was always filled with the scents and sounds of a typical Indian home. As the only Indian family in town, we spent many evenings with our Punjabi friends who lived 30 minutes away. The Indian community consisted of our two families. We often drove 4 to 6 hours to visit with extended family and friends.