Strangers in a Strange Land

first_imgMy parents crossed the ocean on one of the early waves of immigrants, in 1970. My dad came to the United States from India with a mechanical engineering degree and worked three jobs to establish a foothold for his young family. A year later, my mom and three sisters joined him. They bought an apartment, enrolled the kids in school and built a life they could be proud of. As thankful as I am for the sacrifices my parents made and for the courage it took them to pursue their dreams on my behalf, even though I would not be born for another decade, their story is not altogether unique. In fact, most Indians who immigrated to the United States during that time relate similar experiences. They laugh like old army buddies as they trade war stories of their journeys.“I came here with only $8,” boasts one man.“I arrived with only six,” recalls another. “And I didn’t know a single person here.”The women relate their experiences raising their children without help from relatives, of joining PTA groups where they were peppered with such questions as, “Did you have houses in India?” or “Did you have electricity?”They nod understandingly at each other’s memories and common histories. They chuckle at their naïveté and marvel at where they have arrived.Just being Indian was enough to bond them as friends. As a child, I remember the countless times we ran into an Indian couple while shopping at a department store. Either my dad or the stranger would start up a conversation, usually in Hindi or another Indian dialect. The women would smile and introduce themselves, launching into their own conversation, as my brother and I strained to assess if the couple was old enough to have kids our age. We fidgeted while the grown-ups talked animatedly.“Oh, we know some Gujarati families in the area. Not too many from Rajasthan, though.”“We moved, I guess, 15 years ago now. I’m living in Pennsylvania, but my brother and his wife are here, so we’re visiting.”The conversations would last sometimes for an hour, until my mom realized that my brother and I were squatting at the feet of the mannequins, as our legs tired. My dad would invite the couple to our home for tea and a new friendship would be launched, just like that.But that was many years ago, back when Kauffmann’s used to be May Company. Such spontaneous encounters are rare now. Second and third generation Indians pretend to ignore other Indians. First, their radar goes off: “Indian at two o’clock, approaching fast!” (I’ve never been sure whether this recognition system is learned behavior or sheer instinct.) Then comes the nonchalant glance, subtle only in the mind of the observer, because the person observed always is well aware of the stare.But that’s where it usually ends – no genial greetings, no camaraderie, no chats over steaming cups of tea. Instead, the parties remain awkwardly silent, trying to avoid eye contact. Everyone knows there is an elephant in the room, but no one wants to acknowledge its presence.Whenever I see that occur, it saddens me a little. I feel like I’m watching a little of the past die with each unreturned glance. My parents’ generation shared a history, a brotherhood, but what will my generation share? Are we a fragmented community, with no connection to each other, no common humanity? Have we lost all identification with each other as Indians? I refuse to accept that, almost to the point of childishness.On sunny weekends, go to the outdoor mall in Grove City, Penn. You can be sure to find at least 20 Indians, 45 if it’s especially busy. I know this, because I count them. Reasoning that they are noticing me as well, I satisfy my need to recognize them by enumerating each person I spot. Then I whisper to whomever I’m with, “Hey, look! It’s an Indian person.” If it’s my sister, she will try to get me to look away, pretend that we have not seen them, only after, of course, she has taken a quick glance herself. My dad, on the other hand, will look directly at the person with amiable curiosity and pass on the information to my mom. Likewise, whenever they spot an Indian on our shopping trip, they notify me so I can retabulate my census.I’ll be the first to admit that it’s an absurd game. But I know that everyone else is playing it too, at least at a subconscious level. We seek out people with whom we can identify. Pointing out each Indian is my small act of rebellion against the trend of alienation. I can’t invite these strangers over without raising some suspicion, but I won’t deny the connection I feel with them either. I don’t want to let the easy friendships my parents’ generation developed with one another fade over time. I’m afraid they will anyway.But every now and then, I will meet someone who will reaffirm my faith a little. A few days ago, I passed a jewelry stand. A couple of students were clustered around it, looking for the perfect shell necklace for a boyfriend or a hippie accessory. I paused at the table, I told myself, to see if there were any silver paayal (Indian ankle bracelets) or jhoomki earrings. My real reason, though, was that I noticed that an Indian gentleman was operating the stand. I wanted to see if he would say anything even vaguely reminiscent of those conversations I fidgeted through as a child. I was testing the current attitude of Indians in the United States toward each other. I knew it was unfair to put an entire segment of humanity on trial, but this man was about to be my prime witness.I strode over and pretended to be engrossed in a ring display. I could feel him watching me silently, his radar going off.“You look like you’re from India,” he said to me.I smiled. I came darn near close to beaming.“Yes, my family is from Rajasthan,” I answered.“These pieces of jewelry here are all from Rajasthan,” he said, motioning to some amber stones. “I just went there a few months ago. It’s very beautiful there.”And then we began talking. He told me about his old job as a high school teacher and swimming team coach. We talked of his recent visits to India, about the weather, politics and current events. We traded some information about our families and discovered that his daughter-in-law and my mom knew each other. My mom had met her when she stopped at the jewelry stand she operated at our local mall.All in all, I only spent about 10 minutes talking to the man. We wouldn’t be lifelong friends, but we both felt an immediate sense of familiarity. When I said good-bye, I called him “uncle,” as is the Indian custom for showing respect to an elder gentleman. He shook my hand as I left for class.“It was nice meeting you,” we said to each other – and we sincerely meant it. Related Itemslast_img read more

— Special teams work at the start of practice focu

first_img— Special teams work at the start of practice focused on kickoffs. Among those deep to receive were Andre Ellington, J.J. Nelson and rookie T.J. Logan.Injury updateIt may be a few days, perhaps longer, before wide receiver John Brown sees the field again. He hurt his quad in Thursday’s practice, according to Arians, who added Aaron Dobson, a free-agent wideout, will be sidelined longer with a hamstring injury.Linebacker Ironhead Gallon (knee) practiced on a limited basis.Not practicing at all were cornerback Elie Bouka (ankle), linebacker Alani Fua (knee) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (hamstring). Linebacker Deone Bucannon (ankle) remains on the physically unable to perform list and linebacker Jarvis Jones (quad) on the non-football injury list. Arizona Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick (43) runs drills during the team’s first day of NFL football training camp, Saturday, July 22, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) 0 Comments   Share   GLENDALE, Ariz. – His nights are spent studying as if he were back in school. His mornings and afternoons, too.Rookie linebacker Haason Reddick is learning as much as he can. Perhaps too much, according to head coach Bruce Arians, who put Reddick in the same sentence as former Cardinal Daryl Washington in terms of the potential impact they have on a defense.Right now, though, Reddick is playing too cautious “because I’m not trying to make so many mistakes,” he said. “I’m trying to learn as much as I can and once you know what you’re supposed to do, when you really know, that’s when you can let loose.” And early on it was sloppy work, at least offensively; though that may have had more to do with No. 3 not practicing.Quarterback Carson Palmer dressed for practice and at times had his helmet on but he never attempted a pass, leaving Drew Stanton in charge of the first-team offense.Palmer also did not practice on Thursday.Notable— Too many thrown passes landed on the field, especially in red zone work. Brandon Williams and former Arizona State Sun Devil Gump Hayes nearly had interceptions.— During 11-on-11, both Karlos Dansby and Antoine Bethea picked off Stanton.— The offense performed better later in practice when they worked on late-game situations. With 22 seconds left and the ball on the 19-yard line, the Cardinals scored three times with D.J. Johnson, Ifeanyi Momah and Kerwynn Williams scoring touchdowns.— Phil Dawson put on a kicking display. He was good from 48, 52 (hit the left upright and went in) and 56 yards away on field goals; the latter ended practice some 16 minutes early.— Ronald Zamort, on the practice squad last season, saw first-team reps at cornerback as Justin Bethel watched from the sidelines. It’s not known what’s wrong with Bethel but he did have a sleeve on his right leg. Follow Craig Grialou on Twitter Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and sellingcenter_img So, is Reddick studying too much?“Yeah, that’s a thing,” Dansby said. “That sponge gets full sometimes so you got to be able to squeeze it out and you got to be able to know when to squeeze it out and let some water out of it. He’s soaking it all up right now; and that’s a good thing, that’s a great thing.”And if you’re Reddick, there’s not many better people to learn from than Dansby and his position coach, 13-year veteran Larry Foote, who Reddick often stands next to in the end zone, behind the defense, when not on the field.Combined, Dansby and Foote have nearly 30 years of playing experience.“I’m always learning,” Reddick said. “In the classroom with Foote, learning; when I come off on the sideline I’m next to Foote, learning. It’s just always pointers that he’s teaching me. Same thing when I’m on the field when I’m with ‘Los, I’m learning. I’ll hear Foote when I’m on the field sometimes, too. I’m constantly learning and listening to the both of them. I got one in his ear and one in the other ear.“Having them two has been the best thing that could’ve happened to me as a rookie.”PALMER DOES NOT THROWA day before the annual “Red & White Practice”, the Cardinals ditched the pads, that they had worn the prior three practices, in favor of shells for their work on Friday. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Top Stories The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retireslast_img read more