Where are you from?
Originally from India, spent 10 years in New York City before moving to the Cleveland area. Greatly enjoying this region since then.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in the southern part of India (small town of Manipal in the state of Karnataka). Our family would be considered lower middle class, father taught chemistry at an engineering college, mother homemaker. Went to excellent local schools until 12th grade, then went to the city of Mysore for medical education. I certainly had an enjoyable childhood, with excellent public education throughout my elementary and high school years, as well as medical education. I had a close-knit group of friends, and we used to play every evening in our local recreational facilities. Needless to say, we are all now dispersed over a wide area globally.
What brought you to Cleveland?
After completing my Residency training (Pediatrics) and Fellowship training (Pediatric Endocrinology) in NYC, I worked for 3 years in Brooklyn, NY. Visa restrictions forced me to move out of NY state, and job prospects brought me to Cleveland. Of the many choices before me, this city was the most appealing, mainly for its multicultural dimensions. An additional draw was that I am a great fan of South Indian classical (“Carnatic”) music, and the biggest gathering of South Indian classical musicians outside India occurs every year here in Cleveland (the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival, www.aradhana.org).
What were your first thoughts about coming to the United States? Did those change?
The 2 major areas that were initially challenging were “culture shock” and “climate shock”. The former was not as daunting, because I had read enough about the United States, and also initially landed and spent 10 years in NYC, the multi-cultural melting pot that has always been very welcoming of immigrants. Coming from a tropical country from a region where climate extremes included high temperatures and heavy monsoon rains, “climate shock” upon arrival in the US, was real. However, the 10 years I spent in NYC allowed me to acclimatize gradually. Apart from the total amount of snowfall, the climate is really not that different between NYC and NE Ohio. If I had spent 10 years in the southern part of the US and then moved to Cleveland, I would have had greater difficulty adjusting to culture and climate.
What challenges did you face as transitioning here?
Upon our move here, I and my wife decided we would be here for the long haul. The first challenge was to find our cultural moorings as Indian immigrants, in order to facilitate our family lay down our roots here. The friendly mid-western attitude of our neighbors was very helpful. We also found that unlike in NYC, the size of the Indian community here was much smaller, allowing closer interactions between families and establishing stronger bonds.
What is your occupation?
Physician (pediatric endocrinologist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital)
How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?
Allowed me to contribute to the community I live in. I am on the Board of the Diabetes Partnership of Cleveland (located in Beachwood), and Medical Director of Camp Ho Mita Koda (summer camp for children with diabetes), which is located in Newbury, in Geauga county.
What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?
Hindu religious practices; cherish South Indian classical music.
What do you love about Cleveland?
The variety of public resources in so many different areas – music (Thyagaraja Festival, Cleveland Orchestra, Blossom), museums (CMA, CMNH, Botanical Garden), Metroparks, vibrant multi-ethnic food scene (with many options for vegetarians like us). My only wish is that Cleveland should really put our waterfront to multi-purpose use like Chicago. This will make the city a desired destination for way more people, both for localites and out-of-towners.
Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?
The more diverse the talent pool, the wider the range of ideas and skills, the better chance at success in a globalized marketplace.
Why is it important to travel abroad?
Meeting people across different cultures and nations and constantly exchanging ideas will expand business opportunities and bring people closer culturally.