Where are you from?

I was born and brought up in Bengaluru, India which is one of the largest High-Tech cities in the world.

 What was your childhood like?

I was born into a scholarly family that emphasized ethics more than making money. I was brought up as one of the two lone males among 10 women (mother’s sisters and grandma) in my maternal grandfather’s house. Excellent childhood. Parents lived in a village with no good educational facilities. We had 4-5 milking cows in the household who were like friends to us. We were middle class, but felt very rich. A careless childhood that I treasure.

 What brought you to Cleveland?

Academic job after my Ph.D. in 1988 to Case Western Reserve University

 What were your first thoughts about coming to the United States? Did those change?

I was committed to going back to my home country. The opportunities in the USA were quite attractive and so I decided to stay.

 What challenges did you face as transitioning here?

Lack of a social safety net.

Cultural adjustment both professionally and personally. Professionally, communication was emphasized on rather than the expertise. Worked triply hard to overcome the handicap. Never took a vacation for 6 years. Worked New Year’s through Christmas.

Lack of mentorship.

What is your occupation?

Professor at a Research University (Case Western Reserve)

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

My colleagues were excellent. My Neighbors were welcoming. Never felt alienated.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

I am a Hindu. We celebrate July 4th, Thanksgiving, Hindu New Year (April), Diwali – Festival of Lights, and other religious/social holidays.

What do you love about Cleveland?

Small city with big city amenities.

Very friendly people.

Accessibilty. You can access anyone from a public official to anyone on the street.

No traffic.

Clean air.

Nonstop airline connection to all major US cities

 Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

This is a country of immigrants – some came 3 months, 3 years or 300 years ago.Immigrants work hard to establish themselves and bring the richness of their culture to the US. We create a composite culture. A hybrid is very strong, an alloy (mix of metals) has amazing properties that the original metals did not have. Research shows that Immigrant children continue to have that same work ethic and an inner fire to achieve.

The Asian Indian community that comprises of less than 1% of US population (3 million) is not very old. Most of us came after the 1966 Immigration act and are professionals. In a short period of 50 years:

                                  i. Our community has the highest household income among all US ethnic communities.

                                          ii. 52% of Silicon Valley startups (and 25% of US startups) are Indian.

                                        iii. One out of two hotels/motels in the US are owned by Indians.

                                        iv. 1 in 6 Orthopedics in the US are Indians.

                                          v. Asian-Indian children have won the Scripps Spelling bee (15 winners since 2002).

                                        vi. The CEOs of Google, Microsoft, Pepsi are Indians.

                                        vii. There have been 2 State Governors (South Carolina – Nicky Haley; and  Louisiana – Bobby Jindal) both children of Indian Immigrants.

                                      viii. List goes on.

This is an example of what an immigrant community can bring to the US.

 Why is it important to travel abroad?

I have had the opportunity to travel around the world as a consultant to United Nations for the last 20 years. I continue to consult with developing countries and travel.

All of us are very proud of our culture and feel that our culture is one of the best in the world. However, when you travel you will find that there are or were other great cultures. You will feel proud of other culture as you are with your own. You become one with humanity. You will find that more they are different, more they are the same. I always say that if anyone in the world has a papercut, I have not seen green blood emerge.

Travel provides us a way for us to improve ourselves, it enriches one’s life, help us learn to appreciate a different viewpoint, and finally feel that ‘the world is truly one family’ (ancient saying from India).

I regularly conduct a Travel course to India during May or each year. In the last four years I have taken more than 60 students from Case Western for short 2-week immersion travel courses. I have encouraged and enabled another 80 college students to go travel abroad. Travel simply broadens your mind.