Where are you from?

Bangalore, India

What was your childhood like?

It was a good childhood. I grew up in a big city where we had an opportunity to go to good schools and engage in extra curricular activities.

What brought you to Cleveland?

I got married and my husband was working in Cleveland.

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

I felt very lonely and homesick. I did not drive. I had no friends. It took me a few years to start driving. Once I learnt how to drive and got a car, my world opened up. I made new friends and started getting involved in community activities.

What challenges did you face as transitioning here?

Loneliness, not knowing anyone, having to figure out how to do things, unable to understand American accent. I was wearing a saree and felt I could not join mainstream. My neighbors were very welcoming and friendly. I went to a block party and everyone knew how to say my name. I had a hard time remembering everyone’s names and associating the name with the person. Everyone looked the same to me. I had a Master’s degree majoring in Political science from India. It was not a marketable skill. I had to go back to school.

What is your occupation?

I work in the area of tax planning. I work with Business owners and Physicians to cut their taxes. I am also a comedienne.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

Once I was able to break my cultural barriers and learnt to mainstream, I felt very welcomed. I had many mentors who have guided me in my career.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

Outwardly, I am westernized. Mine is an Indian home. I cook Indian food and continue to speak my native language. I continue to practice my religion and very grateful to be in a country that gives me the freedom to be who I am.

What do you love about Cleveland?

What is there not to love about Cleveland? It has everything a big city offers and still has the friendly atmosphere. You can afford to lead a good lifestyle. I love the Lake, the beaches and the metro parks.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

My American friends would always tell me that they could not do what I did- leave my family and come and start a new life in a new country. Every new immigrant and refugee would feel lonely and lost. Lending a hand, guiding them in making decisions would help them to mainstream and contribute to our community.

Why is it important to travel abroad?

You learn so much when you step out of your comfort zone and going to another country would broaden one’s outlook and knowledge .