Where are you from?

 DELHI – India

What was your childhood like?

I was born and raised in the historical city of Delhi (capital of India). It was a multi-racial, multi-religious city. I had friends of all religions and we learnt to understand each other’s points of view. Being one of the youngest siblings in a large family, I learnt to respect elders. I grew up in a disciplined environment and was taught to be kind, don’t use abusive language, and conduct daily activities in a timely manner.

What brought you to Cleveland?

After completing my MBA from University of Missouri, I worked in Chicago for a year. There I met the Executive Director of  Greater Cleveland Neighborhood Centers, who asked me to work with him in the Buckeye-Woodland area. When I came here to explore the possibility, I was very much impressed with the neighborhood and the city. Then I decided to join and work at the East End Neighborhood House.


What were your first thoughts about coming to USA. Did those change?

When I was studying in India, I was always interested to go abroad for further studies. As we were living in British India, my family was influenced with British education system. My brothers went to England for further studies, and my father insisted that I should go to England. I was pursuing under-graduate studies in a college, established by American Jesuits. I was very much impressed with education system and regularly interacted with American professors.They were a great influence in my life. Then I did my graduate work in an institution modeled  on US educational system. Thus I came to USA for further education. I believe that I made the right decision, and I still think the same way as I spent the better part of my life here.

What challenges did you face as transitioning here?

Initially, life in USA posed many challenges and required a great deal of adjustment. I iknew English very well, but American English was a little different, and then the accent was a hurdle. It was difficult to understand each other, and repeated sentences to be understood. The terminology was very different; such as some one asked “Hang on to the keys”, literally I hanged them on the wall key board; or terms such as rake, mop,rags were new to me.

What is your occupation?

With degrees of MSW and MBA, I decided to pursue my profession leading to Social Work management; and specialized in Community Organization. I developed and managed in Collinwood as Executive Director of a largest neighborhood  based multi-service center of Cleveland.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

I find that Cleveland is the friendliest city. As a new comer, I experienced that Cleveland, business, civic, & political leadership was very helpful. Many people invited me for dinners, and made me a part of their family during Thanksgiving, singing Christmas carols, special occasions as birthdays, weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. As much as I was, they were very interested in learning about my culture.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

I am a Hindu and Hinduism is a way of life, which I practice on a daily basis. We are taught to love fellow beings, tolerant to their feelings, and be sensitive to their customs. I have attended churches, jewish temples, quakers and bnai brith meetings. I have given the same values to my children and they practice regularly. We celebrate two important events with the family. One is Diwali (festival of lights – victory of truth over evil) and the second is Thanksgiving.

What do you love about Cleveland?

I think that Cleveland is the best location in the nation; major and important cities are within a 400 miles radius. Cleveland is a city which is identified by its neighborhoods – such as Little Italy, Little Poland, Little Hungary, German Village, Lithuanian Village, Slavic Village, Asian Plaza, ethnic cultural garden. We enjoy many ethnic festivals. It is a global village where we find ethnic cuisine, folklores, and people wearing sarees, kimonos, dashikis, etc. I think that Cleveland is unique in many respects.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

America is a country of immigrants. The statue of liberty welcomes newcomers to its shores. Immigrants bring diversity of cultures, languages, and knowledge, which has made this country the richest and most powerful in the world. America is the most compassionate and charitable country, and it accepts immigrants from all walks of life. After Hungarian revolution, an influx of refugees came to Buckeye area. It was , indeed, an opportunity for me to help them in adjusting to new environment, learn English. Many of them were doctors, scientists, and other professionals. Initially, they earned basic minimum to survive, but eventually excelled in their professions and contributed immensely in the american society.

Why is it important to travel abroad?

Traveling broadens the horizon and outlook. We learn the customs, traditions, lifestyle and history of other countries. I have been traveling for over 50 years; besides sight seeing, my motivation is to interact and communicate with local people. For example , in a Frankfurt YMCA, I met with students and exchanged ideas – they were going on a day’s bicycle trip, I rented a bicycle and joined them; it was a great experience. In another instance, while walking to see Windmills in Amsterdam, I saw a few children playing. I sat down with them, taught them and sang american children’s songs. On the way back from seeing windmills, their parents invited me to have dinner, since it was getting late, they asked me spend night with them. It was a great experience to learn about their life style.