Even though I grew up surrounded by a sizeable community of Asian Indians it is still a culture I know very little about. It was interesting to learn about the culture through my outside research and my interview with my neighbor, Nimita Kommogu. I learned a lot about the various waves of Indian immigration as well as the significance of the visa process. I also gained a more in-depth understanding of what it means to grow up Indian in California.
The history of Indian immigration to the United States was surprising because I did not realize how recently the immigration began. Widespread India migration to the United States did not truly begin until 1965. Between 1820 and 1960, less than 15,000 Asian Indians were allowed to legally enter the United States (Das, 135). This changed in 1965 with the Immigration and Nationality Act, which started the increased flow of Indian immigrants (Keely, 162). It is important to note that Indian immigration was restricted by level of skills. Only men and women "with professional skills needed in American society could emigrate from the Indian subcontinent" which drastically changed the makeup of the immigrants (Das, 139). Indian immigrants before the 1960s immigrated primarily to California and Western states. (Li, 168) However, as more immigrants move here, the Indian population has spread out and now has significant populations on the East Coast too. (Li, 168) There is a predominant trend of Indians, as well as other Asians moving to suburbs instead of urban areas. This is especially relevant in California where large communities of Indians have begun to characterize certain suburban cities.
I interviewed my neighbor Nimita, who goes by Nate, for my paper. She identifies as American Indian. Nate has lived in Cupertino for most of her life, which is one of the suburbs increasingly defined by its Asian population. Nate estimates that Cupertino is around 70% Asian, mainly Chinese and Indian. Though Nate was born in India, she moved in New York when she was very young and then briefly to Arizona and finally settled in California. She emphasized the American part of her identity, which is something I have heard often in class and through readings. Her family’s immigration story is one typical for Indians. Nate's family was part of the wave of Indian immigrants in the 1990s that moved to America to pursue highly skilled jobs. Her father works in marketing and her mother is an engineer. Both of these jobs are skilled which is the reason they were able to obtain a visa and move to the United States easily. They are part of the large Indian immigration to the United States and then to the suburbs where it was easy to become so-called Americanized. I thought it was interesting how well her story fit into historical events that I read about in my outside research. Even though her story is unique, as is everyone’s individual story, it still fits into a larger, global pattern.
Reflecting on her childhood, Nate said...