Oral History Digital Archive

Ms. Virbala Desai (Masala Chat Project)

Virbala Desai, 79, is a retired Montessori school teacher and one of the pioneer members of the Indian community in Chicago. The interview includes discussion of her first impressions of New York City as a...

Mr. Vijay Bhargava (Masala Chat Project)

Vijay Bhargava, 75, is the son of a prominent lawyer and civic leader of his city. The interview includes discussion of growing up in a large joint family, dealing with class differences, and important figures in his life.

Mr. Vidyasagar Dharmapuri (Masala Chat Project)

Vidyasagar Dharmapuri, 77, is a pediatric physician and was the first president of the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago in 1977. His wife, Nagamani, joins for the end of the interview. The interview includes discussion...

Ms. Urmilla Chawla (At Risk Stories)

Urmilla Chawla, 77, is a retired school teacher, journalist, and author. The Chawlas are a pioneer family in the Chicao Indo-American community. The interview includes discussion of memories of her family fleeing their home in...

Dr. Upendranath Nimmagada (At Risk Stories)

Upendranath Nimmagada, 79, is a retired surgeon and active administrator of a medical school he co-founded in his home state in India. The interview includes discussion of his early life during which his father died and his family was supported by the local village, his...

Dr. Umesh Sharma (At Risk Stories)

Umesh Sharma, 81, is a general surgeon who retired as chief of staff at Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, Illinois. The interview includes discussion of his childhood and decision to go to medical school, his...

Ms. Tina Shah (Masala Chat Project)

Tina Shah, 39, is a designer and software developer who is working hard to ensure she keeps her Indian heritage alive for herself and the next generation. The interview includes discussion of her family's search...

Ms. Tilat Rais (Masala Chat Project)

Tilat Rais is a devoted caretaker who strongly identifies with the duty to help others that her faith, Islam, teaches. The interview includes discussion of her faith and desire to be successful through serving others....

Ms. Sujaya Rupani (At Risk Stories)

Sujaya Rupani, 66, is an ophthalmologist and active member of the Indian community in Chicago. The interview includes discussion of her successful work life and moments of culture shock as she adapted to the US....

Ms. Sudha Rapp (Masala Chat Project)

Sudha Rapp, 73, is a world traveler and a luxury retail salesperson. The interview includes discussion of the fact that her family lived in the Middle East during her early life, but moved to India...

Ms. Shimmi Chandra (At Risk Stories)

Shimmi Chandra, 85, is a retired real estate agent and one of the pioneering members of the Indian American community in the United States. She arrived in 1959 with her husband and they founded Indian...

Ms. Shamiya Ghogha (Masala Chat Project)

Shamiya Ghogha, 20, is a newlywed who is adapting to life in America. The interview includes discussion about her recent move to Chicago from India and her efforts to learn English at the Indo-American Center...

Mr. Santimoy Banerjee (At Risk Stories)

Santimoy Banerjee, 80, is a philanthropist and retired biochemist. The interview includes discussion of his training in the 1960s in the growing field of biochemistry at the University of Calcutta Bose Institute and at Harvard...

Mr. Rishad Tobaccowala (Masala Chat Project)

Rishad Tobaccowala, 57, is an advertising executive and pioneering member of the Chicago Indo-American community. The interview includes detailed discussion of his successful career at the Leo Burnett Advertising Company, which was the largest advertising...

Ms. Renu Gandhi (Masala Chat Project)

Renu Gandhi, 68, is a devoted wife and mother who works alongside her husband and children in the family business, the Gandhi Corporation. The interview includes discussion of how she built a hybrid identity as...

Ms. Ranjana Bhargava (Masala Chat Project)

Ranjana Bhargava, 70, is an experienced civic and non-profit professional with a background in social justice. In this interview, Ranjana highlights the moments of her past that helped shape her passions and later her career....

Ms. Prem Sharma (At Risk Stories)

Prem Sharma, 77, is a pioneer member of Chicago’s Indian American community, the founder of Apna Ghar, a domestic violence support service for immigrant women, and has played a leading role in the Indian women’s community since the late 1970s. The interview includes discussion of...

Mr. Prabhakant Sinha (Masala Chat Project)

Prabhakant Sinha, industrial engineer, discusses the differences between Indian and academic culture. He reflects on how much more open conversation was for students at University of Massachusetts compared to his previous educational experiences. He enjoys...

Mr. Parthasarathy Rajagopalan (Masala Chat Project)

Parthasarathy Rajagopalan, 77, is a financial advisor and former railway circuit engineer. The interview includes discussion of the fifteen people who founded of the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago in 1977, in which he played...

Ms. Padma Chandwaney (Masala Chat Project)

Padma Chandwaney, 73, is a proud Sindhi community leader, one of the first Indian Americans in Chicago, and an insurance professional. The interview includes discussion of how she had to raise her younger siblings at...

Mr. Navinchanvra Sanghavi (Masala Chat Project)

Navinchanvra Sanghavi is a mechanical engineer who was among the first Indian Americans in Chicago, having arrived in the early 1960s. The interview includes discussion of his devotion to the Pushtimargiya religious practice and his...

Ms. Naseem Umar (Masala Chat Project)

Naseem Umar, 64, is an educator and dedicated community leader. The interview includes discussion of the obstacles she faced in getting employment that matched her experience after arriving in Chicago, but how she eventually became...

Dr. Nagamani Beligere Dharmapuri (Masala Chat Project)

Nagamani Beligere Dharmapuri, 82, is a pioneering pediatric physician who came to the US on her own in the early 1960s. The interview includes discussion of her fight throughout her life to defy expectations of...

Ms. Mridu Sekhar (Masala Chat Project)

Mridu Sekhar, 69, is a retired owner of a successful healthcare technology consultancy and active participant in Democratic politics. The interview includes discussion of how geopolitical history during the Cold War and the Indo-Pakistani war...

Ms. Mohini Pai (Masala Chat Project)

Mohini Pai, 83, is a retired investment manager and non-profit leader. The interview includes detailed discussion of her early and young adult life in India and Kenya with her parents and six younger siblings. She...

Ms. Mekhala Banerjee (At Risk Stories)

Mekhala Banerjee, 73, is a retired cancer research lab technician and an author. The interview includes discussion of her childhood in Burdwan, outside of Calcutta, her arranged marriage, trouble learning English when she moved to...

Dr. Mallikarjuna Rao and Dr. Satyavathi Anne (At Risk Stories)

Mallikarjuna Rao, 80, and Satyavathi Anne, 79, are retired pathologists, both born and raised in villages in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, but they did not meet until medical school when their marriage was...

Mr. Mafat Patel (Masala Chat Project)

Mafat Patel, 72, is an entrepreneur and the owner of two businesses catering to the Indian community in Chicago. The interview includes discussion of his frequent desire to return to India after he came to...

Ms. Lakshmi Menon (At Risk Stories)

Lakshmi Menon, 75, is a pioneer in the Indian American cultural heritage sphere who has been a part of countless efforts to build bridges between her community and others.

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