WEBVTT 00:00:00.000 --> 00:59:09.000 [JITESH JAGGI]: All right, this is officially recording for the National Indo- American Museum Oral History project. We are Mr. and Mrs. Chawla, interview by Amar Chawla, for his grandfather. We are in Oakbrook at their residence. 00:00:00.001 --> 00:59:09.001 [AMAR CHAWLA]: Could you please state and spell your name, please? 00:00:00.002 --> 00:59:09.002 [KAMAL CHAWLA]: Kamal Chawla. K a m a l is my first name. C h a w l a is the last name. 00:00:00.003 --> 00:59:09.003 [AC]: And could you please tell me when and where you were born? 00:00:00.004 --> 00:59:09.004 [KC]: I was born in Lahore, which is now in Pakistan. At that time when I was born in 1940, it was undivided India, British time. And I grew up in Lahore for seven years until partition took place, and then we moved to Kanpur, which is now in India. 00:00:00.005 --> 00:59:09.005 [AC]: Could you describe the moving process to Kanpur a little bit? 00:00:00.006 --> 00:59:09.006 [KC]: Yeah, actually this was very interesting, I remember when I was, about six, seven years old, there were lot of riots going on in Lahore. Houses were being burned and you hear the shots of the guns and processions in the streets, anti-Muslim processions, anti-Hindu processions. And we could go to the terrace of our house and see at night time, “Oh there is a fire here, Oh there is a fire here.” So, there’s a lot of disturbance, I remember that in early part of 1947. And my maternal uncle, my mom's brother, they lived in Shimla, so summertime Shimla is people go to hill stations. So, my uncle wrote a letter to my dad and my mom, that why don't children, and we all, we were three brothers and my mom and my dad was in a travelling job, so, but send the children and my mom to Shimla to spend couple of months. 00:00:00.007 --> 00:59:09.007 So summertime there is a nice weather and less disturbance than Lahore, and hopefully things will settle down soon, and then, they can, everybody can go back. So we went to Shimla on like a small summer vacation to spend some time with my mamajee, mamijee, and their children. And once we reached Shimla, the things got so bad in Lahore, that even traveling people were murdered in the trains, and trains were being burned. So, it was almost impossible to go back. And then, the news came that India is going to be, British are going to leave India—cause I didn’t fully understand the details at that time. We knew we were under British and we knew that Hindu, Muslims were fighting and all that. 00:00:00.008 --> 00:59:09.008 But then, it was known that India is going to become independent, and there's going to be a partition. Part of the undivided India, British India, is going to become Pakistan. And a line was supposed to be drawn and it was still not decided where exactly the line was going to be drawn, whether Lahore which, where I grew up, I was growing up, will go to Pakistan or would it go to India, depending where the line gets drawn. And I still remember my dad and his brother-in-law and some other adults were glued to the radio, like we get glued to when we watching football game here, let’s say very exciting game at the last minute of the game. 00:00:00.009 --> 00:59:09.009 Everybody was glued ‘cause the news was supposed to come where the line was going to be drawn. And I hear big noise in the living room, everybody shouting, Pakistan (inaudible) Lahore has gone to Pakistan, Lahore has gone to Pakistan. Which means we cannot go back. So, in some ways, we did not have to cross the border on top of the train, which you probably might have seen some pictures of. But, my dad he was, I think 35 years of age, and my mom was like 31 or 32, and with three of us, three brothers, 9, 9 and a half, 7, and 5, so like two and a half years for three of us. My dad is is there with his wife and three boys, in a land with no job, with no money. And so, then--but it was happening to lot of people, we thank God that we were all together. We thank God that we were alive. And then my dad found partnership business in Kanpur to set up a business. So, where we went and settled down. 00:00:00.010 --> 00:59:09.010 [AC]: So you mentioned you had two brothers growing up. Could you describe your family relationship a little bit? And what your mom and dad did at home and all that? 00:00:00.011 --> 00:59:09.011 [KC]: My dad was in pharmaceutical business. He was, like I said, travelling job. He worked for a British company called Alembic Chemical Company and which was, head office was in Bombay. So he was going to Bombay quite a bit, and then he had to, like medical representative, he had to go to visit the doctors, visit the hospital, visit the retail pharmaceutical stores to try to promote their product, that was his job. So, he had lot of background in paramedical field and the pharmaceutical industry. And so actually, that helped in finding this partnership business. 00:00:00.012 --> 00:59:09.012 My dad's nephew, who’s my dad's sister's son, he had just graduated from college. And his dad was well off, in terms of money, financially well off. And he wanted to make sure that his son, which would be my dad's nephew, get settled in some kind of business. So, he asked my dad, his brother-in-law, to, why don't he join his nephew. And so mama and bhanja, which is nephew and the uncle, start a business. So, they were the main financers, ‘cause his dad had money, and my dad had the experience in pharmaceutical business. So, that’s how these two people joined. He was young, lot younger obviously, but he probably was just out of college, so probably around 20 years old. 00:00:00.013 --> 00:59:09.013 So they looked for places and found Kanpur as a good place. So, that’s my dad. My mom was a housewife and mother to, of course very loving mother, and very, very fond memories of her. And then my older brother’s number one who went into petroleum engineering, petroleum technology. I am number two, became a doctor. And then my younger brother, immediately younger brother, went into mining and geology. And fourth brother came 10, 12 years later. He’s also a doctor, he’s in Northwest Indiana. So we are four brothers no sisters. 00:00:00.014 --> 00:59:09.014 [AC]: And did your family practice any certain religion growing up and where you involved in religious practices? 00:00:00.015 --> 00:59:09.015 [KC]: We—in Punjab, since we came from Punjab, lot of Punjabis also follow Sikhism. So, although we were not Sikh in terms of wearing turban, all that, but my mother and her family, some of the family members were Sikh. So, my mother liked to read Guru Granth Sahib, Sukhmani Sahib and all that at home. We used to go to temples in the, like mile away from home, half a mile away, mostly on some special days. If it is Janmashtami time, temples are decorated so kids will, “Oh see the beautiful decorations”. Or on a Tuesday, “let’s go to Hanuman mandir.” And our excitement was to get prashad. 00:00:00.016 --> 00:59:09.016 So, get to Hanuman mandir, (inaudible) Hanuman mandir, we get the red tikka on our forehead and my dad will carry some mithai and we offer to Hanumanjee and rest of the mithai comes back to us. And we all get a piece and bring it home for everybody else. So the biggest excitement was little outing for us and get some mithai. So, no, we were not very religious in the sense of daily prayers and having a temple at home, we did have, on Diwali time, we’ll all do some puja. And we’ll have priests on Diwali day to our house for and hour or so, and do some puja. And some occasional visiting the temples, only to that extent. 00:00:00.017 --> 00:59:09.017 [AC]: So, fast forwarding a little bit could you describe your journey to the United States, and when you came, and what brought you here? 00:00:00.018 --> 00:59:09.018 [KC]: Yeah, so there is a, there is a period that (inaudible) briefly cover before tell you. Because once we went to Kanpur, I was, I’m 7 years old, so my dad just starting a business which is financially struggling and all that. So, we went to, not the most advanced, the top schools in the city. But I did well in school and my dad had, and mom, both of them, dad in particular, was very strong believer that children must go take education. Education was, put lot of emphasis on education. In fact, anytime I was interested in some other thing like, playing something, or music or something, will always discourage. “No, no, no, no, you should study, you should study.” 00:00:00.019 --> 00:59:09.019 So, and part of the reason was that because his business was a partnership business, he was not sure that he wanted us to necessarily join because it was not all his business. And, it was struggle in the business. He says, Get education and later on, if you want to come to business, you’re always welcome to join business, but education first. So my dad went to School of Mines, Indian School of Mines, very famous, now it’s part of IIT. And he was in the first batch of petroleum engineers. So, I was number two and I was encouraged to, instead of going into engineering, go to medicine. Because I want somebody in the family to be doctor. That was the main reason and also, engineering was tougher than going to medicine. 00:00:00.020 --> 00:59:09.020 So, my brother was having lot of hard time trying to get into a good engineering college. He said, Well, take medicine. It might be easier. So, anyway, for one reason or the other, I was encouraged to go into medicine, and I have no regrets about it. I’m very happy that I became a doctor and I enjoyed my career. So, I went to medical school in Kanpur, and then, at that time, our, some young lecturers, and yeah, young professors were coming from abroad. And most of them were coming back from England with the degrees of, medicine does MRCP is for surgeons and FRCS. So, these young doctors are coming from England returned with a foreign degrees, and all that. We looked up to them as some kind of role model, and we always, that was my dream. One of these days, when I finish my education, maybe I’ll go to England and I’ll do my MRCP, come back, and then I’ll--. 00:00:00.021 --> 00:59:09.021 Then, I moved to Chandigarh for some reasons, my dad had moved to Ambala. And I wanted to do some post- graduate education before I went abroad. So, Chandigarh was newly coming up post-graduate institute, PGI, so I joined that. Luckily, I got admission there. And I did my post-graduate degree called MD in medicine with Cardiology as special subject. And in that period, I was there for about four, five years. I saw people coming back from America with medical education. And I found these people very knowledgeable, very smart. So, certainly, I realized, maybe it’s better to go to America than to go to England. And I saw more people thinking. And then in those days, new exam came up called ECFMG. 00:00:00.022 --> 00:59:09.022 Anybody could take that exam without even paying any fee, they would waive the fees, because the government would not allow us to get foreign exchange. They said, fine you can take the exam without paying, when you come to America, eventually, you can pay later. So, many of us took that exam for the fun of it and luckily, I took the exam, I passed. So now I got the ECFMG, I can go to America, apply for these jobs, residencies. And because I had some education in PGI Chandigarh, I could apply to senior-level residency, like fellowship. And luckily I got it, and because in those days it was lot of demand. It was easy for young doctors to move to America, all you had to do was pass that exam and apply for these. 00:00:00.023 --> 00:59:09.023 So, I got into University of Albany. So, another interesting part of the story is my—I was 27 years of age, so my parents said, Well, maybe you should get married before you go to America. They were worried that I might go to America and find a girl over there. So, which was okay with me, because I believed in obviously marrying familiar girl from, with a similar background. And, some people ahead of me, by year or two ahead, had already gone to America and with their wives. And they were able to adjust quite well in terms of, they were able to afford. So, I agreed with that plans and we got married in June of 1967, with my job in my hand, to come to Albany, New York starting July 1st of 1967. 00:00:00.024 --> 00:59:09.024 Now, in those days, the government would not give you any foreign exchange, they only gave you $16 per person in foreign exchange. So, that's all you have as a pocket money, you go to the hospital and maybe the hospital will lend you first month's salary advance, and then later on, they can deduct. And that's exactly what happened. And we stayed in London with our uncle who was in foreign service. So, I borrowed some money from him also. And Urmil and I, this was our honeymoon. So we were—and the air, it was interesting, the travel agent would give you free stops on the way, up to two stops or something. And how they managed is, they will try to get you a flight which will land in London. And there's no connecting flight, purposely they will land at time the flight had just left. 00:00:00.025 --> 00:59:09.025 So, now they have to put you on next day’s flight and next day flight that means have to put you in a hotel. So the free hotel, free meals on the way. So, we were able to stop our journey couple of places on the way, Amsterdam was one of them. So that was like a free honeymoon. Amsterdam, London, and the New York and finally ended up in Albany, New York. So, it was kind of interesting with the, basically no money in our pocket and my new wife. And coming to America, not knowing what the future’s going to be like. 00:00:00.026 --> 00:59:09.026 [AC]: So, you mentioned you landed in Albany. How long were you in Albany before you moved to Chicago? 00:00:00.027 --> 00:59:09.027 [KC]: Yeah, this is another interesting story. Coming to America was not easily accepted by my family. They had heard stories that people, when they go abroad, they just make money, they like it so much over there, that a good number of them, majority of them don’t ever return back home. And I personally was strong believer that, that is a bad thing. That should never be done, because you are betraying your country, you're betraying your—you’re letting down your family and all that. And I was strong believer in family values, that my responsibility was my parents who were getting old and all that. 00:00:00.028 --> 00:59:09.028 So that was very deep in my heart that absolutely no way I'm going to go and settle there, abroad. I'm only going there for maybe two years, at the most three years, to advance my education, come back, and work for a hospital, preferably university teaching hospital because I enjoyed teaching and doing some research and being in a hospital where there was a state-of-the-art technology available. So, that was my goal. So, the plan was to spend two years, maybe in my own mind, at the most three. So, I made pretty much a promise, pledge to myself and a promise to my family that I, no way I’m going to stay there. I’m guaranteeing, almost. 00:00:00.029 --> 00:59:09.029 And subsequently when things changed over period of time, and I ended up going back and then--tell you that later. And then coming back and eventually settling down here, I went through tremendous guilt. Tremendous conflict in my mind. So, coming back to your question, how long was I in Albany, I was there for on year. And then, because my plan was to go back, I thought I should I should change to a different, bigger city, maybe bigger university hospital. And get some more experience in my technology of, you know cardiac (inaudible) position was like a new thing, so I wanted to get (inaudible). So, I came to Chicago University of Illinois hospital, with the idea of spending my second year and learning more International Cardiology, Invasive Cardiology they called it at that time, and then go back. 00:00:00.030 --> 00:59:09.030 [JJ]: What year was that? 00:00:00.031 --> 00:59:09.031 [KC]: 1967 is when we came to Albany. And ’68 we moved to Chicago and since then haven’t left Chicago. 00:00:00.032 --> 00:59:09.032 [AC]: So, once you moved to Chicago, and even in your first year in Albany, and in America, could you describe your first real challenges and what's the biggest challenges you as a family faced? 00:00:00.033 --> 00:59:09.033 [KC]: It was a, kind of, it was a mixed sort of a feeling. On one hand, we were newly-married, there was lot of excitement of a new phase of life. There was another excitement is that we were exploring this new world, new country, modern, in those days, India was not as modern as it is now. All the things that you see there available very easily, the foreign stuff, at that time it was very scarce. The import was strictly very, very restricted and there were heavy duties. So, people could not afford, it was not even available to buy things. When you come to America, you see everything is so different. 00:00:00.034 --> 00:59:09.034 So, it was very exciting. The other thing was that we wanted to see as much as we could, and we came here in July, and in Fall season there’s change of colors. And New England is a beautiful area. So, everyone tells, Oh you must—we didn’t even have a car at that time. So first thing after maybe three or four months, five months, I bought a second-hand car. Interestingly, I went to the bank, I said, I want to buy a car, what do you do? “I’m a doctor, I’m resident here”. “Oh, no problem.” No question asked, they gave me the loan, of course it was very inexpensive cars, I think it was less than thousand dollars. So, I bought a second-hand car, and then we started to go places. 00:00:00.035 --> 00:59:09.035 So, we would go to see the color change, Fall colors. And then, in Montreal, there was a Expo, which was like Industrial Exposition, like (inaudible) fair, and it used to happen every three years. So, 1967 was the year when it was being held in Montreal. And I desperately wanted to see that Expo. So, I asked the hospital and I borrowed some money from a friend of mine also. I paid back him monthly, when next salary comes, I’ll give it back to you. So we were, my wife, Urmil and I, took greyhound bus, went to Montreal, and then stayed in some ordinary hotel for two, three days and just take a bus to the Expo. And we got lot of little pictures of that, we still have those memories. So that was, so interesting you asked for challenges, but these were exciting part, looking at the new world, travelling, seeing all this new America, seeing Fall colors, seeing Expo ’67. Then we travelled from Expo to Niagara Falls by train. 00:00:00.036 --> 00:59:09.036 Montreal to Niagara Falls and Niagara Falls was interesting story. We go to Niagara Falls and there are all these rides, you can take ride on a boat, you can take to the Falls, there are, you go to restaurant. So, there is a welcoming Niagara Falls, city of Niagara Falls had a little travelers. So we went there, and they said, you look like a young couple, when did you get married? I said, we just got married a month back. And they said, “Oh, then you’re newly married, should we consider this as your honeymoon?” I said “yeah **laughs** honeymoon”. So they said, “Okay, wherever you go, your bride will be free. So, you buy ticket for yourself, or the ride, and the bride is going to be free.” So I said, “Oh (inaudible) what can we ask for.” 00:00:00.037 --> 00:59:09.037 So, those kind of excitement, we go to restaurant for lunch, so okay, half price is right off. Boat ride, one person pays. So, those kind of little, little, exciting like things. Challenges wise, we obviously had no friends. There was one person that we knew here who was moving out of Albany, so we had little bit of overlap for a few days. And just to find friends and job is totally new. It was a bit scary, but Urmil is very outgoing, so she made friends pretty easily. They used to have international dinners, so if they’re residents from different parts of the world, Okay, you make Indian dish, Chinese guy make a Chinese dish, Filipino person makes Filipino dish. 00:00:00.038 --> 00:59:09.038 So, everybody bring one dish, and we were international dinner. So, you made friends like that. So, those were bit of a challenge, but we, I think, excitement was more than the challenges at that time. And ‘til we had the car, we always had to ask ride from somebody, because, as I said, we were very tight with money. But we were enjoying everything. We’ll walk to the drugstore, we’ll walk to Woolworth, we’ll walk to this. 00:00:00.039 --> 00:59:09.039 [AC]: Would you say that you experienced any, maybe, discrimination? Or, how were you treated as far as opportunity and advancement in your work field as an Indian-American? 00:00:00.040 --> 00:59:09.040 [KC]: We did not feel, at least I don’t recall feeling as such discrimination in my first year, because, many residents were foreign residents. And, even at workplace, people respected you for what you are, and all that. So, somehow, we were also in different frame of mind, we didn’t feel that way. We started to notice some discrimination as a we came to Chicago and as I started to advance in my career. And what happened, when she was born, in 1968, and so he was only like one, not even a year old when we first came here. And then, as we were growing up, and then Manish came five years later. 00:00:00.041 --> 00:59:09.041 So, when they were going for the school activities, the carpools, and going to watch their baseball games and Scouting activities, so neighborhood friends became out of convenience. But there we noticed some discrimination in the sense that we would--at professional level also, I did not feel that much discrimination, but at, we were kind of little odd piece. So we somehow drifted little bit towards finding some Indian friends, so we can—because we’re missing lot of Indian things. But no real harsh discrimination that I can remember. 00:00:00.042 --> 00:59:09.042 I think one time, I remember, there was either tomato or egg some kids came and threw at our door and Urmil was literally in tears and I said, just ignore it, don’t even worry. So, that I do remember one time. Discrimination has been subtle, not exactly so-called hatred type of crime, hatred type of discrimination that would be obvious. But yes, when it comes to opportunity, you have to really excel to be able to (inaudible) those challenges. 00:00:00.043 --> 00:59:09.043 [AC]: So, you mentioned, you had two sons that were born pretty soon after you moved here to the states— 00:00:00.044 --> 00:59:09.044 [KC]: First one was born within a year and then five years later came Manish, so they are five years apart. Is ‘68 and ’73. But yes, the first one was born within a year of our marriage. 00:00:00.045 --> 00:59:09.045 [AC]: And, could you elaborate on any sort of expanded family that had moved here from India as well or? 00:00:00.046 --> 00:59:09.046 [KC]: Yes. Before I go to that, I want to cover a little bit of that period when I was supposed to return to India. And which didn't quite happen, but I went through it in my own mind and then I'll tell you about the question that you just asked. So after, during my third year in this country, which was second year in Chicago, and even third year, I had to ask my parents’ permission that I am planning on staying for the third year, and that, they kind of accepted, with some degree of reluctance, they were always worried that three years might become four, and four might become five. 00:00:00.047 --> 00:59:09.047 But anyway, so after three years, we decided we’re definitely going back. And here comes an opportunity for me, my professor says, Are you sure you want to go back? I said, Yeah, I made up my mind, I’m going back. He said, I can offer you a position—fortunately, I was doing very well and they liked me. So, they said, If you want to come here, I'm offering you a position of a chief resident, with some supplementary salary from the University and you’ll get a faculty title. So, you'll be almost like an attending level position, which was very attractive at that time. And, but I said, “I have to go back.” He said, “We’ll keep this position for you for three months.” So it was, so June, middle of June, I took last two weeks vacation. He said, “We’ll wait ‘til October 1st. If you don't show up October 1st, just drop us a line or if you don't show up we’ll understand you're not coming, but ‘til October 1st, we are going to hold up this position.” 00:00:00.048 --> 00:59:09.048 So, great offer for me. And, on the other hand, we bought some—you won’t believe, in India, it’s 220 volts for all the gadgets, so because we are going back to India, thinking that we’re not coming back, we wanted to travel. And Urmil’s younger sister, Nimi, she was single at that time, she had come from India and stayed with us for the last two, three months of our stay here, and maybe more than three months. And then she travelled back with us, back to India. So, what we had not seen, the West Coast, we had not seen Grand Canyons, and Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, San Francisco and all that, Hawaii. 00:00:00.049 --> 00:59:09.049 So, what we did, we bought a ticket, round trip to India. Pan Am had—Pan Am was airline at that time, they used to have around the world ticket, reasonable cost. So, we bought two of those tickets, thinking that if we don't come back, we are in India, we’ll just throw the return part. And if we want to come back, we do have the round-trip ticket to return. So we travelled via West Coast, stopping on all these places, San Francisco, Los Angeles, not Los Angeles, Colorado, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and all that, and Hawaii, and then ended up in Tokyo, town in Japan called Osaka. That’s where Expo ‘70 was happening, it used to happen every three years. 00:00:00.050 --> 00:59:09.050 So I said, “What, this is great opportunity for us to see another Expo.” So we stayed in Osaka, we had not made any reservation in a hotel. We said, We’ll go there, we'll find some place. So, we have me, Urmil, Nimi her younger sister, and (inaudible) is less than two years old. And we land, end up in Osaka airport looking for a place to spend the night. And so, well all hotels are taken. We go to this housing bureau, they had a desk, and it’s almost midnight, 11 o’clock at night. So, I said, we are four of us, three of us, three adults and one kid. “We need a place.” They said, “Sorry, all hotels are booked.” (inaudible) may be spending the night at airport. And then they said, “But we have some people who are offering their homes and you can be their house guest.” I said, “Fine.” 00:00:00.051 --> 00:59:09.051 And so that was more exciting, we’ll get some experience of staying some time with, spending some time with Japanese family, and well off Japanese family, living in a nice Suburban home, comes in a car and takes all of us to home. And he’s got a little home and guest house like attached to that. So we spent three nights with them, every morning they'll have breakfast, so we have to go into their house, take off our slippers, walk bare-feet inside, sit on the ground. Great experience of spending time with Japanese family at a very reasonable cost. And (inaudible) didn’t even have place, and ended up at such a nice place. 00:00:00.052 --> 00:59:09.052 And then round the world we went back to India. And I told my dad, I said, I have this little offer in my pocket but I am going to try my best to find a position. And I want to Chandigarh where my old professors, I went to (inaudible) Institute in Delhi, met the professors there, that these are my qualifications and I’m thinking of coming back to India. And, cold shoulder, “No, come back as a full officer and we'll see, work for a year or so,” full officer was like a temporary position. And people told me that you're not going to be able to manage your family, you got two children, no we had only one son at that time, we had a son, your wife, and salary that you will get in a teaching hospital is not going to—and you got a good opportunities, these are my friends telling me, obviously. 00:00:00.053 --> 00:59:09.053 So, we figured out that maybe better thing is for us to go back. And maybe spend another couple of years, then come back, maybe the more qualifications and all that. So, I told my parents and obviously that was big setback for them. And I came with a bit of a guilt in my mind because it was, I was changing my own thinking which I believe, years back. And then, after I came back here, my dad passed away within a few months of my returning here. And certainly, he had some cardiac history, but he was young, he was around 60 years of age, 59 years old. Suddenly we get a telegram that dad passed away. And that literally, literally tore me apart. I was guilty to begin with, and now I'm feeling terribly guilty, so the Friday afternoon, I run to immigration office and ask them to give me permission to go to— 00:00:00.054 --> 00:59:09.054 Oh, what had happened in the meantime, I had applied for the green card everybody was applying for green card and I said, “No, I'm not applying for green card, that’s permanent resident, permanent visa.” I said,” No, no I’m not applying. I want to go back, I want to go back.” All my friends said, “Get the green card. And if you don’t want to go back, you can always give up. So you can get license, you can get, you can do side job and all that.” So, finally I did apply, and I think was within a month so I –When you apply for green card, you have no status. Can leave the country, but you can’t come back until the green card is approved and then you go to the embassy and get it from there. And that I couldn’t do, because I've got a job here. 00:00:00.055 --> 00:59:09.055 So, I go Friday night and tell these immigration people that my dad passed away, I showed them the telegram. Said, “No, no, we’ve heard these stories before.” They treated me so badly. I came home crying, I went to my professor whose wife was working at the governor's office in Springfield. And he listened to me, so, he called his wife, told his wife right away sitting next to him, “Call the governor's office tomorrow and governor’s office has to call the immigration office.” He said, “Go there Monday morning, you will have your visa, you will have your stamp on the passport so that you can return back.” So anyway, I go back, my dad had already passed. Very traumatic. Very, very traumatic experience. 00:00:00.056 --> 00:59:09.056 So then, finally I came, my family was obviously not happy that I'm going back. I lived with lot of guilt, lot of conflicts for few years until things gradually turned around. What happened is, lot of people started to come here over the next few years. And so now my nephew is coming here and, now I’m coming to your question, that did my family join. So, next thing I know, my nephew wants to come here and he needs my help. So I help him, try to get, finance deal help. Then my younger brother, who’s a doctor, he wants to come to America. I said, “Fine, come over.” So, he comes and stays with us and takes his exam and all that. So, gradually, people are coming, and whatever little I can help, I’m helping all of them. And now, everybody’s neighbors’ children are going, and everybody’s colleagues are going. 00:00:00.057 --> 00:59:09.057 So it has become very norm for people be going to America, and it's no longer considered so bad. And so, my family started to accept it. Said, Fine, Kamal you did right, and I'm glad you're doing fine over there, because things in India are not very good. Now I’m suddenly seeing different colors, family’s accepting and of course, I have kids here, so I’m more deeply involved here. I finish my board exam, I finished, get my license and things like that, and get a job. So, that's how that period of few years was very rough. 00:00:00.058 --> 00:59:09.058 [JJ]: Do you think the people that came after you, from India, they were kind of encouraged by your story and people like you who were already here, and maybe you helped them with shelter, or helped them with references? Do you think it was easier for them comparatively or it was like there was more— 00:00:00.059 --> 00:59:09.059 [KC]: In some ways, easier, it was—it started to get harder in terms of getting a residency in medicine. Because in medicine, you had to start with internship and residency. Because competition became harder and harder and harder, for every one position there will be hundred people applying. At my time, for one position, there were ten people applying. So, if I’m well qualified, every hospital wants me. So, it was very easy for me to get into residency, in fact they offered me senior position, because I had done few years of post-graduate work. So, in that sense it was harder. 00:00:00.060 --> 00:59:09.060 On the other hand, it was easier for them in terms of initial period. So, they come here, they buy a ticket, they get, they come straight on green card, many of them. And some of them came on J-1 visa. And because I'm here, my brother, I’ve been here for four, five years, financially able to have my brother come and stay with me as long as he needs to stay with me. So, people who came after me, few years after me, they had more support of their families or friends, older brother, or whatever. And everybody’s trying to help families to come and naturally. And so, culture and society started to accept it. 00:00:00.061 --> 00:59:09.061 America is good, yeah, more opportunity, things in India were not doing very well in those days. Economically, job-wise, and all that, so people were going, coming here. So, it was becoming very normal for people to come here. So, my brother also joined me, and my nephew came, my niece came for some medical reasons. So, many of my family members gradually came here, some of them settled, some of them, one of them went back. But mostly, they settle down here. 00:00:00.062 --> 00:59:09.062 [JJ]: I’m not sure if we covered this but, I was curious, what kind of medicine did you practice? And how did you end up choosing that particular one? 00:00:00.063 --> 00:59:09.063 [KC]: Okay, so in Chandigarh, when I came finishing my MBBS from Kanpur, and one year of house job, I joined post-graduate institute in Chandigarh as a post graduate student, which is equivalent to being a resident here. So, I was a resident for two years, two and a half years. And in Punjab, it was part of Punjab University, now PGI has its own degree, but at that time, it was new institute, so degree was offered by Punjabi University. 00:00:00.064 --> 00:59:09.064 So, Punjab University had this rule that if you’re doing MD in medicine, which is a post-graduate degree, you have to pick one subject that is your special subject of interest. And then you had to write a thesis which has to be on the same subject. So, I chose cardiology because cardiology was very fascinating. Even the heart as an organ is very fascinating and then, technology, lot of new technology was coming up in cardiology. So, always new technology fascinates. And third, is a professor. I mentioned, his name is Dr. Wahi, he is no longer alive. So, he was very smart, very bright, very good teacher. And I looked up to him when he would teach, he would show slides and this and that, Yeah, this is very fascinating. So, you have a role model and you see this technology, and I got fascinated with the heart as the organ, and so, I choose Cardiology as a special subject. 00:00:00.065 --> 00:59:09.065 Nowadays, of course, they’ve got advanced degree called DM in India, which is equivalent to not Internal Medicine Board, then the Cardiology Boards here. So, I never did DM over there. I just did my MD with Cardiology as a subject. So, that's what I chose. So, when I came to this country, obviously, I already had interest in Cardiology. And, so I came, I was offered fellowship position, which is post-residency position straight into Cardiology. And I said, I don't care about my board exam, I’m only interested in coming for two years, learn the technology and go back. But once I came back, and now I have to think about clearing my board exam. 00:00:00.066 --> 00:59:09.066 So, now, I have finished my cardiology training, but I never did my Internal Medicine in this country. So actually, did Internal Medicine like especially catered for me, my professor liked me so much, he said, Well you haven’t done Internal Medicine there, but Board requires you to do that, I’ll make you chief resident, like I mentioned before. So, he gave me title of a chief resident, and he said, You can take elective rotations whichever you like, spend time, and at the end of two years, actually, it was one year and nine months, he certified me that I’ve done two years of Internal Medicine. So, then I took my Internal Medicine Board, I passed that, I took Cardiology Board and I passed it. 00:00:00.067 --> 00:59:09.067 So I got—and then another interesting thing happened at that time. Because, Canada is very much in British system. So Canadian boards have called FRCP, Fellow of Royal College of Physicians and in Canada, they call FRCPC, Fellow of Royal College of Physicians of Canada. And that exam is similar to American exam and, they used to have oral exam at that time. You do a written exam, then you do an oral exam. So, I said, “Well, I'm studying for my exam anyway, preparing. Why don’t I take Canadian Boards also?” And they would allow, they will accept American training to be able to take the Board. So, I went and took Canadian Boards and I passed Canadian Boards in Medicine, Canadian Boards in Cardiology. And there are two reasons why I did that. I never trained in Canada. One is that if I go back to Indian, I need to write after my name, I can write FRCP. American Board Internal Medicine, nobody, people were not writing after their name. 00:00:00.068 --> 00:59:09.068 And second thing was that, well, if I don't have American Board for some reason, at least I will have Canadian Board. So, luckily, I passed them both. So that’s how, so my field as cardiology, to answer your question, and then I subsequently went into--I did some academic medicine for a few years, then went to a job that was partly salaried position for holding a title and doing some teaching for the residents. I was director of the Coronary Care Unit for (inaudible) Hospital, which had lot of residents. And then I also, on the side I could do my private practice. So, private practice as a cardiologist and at the same time, I worked for the hospital. So that's what I did for many years. 00:00:00.069 --> 00:59:09.069 [JJ]: And you don’t have to answer this if it’s not something you want to answer, but considering after you came back here, after a few months, your father passed away. And you said it was a cardiac problem. Did a part of you make you feel like if you were there, you could have helped? 00:00:00.070 --> 00:59:09.070 [KC]: Yes. Unfortunately, the things that turned around the Cardiology care was the advent of open-heart surgery. And open-heart surgery was not even available at that time. So, even if I was in India, and even if I had taken my dad to, let’s say, PGI, there was no heart surgery at that time. Number two, he died suddenly and so the history was that he went to, he was Rotarian. So he went to Rotary Club meeting, came had, he never drank, but he was heavy smoker. But he had quit toward the later years. 00:00:00.071 --> 00:59:09.071 But he smoked for many years of his life, so I think smoking did, and he was overweight. And he probably had big dinner, came home, and he was not feeling well and he just collapsed and, by the time they couldn't even, didn’t even make it to the hospital. So, he probably had a massive heart attack and cardiac arrest on the way. So, I am not sure if I was there, that I would have been able to save him. But, I did—there was one medicine that had just come, the beta blockers (inaudible). They had just been introduced for angina and he had angina, I wish he was treated with beta blockers. And if he had lived for few more years when bypass surgery came, and if he agreed to go for angiogram and bypass, that could have saved him. But, in hindsight I doubt—I mean, for a while, I felt very, very guilty that being a cardiologist and I couldn’t help the situation. 00:00:00.072 --> 00:59:09.072 [AC]: So, circling back to your experiences in Chicago and kind of progressing through your adult life in Chicago, how did you maintain an involvement in the Indian Community and keep in touch with your Indian heritage? 00:00:00.073 --> 00:59:09.073 [KC]: Yeah, that's a very good question. So, like I was saying, once we decided we're going to stay here, our two sons are growing up here, they’re going to school, we are, Urmil is involved with their activities because I was busy at the hospital, so she will take them to all these baseball games, Scouting, and this and that. So, there was some interaction with our neighborhood, mostly Americans. And then, professionally at my level, Urmil did not, because two children, she always took up a job where she would spend more time at home. 00:00:00.074 --> 00:59:09.074 So she would do part-time work, she did some, she’ll tell you more when you interview her. So, I was able to meet American colleagues at work. So I had fair amount of interaction with American colleagues. And she had interaction with American neighbors because of carpooling and all that. So, we were able to have some interaction with the—there were not too many Indian people then. So, what we were really missing, close friends, close friends with whom we can spend the weekends, where we can have our food, where can listen to our own music, and that were very few. And those few people became very, very close. 00:00:00.075 --> 00:59:09.075 So, that's how it is, so Chicago we made, maybe, six, seven, eight friends who became very close, we met every weekend at somebody’s house and potluck thing, Indian food, this and that. Before that, we were actually exploring the non-Indian foods. We didn’t mind trying pizza one day and trying Mexican food one day just different thing, because for exploring that was excitement. But after we have done that for two, three years and now we are craving for Indian food. And Indian music, somebody’s coming from India, “Oh he brought some records from India, which record did you bring?” “Oh I brought (inaudible) record and Pankaj Mullick record.” So we will go to his house and listen to the music. So, what happened then, there was the need for some kind of Indian organizations to come up. So, this is to answer your question. 00:00:00.076 --> 00:59:09.076 AIA was one of the organizations called Association of Indians in America. FIA was Federation of Indian Associations, which was like a parent organization that under that, there would be other organizations that would be funneled through that. For physicians, we started organization I was involved at very beginning of that, is IMA, Indian Medical Association. So, these organizations provided us a platform where we got together for some social activities and also addressed our common needs, whether it might be discrimination, whether professional level is a licensure issue, that we want to as a rally and invite politicians to our functions and try to make them aware of what these difficulties we are having, and things like that. primary education is starting from Montessori to first standard, we had several vernacular groups, classes, in between. So, for four years after Montessori, I was at a local Gujarati school, local Parsi school, primarily for girls. And, so they would that take boys until they were about 8 or 9 years of age and then we moved on to a boy’s school. And so, I was there at the Parsi school, our community school, close to where we lived, for four years till I was age of 8 or so. And then moved on to another same kind of school, missionary school, called the Don Bosco High School. St. John Don Bosco. And they had a school that was newly opened, when I first started there. And that's where I graduated from high school, we call that secondary school certificate, SSC, at that time. So, that is my earlier scholastic life. inaudible 00:00:00.077 --> 00:59:09.077 So, those organizations served good purpose and, I don't know, fortunately, unfortunately, (inaudible) both Urmil and I got, Urmil is very active, and she got involved and then gradually, I got involved. Because our friends were common, so. For one year, I was president of Indian Medical Association, I was also president of Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago for one year, these were in earlier years. And those were very time-consuming positions, so I was more interested in my own personal profession and my personal hobbies. So, I did not pursue it to that extent, although, I am still on the board of Hindu Temple as a council of past presidents and as a past president of IMA, obviously, I get invited to all the important events. 00:00:00.078 --> 00:59:09.078 But, those organizations have, some of them are losing their purpose, or purpose is not as much as it was then. Except maybe the Temple, the Temple is still serving quite the important purpose. And not only Hindu Temple, I see even non-Hindu, you know, churches and all that also opening up, and the Mosques are coming up. So, these organizations helped them, but, some of them I think, over period of time, lost their purpose and they are still existing, but maybe not as important. 00:00:00.079 --> 00:59:09.079 [AC]: Sure. Could you describe any leisure activities or social activities that you stayed involved in that helped connect you back to your Indian roots? 00:00:00.080 --> 00:59:09.080 [KC]: Yeah, my biggest hobby is music. I always like to listen to music. I appreciate classical-like, classical music. And I always--and I used to sing, like more of a bathroom singer, or on vacation in the car, I’m singing to myself and things like that. With my friends, at the end of the dinner, we sit together, Okay whoever knows little singing, so I would always get called in to sing. And this was always my interest as growing up in India, I never got the opportunity to learn music, because parents never encouraged it. And once I was in the hostel, there were not enough opportunities. And first few years in this country was busy, busy, busy, busy towards my career and raising kids. 00:00:00.081 --> 00:59:09.081 Much later in my life that I saw opportunity of actually learning music, formally learning music, which I am doing right now, at this stage of my life. I have a teacher who comes to my house, who was coming to my house once a week, now with covid, we are on Zoom only. And we get together and we created a small organization called Hamsadhwani, this is a group that I initiated with the help of three other, four other people. So, the four, five of us started this group where we would invite artists from India, or if artists from India are visiting, not the Bollywood type of artist, but more like light classical, or Ghazal singers, where we could have group of like hundred people or, 70, 80 people, 90 people in small hall and listen to—we used to do that even in our basement. And then, basement started to get not big enough, and the demand of these artists are little more, so they needed little bigger audience and some more money. 00:00:00.082 --> 00:59:09.082 So, we created this organization. So, it has helped me a lot, in fulfilling my interest in music, pursuing my interest in music. And I have lot of friends who are into music—actually, I get drawn to those friends who are into music. So, that is one area that I have pursued with lot of passion. Other area that I pursued for a while was sports, which was, tennis was my, I used to play tennis and organize small, little tennis group activities. We’ll give trophy to people who is the winner and things like that. And for some, we’ll play indoor tennis started, many years later then, we used to go in the evening and play indoors, even wintertime. But then, my shoulders started to bother me, so I gave up my tennis. So, I think tennis and music were my two bigger hobbies. 00:00:00.083 --> 00:59:09.083 [JJ]: Tennis is something you can, like, it's accessible here. How did you get the access to records, music, from India? 00:00:00.084 --> 00:59:09.084 [KC]: Yeah, the music from India, in the beginning, it only was available by somebody going to India and buying couple of albums and I will say, Please bring, buy one for me also, and I used to pay him and he might bring one or two for me and for himself, so we would go to his house, listen to his albums, he’ll come to my house. And then, much later—and we were missing movies. There were no movies, there were no videos. So, first thing that we started to do in McCormick Place, there was on Sunday afternoon, there was one lady who would get these movies from India and they will show, and they will like, 50 people might show up there. That was the, after three years of gap, or four, maybe four or five years of gap, of seeing no—so I had blackout in Bollywood. 00:00:00.085 --> 00:59:09.085 Somebody talks to me about a movie between 1967 ‘til about 1980, I have no knowledge of those music. I know everything before that. And then, so, subsequently, these VCRs came, so people got VCRs and then, everybody will buy four, or five cassettes and then we’ll keep exchanging, have our own library. And then cassettes also, music came in cassette form and from cassettes it came to the DVDs form, in the CD form, I mean. And then the DVDs came. Then technology blasted like that, last ten years, it’s unbelievable. 00:00:00.086 --> 00:59:09.086 And then, Devon Avenue, I would go to Devon Avenue, and there’s store, record store. My wife will go to sari shop or jewelry shop, I say, I’m not interested in that, you leave me at the record store, I spend my time in the bookstore or record store. And that’s what we did. Every time we go to Devon Avenue, I’ll buy some records. So, once it started to be available locally in Chicago area, and then, subsequently now, there’s no record shop anymore, because everybody is on their cell phone and iPhone and everything, so. 00:00:00.087 --> 00:59:09.087 [JJ]: Did you get some musicians here to perform live, from India? Some Ghazal singers or something? 00:00:00.088 --> 00:59:09.088 [KC]: Oh yeah, we, for over ten years almost. 00:00:00.089 --> 00:59:09.089 [JJ]: Are there any names that come to mind? 00:00:00.090 --> 00:59:09.090 [KC]: Which artist did I bring? The artists that we brought were not like Bollywood type of names, like Kishore Kumar, like those are big-time, downtown or Sears Arena or something like that, where ten thousand people will go. The artist that we got was one of the Shanti Hiranand. She was a student, not a, she was like adopted daughter of Begum Akhtar, who was a very well-known Ghazal singer of our time. So, she had a family member who lived in this country, and she would come here, perform in New York. So, I got introduced to her that she’s coming to America and she might even come to Chicago. Can you arrange a program? 00:00:00.091 --> 00:59:09.091 So, we obviously invited her and (inaudible) found a place where we’ll have—my friends invited Ghulam Ali. Chandan Dass came to my house. We had, more recently have had Radhika Chopra, who’s very well known in Delhi area. Very good Ghazal singer, Radhika Chopra has come to our program three, four times. Rashmi Aggarwal came very recently. Sandip Bhattacharjee came. So these are artists, we have (inaudible) type of artist, they’ve not made a big name in national level and also they don’t sing fast Bollywood numbers. They sing more like classical, serious type of music. 00:00:00.092 --> 00:59:09.092 [JJ]: And it didn’t matter if they came from Pakistan or (inaudible)— 00:00:00.093 --> 00:59:09.093 [KC]: No, we have had couple of Pakistan, but I think mostly they were from India because that’s where my connection is. My reference are, one of my cousins have a similar organization in Delhi. So, he was my contact person. So, he knew that we have a group of people who like to do that, so he will refer people to me that, This person is, next summer he’s coming, why don’t you get in touch with him? So that’s how. 00:00:00.094 --> 00:59:09.094 [AC]: So, just to to kind of wine down here, are there any certain experiences or stand out moments of your immigration time here that, if you haven't touched on, if you haven’t described to me, that you would just like to touch on just as we finish up? 00:00:00.095 --> 00:59:09.095 [KC]: Yeah. Maybe a summary type of thing. There was times when we would go to India and it was so soul satisfying. We will spend only two months in India, not even two months, really, month. And we get so much love, so much affection, so much getting the food of your own home, staying at your own home, care-free life, it has come home like totally soul satisfied. And yes, after three months, we want to go back and be in our own bedroom and our own home. But, it used to be very, very satisfying. 00:00:00.096 --> 00:59:09.096 Over a period of time, what has happened--so in India was so much passion, so much love, deep love for our own country, our own people, and we received so much love every time we went there, and we loved them so much when we went there. Over period of time, what has happened, our children have grown here, now our grandchildren have grown here, and we have friends who have been with us for 50 years. Our roots are now becoming deeper, and deeper, and deeper in this country. We are also getting more involved at the mainstream level, in other words we’ll take lot of interest in what’s happening in the election, voting is coming up, this is coming up, or any kind of major American activity, we take lot of interest. In American sports, we watch football game, watch this, so we are much more involved here. And secondly, we are losing my generation, old People, older than parents are gone, our family uncles and aunts and some of our, class-fellow friends are gone. And those, my two brothers are living, doing well, fortunately. 00:00:00.097 --> 00:59:09.097 But, they are also getting little old, and they, well, their own responsibilities. So, it is not as, we are more here than we are there. We are finding more our home and less of India as our home. It is—I’m noticing that as a change. It’s not that I don’t love India, I love India, but we find it little hassle traveling, little hassle not as many people that, many people are gone now. So, it is becoming little bit not as attractive, and as looking forward to something, and coming soul satisfied. Now, we go there, sometimes we come back tired, sometimes we come back sick. We can get sick over there. So, it is that as a big change that has happened I have noticed in the last--with the covid, gotten lot worse obviously. We haven’t travelled since the covid thing. 00:00:00.098 --> 00:59:09.098 [JJ]: So, the guilt has left you. 00:00:00.099 --> 00:59:09.099 [KC]: Guilt, it took a long time. Guilt actually, what helped me leave the guilt—yes it has left me. But the real (inaudible), when there was acceptance from that side. It is the same people who would make some harsh comments that would hit me very, very, very deeply. They may say something not really meaning it, but because I was in sensitive state of mind, sometimes those things hit me very hard. Now the same people will say, Oh Kamal you’re doing very good, such a good thing, so glad you’re doing well, so glad, I wish I was in your position if I had. So now they're saying that why did they stay back? Maybe they should have come here. So now the whole thing is kind of reversed. So once there was so much acceptance and approval of what I did, the guilt automatically went away. 00:00:00.100 --> 00:59:09.100 [JJ]: I was wondering if the guilt wasn’t from your own heart but also like if somebody said something, if some family members. And that brings to the point that, you asked about the discrimination, discrimination can also be from your own home country, when you go—if you (inaudible) 00:00:00.101 --> 00:59:09.101 [KC]: Yeah, this is, yeah, NRI sometimes are not, when you go back, they think, Oh this guy, like they have a chip on their shoulder, they think (inaudible). So sometimes even that also happens. When you go back, you are, sometimes people look at—not the family, but some other people look at you with a slightly different angle. So, yeah, can be discrimination there too. 00:00:00.102 --> 00:59:09.102 [JJ]: Anything else you want to share? 00:00:00.103 --> 00:59:09.103 [KC]: No, it was nice to vent myself. 00:00:00.104 --> 00:59:09.104 [JJ]: How’s covid treating you? How have you been managing? 00:00:00.105 --> 00:59:09.105 [KC]: Right, covid has been the greatest stress, we’re managing it well, fortunately, we are all healthy. And other than one of our friend lost his son which is, it was very tragic. Fortunately, our immediate family and our other rest of the friends are all okay. So, thank God for that. This new norm with the mask and distancing and not going your social life, very little social life is really changed a lot. It has done some good, because it made us ponder over things that we took for granted and now we realized that you can’t take things for granted. So, it has opened our eyes in some ways. On the other hand, we do miss social get-togethers and so-called normal life. Which looks like it’s not going to happen for period of time. 00:00:00.106 --> 00:59:09.106 [AC]: Thank-you. 00:00:00.107 --> 00:59:09.107 [KC]: Thank-you, 00:00:00.108 --> 00:59:09.108 [JJ]: Thank-you very much, this is the end of the interview with Mr. Chawla. Thank-you Amar, grandson, for the interview.