Title: Oral History Interview with Chandrika Dalal, July 22, 1999. Interview K-0814.
Interviewer: Jilani, Andrew
Interviewee: Dalal, Chandrika
Abstract: Chandrika Dalal discusses her experiences as an Indian immigrant in the United States. Despite her husband's alcoholism and excessive gambling in India, she agreed to move with him to the United States since she saw in the move an opportunity to improve her family's life. Upon arrival in California, she moved in with her recently emigrated brother. There, Dalal worked in her brother's hotel business. She came to appreciate the diversity and economic opportunity that California offered but later relocated with her brother to rural North Carolina. She felt more secure there than she did in California but had difficulty being accepted because of cultural and language barriers. She faced other problems, too, including what she describes as police harassment and punitive city codes that she says prevented her from earning a livelihood as a restaurateur. To earn money, she found work at the University of North Carolina as a housekeeper. Despite her husband's refusal to provide financial security for their family, Dalal upheld traditional Indian gender norms. She believed her cultural beliefs to be superior to what she saw as the moral corruption in America, which she learned about largely from television shows. Even though her daughters arrived in the United States as toddlers and assumed an American identity, she says that they still experience ethnic discrimination. In turn, says Dalal, her daughters' Americanization creates a distance between them and her family in India because they know little of Indian customs, language, and traditions, a state of affairs she greatly regrets.