Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Celebrating Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.

Celebrating Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, I thought I'd share this interesting letter I saved as a text file years ago when I lived in West Rogers Park. I may have enough tidbits of Illinois history and stories to develop a Knowledgebase. 

A Digital Hoarder, defined by researchers as a sub-type of hoarding disorder, is characterized by individuals collecting excessive digital files, material, and photos.

Kamran's family immigrated from Pakistan to Michigan when he was 3 years old in 1974, and he writes about his first visit to Chicago's "Little India Neighborhood," Devon Avenue.
Chicago's "Little India" in the far North Neighborhood of West Rogers Park.
My name is Kamran. I know it's probably normal for everyone who lives there (Chicago's Little India), but I almost cried just walking Devon Avenue (DEE Von) with my friend. It was also his first visit to Chicago. I was excited to see such a large community of Pakistanis.

I'm traveling for the first time in my life from Michigan, where the South Asian/Indian (Desi) population is super spread out. You only see big groups of people, like myself, at organized events or funerals. 

I grew up in Dearborn, so even though there's a decent size Muslim and Arab community here, there arn't many Desi in our community. Weddings and events are fun but not very traditional in several ways. There are many reasons why my family has never returned to visit Pakistan since we came to America. 

I have never been to such a big city like Chicago before. It was surreal.

For the first time in my life, I walked on a busy street, and I blended in! I realized that I had never felt so 'normal' before. I didn't receive a strange look or bad vibes.

The people I was walking past looked like my brother, mom, or dad, and where the food in the stores was what I was used to buying at home. We had trouble deciding which restaurant to eat lunch at.

It's kind of sad that I've never seen people like myself living an organic life. It felt strange to me.

I'm sure this was no big deal for many people, but for me, it meant EVERYTHING.

I have always struggled with my identity being an "in-betweener," never white or a Desi. The feeling of being 'insecure' just disappeared after a 10-minute stroll on Devon Avenue.                                                                     —  Kamran  

 THANK YOU, CHICAGO! I'll be back.

1 comment:

  1. Lived here in Chicago all my life and made it a bucket list to see all the ethnic neighborhoods. Love the Devon st from the lake through the carribean neighborhood through Little India and on to the Russian and Jewish parts!


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