This is the immigration story of Mr. Prabhakar Joshi, sent to USINPAC in response to the White House’s appeal for immigration stories to help frame robust immigration policies. The same has been sent to the White House as well.
The year was 1963. We were citizens of India. My wife, Savita, got an admission and assistantship to work on her doctorate program in the Texas Woman’s University (TWU), Denton, TX. She did not want to go alone and I did not want to leave her. United States would not grant me a visa unless I had a work offer in hand. So my wife and I sent a letter to her major professor, Dr. P.B.Mack, to offer a job. She immediately agreed to give part-time work and sent us a letter to that effect. We were jubilant.
But that would not clear our road. My supervisor would not let me leave the Home Department, Govt. of Maharashtra state, because he claimed that he gave me promotions and I was working in Special Branch dealing with secret and confidential matters. I was frustrated. I petitioned to another officer holding a parallel position. He agreed and sent the papers to the ultimate authority, the Secretary of the Dept. He approved. We were jubilant again.
Then there was another hitch. The Reserve Bank of India would not let us take more than $7.40 each. Why? China had attacked India and the government wanted to save all the dollars. We wrote to a pen-friend in Louisiana, who was a Secretary to Governor. She promised $200 instantly when we arrive in the USA.
Passport was a hassle. Without using the good offices of my father who was the president of Thane Congress and my father in law who was a State senator (member of Legislative council), Bombay, & the chief of a national political party we received our passports and visas faster than the normal speed.
After a lot of thinking, we took leave from our work places, the Home Dept. for me and the SNDT, University for Savita, and decided to embark. Took loans to meet our huge expenses and got to a travel agent. Asked him to send us by a ship to England to save money and then by air to USA.
Our journey on a ship was very enjoyable except one night’s sea sickness. Finally, when arrived in New York, we got those $200 at a telegraph office. Took a taxi to the bus station. The driver asked for a tip. We asked for the change. Took the change and told him that since you are forcing us for a tip we are not giving any.
We bought 2 bus tickets to Denton, TX. A few dollars were left. Therefore did not eat on the way; only one cup of coffee for both of us. In Denton, a pen-friend had booked a one bed room apartment for us. Paid rent and all the money was gone.
Next day went to register at the Univ. of Texas. They won’t complete the process unless the fee was paid. We asked to see the treasurer, who in turn sent us to the Univ. President. He allowed us 10 days after which our names would be removed from the univ. if not paid.
We went to a bank; showed our credentials and offered my wife’s golden jewelry in exchange for the loan. The loan was approved. We took only the amount necessary for our fees and refused to take more.
Thus we got enrolled. I used to walk to the Univ. two miles, one way, with a bag full of books in hand, in cold and in summer. After a month, a car stopped and asked me “are you at the Univ. of TX? I answered yes. He asked why did I walk? I told “ walking is a good exercise”. He smiled and offered a ride—every day. Next year, we bought a bicycle for $8 at a Police auction. My wife would sit on the bar while I drove for shopping. Some waived from their windows. In two years we completed our degrees and got employed. Then we brought our 8-year old son, Chandrashekhar, who was left with my parents/his grandparents. This much story is enough this time.
(Do you have an immigration story you would like to share? Write to USINPAC at firstname.lastname@example.org)