I was married on the 17th of May 1965 in New Delhi India to a gentleman newly returned to India from America. My new husband was offered a promising job opportunity in India with a large multi national engineering firm. He also still had his visa and a job to come back to in America. He asked me where I would want to settle, in America or India. I was so anxious to come to this country the answer was a no brainer for me. Of course I would like to settle in America.
The only problem was I had to wait in India for quite some time for the visa. In those days they gave a special visa for a spouse to join their husband, it was not a green card. After a few months, I finally received my US Visa, but the immigration office in Omaha, NE had somehow incorrectly stated my visa expiration date as one month before the issue date! After working with airlines and using family connections, I was allowed to travel on PanAm Airlines from Delhi to Chicago, and a US immigration officer was to assist me in Chicago. If my paperwork was not changed, I would have to return to India immediately.
I left New Delhi, India on November 5th 1965. The flight was almost forty hours long making about four stops on the way.
The plane landed at O’hare airport in Chicago. I was very nervous. The airline informed me that I would be escorted by an immigration official to clear up my paperwork before I could officially enter the US. No sooner did we land than did a uniformed gentleman board the plane calling my name. He asked for my passport and visa. I was so nervous that I was literally shaking in my seat. The officer was a very kind and gentle person. He apologized for the error, crossed out the expiration date on my visa, and entered a new date. He then escorted me to the airport immigration office with my now valid papers.
Those were the days without walls separating loved-ones at airports. As we were walking, the officer asked me to look up, as it appeared that someone was trying to get my attention. I looked up and saw my husband’s smiling face! To my surprise, he had flown from Des Moines, IA to great me at the airport. When I saw him I felt such peace and comfort I was finally able to smile!
That same afternoon we flew together to Des Monies. My husband’s colleagues and friends came to receive us at the airport with flowers. I was surprised to see such kind and warm hospitality. In the freezing temperature of Iowa in November, people made my new home warm for me. I learned very quickly about the perils of snow, when my Indian “chappel” was left in the snow from November until the Spring thaw! From that day on I have met very kindhearted people who helped the Americanization of Damini.