Manimozhi Doraisamy is interviewed by her daughter Janani Gandhi about her arrival to the United States in Concord, New Hampshire, from Madurai, India, in 1997, at the age of 24. Manimozhi now lives in the Boston suburbs in Massachusetts.
Transcriber: Claire Gordon
Janani Gandhi: Ok, all set, so, today I am interviewing my mom about her first day in the United States, can you say your name, where you came from, and where you landed?
Manimozhi Doraisamy: (00:17) I’m Manimozhi Doraisamy, I came from India to the United States from Madurai, and...
JG: (00:33) Where did you land?
MD: (00:35) I landed in Boston, Massachusetts in their airport, Logan Airport.
JG: (00:46) Ok, how old were you?
MD: (00:48) I was 24 years old.
JG: (00:51) Ok, so, what do you remember about the trip here?
MD: (00:57) Yeah, I came here, I was thinking of coming to the U.S. as an H-1B Visa person, and, yeah, so, with that idea I got married and came with my husband. So when I came I remember there were, since we were newlywed, there were family friends, my husband’s friend from his office and neighbors, all of them came to the airport. My husband arranged a limousine to come and pick us up. And on the way from our flight from Chennai to Boston we have a friend’s mom, she’s like 80 years old, came with us, so they also came to the airport, so I remember a lot about. And I expected the airport be shining and something since it’s United States, but it didn’t be that what I expected. It is nice and clean but it was not up to my expectations at the time.
JG: (02:41) Do you remember what time of year it is, or like what the weather was like?
MD: (02:43) It is June 15th, 1998 and the weather was very nice, not hot, not rainy, it was very pleasant. Yeah, first day was...my husband had a house apartment in Concord, New Hampshire, where he was working, so he had uh, we went there. One of our family, or his friends, made food for us and it was, and we had a get to together and it was nice.
JG: (03:25) So that’s what you did on the first day?
MD: (03:28) Yes, I came here in the evening so we all had food and talking, that’s it—then the evening is gone, that is the first day.
JG: (03:44) Do you remember what you first felt when you stepped outside of the airport?
MD: (03:49) What I thought was, yeah, I was looking at...I don’t know. [laughter] I had actually motion-sickness so I was not good, I had bags with me. So, that is why, that’s what I [laughter] remember being in….so I was not enjoying the ride….it was not that enjoyable, my body was not coping [laughter] with the trip.
JG: (04:49) Do you remember what you did the next day?
MD: (04:53) Huh, the next day, I don’t remember exactly.
JG: (05:05) And then, in general, what were you most surprised by? Or what did you first notice, I guess, what stood out to you?
MD: (05:18) The town, we were living Concord, New Hampshire, was...there was no three-story buildings, everything is just small buildings. So I came to know, “ok, this is a small town in America.” I came there, because for me I thought I’m going to come and see all the tall buildings, big offices, so it was completely opposite. And the electrical tools are made up of wood, I haven’t seen that in India, it’s all concrete or, yeah, like that only I had seen. And a lot of woods everywhere, that made me very happy. In Concord, New Hampshire also there were a lot of, within that apartment building and close, there were a lot of trees, I liked that.
JG: (06:17) Ok, um, well, thank you. Is there anything else you want to add?
MD: (06:28) People, whenever I saw, in the apartment complex when I go out, they say always “hi,” that’s new to me, since I was in Chennai there, it’s a very crowded place so we don’t say “hi, hello” to all strangers, we just pass by. Here everybody, even though they don’t know they say “hi” to everybody else when they see opposite, that was new. And, what else…
JG: (07:10) Um...Yeah, I don’t know, anything else for you?
MD: (07:20) Anything else? Yeah, I started practicing my driving skills immediately, that’s what I remember.
JG: (07:35) Was that different than driving at home?
MD: (07:38) Definitely. Here, though I got license and here we drove a lot just to get practice. And the mobile, the old car. Yeah, It feels like a bus, big one. [laughter] I drove many days whenever we get time we used to drive around everywhere and I’d be the driver….before I’m getting the license like with the international, driving the family car, I was doing that.
JG: (08:32) Cool. Is there anything that you were surprised by that was like you were expecting it to be better or something that disappointed you?
MD: (08:44) Yeah, I went to Concord, New Hampshire, so it was a very small town. That was completely different than I was expecting to see in the United States. Yeah.
JG: (09:05) Ok.
MD: (09:07) I used to write letters those times to my friends and family if I [laughs] could get those copy I will have all that. Because I wrote all those letters I remember those things otherwise it might have come, since I wrote it and send it to them, and discussed with them, and I talked to them.
JG: (09:40) Yeah. Ok, well that’s all the questions I have.
MD: (09:45) Ok, that’s all? Okay, bye.
JG: (09:48) Oh, I have to stop the recording. [laughter]