Promise

Dilip Chakrabarti

 Immigrant Bengalis

After my graduation from Jadavpur University I started to look for work in different pharmaceutical companies. When I studied at the university, I was working for a company which was one of the most stable companies in India at that time. My salary was much higher there than what I could earn as a graduate pharmacist. My family was mostly dependent on me. So I decided to keep my old job unless I could get a job that would give me at least the same salary. And I would routinely look into the “Wanted” column in Sunday’s The Statesman and The Amritabazar Patrika. Every week I was applying for a new job to two or three companies. One of my engineer friends once told me that his friend was going to America for employment. He told me, "Dilip, I shall introduce you to him and you can ask him what to do to go to America." The conversation ended there. I completely forgot about it. Occasionally I used to meet my old classmates to share ideas and information. One day I went to see my friend Subhankar in Jadavpur and after lunch we decided to go to a movie. We decided to go to Esplanade and watch an English movie. We got on an 8B bus. Luckily we found room to sit down. As soon as we settled down Subhankar said, "Dilip, I heard America needs professionals like doctors, engineers, pharmacists and so on, and they are granting permanent residency to those people. I am thinking of going to the American Consulate one day and find out more about it."

I said, "Why one day, why not now? Let us get off at the next stop -- and go to the American Consulate and gather information about it".
 I pulled Shubhankar and got off at the Theatre Road Bus Stop.

We started to walk towards the Consulate; at least we thought we were going in the correct direction but we were wrong. We had to ask someone about the direction to the Consulate, and we finally reached there. Two policemen were guarding the Consulate, and we asked them where the information desk was. We followed their instruction and came into an impressive office. At the reception desk, there was a very beautiful girl who was made for that office only; at least I thought so. She gave a lovely smile and asked," How can I help you guys?"  


We were nervous, did not know what exactly to ask, our words were not coming out of our mouth. We nervously said a few words which sounded like “We go to America, no student, work, work and stay in America.” We stared at one another; we were relieved that somehow we had managed to communicate with her.

The young lady at the counter probably had heard this type of English a million times before. So it was not difficult for her to understand. She asked, “Do you want to immigrate to USA?”

We quickly replied, "Yes."

"What is your educational qualification?", she wanted to know.

We both replied, "We have passed B. Pharm from Jadavpur University."

"Oh, you are in pharmacy. Yes, America needs pharmacists. Please wait, I am going to give you a form."  she said smiling. She got up from her chair and collected some forms and gave them to us and said, "You can fill these forms now and give back to me."  She also told us that we could sit at the corner table in her office and fill in the forms.

 We moved to the corner and started to fill in the forms. It took us about twenty minutes. After filling the forms we went back to the receptionist and told her, "We have finished filling in the forms".

She took our forms and said, "We are going to give thees forms to our immigration department and they will contact you in one month. Now you can go home and wait for our immigration department’s letter. Good luck." Then she looked at someone else who was waiting for her attention.

Both of us came out of the office and looked at the watch. It was 3:30 in the afternoon; that meant our movie time was gone for that day. Subhankar asked, :What should we do now?

I replied, "Let us have some tea and then may be we can visit our friend Tulsi in his office. It is about a ten minute walk from here." We entered a coffee shop. The waiter pointed us to a table. We settled at that table and asked for tea and some snacks.

Both of us were working for big firms. Big firm did not mean a fat salary. I could get by with my salary. I had a family which was dependent on my income. So, immigration visa or not, I would have to take my steps very carefully. My family’s future was connected with mine. For my friend, the story was different. His family did not depend on his income. So, he had some freedom which I did not have. Freedom or no freedom, I was always ambitious and hard working. Once I decided to do something, I always started to act on it immediately. Waiting is not my style. But I had also learnt in life that acquiring certain things needed patience. In this situation, patience was the name of the game. At that point, I knew I would have to wait for the response of the US immigration department.

Months passed by. I kept receiving one form after another. And I kept returning them to the US immigration department. Finally, I received a letter for visa interview with the visa officer of the US Consulate. I was waiting for it. I got nervous too because I had no idea what they would ask me or what they expected from me. Finally, the interview date arrived and I went to the US Consulate office for the interview. It was a familiar scenario. One young woman was waiting for the candidates in the office. She was writing the names of the candidates and asking everyone to wait in the waiting area. We all waited in the area. We hardly spoke to one another. If we did, it was in a real low voice, whispering to one another. About six or seven people were scheduled for interview on that day. As the day progressed they were calling the candidates for interview. I noticed one thing -- that the candidates were going in but not coming out. Later on I came to know that after the interview the candidates were asked to go out through a different doorway. Finally my name was called around 11:30 am. I entered the interview room. It was a big room. An American Officer, probably the visa officer, was sitting at a huge desk and there was an Indian girl, helping him with paperwork.

When I entered the room, the officer stood up and welcomed me -- and asked me to have a seat in front of his desk. I was nervous, started to sweat and looked for the handkerchief to rub my forehead to mop the sweat. The Officer looked at me and asked, "Dilip, why do you want to go to America?"

I replied, " I want to go to America to have a better life for me and my family."

"You have chosen New York City for you entrance to the country. Is there any reason?", he wanted to know. While he was talking to me he was also examining my papers.

I replied, "New York City is the capital of the business world. Besides it is the melting pot of all ethnic groups. Its charm is always glowing; I wanted to become a part of it."

After hearing my reply the visa officer extended his hand for a handshake and said, "Congratulations! Please pick up your visa after three days. You have ninety days to travel to USA. Visa papers will be in an envelope. Do not open the envelope. You have to give it to the immigration officer at New York’s JFK Airport. This seal must not be removed. If the seal is broken, your visa will be cancelled. Now you can go and arrange for your travel to USA.  Wish you all the best. Good bye."

I came out of his room, stood for a while, heaved a sigh of relief that finally I had received the visa for America. It was around noon time. Scorching rays of the sun were cruel; I felt its cruelty; everything seemed to be red hot; I started to walk towards the Esplanade. I had received the visa; I still needed to make arrangements for the money for the plane fare. Also I needed to give several thousand rupees to my family for monthly expenses before I left for USA. Before I received the visa, I did not have to worry about all these things. I decided not to worry about anything for the time being -- and  instead share the good news with my family. I got on a bus which would take me home, to family and to my father -- the man who, despite being a widower, had done everything to give us a home filled with love and affection. So, I thought, he should be the first person to know about it and I should get his blessings before I started my journey for a new world. He was my father, friend, philosopher, guide and my hero. I always tried to follow in his footsteps. He was my unsung hero.

Three days later I went to the American Consulate and collected an envelope which contained the immigration visa. After I came out of the Consulate, I looked at the envelope. It was the passport to my new world, good or bad, and to my future -- filled with success or not; I would have to succeed with my own hard work and determination. All those thoughts started to come to my mind, as an unknown fear and anxiety gripped my feelings. I wanted to control my emotions; the fear of an uncertain future was shedding its cover and giving birth to hope and yearning in me. I came home from the Esplanade. I was relaxed. 

In the afternoon I sat next to my father with a cup of tea and some snacks. As usual, my father was smoking bidi and he asked me.  "How come you are home now? Didn’t you go to work today?" My father wanted to know why I was home instead of working.

"No, I did not go to work today. I went to the American Consulate",  was my reply. Then I started to bring the cat out of the bag little by little. I told him that I was going to America for a better future for me, for my family, brothers and sisters, for everybody. I also told him that I did not have any job lined up for me in America; I did not have any place where I could go for the first time. I also assured my father that thousands of people from all over the world were going to America and they all eventually found a job in their own profession. I won’t be an exception either; I might not have a job to begin with, but when I got there, I would definitely get one. I told him, "Please do not worry about these. Besides I have a few friends who are already there; some of them will definitely help me in settling down. They are my good friends, I helped them here on various occasions, I am sure, and they will try their best to help me out. I have full confidence in them."

After hearing me my father told me, "I thought you were happy here. You have a reasonably good job, good salary, and you work for a good company. Do not count on the birds in the woods; count on birds you have in your hand. You have seen me: after the partition of India, I had to move here. I lost everything in a twenty-four hours' notice. We had a very good life, we were happy with it but in twenty-four hours we lost everything; we became paupers. So, think about it before you jump into the uncertainty of foreign life. Besides, you are married now; have you consuledt your wife about this decision? Whatever you decide, I have full support for you. But make sure you consult your wife and then make your decision. I bless you son. Pray to God that your dreams come true." --  He embraced me; I knew; his blessings were showered on me. He also wanted to know how I was going to pay for the plane fare and all the incidental expenses for the trip. I let him know in brief that I was going to withdraw the money from my provident fund, and that money would be enough for my trip to America.

The same evening, I told my wife about my plan to go to America. I also explained to her that I could not take her with me right away because of the uncertain situation about the job and the place to stay in America. She was worried to hear of my plan and said, "What happens if it did not work? Will you be coming back? Whatever you earn here, we are happy with it. You should deliberate very carefully about this jump into an unknown dark sky for a uncertain better future. It is like an ocean. Nobody knows what is there under the waves in the deep sea. I told her, " Muku, you are right; it is not easy. I am also worried that this decision will put us apart from one another. This separation will be very difficult for both of us. But trust me, like everything else we shall overcome the sadness caused by this. Our love for each other, our trust in each other will keep us together in spite of our geographic distance. Our love and respect for each other will always keep our hearts together. Our strong love will keep us connected all the time."

Thinking about the coming separation, her eyes started to glitter with the pearl drops which started to flow down her cheeks. She could not control her emotion, she embraced me and said, "Dilip, I am afraid, I shall be all alone, I won’t be able to stay without you. Please don’t leave me alone here."

I understood her fear was reasonable and her worries were reasonable as well. So I told her, "Everybody in our family loves you very much, especially my father who will be here. Nobody can put you in harm’s way in his presence. My family’s love and affection will give you strength to sustain, you won’t even remember me, soon you will think: Dilip who?" -- After that we joked around; we teased each other and then we promised to love each other and be together for the rest our lives.  We hugged each other.

Next morning I went to my office and wrote my resignation letter. Until that point, it was easy for me to talk about my future plan with friends and family. Now, I had to tell a person who had always helped me while I was studying at Jadavpur University. Without his help I would never have finished my education. He was the one who allowed me to work at night and study during the day. I could never thank him enough for what he done for me. I shall always remain grateful to him. I went into his office. Always smiling, the gentleman greeted me and asked me, "Everything OK? You are here rather early in the  morning, what is the matter?"

I was hesitant and did not know how to give him my resignation letter. I was very nervous. I told him, "Sir, I want to resign from my job. I have received immigration visa to USA. I want to go there as soon as possible."

He replied, "We have decided to promote you from next month. I was going to send you the appointment letter next week. Now, you are asking to resign! Do you know that USA has a very high rate of unemployment? My suggestion; do not go, stay here, take the promotion and some day you will climb the ladder to the top. You are hard working and sincere; the company will treat you well. I promise – you won’t regret. As long as I am here, I will take good care of you."-- He gave me all kinds of assurance so that I would not quit. But I had made the decision. I could not reverse it.

I told him, "Sir, I apologize but I cannot stay. I shall always remember what you have done for me. If I do not succeed in America, please give me a job when I come back to India." He understood that no matter what I was not going to change my mind.  He asked me, "Do you have a place where you are going to live in New York?"

"No, sir,"  I replied. I also mentioned that I was trying to find someone who would help me.

He said, "My brother lives in America. He lives in Queens. He is here now. Come to my home this evening, I will introduce you to him. May be, he can help you. In the meantime, think about your resignation, and if you change your mind, let me know." 

"Thank you, sir. I will see you this evening." I told him and left his office. In the evening, I went to my boss Mr Mukherjee's house. Someone of his household asked me to sit on a couch in the living room. The room was very neatly decorated and I liked the way it displayed a portrait of an elderly woman, probably Mr Mukherjee's mother.

"Oh, you are here," my boss said as he entered the room. I stood up and conveyed my respect to him. He asked me to sit down and said, "I will be back." He then left. After a few minutes Mr Mukherjee re-entered the room and another person followed him. Both of them sat on a couch in front of me. Then Mr Mukherjee introduced the other gentleman to me: "My brother Ramen, and this is Dilip. He works with me. Dilip has received an immigration visa for going to USA. He has no place to stay there. I have told him, may be he can stay with you for a few days until he finds a place to live." And he looked to Ramen and asked, "Ramen, what do you think? Can you help him?"

Ramen looked at me and said, "Congratulations! Yes, you can come and stay with us until you get a job and find a place to go to. But since both my wife and I work, you will have to do a few things on your own. Food will be in the fridge; you will have to take out whatever you need and warm it and eat it. Just try to become a family member and we will be there for you. I promise you a place to stay in New York. Bye the bye, when are coming to New York?".

"Thank you very much!", I said. "I am coming at the end of the month. I shall let you know the exact date and time once I buy the plane ticket.", I told him. I thought in my mind: Ramen is a very nice person. He is my problem-solver angel I was overwhelmed by his kindness and generosity. He gave me his address and telephone number and said, "Please let me know the date and time of your arrival. I will be at the airport to receive you. Don't worry, your housing problem is solved. I am looking forward to seeing you in New York." The more I spoke with him the more I became convinced that he was one of the kindest persons I had ever met. His humble demeanor impressed me. After a few minutes I said goodbye and promised to keep in touch with him about my travel plans. Thank God! A big load of uncertainty was off my shoulders. I came home relaxed.

Every night before going to bed my father and I talked for at least half an hour. If we had a good topic to discuss, our sessions would go beyond an hour. That night I told my father all about Ramen and his promise to host me until I found a place of my own. My father and I both thought highly of Ramen because it was always difficult to find someone who was willing to help strangers. We thanked God for sending Ramen to us in my moment of need.

The next few days went by at the speed of light. After my resignation, the accounting department of my office informed me that I was eligible to withdraw my provident fund money -- and I was eligible to get an additional "gratuity" for my services to the company! That news brought a big sigh of relief to me. The money wold help me to pay for my plane ticket -- and I would be able to leave some money for my family. That gave me the comfort that I would have done something to financially support my family during my absence. -- I did not forget to give Ramen all my flight details, and he told me not to worry at all. He would be at the Kennedy airport to receive me.

Finally the day of my departure came. All my family members came to see me off at the Dum Dum International Airport. My father hugged me and gave me his blessing. He said, "Always believe in yourself, and never lose faith in God. God will keep an eye on you. Never give up. Do not worry about us. We will be fine. Write me a letter when you reach New York.". Every member of my family was in a happy mood because one of them was going to America. I said good bye to all and proceeded to my departure gate. No security checks in those days, so I entered the plane without any hassle and found myself seated at a window seat, next to a somewhat older gentleman named Akhil Nath. As the plane took off I looked out through the window. All the objects became smaller and smaller as the plane started to climb higher and higher. This was the first time for me to fly in an airplane. I had a strange mixed feeling of sadness and happiness which I did not understand fully at the time. I felt like I had dived into a deep sea of uncertainty  but deep down in my heart, I knew that I would find  the pearl of my future in the depth of that uncertainty. I was immersed in quiet thoughts when I heard Akhil-da's voice, "Dilip, Is anybody coming to pick you up at the airport?." 

I told him, "Yes, Akhil-da. Ramen is coming to receive me, and I am going to live with him until I find a job and a place to live. He lives in Brooklyn." Akhild-da told me that he was going to Forest Hills to stay with his friend. He also assured me that I could live with him until I found a job and an apartment of my own.

Finally our journey ended at JFK. I went through Immigration where I received my "Green Card". Akhil-da waved god bye to me and said . "Stay well, Dilip. God willing, we will see each other again.". Then he stepped away with his friend who had come to receive him. 

I looked around for Ramen but did not see him anywhere. As I was getting nervous, someone approached me and asked, "Are you Dilip?".  I replied, "Yes, and you?". "I am Adhir Mukherjee, Bimal Mukherjee's brother, " he replied. "I have to come to pick up the shoes my brother sent with you.". He looked around and seeing that I was alone, asked, "Is someone picking you up?" He seemed concerned. (By the way, Bimal Mukherjee was not related to by ex-boss, Mr Mukherjee.)

I told him worriedly that I had spoken with Ramen and had given him my flight details -- and that he had promised to would come to the airport to take me to his home in Brooklyn. "Do you have his phone number? Let us give him a call," Adhir said. I gave him the phone number and he dialed the number. Once the phone started ringing, he gave it to me. A female vice answered and said, "Hello".

I said, "May I speak with Ramen, please?" She asked me to hold and started speaking with someone. I overheard her saying to someone, "Phone is for you.". 

The male voice asked, "Who is it?" The lady said, "I don't know". Then she asked me, "May I know who is calling?".

I replied, "My name is Dilip. I just came from Calcutta. I am supposed to stay in your place for a few days."

She conveyed the message, presumably to Ramen. I heard the male voice telling her to tell me that he was not home! She dutifully obliged and told me, "Sorry. My husband isn't home. He went to Philadelphia for an urgent reason. He cannot come to pick you up." And then he hung up. I was at a loss as to what to say or what to do. 

Adhir asked me eagerly, "What did he say? Is he coming to pick you up?" I explained what had transpired and said, "Honestly, I don't know what I should do now."

Adhir understood that I was helpless at that point. He looked into my my eyes and said, "I am a student. I live in a very small place but you can come with me now, then we will make some arrangements for you tomorrow. Do not worry. I will give you eighty dollars for the five hundred rupees you gave to my brother in Calcutta. Let us take the subway now to my place."

I was shocked by the lies Ramen had told me.I remembered vividly every word of assurance he had given me in the presence of his brother. I could not imagine how a man could put someone in such a helpless and perilous situation. Ramen knew that I had only seven dollars with me, yet knowingly he had put me in a dangerous situation. What happened to all the promises he had made? I wondered if he had even a drop of honest blood in him. -- Ramen closed one door for me but Adhir came like an angel and opened another door for me. God was up there alright. 

It took us about an hour to get to Adhir's place in Manhattan. The name of his housing unit was Clinton Arms Hotel. Adhir had a small room and shared a common kitchen and bathroom. Once we got there, Adhir offered me a towel and suggested that I take a shower and get ready for dinner. I was tired and mentally destroyed by the betrayal of Ramen. I took the towel and stepped towards the bathroom. I had no idea that more surprise was waiting for me. When I was walking down the hallway, I saw Akhil-da (who I had traveled with in the airplane) coming out of the bathroom! I thought he had gone to his friend's place in Forest Hills! So I asked, "Akhil-da, why are you here? What happened?"

Akhil-da was embarrassed. He had spoken very highly of his friend but his friend acted very differently once Akhil-da showed up in New York. His friend had dropped him off at the Clinton Arms Hotel after picking him up at the airport. Akhil-da smiled and remarked, "In a way it is alright. I don't have to take any favor from him.". I smiled in return and said, "Akhil-da, another broken promise. What is your room number? Let me take a shower and then I will come to your room to talk.". 

Afterwards when I went back to Adhir's room, dinner was ready. Rice, daal, cabbage curry and a dish of buffalo carp. The food tasted delicious! Adhir informed me that in the meantime he had found a room for me in the hotel. The rent was $9/week, and I could shift to my room next morning. -- I was very tired physically and mentally. I needed rest and a sound sleep for many hours. I told Adhir about Akhil-da and said, "I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me shelter and food. I shall remain forever grateful to you for your kindness". I did not know what I would have done if he did not extend his helping hand to me. I said, "Ramen broke his promise and did not even care what might happen to me without his assistance. On the other hand, you did not have to do anything for me, yet you decided to help me. I cannot thank you enough. Please accept my gratitude.".

Adhir smiled and said, "You do not have to thank me. You do not have to express your gratitude either. I did what every human being should do: help another human being in need.". It was getting late, and he said that he had a test on Monday and had to study, so we agreed to talk again in the morning.

Next morning I shifted to my newly rented room. It was a very small room with a single bed and two small windows. I opened the windows and immediately fresh spring breeze embraced me. I took a deep breath and smelled the fresh air. Although my future was uncertain (I still had to find a job!) I was thrilled that I had finally planted the seed of my new life in America. -- That morning I went to a nearby store named Key food and bought some utensils and groceries. It was not easy for me to decide what to buy because the store carried items hardly known to me and there were no Indian spices. So I kept things simple and bought rice, potatoes, butter and eggs. For the next few days the menu for my lunch and dinner was boiled egg, boiled potato, and rice mixed with butter. I thought my cooking was delicious, and I enjoyed every bite of the simple meals I prepared.

From the next morning I started to look for a job. On the third day of my search I found a job in a Duane Reade drug store. The salary was $2.40 per hour. That was my first employment in America, the country of unlimited opportunity. My dream train started to roll. At that moment I was the happiest man on the face of the earth.

Days and months went by this way. Soon I realized that a year had passed since my arrival in the US. Financially I was almost ready to bring my wife, Muku, from India. I rented a small, one-bedroom apartment in Sunnyside, Queens. Rent was low at $140 per month. I furnished the apartment with very cheap furniture: a double bed, a small dining table with four chairs, -- and believe it or not, a color television! The airfare for my wife was $550. I did not have the entire amount but I could borrow some from a friend, Ranjan. I paid him back in a few months but I will always remember his kind help. Later he moved to Houston and settled down there. 

After the plane ticket arrived in Calcutta, my father called, relieved that his daughter-in-law was going to unite with her husband in America. He began to say that his daughter-in-law was a very nice person and that I should take good care of her and never do anything to harm her. Before he could finish his call, the line got disconnected  I was sad that my conversation with my dad got cut off so abruptly but I was happy to know that Muku was going to join me in a few days. 

Finally the day of Muku's arrival came. It was a Saturday. I was so excited that I called the airline and wanted to know if she was on the flight. The agent asked me to hold, did some checking, and came back to confirm that she was indeed on that flight, arriving in JFK at 4 pm. When her plane landed at Terminal 4, I was waiting for her. It took her about half an hour to go through the immigration process. Finally my waiting came to an end, and I saw Muku coming out through the Customs door, looking a little nervous, glancing this way and that to find me. I called out her name and walked to her and took her suitcase from her hand. As we got in a taxi and headed to our home, Muku began to absorb the grandeur of the city. I told her, "Enjoy the majesty of this great city but please don't be disappointed by the humble nature of our tiny apartment. You will see soon  how small an apartment can be!"

Muku smiled and said, "It does not matter how small it is. For the two of us, whatever we have would be enough." We were so absorbed in our conversation that we did not even realize that we had arrived at our apartment building. I opened the apartment door and told her, "This is your new home. Sit and rest. I will make some tea for you.". I went to the kitchen. While I was making tea, I noticed that Muku was looking around the apartment. She soon came to me and asked, "Who arranged the furniture? The room looks nice." She admired my arrangement! I handed her a cup of tea and suggested that she take a shower when she was done. I was going to call my father in Calcutta to tell him that Muku had arrived safely. 

In the early evening we had our dinner. The menu was simple: lentil, rice and egg curry. We sat down to eat and she said, "I am so lucky that you have made every arrangement for me so that I don't face any problem. My first day in America has been great. I want you to know that I am grateful to you for everything you have done. From now on I will take care of the home. You just teach me how to do all the things.". -- We talked and talked. She talked about every member of our family back home. She became very emotional when she spoke about my father. I had put a photo of my father on a wall of the living room. She stood in front of that picture and said, "My father passed away when I was very young. I hardly remember him. Your father gave me so much love and affection that I never felt that he is my father-in-law, not my own father. By marrying you I gained a father that I did not have. I will miss him a lot here in America. It is good that he is here with us in our living room. Frankly, I do not feel that it is my first day in America because you have made everything so comfortable for me. By the way, how was your first day? Did Ramen come to pick you up at the airport?". She looked at me for a reply.

I hesitated for a moment. Should I tell her the truth? But the incident was over long time ago. I no longer had bad feelings about Ramen and his broken promise. I did not know why he did what he did; may be he had a good reason that I didn't know. Of course he did not take me to his home and did not give me shelter. But God sent someone else for me. Adhir took me to his place. So, it was not all bad. Besides, Adhir was a very nice human being. In a sense I was glad that Ramen did not show up. Had he done so, I would not have met Adhir and gotten to know him. So I told everything to Muku and said, "When you meet Adhir, you will know that he is truly a good man.".I also added, "That day I promised to myself that I shall always try to help those who do not have a place to go on their first day of arrival. I shall offer them a shelter for the first few days. I hope you will agree with me in that mission?"

My wife is a very kind-hearted person. She always takes an extra step to help others. Knowing her I believed that she would join me in this mission of mine and strengthen it further. 

I looked at the watch. It was late night. I told her, "You must be tired. You should go to sleep." I was tired too. I laid down and thought about the whole incident. What a contrast in values! On one hand, Ramen, a betrayer; on the other hand, Adhir, a pioneer and champion of humanity. Before I fell asleep, I renewed my promise to myself: I would always try to help my fellow human beings whenever needed. I also thanked my father for his advice to believe in God. I respectfully thanked God for saving me from a disastrous situation on the first day of my life in New York City.

Next morning, Muku took my hand, brought us in front of my father's picture in the living room, and said, "Taking a lesson from your helpless situation, let us promise to ourselves -- and in front of our father -- that if anyone known or unknown coming to the USA needs a place to stay until he finds a job, we would offer our home for as long as necessary."

Over the years, with our father's blessings and God's grace, we have been able to keep that promise.
 
Note: Readers interested in commenting on this article should email their remarks to amitabhanj@gmail.com or debsmee572@gmail.com 

(Posted December 10, 2013)

Comments from AB received on Dec 27, 2013: "I just read Dilip-da's article on his travel to New York -- and to prosperity. What a chilling experience! The article is well written and kept my interest. -- Mukti-bowdi is still the same with her caring values....In a crazy way, I feel Ramen was not the villain. His not showing up at the airport made Dilip-da stronger and forced him to be more resourceful."

Comments from AD received on January 9, 2014:: "Me and my wife went through the article and could not stop reading until it was finished. We felt dilip-da's spontaneity, dedication and honesty to present such a vivid and detailed description of the most challenging days of his life. The story made us feel the emotions and sentiments among different relationships in our community. Particularly, the father and son relationship touched us." 

Comments from AS received on January 9, 2014: "Wonderful venture. Enjoyed reading the articles. Sometimes could relate them to us, making it a bit emotional too!: 

Comments from  PC received on January 9, 2014: "Read the article. Liked it very much. Everybody should read this article." 

Comments from RC received on January 9, 2014: "Liked the article very much." 

Comments from KB received on January 9, 2014: "Enjoyed reading every bit of it." 

Comments from JM received on January 9, 2014: "Really nice piece of writing. It is also nice to know that are still good people around us who want to give rather than take only. Good thing is that we still meet good people who surprise us by extending their helping hands."

Comments from SS received on January 9, 2014: "An extraordinary incident. I am still thinking how can real life be so challenging. If I hadn't read this article, I surely would have missed a great real life story." 

Comments from PB received on January 9, 2014: "Beautifully written. Really, one can have so many types of experiences in a foreign country -- all in search of a better life, a better future. I am sure we all have a story or two to narrate". 

Comments from SM received on January 9, 2014: "A simple but very good piece of writing."

Comments from AH received on February 1, 2014: "I just read the story and want to let you know that I loved it. I am actually Subhankar's daughter and reading the story caused me to laugh and yell out loud at several points. It was great to read an account of what my father and my Hadhu Kaku (Dilip) went through at the time in their lives that I'm at right now. I have heard little bits and pieces of similar stories while growing up in this country, but to actually read an account like this was truly a unique experience and I thank Hadhu kaku for the opportunity."