My father bought a thermal for me to wear under the sari.: Becoming Minnesotan

Aparna Ganguli (right), c.1995.
  • Name - Aparna Ganguli
  • Age at interview - 52
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 12.06.1994
  • India Association of Minnesota Oral History Project 1 participants, c.1995.

    The Journey

    Asian Indian, Travel to U.S.

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    Essential Question

    Coming to America: What did coming to America symbolize for this person?

    The Journey: How did this person get to the U.S.?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    In India it is traditional for a young person to marry a spouse selected for them by their parents.  This is called an arranged marriage, and is still commonly practiced today.  Indian parents find and introduce suitable candidates to their son or daughter, who can then accept or reject each potential bride or groom.  Unlike “love marriages”, the type of marriage common in the Western world, the bride and groom in an arranged marriage usually do not know each other well and are married soon after they meet.  Sometimes, the arranged marriage is between an Indian person and an Indian-American.  If this is the case, then one partner will have to make the difficult move away from friends and family to be with his or her new partner on the other side of the world! 

    To learn more about Asian Indian history and culture, visit our Asian Indian Community page.

    • Chapter 1

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    Narrator: Aparna Ganguli (AG)

    Interviewer: Polly Sonifer (PS)

    PS:  So what was it like when you came here?  It was December?

    AG:  It was December 25th at 12 midnight when I landed at the Minneapolis airport, Twin Cities International.  First thing, I didn't know my husband very well.  And all the while in the plane I was thinking about my family which I left. It was really a strange feeling… "Where am I coming? What is ahead of me?"  I wasn't sure.

    PS:  Had you flown before?

    AG:  No.  That was the first time.

    PS:  What was that like for you?

    AG:  The first time when the plane took off, suddenly all that motion sickness.  I was wondering what would happen because I knew some people get really sick.  But, just for a while, then I got used to it.  Then I found a friend who was also coming to her husband in New York.

    PS:  Another Indian woman?

    AG:  Yes.  We were all dressed up with jewelry and saris and all those things. When I think back, why all those things we did?  Somebody made my hair big, decoration and all those things.  I should have worn something comfortable! (Laughs)

    PS:  That's a long flight!

    AG:  Long flight!  Yeah!  And then I landed in Twin Cities airport; it was very cold.  But Mukul told me it was cold and my parents were so worried.  My father bought a thermal to wear under the sari.  It was an all woolen thermal.  I felt so hot all the time in the plane.  But, my father said, "No, it will be below zero there when you land, so you have to wear all those things."  It was very uncomfortable.

    PS:  So, Christmas time, 1970, you land in Minneapolis and move in with your husband who you hardly know.  (Laughs)  What was it like getting used to being here?

    AG:  Actually, in the airport, Mukul took our Bengali friends, two or three couples, with to receive me.  I still didn't feel like I came to stay here.  Just to visit, I thought.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Adjective:  Of, from, or pertaining to Bengal, a region in the northeast of South Asia.

    Listen to this word: 

    motion sickness

    Noun:  A feeling of nausea or dizziness caused by being in a moving vehicle such as a ship or car.


    Noun:  The traditional dress of women in the Indian Subcontinent; an outer garment consisting of a single length of cotton or silk, most often with one end wrapped around the waist to form a skirt, the other draped over the shoulder or head.


    Noun:  A garment, often an undergarment, whose purpose is to provide efficient insulation so as to keep the body warm.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 604