‘But I Am From Brooklyn’

A few days ago, I reported–on Facebook, where else–a conversation with my daughter that went something like this: Her: Papa, where’s India? Me: It’s a country in Asia, sweetie, on the other side of the world. Her: We can drive there? Me: No, we have to fly. I was born there, you know. I’m fromContinue reading “‘But I Am From Brooklyn’”

The Cruelest Cut Of All: Punjabis Are Not White

In 1921, a certain John Mohammed Ali became a naturalized citizen of the US. In 1925, this grant of citizenship was contested (United States v. Ali 7 F.2d 728 (1925) by┬áMartin J. Kilsdonk, a United States naturalization examiner. His affidavit: [A]lleges in substance that said defendant was born in Karpurthala, in the province of Punjab,Continue reading “The Cruelest Cut Of All: Punjabis Are Not White”

Relativity and the Immigrant

As a postscript to an essay explicating the theory of special relativity–written at the request of the The Times (London), Albert Einstein wrote: Here is yet another application of the principle of relativity…today I am described in Germany as a “German savant” and in England as a “Swiss Jew.” Should it ever be my fateContinue reading “Relativity and the Immigrant”

Traveling With the Right Kind of Passport

Amartya Sen introduces us to his Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny with the following rather well-known little story: Some years ago when I was returning to England from a short trip abroad (I was then Master of Trinity College in Cambridge), the immigration officer at Heathrow, who scrutinized my Indian passport rather thoroughly,Continue reading “Traveling With the Right Kind of Passport”

Losing and Gaining Citizenships

I became an American citizen more than fourteen years ago. Ironically, my decision to do so was prompted by my leaving the US–for what was supposed to be a two-year stint as a post-doctoral fellow in Australia. I was then a permanent resident of the US, equipped with the famed ‘green card.’ Subject to certainContinue reading “Losing and Gaining Citizenships”