A recent episode of Sarah Silverman’s weekly series I Love You America shows Ravi Patel (Meet the Patels, Master of None) and his childhood friend Rishi Oza tracing their dads Vasant Patel’s and Prathab “Pat” Oza’s steps from 50 years ago when they first arrived in Chicago from India as engineering grads.
The video vignette is under nine minutes long and chock-full of nostalgia with photos and reminiscing from the dads’ early days in the U.S. At the Greyhound station “where it all started” Ravi drives up in a red Pontiac Firebird like the one Oza Sr. drove back in the day.
Cruising on over to Devon Ave. to pick up BJ, the son of a third dad and “OG Roomate” Rajni Patel, the group then heads over to the building where they lived. Chatting over samosas at a table inside the old apartment, the dads share stories and reflect a bit on how things turned out for them. The video ends with Vasant Patel proclaiming “This is so awesome.” Have a look!
Those who liked watching Vasant Patel in the documentary Meet the Patels will probably enjoy this brief re-encounter with his desi dad humor. Ravi calling out his dad’s pipe-and-sideburns style back in his early days reminded me to revisit Ahmed Ali Akbar’s website on vintage desi dad style: Rad Brown Dads.
At one point Rishi Oza’s dad tells how he walked out of the station to ask the first desi-looking person he saw where to stay and ended up being invited and going to stay overnight at the home of this virtual stranger. Maybe your family has its own stories of random or chance desi connections during the early days in a new country.
A long-term friendship between families, one Sikh and Punjabi and the other Hindu and Telugu, first started when my mom in her early days in the U.S. noticed another desi mom on the bus in 1970s Los Angeles. Watching this video from Ravi Patel on I Love You America reminds me to ask her for her stories from those days, and for the old photos to go along with them.
* * *