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A Sikh IN USA 1950's
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A SIKH IN USA - 1950's

Swarn left India in 1958 post his B.Sc. (Engg) to the Pennsylvania State University as a Graduate Assistant. Post his M.S., he joined Hanna Coal Company, Ohio as Efficiency Engineer and returned to India in 1961. His story is told through news clippings/TV interviews what it was like for a Sikh to be in USA in that era. A Sikh was somewhat of a curiosity and at times representative of the "Maharaja" cult that was heard of by the Americans besides the snake charmers. Some even thought I did not have enough money to shave but that was rare. Americans were by and large generous, welcoming, and curious.

Going "Phoren"(Foreign) was a milestone in the 1950's not only for the person going abroad but for his family, neighbours, and friends. It was not uncommon to have name plate of a person ending with "London Returned". Going overseas was news worthy event. Swarn's departure was duly published in "On Looker", the then only Society Fortnightly. A tourist class ticket was well worth chasing by the Sales Staff of Airlines and he was appropriately taken for afternoon tea by KLM on the lawns of the Imperial Hotel in New Delhi. Going abroad also meant flying for the first time. A lost baggage at Stockholm, a stop over to meet a pen pal, was duly serviced by Airlines representative taking him to the best Store and buying for him shirts, suit, shoes etc. and apologies for their inability to buy him a turban. They, however, agreed to fly the same to USA if Swarn's family delivered these to them in New Delhi. The aero plane could not cross the Atlantic and had to stop for refueling enroute. It was a surprise to find that Swarn could telephone his friend in Pennsylvania from New York by just feeding coins to be connected 'pronto'.Swarn's experiences were by and large pleasant ones. Every one from the Professor downwards was so very helpful - his problem was their problem. At the work place and in non University towns, experiences were mostly positive but there was some resistance at times...
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