My parents immigrated to New York City from Bangladesh in 1989. Having come here with no knowledge of English, they were fortunate to live in an apartment building in the Bronx with a friend of theirs who immigrated earlier. Shelter was taken care of, but food was another issue. Rice, with meat and vegetables, is the primary dish in Bangladesh. Everyone, from all backgrounds, eats it. My parents' friends provided this meal on their first night in this foreign land. The next day, however, posed a problem. It was time for lunch but their friend went to work without leaving any form of contact. Furthermore, my parents have always felt embarrassed about receiving handouts, so they wanted to be independent. All they knew was rice, but could they find that here? My dad borrowed a map of New York City from that friend the night before. He brought it out, marked the location of their apartment, and then left to explore. He came back a few hours later with some large bags of rice, which he bought from a Bengali grocery store a mile away. To them, this land felt a little less foreign. Today, my family still always has rice for dinner. I grow tired of it sometimes, so I ask why we can't eat something else, to which she always responds “blame him for finding our culture back then.”

Year: 1989

– RH

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