United Nations Building

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

My grandparents on my mother’s side were renegades, breaking the traditions that were supposed to restrict them from living their best life. They both come from Kerala, a small state on the southern tip of India that is rich with culture and greenery. The conservative nature of many Indians, especially in the 1960s, made veering from the norm of marrying within one’s caste, a difficult decision that was often looked down upon. However, my grandparents took that route and married, even though my grandmother was a Gaud-Saraswat Brahmin, a high tier of already the highest caste, and my grandfather was of a significantly lower caste. After marrying and having children, they applied to leave the country to come to the United States. They were not looking for an opportunity for themselves but for their children. After being fortunate enough to procure visas, my grandmother left her job as a Hindi professor to work as a low-level computer technician in a small firm, and my grandfather left his job as the president of a university to work as a clerk in the mail room of the United Nations building. 

The UN building represents much of my grandparents’ journey here. It signifies the fact that we can have such great opportunities and cultural integration, but it also reminds me of the sacrifice that someone like my grandfather had to make to come here, often leaving behind a good life to give future family members a chance for happiness, healthy, and stability.

Place(s): New York
Year: 1971

– Remi

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant