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And so he he had been going back and forth no Vicky had been going back and forth to Chandigarh to get this project started on his 3rd trip back his plane crashed over the Libyan desert and he passed away and then the project kind of became open again and the prize. Yes , said this is a 10 degree is in far northern India . It is , it’s about 2 hours north of New Delhi and in the foothills of the Melaka mountains .
You said that you always had this this this kind of this attraction affection for this city that you cloth band.
Yeah , it’s just it had to me you know when we were growing up and I was a little girl. The attraction to America and western things in western music was always just a really strong Paul and there was something about Chandigarh that I knew that we lived in a city that was different than all of the other places around and there was this little spark of newness and modernism and Western culture that you know is always a really big Paul for my imagination then .
Who knew that you would end up in the city where the the very city. The man who designed it . I certainly didn’t even though I had everything acted they have Confederate monument . No they wouldn’t . Now , to know that your parents were academics wrote both growth . Yeah , educated well they do .
They’re both they were both scientists they education sort of save them and was their way out , if you will. There was their way of becoming independent and self-sufficient . So they both got PhDs in biochemistry . My dad did a lot sooner than my mother , but she , you know , had her masters and then was eventually did finish your PhD after moving to America they kind of bounced around in a few different fields but ended up in Psycho neuro immunology .
With this peak that forgive me for asking this in making what is going to be an assumption or presumption in this question but for someone of your parents’ generation. Would it have been unusual for your mother to have gotten a degree like there .
Yes , I I think that she well , she. I know that she’s the only person in her family and she had 8 other siblings . So there were 9 of them and actually both my mom and my dad had 8 brothers and sisters and she’s though only 1 in their family who got that kind of education and it was certainly not something that would have happened if she had had a more traditional life in a traditional childhood but it was very yeah that that that doesn’t happen often , usually and I I don’t know but I I want to say that , still a lot of women and India get educated and they go pretty far but it’s almost like a credential to get a better husband which is ridiculous . Well .
Those are things that I mean these are , these are some of the cultural artifacts that that are all you know , sort of make all these places as interesting as they are , although sometimes challenging to you know to to navigate far northern India. So this is what had been what is now Pakistan was Northern India and of course , the great petition happened after after World War II and after independence for for India and your parents got caught up in their .
Yeah , so the state of Punjab which is where you know I’m from was divided and so western Punjab is now in Pakistan and eastern Punjab it’s in India and my mother had grown up. Born into western Punjab and her family’s legacy and history was all kind of intermingled in all those neighborhoods were not segregated Muslims and Hindus live next door to each other and her mom’s like adopted brother if you’ve was was a Muslim , like big wig . It was , you know just historically the Muslims have been an India for hundreds and hundreds of years and the tension isn’t there until somebody really pokes it you know and partition was just a deal that was made by the British and the price that I guess they felt like we had to pay to have our own country pack and those borders were drawn by somebody who had the unfortunate task of doing something he had no business doing and now he had never been to those areas , and they rushed into this this border that was drawn on a map in a in a boardroom somewhere in 6 weeks . And you know there are stories about the border having been traced around the ring of a wine glass that had left a stain on the on the map . So , yeah , and my my dad was not in . He was an Bala which is a used to be a British army cantonment and so he saw he saw the tensions rise . But he also saw this like he was a part of , you know the the youth revolutionary spirit . You know , we get the British out . And at the same time I don’t know , I think it was a very complicated and scary and hopeful . You know a hopeful time and I in our history . But yeah there are most , a lot of the families that are new to New Delhi by new , I mean from 1947 on were refugees or people that were affected by their own .
I mean , many people were just simply displaced in order to make all this happen and of course there was an awful lot of violence in the process.
A million people died in the space of about a year and a half including your mother’s family. Yeah , so my my mom’s family my .
So she and her 2 younger siblings. So there were the 3 youngest that were left and then her oldest brother had come back from fighting on the British side in the war . I think he was stationed in Iraq or Iran and the rest of them . Everybody in the middle was either off at school had gotten married and moved away , so they were you know everybody who all the Hindus had to leave . They just did and so they just rushed into they were rushed into a camp that was temporary and then everybody was taking trains or walking or picking carts and they just took what they had more layers of clothes to , you know , have some possessions and they weren’t really allowed to take very much more and now boarded a train at night and the train was stopped and everybody was brutally slaughtered except for just a few kids they’re hidden .
Brian their mother survived , and I think I think we. Her mother , who was lost in that in in this the killings on the train head your mother and maybe a couple of your heart and odd .
Yeah , I mean my mum.
Never gave us all of the details and she she saw that she was going to write it all down and after she passed a couple of years ago we did find some writings but they were not , you know , is at night and there was a sort of a cattle car kind of situation. There was an open thing and then memories are not reliable or too painful to articulate time . So , and it’s a pain that she kept with her always , always . It was always and of the front . I think of her mine in the back of her mind and it it was something that shared custody of her whole being forever . She was always deep in thought and the amount of soul-searching that she must have done to survive that and to negotiate a productive and quote normal life out of that without structured cultural acknowledgment of of that happening , it’s still something that I think finally India is recognizing that this was an actual tragedy in a something that now would be considered a worldwide . You know like emergency but at that point I think it was may be viewed as a price that had to be paid .
Talking with due to Kumar today 2 time James Beard nominated head chef at Garland restaurant our conversation will continue in a moment. Stay tuned .
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