A Taste of Home for California’s Punjabi Truck Drivers

A while ago, we ran a feature “Amid a record driver shortage, Indian-American Sikhs are taking to trucking”

With thousands of desi truck drivers taking to Californian roads, a few dhabas are now catering to this niche. A recent New York Times article features a family-run Punjabi Dhaba  operating out of a truck stop in Bakersfield, serving simple fare, like parathas stuffed with a mix of vegetables, to a growing population of Californian truckers with roots in Punjab.

Punjabi_Dhaba
from yelp.com

The NYT article “A Taste of Home for California’s Punjabi Truck Drivers” features

Next to a truck wash and a repair shop, Punjabi Dhaba is reminiscent of dhabas in India and Pakistan, the absolutely-no-frills roadside restaurants that cater to truckers and others passing through with cheap, hearty dishes of chole — chickpeas soaked in a gingery tomato sauce — and slick parathas.

Punjabi Dhaba caters to the growing community of Punjabi truckers with ample space to park semi trucks and a stack of free Punjabi Trucking magazines, filled with bilingual articles and ads. (A green-eyed cat comes around and naps on this occasionally.)

The kitchen is run by several fast-moving, masterly women who chat among themselves in Punjabi, as well as to their clientele, while handing out sweet, freshly boiled chai in Styrofoam cups.

Most of the dishes are vegetarian, but they’re still road-stop fare: thick and rich with sauces of reduced tomato and cream, and generously seasoned and spiced. The butter chicken packs heat and smoke — it’s made from the dark thigh meat and cooked in a clay tandoor. All of the food is ideal for drivers who might find themselves craving something familiar on the road, away from home for weeks at a time, moving freight up and down the highways.

Punjabi_DhabaNYT
CreditRozette Rago for The New York Times

A sampling of reviews of the Punjabi Dhaba

Tripadvisor review:  Tasty Indian food off I-5 on way to Vegas or Los Angeles Tasty Indian food on way to Los Angeles Vegas in Bakersfield. Ample seating with tables and chairs dhaba style. They did have heaters during winter. Fastest service and all are made to order food. Nice short ride off I-5 across farms to reach this place and its worth it for the food here. Person at the counter is great. Will return back.

Yelp review: “A true Punjabi Dhaba experience in the US. If you belong to Punjab and ever miss eating at the roadside restaurants on the highways while traveling from one place to the other then this is for you. This is also great for people who have never experienced eating roadside in northwestern parts of India but want to taste the true Punjabi fare.  We were driving from the Bay Area to LA. I had heard of this place and when I mapped it out, we figured we would be driving about 10-12 miles extra. I really didn’t want to stop at a chain restaurant to pick the usual food so we decided to just drive the distance. It was so worth it!

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Sikh community raises over $263,775 for boy who lost entire family in head-on car crash

The Sikh community in Carteret, New Jersey, has rallied around an 11-year-old boy — raising more than $$263,775 for him and his future — after he lost his entire family in a head-on car crash last week.

11-year-old Yashveer, whose family lived in Carteret — a borough in Middlesex County — was traveling with them in Virginia when they got into the deadly crash last Thursday. His parents, Gurmeet Singh, 44, and Jasleen Kaur, 38, were both killed, as was his 6-year-old sister.

Friends of the family provided an update on Monday to NJ.com, saying Yashveer had been released from the hospital and was recovering at a relative’s home. Rosa Diaz, superintendent of Carteret schools, said the entire borough was torn up about what happened to him.

“As expected, this has been an extremely difficult time for our community,” Diaz explained. “Our district has lost a member of our school family and we are working to support [Yash] as he learns to adjust to a life without his loved ones.”

Image via GoFundMe

According to GoFundMe

Gurmeet Singh (of Milton Distributors) was a man of few words but many smiles. He met with a tragic auto accident in Virginia on August 15th. The extremely unfortunate accident took away the lives of Gurmeet Singh, Jasleen Kaur, and 6 year old Harjas Kaur.

11 year old Yash Singh, has survived, and is hospitalized with Pelvic Fracture and a few other injuries. In this immensely unfortunate moment, while we all get together to pray to almighty to rest their souls in peace, we are also praying for the speedy recovery of Yash. While nobody can ever fulfill the void in Yash’s life, as friends and family, the least we can do is to come together and contribute our share for the medical expenses of Yash, funeral expenses of the deceased, and more importantly, contribute towards the future of Yash.

No contribution is big or small – please do whatever you can to help Yash have some financial support for the future. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Articles about the incident

 

Indo-American Fair – New Jersey 2019

The South Asian Fair ‘Indo American Fair’ is back in New Jersey again this year

IndoAmericanFair

The announcers said “It gives us immense pleasure to announce that we are organizing 14th Grand Indo-American Fair on September 2019 – the Biggest and the best festival at Mercer County Park, West Windsor, NJ.
Indo-American Fair is organized to spread and share the art, culture and heritage of India amongst our American friends and other local and regional communities in the State of New Jersey. Indo-American Fair provides an opportunity to all that wishes to participate and present their various talents in this vibrant country without any monetary consideration. In view of the many facets of the Fair and presentation of varied art and culture activities during the festival, the Fair has essentially prompted the responsiveness of the needs of local, regional, and other communities seeing the influx to the Fair from thousands of people every year. Hence Indo American Fair has established itself as the premier cultural event in NJ among the community over the years. ”

Check out their website for details http://www.indoamericanfair.com/index.htm

Hindu Temple opens in Chesapeake, Virginia, featuring a Silver Tula, Indian Bagpipers, and a Peace Parade

Hindu Temple opens in Chesapeake, Virginia, featuring a Silver Tula, Indian Bagpipers, and a Peace Parade

Shree Swaminarayan Mandir (Temple) – Chesapeake, Virginia, at 4210 Dock Landing Road, celebrated its grand opening with prayers, scripture recitals, cultural and devotional dance performances, and a peace procession through the streets of the City. Visitors from the entire county and indeed many from abroad gathered to witness the inauguration ceremony being performed by His Divine Holiness Acharya Shree Purushottampriyadasji Swamishree Maharaj, who is the spiritual leader of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, a worldwide organization dedicated to the progression of spiritual, social and cultural values.With the opening of Chesapeake Temple, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj has established yet another chapter in the USA towards his mission to spread the message of peace, unity and tolerance towards all.

TempleVirginia

Dignitaries attending to the opening ceremony included Dr. Richard W. West, Mayor of Chesapeake City Council. Expressing his delight on meeting Acharya Swamishree Maharaj, Mayor West said, “I can sense the aura of peace when coming to this place and meeting Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. I realize that he is a very special individual and I welcome him and you all to Chesapeake. I have attended many ribbon cutting  ceremonies, but nothing is as humbling as the event that I have the honor of seeing today.” A cheque towards the Mayor’s special charity appeal, and another to the Chesapeake Fire and Police Departments was presented by Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. The three day event also included a Peace Procession, through the
streets of Chesapeake, featuring the Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band, North America’s first and only Indian American bagpipe band.

A more detailed listing of Hindu temples can be found on GaramChai.com 

 

Casting Call – Indian Classical Dancer

Came to us via Shereen (Email: spinningthefilm@gmail.com)
CASTING CALL – INDIAN CLASSICAL DANCER  –  Production Title: Spinning
ANITA, lead role
  • Female
  • 17-28 years old
  • North American
  • South Asian descent
  • Must be trained in at least one of the following Indian classical dance styles: Bharatanatyam, Kathak, or Odissi
  • Contemporary, jazz, or ballet training is a plus

No acting experience necessary. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to audition.

 

This is a Toronto-based, independent, micro-budget, non-union project. Pay and dates TBD.

Interested parties, please send the following items to spinningthefilm@gmail.com with “DANCER ANITA” in the subject line —

  • a headshot or clear selfie
  • bio/resume detailing age, background, and dance/acting experience
  • a dance reel or performance video, if any
  • contact information

CASTING CALL

Indian student from Kerala shot dead in Alabama, one suspect arrested

A 30-year-old Indian student, Neil Kumar, was recently shot to death at point-blank range in Alabama last week. The local police have arrested Leon Flowers suspected for killing an Neil.

Neil Kumar, who was pursuing his Master’s in Computer Science at the University of Troy in Brundidge, Alabama was shot to death in an apparent robbery. The 30-year-old was a student at the Sharjah Indian School and a native of Thrissur in Kerala. Neil was working as a part time cashier at a Gulf Gas station convenience store on the busy Highway 10 when the robbery and shooting took place last Wednesday morning.

NielKumar
source: facebook

 

Three CCTV visuals of the attack were released by the police personnel on Thursday. The visuals, carried by local newspapers, showed the assailant who is dressed in all black with white gloves and was carrying a gun. The time code on the CCTV visuals indicate that the suspect had been lurking around the area of the convenience store prior to the shooting. This suspicion was even raised by the Sheriff of Pike County who is investigating the homicide.

Officers have also told the media that this was the first time in years that Brundidge, which is the second biggest city in Pike County, has witnessed such a violent crime.

Born to parents Purushothaman Kumar and Seema, who are based in the UAE, Neil had been studying in the United States for a year after graduating from a Chennai college. His parents and sisters Neema and Natasha flew in to Alabama on hearing the news. Neil’s funeral will be held on Monday afternoon in Alabama, in the presence of friends and family. Apart from computers, Neil also nurtured a passion for photography.

Several friends and classmates remember Neil as a happy person who left a lasting impression on whoever he met. The community at Troy University also held a memorial for their late classmate.

 


Past stories of crime against Indians

Newly Published EB-5 Modernization Rules from USCIS: does it impact Indians?

On July 23, 2019, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) regulations to update the Immigrant Investor Program were published in the Federal Register. The new EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization rules (New Rules) amend the historic Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations governing the employment-based, fifth preference (EB-5) immigrant investor classification and associated regional centers to reflect statutory changes and modernize the EB-5 program. The New Rules are creating quite a buzz in the EB-5 community with good reason. Of particular note, the New Rules modify the EB-5 program by:

  • Increasing the required minimum investment amounts;

  • Providing the long-awaited priority date retention to EB-5 investors in certain cases;

  • Amending targeted employment area (TEA) designation criteria;

  • Centralizing TEA determination;

  • Clarifying USCIS procedures for the removal of conditions on permanent residence fulfilment;

  • Providing for periodic minimum investment increases henceforth; and

  • Implementing a myriad other amendments.

The New Rules are effective 120 days from publication, which is November 21, 2019. The effective date of the New Rules presupposes that Congress will extend the EB-5 Program’s current sunset date of September 30, 2019. USCIS clarified that it will adjudicate investors, who file a Form I-526 petition before November 21, 2019, under the current EB-5 program rules. Now the race is on to initiate and complete investments by the effective date. (Source natlawreview.com)

What is the impact of EB5 rule change on Indians?

The Indian media picked up this story and began analysis of the impact on Indians. However, a fact are worth noting: Although the number of EB5 visas  quadrupled from 100 to 500 (link), this is a reminisce number when one considers hundreds of thousands of Indians waiting for employment based (EB) and family (F) sponsored visas

eb5
image source https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/eb-5-visas-issued-to-indians-quadruple-over-two-years-300818040.html

The reason for so few EB5 visas issued to Indians is not hard to fathom. The number of Indians who have half or a million dollars to spare is minuscule. Those who have a million dollars (6 or 7 crore rupees) to ‘invest’ are probably the crème de la crème of Indian business, government and society. They are not likely to think of ‘investing’ a million dollars for an American Green Card when they can just as easily get long-term visa to other countries around the world.