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July 31, 1976 - Image 14

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Michigan Daily, 1976-07-31

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Page Fourteen


Saturday, July 31, 1976

Page Fourteen THE MICHIGAN DAILY Saturday, July 31, 1976

Bhattacharya: Recaillng India

(Continued from Page t)
psychologist who works closely
with the inmates at Jackson
State Prison. Sobha works at a
part-time job in a local bank,
besides the domestic chores.
And, Atanu, now 19, is a Uni-
versity sophomore pursuing a
pre-medical curriculum.
They live in a bright apart-
ment, part of a well-scrubbed
Tudor style complex nestled
alongside a golf course on the
grassy outer fringe of Ann Ar-
Photographs of Ms. Bhatta-
charya's brother and family,
who live in New Jersey, hang
over the color television, and a
rack of Indian record albums
lies on the floor. In the kitchen,
Ms. Bhattacharya frequently
prepares the spicy foods native
to India on the same range
which heats many of the all-too-
American convenience foods of
which she also takes advantage.
Two late model Chevrolets pro-
vide the kind of transportation
the family did not enjoy in
YET, EVEN with the family's
adaptation of a more hectic
schedule and a more comfort-
able life, some qualms linger.
"I feel that even as a person
here in the midst of affluence
I missmy friends, my own peo-
ple, and my country," Dr.
Bhattacharya sighs.
His wife, too, feels acutely
the pangs of being thousands of
miles away from her native
"I miss the human contact,
like my relatives, but nothing
much else, because I have
everything here," says Mr.
Bhattacharya, a h a n d s o m e,
dark-skinned woman who some-
times wears the long, glossy
saris characteristic of India.
Her bright eyes rest undimmed
behind a pair of fashionably
tinted glasses.
BACK IN INDIA, as part of
the upper middle class, Ms.
Bhattacharya taught school and
was aided in her housework by
maids. Ironically, perhaps, in
view of the feminist movement
here, her move to this country
has restricted the freedom she
previously enjoyed in her ca-
reer. She mentions language dif-
ficulties in finding a teaching
job. And admittedly lonely dur-
ing her husband's work day,
Sobha-voices a typical Ameri-
can housewife's complaint -
"He's gone half the time."
Whereas immigrant families
have traditionally come to this
country in search of a good
living and the fulfillment of
their dreams, the Bhattachar-
yas' homeland, more than an
ocean away still holds the key
to their aspirations.
Dr. Bhattacharya, who has
authored about a dozen books
of psychology and poetry, hopes
soon to use his keen mind and
literary skills to expand the edu-
cation of his peers in India. To
this Ms. Bhattacharya simply
adds that she wants to "help
my husband."
"But my husband has a
dream," she quickly added,
turning to him.
"JELL, TO BE honest with
you, she has helped me a
lot in putting me down to real-
ity," he says with a laugh, gaz-
ing admiringly at his smiing
wife. "Because I sometimes be-
come a fantastic dreamer."
"Of course, I still believe
these dreams can be fulfilled to
a certain extent within limits,"
he adds, talking slowly, with a
noticeable accent and careful
eloquence. "For example, I feel
the experience I've gained in
many countries for so many
years can be at least put into

practice when I go back (to
He sees his role as contribut-
ing to the growth of what he
calls I n d i a' s "national con-
sciousness-either by writing or
by starting a institute." Such
an institute, explains Dr. Bhat-
tacharya further, would be a
model for the development of
mass education in India. Hope-
fully, he adds, "people would be
inspired to set up a similar in-
stitution with the help of the
government and with the help of
the public."
Those dreams however, re-
main fragmented and indistinct.
And the Bhattacharys are happy
to be living in the United States
-at least for the time being.
SAYS ATANU, an earnest stu-
dent who hase devoted this
summer to fulfilling his Univer-
sity language requirement, "You
never want to leave (your na-
tive country), but once I got
here I got used to everything
- it's really weird, the customs
and cultures are different, any-
one who comes here from India
will feel that way."
Atanu feels he has adapted
well after being abroad for his
first thirteen years, and calls
it "the Americanization of an
'To an extent, the fact that
I'm speaking English the way
I am without an Indian accent,
and the fact that I've come to
accept some things that at first
I though odd - like guys and
girls going to school together
- means I have adapted."
What surprised Atanu upon
first coming to this country was
the independence and freedom
enjoyed by American youth.
"They can say anything they
want, there's no such thing like
that in India," he notes.
"'The fact that I'm
speaking English the
way I am without an
Indian- accent, and the
fact that I've come to
accept some things
that at first I thought
odd - means I have
adarted.' " - Atanu
THIS SORT OF freedom has
also been marvelled at by
Atanu's father, especially in
terms of the "wonderful"
American woman.
"The American woman is not
inhibited to express her opinion
the way an Indian woman is,"
American women are "con-
fused" he adds, but no more
so than American men - "and
perhaps they (both sexes) grow
through their confusion."
"By making mistakes and get-
ting confused, they (Americans)
discover a way, a little experi-
mental outlook, that is a na-
tional characteristic of these
Dr. Bhattacharyas refreshing
attitude toward Americans
peaks when discussing the
American student, a phenome-
non he came to know during an
earlier stint as professor of
child psychology at the Univer-
sity's Flint campus.
"I was very much impressed
with American students," he re-
calls. "I've found them to have
one thing - they're very curi-
ous, a strange curiosity, and
they've got open minds. They
try to evaluate everything and
they won't accept everything

you say just because you are
the" teacher."
THE OPENNESS of thought
Dr. Bhattacharaya sees in
this nation has also served to
enhance his hobby of poetry -
a hobby he has spun into sev-
eral poetry books and a weekly
writing habit.
"When I first came here, I
felt more devoted than ever to
the expression of all my feelings
into a book. I never thought I
could publish a book of poems,"
he says, flipping the pages of
a soft covered volume entitled
"Green and Gold - a bunch of
poems dedicated to the cause of
peace and love."
His poetry, he says, is the
product of the scattered
thoughts that never before had

"He's so practical, I wonder
how he could write those poems
...," marvels Ms. Bhattacharya,
who endures a mate whose cre-
ative minds keeps him tossing
in bed and frequently coaxes
him up at 4 a.m. to scrawl his
thoughts on paper. "He's like
a machine, he goes click, click,
click, click..."
I am," responds Dr. Bhat-
tacharya lightly. He nurses a
dish of sweet, white Halva, an
I n d i a n delicacy resembling
warm, nutty Cream of Wheat.
Although Dr. Bhattacharya
relishes the thought of eventual-
ly returning to the land which
fills him with "a peculiar senti-
ment," he cannot predict ex-

actly when he and his wife will
move again. Atanu, too, would
consider such a move if his
plans for medical, school fizzle.
But Dr. Bhattacharya plans to
leave such a decision up to will
and fate.
"Life is so uncertain - I live
from day to day," he says
thoughtfully. "I've found that
whenever I think I'm doing
something, I feel perhaps frus-
trated because then I feel the
plan changes, so I submit to
another force, perhaps a su-
perior force.
"Whatever happens, I accept
it to make the best of it. That's
the will of supreme power. I
would think that I would stay
here for two years, but who
knows? I could change tomor-

Greek life, American tl

(continued from Page 11)
of his work," says Anas-
tasia with a laugh, "but I don't
want to see him work like that
for the rest of his life. We've
been here for six years and for
the last five and a half, he's
been working quite hard."
"Quite hard" for Luis trans-
lates into long daylight stints
everyday at the Den, one of the
few restaurants in town that
never shuts its doors. However,
dealing with students who are
not much younger than his own
33 years and establishing close
friendships with student and
professor customers a l ik e
sweetens what is a hard, tiring
"If you come to this country
with nothing at all, you want to
build something on your own,"
he says, stirring the ice in a
potent glass of ouzo. "So that's
the satisfaction with working.
Anything I do, I do by myself
and I'm proud of it.
"It's a free country, you can
do anything you want, I mean,
right things," he continues,
taking puffs of his cigarette.
"Here you have a lot of op-
portunities - but only if you
want to work hard, be honest.
don't spend your money . . .
". . . spend your money
wisely," Anastasia corrects
with a glimmer in her eye.
,V spun their six years in
America into a home life
straight ont of the annals of the
sbtrban myth. They purpose-
fully chose their large home on
a quiet, leafy street off Dexter
Road, a narrow thoroughfare
which winds its way out of the
raucous city.
Their neatly trimmed back-
yard is dominated by a majes-
tic weeping willow, under
which rests a small plastic
play pool. Two cars occupy a
wide driveway. Inside, the
home is decorated in a con-
temporary motif. The den
sports a fireplace as well as
a playpen: the sofa there is
partially hidden by a plain slip
cover designed to withstand
the antics of two active little
girls. Eugenia and Panayiota,
and the baby Dimitrios.
The setting is a far cry from
the place where Luis and, Ana-
stasia spent their early years-
small farming towns nestled in
the lush, olive - growing region
near Sparta, Greece, an area
Anastasia wistfully recalls for
its beautiful land and temper-
ate climate. Luis left Greece for
Winnipeg, Canada - a city not
known for its Greek community
- when he was a teenager, and

eventually settled in Windsor.
He began work in a drive-in
restaurant there in 1966, and
two years later met Anastasia,
then a high school student.
They married in 1970 and like
many of their relatives settled
in Ann Arbor.
Today the Roumanis' have
between them about 100 rela-
tives scattered around Ann Ar-
bor, according to Anastasia's
conservative estimate. As ac-
tive members at the St. Nicho-
las Greek Orthodox Church -
where Luis is a council mem-
ber-the Roumanis' have made
many friends and attend church
functions. Whether at the res-
taurant or home. Lois and Ana-
stasia are not far from the fa-
miliar voice of a maternal aunt
or cousin. "I feel like I'm in
Greece now," says Luis.
DENTLY, refilling my
tumbler with liberal spills of
Schlitz, "America is the best
country. I'm going to stay in
Ann Arbor the rest of my life."
Anastasia, however, has dif-
ferent hopes.
"I don't want to stay in Ann
Arbor for the rest of my life,"
she quickly retorts, gesturing
toward her husband. "He might,
but I don't want to. We'll just
have to work it out when it
comes. I would like to live in
Greece, and if it doesn't work,
I'll come back."
Hertajor disenchantment
lies not in thoughts of home-
sickness, but in the fear of,
streets she is afraid to travel at
"I can't say it . is the best
country," she says. "It's a very
nice country but they have to
do something about their crime,
I think. I would like to live
here if I wasn't afraid to walk
out of my door after eight
o'clock at night."
when you don't hear of a
murder or rapes or everything,"
she continues, watching the
curly smoke rise from her hus-
band's Marlboro. "It's safe in
Greece . . . "
"Nobody bothers you," Luis
". . and if somebody does
bother you," continues Anasta-
sia "you know one hundred per
cent that the person will get
punished. He's not going to be
out on bail the next morning."
Both, however, Acknowledge
that the chance of returning to
their native land is slim.
"All the Greeks, they want
to go back to Greece, jokes
Luis, although the Roumanis'
know of no family thzt-returned
upon settling in America.

TAIN some thoughts of
someday returning, but she ap-
pears to have settled into a
comfortable role of homemak-
er, mother, and part time work-
"I enjoy it more here being
a housewife," she says. "Over
there (Greece) a man domi-
nates a woman, but here you
just don't look at a woman as
something that belongs in the
house when you're going to do
your wash and feed your chil-
Anastasia supplements her
daily routine with several hours
a week behind the cash regis-
ter and waiting tables at the
Den. Back in the fertile valley
where she comes from, the
men do not allow their wives
to work, save some toiling la-
bor in the fields. Although Luis
nurtures no qualms about let-
ting his wife work in the res-
taurant, he is adamantly op-
posed to having his children
follow in his occupational foot-
"I don't think my children
should work so hard like I did,"
he says, firmly adding that his
babies will go to school and
grow up as Americans, period.
THEY? The same Ameri-
cans who patronize the Den and
live on their street have great-
ly impressed both Anastasia
and Luis.
"We have never had trouble
with the Americans," Lois says,
hoisting a plate of homemade
Greek apricot pastries before
my nose. "We all get along to-
gether. The way they live, we
live. We share their sympathy,
if they pay more for their food,
then we pay more for our
Although it usually the Amer-
ican people who teem into his
restaurant, it is the Greeks--
his Greeks - who drop by his
home at all hours.
And toward the end oft M
evening with the Roumanis' in
marches Father John Paul of
the church, his wife, along with
one of Luis' brothers. Anas-
tasia and Luis heartily greet
their guests, while Father John
sinks into a black lounge chair
and lights a cigarette. He car-
ries on a cross-room conversa-
tion in Greek, and somebody
turns up the volume on the
Olympics, as the Roumais
daughters stream into the
company - filled den.
"I was talking about hos
the family is together?" Ls
says to me, and laughing 7
turns and retrieves the aprl-
cot pastries to offer to hit

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