This item is an audio file.

Click to launch book reader: here

Roshni Rustomji-Kerns Oral History Interview

The interview was conducted as part of SAADA's ACFP 2021-2022. This interviewee discussed her early childhood and family life in Karachi and Mumbai before and after the Partition of India and Pakistan. She described the differences and similarities of being brought up as a Parsi woman in India and Pakistan. She shared her migration experience of coming to the United States and living in North Carolina and California. She described memories of meeting her husband Chuck Kerns and memories of being an international student during segregation and as a professor of South Asian studies. She also described members of her chosen family and home in Oaxaca, Mexico and her volunteer work with local churches and groups in California and Mexico for refugees and immigrants.

In this slideshow, you will see:
A digital photograph of a bracelet with Roshni's name, given to her by Senora Glafira Cruz in Oaxaca, Mexico in about 1975 when she announced that Roshni was her daughter. In the interview, Roshni selected this object as one of the things she'd keep in a time capsule. Mama Glafira as Roshni knew her, helped her heal from her divorce and hysterectomy. She gave Roshni the home she had always been seeking. A year after her first journey to Oaxaca (1975), Roshni's father told her that when she was very young, she used to talk about Mexico. She must have seen a Zapata movie or heard a song with lots of "aiy aiy aiys" in it Spanish/Mexican. Mama Glafira died about four years ago. Her son (who was about two years old when Roshni first arrived in Oaxaca), calls her hermana and treats her as if she were his older sister.

Immigration, Education, Reflections on America, Activism, Civic Engagement, Community Organizations & Organizing

Duration: 01:53:48

Date: January 30, 2022
Subject(s): Roshni Rustomji-Kerns
Type: Oral History
Source: Archival Creators Fellowship Program
Creator: Sharmeen Mehri
Contributor: Roshni Rustomji-Kerns
Location: Buffalo, NY

Transcribed by Shirin Mehri & Breck M. Parsons

Sharmeen Mehri: Today is March 8th, 2022. It is 6:13pm. My name is Sharmeen Mehri and I'm interviewing Roshni Rustomji-Kerns online from Buffalo, New York for the SAADA Archival Creators fellowship project about Zoroastrian South Asian migration to the United States. Roshni, would you like to spell your name for us, please?

Roshni Rustomji-Kerns: My first name is ROSHNI. My last name is RUSTOMJI-KERNS.

SM: Thank you. If comfortable sharing, could you share your address or current location and how long you've lived there?

RR: I can’t remember how long I will be…I think 15 or 16 years. It's 460 B, as in boy. Taylor Avenue T-A-Y-L-O-R, Taylor Avenue. Alameda A-L-A-M-E-D-A California. I think it's 94501 or something like that. Is it

SM: Perfect. And if comfortable sharing, could you tell us your birth date or age?

RR: My birth date is October 25, 1938.

SM: Thank you. So, we're going to begin with some questions about you your past and your background. So, the first question for you is using three nouns, how would you describe yourself?

RR: Did you have that question for me? (Laughter) What's…yeah you did, and I did put it down. Where was it? But anyway, I would describe myself as a human being, a woman, and South-Asian woman.

SM: Where were you born?

RR: I was born in Mumbai, India.

SM: Can you define maybe other key aspects of your identity for us?

RR: Yes. What you were waiting for, as my ethnicity is Parsi Zoroastrian from South Asia. I've traveled, I've lived in different countries of the world. And they have all contributed to who I am. And I've studied in different countries. And because of that, you know, I have many questions about what is a country what is nationality, what that means to me. I was born in Mumbai, India, my mother was from Bombay, Mumbai. And my father was from Karachi, Pakistan. So, I was born in Mumbai, because I was the first child and the first child gets born in the mother's home or…mother's, mother's home. But I grew up mainly after I was 10 years old. Before that, I was, I went to school in Mumbai, we visited nearly every year. So, between Mumbai and Karachi, but then, after 1947, basically, I grew up in Karachi, Pakistan. I graduated from high school from there. I spent a year in the United States after graduation as an American Field Service student, went back at my…began my college education in Karachi, Pakistan, working towards my BA. But then I got a scholarship to go to the American University of Beirut, in Lebanon. And I spent six very, very important years of my life in Lebanon, in many, many ways at the university. And then I did get…do you want my CV? Went to Beirut, I got my BA in English literature and my minor in philosophy, and which had both Western and Middle Eastern philosophy and education. So, I have my normal diploma, which allows me to teach. And so that's what I did there. I taught there for a year, which was also one of the most exciting teaching experience of my life, because it's an international student body, and it's an international faculty. And it's one of the most beautiful places in the world right next to the Mediterranean. And so, and it's a beautiful campus. So then after that, I got my master's in English, and American Literature at Duke University, North Carolina. And after that, I went back home to Karachi and taught for two years and then came back and after some years in…again, in Lebanon, I came back and I did my PhD at Berkeley, UC Berkeley, in comparative literature, which included English literature, Classical Greek and Classical Sanskrit.

SM: Could we go back to your home a little and could you describe your home?

RR: Which one in the Mumbai one or the Karachi one?

SM: Both please, or whichever one you think you have more of a connection to and you vividly remember.

RR: Vividly remember both. And I've been thinking about that even before you know you asked…you started this dialogue, because they were both very different. My mother's home where I was born in Mumbai, and we visited every year until it became difficult with the India-Pakistan thing. Very…quite orthodox, and we spoke Gujarati. I know my mamaiji would say, when I would say the wrong, like, I'll give you a…one very wonderful experience. I don't know if yours is Parsi you’ve had it. One day when I was about 10, she said, “bati vardi kar,” increase the light. Now, do you know what that means?

SM: No.

RR: I went down and I said, Mommy, all the lights are on. And she said, “arre babre. What? What does your father's family teach you in Karachi? They don't tell you…you never say turn off the light.” When you say bati vardi kar and the lights are already on. You can’t increase lights and that actually what it means is turn off the lights. I've never come, that has always been a very important part because my mamaiji she would say you know your household in Karachi was very westernized. Morning, noon, and night music was always there. Literature was always there. People would always be reading. I remember a friend of mine coming and saying, “What kind of family do you live in?” In the evening, when we come, no one is really talking to other people. They're just sitting there either playing the piano, or singing, or listening to music, or they're reading. So, you know, very different families, whereby in my mother's home in the evening we’d sit around and we, you know, talk about the day, etc. So, in a way, the more I think about it, at this age, I was very fortunate because I got two very different yet intervening part of what it meant to be a Parsi, what it meant to be a woman, what it meant to be, maybe someone a Parsi in Mumbai, and a Parsi in Karachi. The communities were different. I mean, in Karachi, we knew everyone, at least when I was growing up. And I saw…it was very interesting. I feel very blessed in some ways for having had that.

SM: You said that the Bombay house is more orthodox. So, could you describe more about what you mean?

RR: They didn't have the sitting apart, at least when I was growing up during the periods so, menstruation. I think…they may have before. But they were, you know, I forget the words, they were the from the priestly class, or the priestly family. And…I get my Hindu terms mixed up…and talking about caste. But it is a kind of caste. Yeah, my mother always told me when she married my father, my father's family, not only were they not from the priestly family, uh, my great-great-grandmother was Chinese. So, it was mixed blood, you know, that kind of thing. Uh…so, but at the Bombay family, we spoke mainly Gujarati, and sure we had some music, but it was not home with all the music. It wasn't people reading all the time. I had cousins whom I enjoyed who were close by because in Karachi cousins, because of Partition, we had some like Nazneen and all, but otherwise, not a big, large family of cousins. But something about growing up in Mumbai was very deep inside of me, the sounds and the sort of larger context of what I may call a Hindu culture. But I mean, larger than Hindu. That was so important. Then when I really started studying, I always knew I wanted to study Sanskrit. And I always knew I wanted to read the classics, the great, you know beyond classics…the great, wonderful stories of India, much more than I was ever interested in, you know, reading the Shahnameh, for example. I wanted to read the Ramayana. I wanted to read the Mahabharat. I want to read Kalidasa, you know, and so eventually, when I was doing my PhD, I did Sanskrit and I started working on that. So, in some ways, there was this one…there were very different cultures and the Karachi culture was, my family, was very westernized, and I often feel it’s because they…of the Chinese great-great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, whatever. I mean, we had a piano...I mean my grandmother put me on the piano with my toes. I remember, she may me wear her run across the. And I know western music very well. I don't know Indian music that well. I appreciate it because I love music, but they were very different…different. And I remember…now I'm remembering how confused I used to get sometimes as a child because before Partition we always spend summers in Mumbai. And um, really, you know, like, bati vardi kar or more Gujrati, and no piano around to thump on. No, you know, Western music going on, food was different. And the two, the Mamaiji and the Babaiji. Mamaiji was called Mamaiji, Babaiji was called granny. And so, you know, it, it was very different. And but I was wondering, did I get confused? And it didn't seem confusing to me. I think as children, you know, we take it, you say, “Okay, this, this, and this is that,” but now I realize how blessed I was to get both sides and very powerful.

SM: Did it change maybe after the Partition for you in ways that you wish it hadn't?

RR: More of the Partition…after Partition I have good memories, I was about ten. But my short-term memory is going but my long-term memory is…scares some of my relatives. But yes, it changed because every summer, we would go to Mumbai, and spend time there. And many of my first years were in Mumbai, because my father for a short time was in the Navy. And so he was, and we lived at the…the wonderful memories, I have they sort of fading because I was very young. He was in South India, stationed in South India upside of…come on…well, forgetting the name, but I remember being in South India. And so, I have memories of that. And I sort of enjoyed all those memories. But the memory that if in case it doesn't come up, in our conversation, which came up while I was thinking of our conversation, and what happened with Partition. We couldn't go every year, but I…it must be it must be ‘46 or ‘47, we used to take either the train or the ship. So, you know, three days by train or three days on the deck on the ship, and it was…this memory is so visual, and I sometimes do shake with it. But I couldn't place it. Why did that happen? The train is on the station. It's in Karachi, and people are rushing into the compartment, which before, you know, we would have a compartment, we didn't have a compartment to ourselves we always shared, you know, it was sleep on the ground. You know children, they don't mind. I think about my poor mom with two children. But I was pushed through the window. People they were like corralled. And I have been horrified and terrified of crowds all my life. I was a very small kid. It was a very tiny kid. My father loved crowds, he loved people. And I remember him holding my hand and walking and singing along, and not noticing that I was crying and shaking. And so…so there was these horrible crowds, just trains, we just went in, we had a compartment we sat with other people, said hello, we ate and had it. Not this…they pushed me through the window. This, you know, so ’46, ‘47 when I'm about a small, eight, nine-year-old or seven, eight, nine-year-old, terrified and said, “ja, bhesi ja, bhesi ja. And then they would throw luggage through the thing. And there were people coming and I said, “Now, put it on the chair…seats next to you, don't be stupid, put it.” So, they were trying to do that so that the older people like my mom, who couldn't push through the crowd, could come in with Armaiti who was you know, two years younger than I. Sunamai wasn’t born and sit there. And I hadn't…that was such a scary memory that I hadn't really dealt with it until about a few weeks ago. But my big, always remembering and I've written about a memory of Partition is August 1947. Waking up in the morning and my job you know, it was one of those old Karachi buildings, you know, with those latticework jaali [window screens], you know, you open the doors, my work, my job was to open one of those doors. It was a window door kind of stuff. And there used to be Preedy Street right across from us. It's not Preedy street, I think it's…And in the morning, I would see a few bicycle people going by, a few people going by. And all of a sudden, I started screaming and I said, “Mommy, I'm still having dreams. I mean, having a nightmare, please, please come. What is happening?” That road was, it was…I now know, when people talk about a river of people or an ocean, you couldn't see…this, this road that had two or three, some boys going around on a bicycle, you know, because it was before school started and all that, so it was that early. I can't…I have the image, I can't explain. You couldn't see any street. And there were people just before. And it was like a nightmare, because it was really an ocean of people and the people that I remember seeing, and I was sort of a sensitive child, so I think that's why it stuck in my mind, was one man carrying

RR: an older man who’s lame, was probably his father, you know, some male family member, and a woman with a child on her breast. And, and just, you know, as, as a sensitive child, realizing that there was some kind of horror or sadness going on. But I couldn't…on this thing I opened up and there were those boys who went on the bicycle and there was this lady going to work, and I knew that lady was working across the way. All of a sudden, as I said, I screamed to my mother and said, “I'm having a nightmare. I'm having a nightmare.” And of course, then as I grew older, and then other people tried to sit, make a house and behind us, and I kept on telling my father, one man came with a child. And he said, “Let me…,” there was a little piece of just a little piece of land behind…not even land, you know, just from one house to another kind of place. And he said, “Let me please just live…just with my daughter,” little girl was my age. And I saw my father was nearly crying. And he said, “No, we can't. It's not our land,” because we were renting. But he knew what would happen. He knew it would be a refugee camp. And I was so mad at my father, so angry, because I said, “Look, look, she's just like me, she's my age, they need a place.” I had no idea. And my father was gray. You know, it was a dark because he was pretty dark. It was years later that I realized how hard it was for him to turn this man. But, but you know, and that little girl, and I waved to one another and she went off. And these are things that I'm understanding, I started understanding about 10 or 20 years ago, and they come back to me. But one of the things that lived with me was every evening, about six o'clock or so when there was twilight, I would get depressed, terribly depressed. And when I was in Beirut, in Lebanon for school, and I couldn't understand why, it was beautiful, for about half an hour, just like you know, that physical depression that it's…it's and you go, “I can’t move,” it's hurting here, and it's hurting here, and it's hurting here you know, and then it would go away. And then one evening, as…when I was at Duke University at that time, I was walking into my, into the library and to the, you know, it was the main library, towards a desk where I had my books on it, all of a sudden it hit mem, I couldn't move. And I remember I was wearing a red sari that comes up again and again. And I had been thinking that my petticoat was taffeta. It was making too much noise. Remember, when is this? You know, it's complete silence in the graduate library. And I don't have to make stuff and it was like, I'm going to just fall through the years, but I made myself go and sit down. Yeah, so I made myself sit down. And I said, what is this about every evening? I remember feeling that in be rude. What is it? And I think I think what might have happened is Duke University. One, it has two campuses, one has a bell and has that tolls, as you know, tolling was the hour and the bell rang and I realized what that when I until the practician every evening at sundown I heard the bells from the Hanuman temple down the street. I mean that because I'm so some where sound and bells were, you know, important to me. And one day they stopped completely, and that as a child, I couldn't Understand, and that also I realize how important sound is to me.

SM: You do describe Pretty Street is that what you call your name? The name of the street?

RR: Preedy street. PREEDDY why it's called something else. The street that goes right to Mama School on Bandar Road. Bandar road is something else too now. [SM: Preedy] Did you spend any time in Karachi long term?

SM: Yes, so I lived there for I would say 15 to 16 years and so I went to Mama Parsi till sixth grade. So I know a little bit of that life, uh you know, the minus marks and uniform, the stars you get every month for grading, you know all that. My mother also went to the same school. My sister went to the same school. So, we all have been there.

20: 50
RR: Yeah, so Preedy Street is one of the main streets that comes to Mama School. We used to walk right down and there was, you know, can’t remember. Uh it was it was just about three blocks from school. Uh it was and I think it's gone now, Bhachubhai Terrace. And so, it was all many Parsi homes and then about Bhachubhai Terrace where Feroze. What was his name, come on, Kharas. The Feroze, he used another name, where the great pianist lived and and then across was a chawl. It did and behind us. So, it had a whole lot of Parsis, but it wasn’t a Parsi colony. It did have, you know, we had Hindus living close by and things like that, but quite spent quite a lot of time in Mumbai, in a Parsi colony, because I had an aunt who lived there and cousins. But no again no, actually the house and I realized somebody just told me that a few years ago, my mum maybe before she died, so that was quite some years ago. It was the tilak bridge. It wasn't Dadar. There were Parsi homes. But it was someone just pointed out which at the edge of the Hindu colony there. So, there were Hindus behind us but they were Parsi all around. And it wasn't that far from the Parsi colony and so I spent more time in the Parsi colonies a child, in the Mumbai one, because I had aunts there etc. Then in the Karachi one, because none of my aunties or uncles lived in the Parsi colony in Karachi, friends did. So, I would visit them. I've had family members, but wasn't that that familiar with it. And friends and all, so no, but um Karachi was, you know, very three blocks from Mama school [inaudible].

SM: How many Parsis were in your class in Mama school, in your cohort?

RR: When we graduated, 11. My graduating class was 11. I think, I think that my class may have been, we had Hindu. I remember, I still think of where is Pushpa, my friend. Because overnight, she disappeared. I remember going to my mom and saying, Pushpa, please find out if she's sick. You know, things like that. But maybe about the first class when we had Muslim girls, but not that many. And when we graduated, aapre kitli haati? I was just thinking of them. Maybe two Muslim girls and a Christian girl. But I, when I started out there were Hindu girls, but yeah, but not that many Muslim girls yet in my class. But yeah, so when when was my class? When did I graduate? ‘55. 1955, well, yeah.

SM: Anything else, memories, or moments that come to mind that you'd like to share?

RR: Oh, yeah. I used to walk a lot. And phaachi bhetas and then the next stop. Yes, it was very, somewhere where we walked. There was no fear. We walked to school, we walked. I walked to my piano class with Patricia Edwards, which was when I think about it. Wow, I walked quite a lot. It was now I don't know what I would give as as points of reference. It was quite far. It was way more towards the Empress Market. So we walked out with, oh, yeah. We walked to Empress Market. It was, my father walked a lot. Love to walk so in even after Pakistan, he would take me on long walks with him every evening. And as you you might know, he knew a lot of the history of Karachi, and he loved Karachi. And he's written a book about Karachi. So he would take me on his walks. And then as Karachi changed, he would say, “ai eyaan, used to be this building, or here were these Hindus who, friends who lived here” and things like that. I grew up in Karachi was on the cusp, which was changing. I mean, now that I go to, when the last time I went to Karachi was a long time ago, I lived in the Parsi colony. That was the first time I lived there with my cousin, Sarfaraz Golwalla. And it was an interesting experience. Yeah, I didn't have many, I had one friend in the uh uh Parsi colony whom I sometimes visited, but most of them had a [inaudible] area around our house on Preedy Street. Yeah around Regal Cinema. Regal Cinema che ajun [still there]? We would be brough in a carriage or something. Regal cinema le ja so it was that easy. And as I said, with my father, we walked all over. Yes, but it's no longer Karachi. Now. It changed. And let's face it, I don't know how it is now. But as a woman, as a girl, growing up, walking, even to school, just what how many blocks, three or four blocks, I'm very sensitive to being touched. That's why I hated Rome. I hated Rome. Such a fascinating, fascinating place, but men will touch you all over. And I used to hate it. Yeah, I used to come home crying, because remember, when I was growing up, we didn't wear shalwar kameez. We still were wearing dresses, and then after a certain age, you would wear sari. But, you know, there was one, two, wonderful woman who did wear saris when she was in matric. I mean, we only one student I remember growing up wearing a sari at Mama school. You didn't wear a sari, to school, but of course later it changed and so our shalwar kameez. And then I remember apparently, I didn't know that, but one of my cousins told me that I was the first young woman in the family to wear shalwar kameez, and that the older ladies were quite upset about it, but I wasn’t them because I loved wearing saris. But shalwar kameezzes, come on, more comfortable, especially if you don’t have a shalwar that’s too blown up. You know, yeah no, I wore saris, I wore saris when I came here. I wore saris in Beirut and I’d wore some dresses. But after I got married at my [inaudible]. This is my my wonderful husband Chuck, my second husband. But my first husband and I went to Berkeley, at UC Berkeley, wearing a sari, walked in processions wearing a sari. And very funny, very funny memory. Walking down Telegraph, there was this great pretty lady, young woman who came in and I was in a sari, and the feminist movement. Yeah, yeah. And she said, came to me and she said, girl, get rid of all that. And I looked at her and she was wearing a long skirt. You know with the little Indian skirt. Ah, yes, you should get rid of that, [laughter] but I loved wearing saris. I would wear them all the time now. But no, I wore them, I wore them mainly to my first marriage and going to Berkeley. Yes, somebody mentioned that you were one of the first graduate ones who was from South Asia, who was wearing a sari. And then I started wearing because first of all, they were hard to wash and, and especially the cotton saris. They, it was fun just throwing them in the washing machine. If there were some that could be better, but others couldn’t and to dry them [laughter].

RR: And then to ironing them [laughter] but slowly, slowly, but even when I was teaching, I wore saris most, for many years and then gradually got out it. I think part of it is when I started going to Mexico and traveling a lot. Yeah. But I loved wearing saris. I still love saris. Yeah, when my real solid teaching started at Sonoma State University. It was a program in India, which I turn into South Asian Studies. Actually, when I would wear a dress, because at that point, I would wear either dress or sari, some of the students were not happy with that. Hey, Roshni where is your sari? Oh, they had their favorite saris, but no actually, I think I just stopped wearing saris um, mainly because I ran out of them and then taking care of them. And then after the 60s, it was hard to wear saris in the public. There was just the reaction and I just got tired of doing that. I love saris to this day yeah, but I would feel that it. Before that I didn't feel that a sari separated me. And after that, it seemed as if the sari separated me. And oh, my big thing is, okay. I suppressed that horrible memory was um when I would attend graduation at Sonoma State, I always wore a sari. And I did not wear the black robes because it's horrible. We are wearing these robes of these men who weren't women and non-Christians at the stake. I mean, we are honoring those people. So, I had never, I did wear them when I had my BA, but not when I had my. So my grandmother, my Babaiji, in Karachi had embroidered a black shawl for me with little white, crochet things on as honor when I graduated, when was it from Berkeley, and so she died before that, but she was great. So, I had always wore that for any kind of graduation ceremony. And I wore that all the time at Sonoma State. And nobody had said anything, but one graduation, some fellow faculty members, and I know who they are, decided to be funny. And they started wearing funny masks with, you know, making fun of the graduation cap and things like that. One was a Mickey Mouse, big mask was a thing, with a cap, and they were some of them wore the gowns. Some of them were some capes and things like that. So, then they made a rule at Sonoma State University, that you have to wear the graduation apparel, but I thought, hey, the black shawl is a graduation for us. It's an honor. We are given a shawl, when we graduate or we we retire to we get that shawl. And so I had been wearing it for years. And then they said you have to and I had explained that to people that had been okay. But then the person who was in charge said you can't walk in the procession wearing that shawl. And I tried to explain. And the people, our faculty around was trying to say no, and he said, no, you have to leave. So, I have not been in a faculty procession since then. And I got a handwritten note. But then they were all, new faculty members are supposed to at some Sonoma State anyway, to wear the gown of the the university they graduated from and I remember once, I don’t know if Chuck remembers it. Years before this thing happened about my wearing a shawl and I was wearing a shawl, walking by somewhere and seeing a member of the French department, sitting a bit away from the graduating place with tears in his eyes and I said, “what happened?” And they said, “I didn't have a gown because I'm a French professor. I don't have university degrees. I have a normal degree, but I don't I don't have a university where I wore a gown. But he was a professor. He had diplomas and all that. And so, craziness like that. So, I haven't I haven't walked in a procession, faculty procession since then. Oh, I know what happened. The year after that, some of the women, from the women's department, the two women who were in charge, wore something, they wore their gowns, but they were something else from India on top of it and made it very clear that they were honoring me because I haven't attended a graduation ceremony since then. I've attended the parties after that, because of, events and all but not the graduation. I wouldn't want to go back. Because it's so stupid. They're wearing clothes of people who would have burnt us on the stake.

SM: I would like to go back again. Do you have any siblings?

RR: Yeah, I have two sisters. My second sister is Armaiti, Armaiti Desai. She was married, she just got widowed a few months ago. She's married. Apre Parsio, first cousin [laughter]. The bad habit we have. Oh well what can we do? Anyway, in Mumbai, well, she became part of my mother's family because he was Masi no dikro. So but she's a qualified nurse. And she worked at the Seventh Day hospital for many years in Karachi. And then this is very interesting. Her story is very interesting. She got involved with, through her husband, and with the Yoga Institute in Mumbai, which is mainly a yoga place, but it doesn't do any kind of religious thing. It's a yoga. And so, her as a nurse and her physical kind of training has worked. And so, she uses yoga. She's a yoga teacher, a very well-known teacher. I was. I was, I had had been giving a lecture or some presentation in where, in Washington DC or something, about South Asian literature, and this young man came up, at the end and he said, “are you related to Mrs. Desai?” And I said, yes, I am. She's my second sister. And he said, do you do yoga and he said, she's my yoga teacher. But she then goes to some family, she's become like the yoga teacher for family. So, she's, she's incredible. So, she's been in Mumbai, and living in places like that. And the youngest one um whose 10 years younger, 10 years younger than I is Sunamai Desai. They married cousins, both of them, first cousins, my mother's name. She came here, what, about 30, 40 years ago, and she has two children who are all grown up. And so, her son, a son and a daughter, and they live around in California. My Freny either, my niece is um, does social work for children. Very, very good. And she's she went to India, and she went to Mumbai, stays with Armaiti. And she fits in very wonderfully and I wouldn't be surprised if she makes that her home very soon.

RR: Yeah. So yeah we are three sisters. Yeah, yeah. And it was a very girl family. Because Anahita who gave you my you my name. Well, Anahita is my cousin, my first cousin. So, she is a member. They lived about two blocks or three blocks from us. And they were three girls and we were three girls. And um so every evening they came to our house to visit, to be with Granny. And so, we more or less grew up together and not Anahita and Anahita is much younger than I am. But Nazneen. For many years, I thought Nazneen was one of my sisters. Yeah, we didn't live together. But she was most of the time at the Granny's house. And children can think about it that she was my auntie’s, it was very much it, I think, has affected me very much having grown up in a very woman-based family. My grandmother was very, very much of a role model. And very dear to me. And so, there was an aunt, we had two uncles, one of them died when I was young. So, and most of our cousins except some boy cousins were girl cousin. So we grew up in, I grew up as far as my father's side of the family was the women. Now if I had grown up with my mother's side of the family, there were more men there, more male cousins, but I think it was very important. And then I have to pay homage to my grandmother, my Bapaiji in Karachi. She at one point got very angry with me because I had broken down or something like that, I had a nervous breakdown. She said, women should never be weak, because if we are weak, the world takes advantage of us. And as she said, you have to be strong. The world is not a good place for women. And she had been widowed when she was 32. And had to bring up seven children with very little money. And so, she was really furious at me. Someone who had always been at my back, you know, was taken care of me. But yes, very much. This wouldn't have happened if I'd grown up in my mother's family. But women are important. Women are the center of the world. Women have to uphold people; women have to help. I would go for a walk with my Bapaiji, with my granny. We called her granny. And she would think nothing of stopping in the middle of the road if two kids were fighting, we didn't know. And I remember once she heard this little boy using terrible curse words in Urdu and she gave a lecture [laughter]. So I said, we don't know. And she said, but he's a child. And there should have been a woman telling him not to use curse words. So very strong women.

SM: Can you describe to me what you do for work or career path, before you retired?

RR: Well, I don't do anything for work anymore. I'm retired. Well in Pakistan, I did two jobs that were very important. I taught at the, what was it, he home economics college, it was BA offering college with with regular BA course. It was set up by an American so the main thing was home economics, but home economics, for example, everybody had done their whole trousseau and I had I had hemmed one trick but but the basic education was be a [inaudible]. And so in turn, so I did my inter there. Very strong sciences and humanities, it was at that point it was part of the University of Karachi, but it was a separate area. And I wonder what happened. It was an incredible professors. So, I did that. And from there I got a scholarship to go to the American University of Beirut. So, I got in there. So, I did my second year again there, the inter, and there I did my BA in English and American literature and did my minor in philosophy, but in, I have a normal diploma, which is the teaching diploma. And that was a scholarship. I was given a scholarship. I have to tell it's a funny thing to do education, but I wanted to do literature. So, I went to the women's Dean, and I said, look, can I do my BA in literature and I’ll do my education? And she asked me a few questions. And she said, yes. And let me ask Chuck, because she was the grandmother of a very important basketball player. Who is the basketball player’s mom who helped me in Beirut? Oh Steve Kerr's, Steve Kerr’s grandma [laughter]. Well, I heard the words Steve, and you know Steve Kerrs, yeah, in California. Oh, yeah. We call Stevie because she, his mother was on campus, then in Beirut, and she was pregnant. And we all you know, was like, she was very athletic. And the big thing was, she so pregnant. She's about to give birth but do you know, last evening, she was playing tennis, so it was Stevie Kerr so I knew when Stevie Kerr was born in Beirut [laughter].

RR: So, I got my BA and I taught there for a year. And then I came to Duke University and got my MA in English and American literature, and my minor is in Philosophy or Education or something. I took my car, went back home, and then I went back to Beirut, and read Karachi, but from there, and you know, I taught at the home economics college, and went to Beirut. And then from Beirut, I was like an au pair for a professor and his family. And he was teaching me classical Greek, and I was working, and then they were transferred to Berkeley, so I came as their au pair. So, they had four kids and the two boys, two girls, and the two girls were under my care when we traveled all the way up from Boston to here, for example, on a train, I was in a compartment with them. So, I came here, and I got into Berkeley, and I got a scholarship. And I, first year I was with them, a year, year and a half as you know, I would come home and wash the dishes or they had student boarders. So you know, I did all that work for them, and then do it. And then at the end of that year, I got married to another student. So then I've continued my my studies at Berkeley, in the Comparative Literature Department with Sanskrit and classical Greek and English. English, I had enough to do my PhD, so I didn't have to take that in many classes I wish I had, but I loved doing Sanskrit. I wish I'd spent more time doing Sanskrit. And I was married for about six or seven years. I spent one year in France because my ex-husband had a Fulbright in France and Toulouse, southern France, which is a very important region because they had one religious group that they are very famous for, and they were very influenced by Zoroastrianism and I’m forgetting, so I read a lot about that. And I was kept on working on my dissertation, came back, did my dissertation, got divorced, and spent two years actually, on the East Coast writing my dissertation because my ex-husband had a job at Brandeis, its outside of Boston and the only jobs I could get were teaching in school, so I guess I had sort of a scholarship too at the time. So I did that and then I was offered a job at Sonoma State University right after I did my PhD and comparative literature, and the marriage was pretty bad, so I just left and came here and I commuted to Boston every six weeks, cooked enough food for six weeks, froze it, clean the house. No wonder the marriage didn't last and came back and asked for a divorce. Two years after which he threatened to commit suicide. But at the end of her life, she said that was the best, you've done very good things in your life. But that was the best thing you did. Actually, she told me that about two. She didn't want to write my parents wouldn't write to me or talk to me for two years after the divorce, but my sisters did and aunts and uncles, and then she just said, that was the best thing, you've done some good things were, I never asked her why she changed her mind. And “akhlo waqat paisa, paisa, paisa.” [All the time, money, money, money.]

RR: So anyway, I love teaching. But in that time, my first year of teaching, and the second year, I decided to go to Mexico, because from childhood wanting to go to Mexico, and anything is in Spanish cultures, but I love always even from chat childhood. And when I went to Mexico, my father said, that's very interesting, because as a child, you spoke about Mexico, and we didn't know why, because nobody spoke about Mexico. I got down in Mexico City and the first day and I fell in love with the place, crazy. It reminds me of Mumbai, Karachi, it has very close things with South Asian literature, but it also has very close ties with Mediterranean culture. And with Beirut and Lebanon, while the Arabs were there. And then this is very interesting in my life that I met this, I was on tour. And this one concha, she always loved India. So, she would ask, she eventually went to India, asked about India. And then one day, she said, you’re stopped in Mexico City. I've fallen in love with the city and I don't like cities. And she said no, this is not Mexico, you have to go somewhere else to see real Mexico and she said, where would you like to go? And somebody had mentioned that place for Oaxaca. And the sounds sounded nice. And it said something called Oaxaca. But it's written O A X or something. And she said, good, that's real Mexico. So she said, let's go, she got me a ticket. And she said, don't worry, there are enough, cause nobody goes to a Oaxaca. So I got there and well enough, flew there, got a taxi. And I said, here's the four hotels that are in Oaxaca, right now, they're about 400, because it's a tourist. But all four of them were booked and the taxi driver came up what's going on? Well, every July, that's why I knew I was there in July. They have an international dance festival. And Concha had forgotten that that was the week of the dance festival. So the whole world comes there. And then it's now of course it's the place to go to but at that time, once it was gone, there was nobody there. So the driver, some I went to this tourist place. This is a new place that's open up. It's like a pensione and I said I want a bed a safe bed. That's all I want, otherwise, I'm gonna sleep on this on this in this park. And he said no wait, so he drove me to that place. And that's home. It was open it was had just opened and it was it was like pensione and they had just opened and they were down to earth little rooms all over and the main house and the woman who opened the door, and she gave me, can you see this, it's a bracelet. This lady gave me the one she died a few years ago. It's a bracelet with my name on it. And and this is what this she gave it to me a few years after. She thought I was Mexican. I had long hair dress, something in a, in a pants and all. And she started speaking to me in Spanish and I had had 10 hours of Spanish and I could say I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, I want to use the bathroom. Those were the three things I knew.

RR: And I said no. I'm from India. And she said, Oh, you’re, my daughter from India, India. And from that day, anytime even if I had a weekend free long weekend, I would go to Oaxaca because $100 round trip, night flight and so I was teaching at Sonoma State. I had no connection. And that became my family. And as I said she gave me this for, to say that you are my daughter. She died a few years ago. Yeah, the grandchildren and the children call me tia or hermana, I’m sister and I used to I spent many many years there. I would go you as I said, even during a long weekends, I had no connection. So I had been divorced. I started learning Spanish. I started taking classes for in Spanish at Sonoma State and just spent more and more time there. And then I got married to Chuck and he did go he did come with me about two years after we were married, got very sick every time we went and then eventually, but they just fell in love with him. And we had the most incredible 25th anniversary celebration there with nearly 100 people. I mean he had gotten married in the, in the room with a colleague of mine married us from India and you know, I cooked for the dinner and for the 20 people that input this was they gave us a fiesta though it taught orchestra and band, but we have to go to a mass Catholic mass and he's been baptized or whatever, so my mother said it doesn't matter. She told the priest, she's my daughter, and that's that, so don't ask her. So we had quite a celebration. So before I met Chuck, I think I was ready to adopt two children from Oaxaca, yeah two little girls but it came on the last minute, that they were at an orphanage, and we were already, this is before I met Chuck, to adopt them, at which point we found out the family there was very, very careful about whose words what's she doing what's not doing, especially the father of the family was very strict. We found out that there was still, the children were not orphans they said they had been told, and they had a father, and he wanted money, and things like that. When he left the father that said, no, he's going to harras you through the whole life. So didn't, but by the time I met Chuck, Chuck has a son who's like my son, Brian. And so but we got married, and we didn't have a Zoroastrian wedding. But we had, actually the person who blessed our wedding is a Hindu, he was my colleague, a great colleague, and of course I knew the Zoroastrian, the Sanskrit wedding ceremony quite well. And he's a he was, he's not well, now one of the leading cal singers, North Indian singers in the world. And he was my colleague, and he did he did a beautiful sort of Vedic ceremony for us. But Anahita, who’s Nazneen’s little, younger, she came, she did chalk she did garlands, and she and I prayed before and all that. So yeah, we are not, I don't know, if a priest might praise it I don't know.

SM: Now I want to talk to you about any organizations that you are part of where you are, or in California in general that are connected to your interests or the Zoroastrian community.

RR: I pay my dues to ZANC, there was a time when I used to attend ZANC but now what organizations, good heavens, I'm blanking out, there is, there is a Methodist church in town that now not that much but I used to preach there, who did a lot of work with immigrants, especially immigrants from Latin America. So we I helped out Chuck doing a lot of English because that's let's go back, when I got married to Chuck, then Chuck went back to he had been in the Army during the Vietnam, not in Vietnam, good heavens, he was in Europe. Because I had most of my male students when I was a teacher at Sonoma State were either Vietnam vets or had been, nearly evenings I spent listening to their their experiences. Because we were close in age, in some ways we could open up plus, as one of them said, you're the only person from Asia I know, so I can talk to you. So anyway, uh, we moved to, Chuck then went back to school at Stanford to get his MBA, MA, and who was working there for many years as a techie. So we got a house in a place called Halfmoon Bay, if you see the California where it is on the coast, it's sort of south of San Francisco. And it was beautiful, I would we'd still want to be there. But it was a quite a remote. But I've when he was there, it was really rented and then bought, I forget big house, but they had a smaller house in the back. And at that point, I was doing a lot of work for I forget the name of the organization, oh, Project Read an organization that was teaching immigrants, but that was the area halfmoon Bay is an area of fields. And so that was mainly all the immigrants were Latin American. And so my first student was from Mexico. He's actually still around, I think he's working in the garage because he helps us now, and he was from Oaxaca, in a small village from the state of Oaxaca. So we became very close, and he was looking for a place so we rented our little house and he's like little young brother to us. And he got married and we went to his wedding in Oaxaca and came back and they have three children and two daughters and a son. They're all grown up, they were born there, and the oldest one is going to get married and she and her husband to be is also from Mexico, but they're going back to Mexico to get married. But I don't know why I got into this except to say that our connections in Mexico, my connection to Mexico, not only in Mexico, but they are also here, and because of my work with immigrants, that's why I got involved with this Methodist church because they were with immigrants, and helped teach English and this Project Read kind of thing to two or three families here, not not doing that much anymore. But we do sometimes, you might attend through zoom now, the minister who was there, which my other great, great interest was very pro Palestine. Remember where I come from Lebanon, most of my friends were Palestine. And boy, did I hear some stories, one of the younger woman who wasn't a close friend, but I knew her well, had watched her father being hanged. But my, my roommate would talk about people coming into their house and saying, come to their house and saying, it's our house. Now get up. It's so hard to explain to people in the United States as to why Palestinians are so angry. Europe's sins are being paid off on the back of Asia. Well, through that church, we also work with the Palestinians we haven't done much with, so I have that kind of you're asked what kind of connections, those kinds of connections I have, somehow, it's always fun. I know I just showing how if I see a Parsi, and I recognize a Parsi, I'm getting you know, you're sitting in the airport. This is I think, about 25 years ago, and looking at people going by and there was this man going by, young man younger than us. And that one man, this is a Parsi, look at the nose to myself, to myself on he looked at me, he walked up, and he came and said, Sebji, I said, Sebji and he said it was the nose, wasn't it? I said, yes, it was the nose! And he said, I knew you were a Parsi , when did he call me, a mamaiji, or bapaiji, because we're looking at me to see if I was behaving myself. So, you know, there’s that root root connections that you go right in front of me, I always have Asho Farohar. That is, I think the heart of Zoroastrianism, the Asho Farohar

SM: And so can you explain a little more of what the show follow her is and what it means to you.

RR: It, for me it's very hard to really imagine or think about Ahura Mazda I know, you know, lord of light, this yes but something that I can hear Jack and I agree, we started the whole angelic like thing, you know, the Christians and the Jews got the idea of angels from us. I just think they are real. I know they are real. They're real. And I knew that it's a child and I had a very interesting, very wonderful religious upbringing from both my parents, my mother came from such an Orthodox and my father, completely unorthodox and they taught me about Zarthosht saheb, Navjote, things like that. But they also had a very, gimme a very open when we were in South India. My father was they took me to church, because they said you have to have some kind of religious background and yeah, it is. But at the same time, they kept the Zarthoshti ideas, and you know, prayers and all of that. And I read a lot of course, and to me, I do I consider myself as a Zoroastrian. So even if I go to church, and you know, there are things that I laugh and I go gosh, they got that right after Zoroastrian. I mean lighting candles, lighting the main candle, well, one monotheistic religion, you know, the first you there's only one God we did that, and which I think was stupid. But anyway, who knows, who knows, you know, but I think my parents gave me a wonderful grounding in that, that it's not the prayers, I do say prayers every now and then ever and I'm terrified there I am doing Ashem Vohu, Yatha Ahu Vairyo and the plane maybe crashing and I haven't worn a Kusti or a Sudreh for a long time just because it was hard to have a Sudreh and a Kusti in places that I was but parents didn't mind. To me one of the things when I went first you know to the where is it Hayward or where in California, the agiary that’s there, Nazneen will tell you because she’s very much there, it's a beautiful, beautiful place. I still, you know, go to agiaries and I melt, but it's beyond rituals beyond its, what my parents taught me what my religion was. The Iranis, I had Irani school friends, but one of them had come from Iran. But one of the things I saw in one of the, Daremeher here, it's very interesting, I saw as we entered the big hall, that there was some Kustis, just there. And so I asked Nazneen, why and some topis, of course topis because you might forget topis, even at home, we have them at the agiary, no scarves, I should tell them to put scarves there. And I asked Nazneen, and why are there Kustis there. And she said that many of the Iranians Zoroastrians who came from, who are coming here from Iran and getting back and being able, they couldn't wear Kustis all the time, they weren't allowed to, or they’d be frightened to. So they would have Kustis in the places where they went for prayers, so they could pick it up and put it on. And that's why they are not in, they don't have the tradition of wearing this Kusti all the time. But they do pick it up when they go into a Darbemeher and do it and then was so strong that felt. I heard how hard it was for them. Because as I said, you know, one of the girls in my class had walked as a child from Iran to Pakistan. And I've known that but this one thing that you could not wear a Kusti, in the land of the Kusti, that really disturbed me. And you know, I tried to keep my mind as open and my parents are very much. And I think Islam has some very strong, wonderful, you know, if people really, really practice Islam, can you understand how great it would be all human beings? So anyway, that really moved me that what some Iranis have gone through.

SM: While we're on the subject, this is one of the questions that I do ask, what are your general thoughts on the Parsi Irani divide within the Zoroastrian community?

RR: My grandma and I would talk about it, that I couldn't understand it. But maybe I come from a family where you came not only from all from my father's family, you know, there were there was this lady. Her name was Lily. That's right. And she and her husband, who was Indian came from I think Hong Kong have so little young that I can, it was either Hong Kong or Shanghai. We came and then my father would say that she, her mother was the rest was Zarthoshti, but then you know, they practiced Christianity and what you're asking about Zoroastrian, and Irani Parsi and Irani divide, I'm going to say this but I'm saying May God forgive me for saying it. But this thing about ‘Iran Junglee’, have you ever, I remember getting into a fight as a child because somebody said, what, doesn't make sense, doesn't make sense to me. And where I grew up in Karachi behind our house was Irani couple, older couple, but he didn't speak any Gujarati, but very poor. So my grandmother and my mother would always cook extra so we would take the food at night. I remember he would say nothing but Jerebai, Jerebanoo her name was, she would barely speak Gujarati, but she did wear saris. I have never understood this. It just felt like that Parsi’s who made that divide ‘Naak ne michko’ you know what that is, nose is in the air, but I think I got in fight with somebody at Mama school about that, ‘ae toh khaali payli Irani che, what payli Irani che, Parsi che, Zoroastrian che. I was brought up very much with my parents, people are human beings, it was drilled like into us. And so I don't know. Yeah, I was also taught to myself, got into trouble quite often. Learnt not to do too much of it. But it's very grateful to my parents for that.

SM: Want to go back to talking about your migration experience, particularly so could you tell us what first prompted you to come to the US?

RR: Well, actually, I had first come in 1955, 56 as an American Field Service tuner and then that was 55,56. Then what was it six, Racine, Wisconsin, saw snow, I had a cotton, I had no warm clothes is for people with the family made me warm clothes. It was a very interesting experience. The most interesting part of it, people they wanted to show me the luxury like, oh, we have a Cadillac, we have this we have that. And that somehow made no big deal. So I went to Wisconsin for a year. And the thing that I remember my first steak and I couldn't cut it, I still don't like steak. And I'm a meat eater. But what really, really struck me was the education system. But of course, you know, coming with my father, you know, they had always trained me to be a teacher. I once said, I wanted to learn about the brain and be a brain scientists. And they said, no, you're going to be teaching anyway, first of all boys and girls together, but even that as a Parsi, you know, because you could, but you could raise your hand, and not only ask a question, but maybe say, maybe there's a different opinion, you know, that kind of education. That's what struck me, that one deep, that's, it's, it's interesting, they kept on trying to show me how rich the country was. But that struck me and the other was one of my wonderful teachers. She died some years ago, Ms. Poh, during Easter, took me on a car trip with her to Tulsa, so from Wisconsin to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and somehow got me aware of the Native Americans somehow she may not have. But she also opened me up to how diverse the United States is, how different it is so that was my first experience. The second one was a Duke, North Carolina, I had a tray in my lap in one restaurant, I wasn't allowed in quite a few restaurants. I was one of the first non white person at Duke, myself, there's somebody from what's Bangladesh now. And there was a black student then, which was incredible, because when I was at Beirut, there were two black friends of mine from the United States. I wonder where those two young women were, they were wonderful. But I, segregation. And I was told that was gonna, as I said, I was picked up from the front front seat of a bus on my sari, all 95 pounds and couldn’t get back on the bus, but when I was very sick, at the end of the year, I had a very bad thyroid, right now the bus driver came to me with some flowers to visit. He said, I'm sorry, totally disappeared, that was the law, which was broke. So I saw that pattern in America. And it's still there, it's still there. I've been back to Duke and North Carolina, and still there, Duke was very interesting, I had a women’s Dean in Beirut.

SM: When did you decide that I see myself in the US for most of my life? Like what was that step that prompted you to move here?

RR: Oh, I didn't move with that idea. I left quite a few of my clothes, and my books in Beirut, I wanted to live the last years of my life in Lebanon, and Beirut. Even with all the things that were going on, of course, I wasn't there for the worst fighting. But for the first whole semester, when I was in Beirut, at the university, the dorms were part of the university crowds, we never left it, we weren't allowed to because of the curfew and all. And it took me nearly a year or so to really see Beirut outside of the university. But then I've you know, fallen in love with it. When I came to the US, I really didn't think I would stay, I wanted you know, as I said, I left most many of my books and clothes in Lebanon.

SM: What were some of the expectations that you had before you knew you were coming to America? What what did you hope it would give you or bring to you?

RR: I came for that time. The last time I came in state. I wanted a job at the University of Beirut and someone said, you know, you'll keep on getting something on the edges here. And it's getting harder to get a job here, go get yourself a PhD. And at the same time I was living with his family, that was a very big part of my life, that I had been an au pair, but became very close to the mother and actually we came to, so they were coming to Berkeley, which he said apply for a PhD and I applied and the man in charge of the Comp Lit. department this I had started doing Greek with that professor and some Sanskrit by myself, the grandson of the painter [inaudible] was very interested in having people in comparative literature who didn't do just European comparative literature. So at first when he got my thing from Beirut, he was like, you know, Arabic and I said, I wish I did know but I'm doing Sanskrit. I was brought here and I did have a scholarship. And then of course I worked as the au pair taking care of the children and much of the house with the family. And then of course, about a year later I got married, but I really didn't think that I would live, I would you stay here on my life, I left, I thought I would go to Beirut, that would be my life was there and

SM: and then were there any concerns when you were before coming here even the first time for example, did you, were you worried about certain things?

RR: No, I'm not something, I think having a language plus, as I don't know, in all the Parsis, you met have you met, Arnawaz Bardar, she’s Sethna here, in Texas. So Arnawaz is from Karachi. She's a bit a year or two older. But we were good friends in Karachi, because we went to the USIS together for books, because we always love books. And we both love dancing, so we had dance and you know, parties at our house. And we used to go to, she's, I haven't seen her for so many years, but we sort of got a sense of what America was because of reading. But also, my father had visited twice, as an educator, and he would talk about it a lot. Somehow, as I was growing up, the thing to do was to go to England, but I hadn't imbibed enough from my, from my mother, about my nationalistic feelings about not wanting to be in England. And then I did go to London, on my way to was very familiar, because you grew up at least I did, but nothing there really drew me, it was so gray, so dull, and the people were, well, some whre some were not nice to me. And I had some pretty bad experiences there, even in the short time. But somehow, America, I really, and that's why I am still sort of, you know, get mad and angry. I really believed that in America, people were all equal. And this was something my parents had taught me. So ‘Aein Musalman che, aein Hindu che, aein Christian che, su and what's the, aeini paasay paisa nathi, aaeni paasay paisa, but that was really, you know, that was really, really put in my mind. And especially with my father, he would open. And I had a friend from Pakistan who was my roommate in Beirut, the first year. And she would always say, you were taught to sarak, sarak chalti hai, sabse baat karti hai. And that's true, I talk to anyone, that was my other Pakistani friend who said the same thing to me, in North Carolina. And so that was what attracted me. And I think that in a sense, I'm willing to fight for because I don't think it exists in this stage. We know it doesn't. I was in the south; I've had black friends. And this what only back 20 years ago, when I was working in one of the offices, I did a lot of work with brain work with ESP and night, and dreams and things like that psychological work. And the lady was used to, you know, do the training in this beautiful little house that was in North Carolina. And apparently, one day, the woman who was the director, found her one evening, she was tired, and she was sitting in her chair. She fired her. This is in the 70s, nai 80s. And so, I'm very aware of what's happening. And then, of course, coming to California, and being absolutely enchanted with the Latino, you know, the music and the literature and Spanish. I just love that culture and literature and music and seeing how their history here, for my children. So I had that feeling that this was the place. And then I had another feeling which I think about a lot that maybe if we all get our act together, this would be one place where we could start people from all over the world. And so, you know, we can say, I come from Ukraine, and you come from Russia, why are we fighting? And then, you know, bring that home, because it's nationalistic feeling of just, it's not honoring the land you are from. It's not honoring the people. It's dishonouring the biggest dishonour we do, if not the identity the way I was going to say the way we deal with one another. But that's not true at home. I don't know maybe with your generation it has changed when I was growing up before Pakistan, and I was at Mama school. And there was some lady who's working, you know, a Hindu lady who was working, and we were told not to touch her, or there was something like that. And so of course, we all went and touched her, but because the parents and thinking changes, but I think somehow some of us, bothers me the most and I’ll be open. I don't know how much you want to let people know about it, is our own inborn racism that's based on color. Tell me this morning, I don't know why I started thinking about, I couldn't stop laughing and I was drying myself with my towel and I started I was laughing so hard, I was in Mumbai and my wonderful maasi, Nari maasi, long gone now, was showing me around before my wedding, before I got married It was one of my trips from Beirut or something. My sister, second sister, Armaiti is fair, quite fair. And so she, so there was Nari maasi that was an there was Armaiti Armaiti is about 2 and ½ years younger and apparently Nari maasi had talked to this lady about her niece, who was you know, had all these degrees and working and visiting and all that. So she said, Roshni, aao. And I was open to that to be, you know, people my parents might like, and so she told the lady, she said, aein che, you know what that lady said, nai, aein toh gani kaari che, peyli aap (no, she is too dark, I want to see the other one) and pointed to my sister. And I burst into laughter. I couldn't even be bothered but my Nari maasi, was so angry, koi nathi, tumaro dikro nathi joito (no problem, we don’t want to meet your son anyways), and she took me away. But that's what things driving me crazy. And also, not so much your generation, but still, I think part of my generation, the generation of this, this complete, my generation, also this complete adoration of the Brits, and God my mother doesnt. But yeah, this thing of Islamophobia, you know what my father used to say, He said, sure, they did all these horrible things. Do you think the Zoroastrians didn't? Look at the history of the Persians, you know, where they went, we either won, or we got beaten by the Greeks. That was very hard for me when I was studying Greek, because everybody talks about how they beat the Persians and I would say no, it's because the Persians were better. But But yeah, this thing, yeah, but I'm really, really, really fortunate in how I was brought up. I remember my dad, after Partition, opened up UBS to non-Parsis. And I had friends in school, who said, arey tora papa, kevo kharab keedu (oh look, your dad did such a bad thing) you know, they would say that to me. But yeah, I was so proud of my father. I'm always proud of my father, for many things, and my mother too. Yeah. They started Urdu classes. Did you know that? Did you know, about the Parsi family in Lahore, Parsi families. There was a small community of Parsis in Lahore for many, many years, for many years, so they knew and knew the Muslim family. And they didn't speak Hindi, they spoke Urdu. So, my first Urdu teacher was a Parsi woman from from Lahore. What was her name? Nargiz, something I would just remembered for me. So you know, that kind of thing was very interesting to watch. And so my parents set up adult classes for Parsis to learn Urdu with Nargiz, and somebody and all these Parsis went to the French classes, but [laughter].

SM: What do you remember about some of your travel experiences to the United States?

RR: As far as travel to travel travel itself? From childhood, I was from Mumbai, every summer. Well, the first time I came as an American Field Service student, so I was a student and so that wasn't, it was sort of across in a in a boat the whole time, with a group of international students. And that was great, because they American Field Service students. Travel, I’d gone down to Beirut first, of course, I came here first, but then went to Beirut, I did not think that I would remain here. I'm really surprised that I did. I had thought I would live the rest of my life in Lebanon, because it was close enough to home too. Yeah. And at that point, I hadn't even gone to Egypt because I said oh when come back, I’ll go to Egypt. Go back because by the time Lebanon blew up, so and then I got married.

SM: Then while settling down in the US, has there been a difficult change to your lifestyle or thinking that you had to make?

RR: Yeah, yeah. That was very hard on me for a long time. Very hard on me. I was by the time I settled on, realized I would be living here used to different, different styles. When I first I came in a family, they protected me went to high school. Then I went to college, I lived in a dorm. And I don't know, I wasn't told that I should bring towels and things like that. And I was just blessed those other women who just said, we have extra towels, we have extras. And then, at the end of the year that we couldn't live in the dorms when I was doing my master's. So, and I was still working, I was still doing my thesis. I rented we rented with a woman who had graduated, a woman who was in the dorms, friend from New York, this little house, which was falling apart, and which was the only thing we could afford. And I think I sort of went shopping, alone to go shopping, this was at Duke, had to be in a sari every day. Once I went in my dress, and they wouldn't. And I said like I came this morning in a sari. I don't care, but the other people in the thing. So, you know, I had sort of little bits and pieces of knowing. And then knowing the hospital, knowing certain system. I really didn't expect to be here for the rest of my life. I really thought that I would be back in Beirut. And I came as an au pair with a family that I had taken care of in Beirut, the children because the mother was sick and I took care of the children. And when I came here, they changed and all the things I promised, you know. And that if I worked, I would take care of the children, help the mother. And you know, I had a scholarship, then I wouldn't have to pay for the amount to board, but then they changed their mind. I think they're I'm just realizing they're both dead now. Um the man who was mainly the, who had taught me Greek and had said come to Berkeley. So that part was very hard. Because I was completely alone. I didn't have friends then because I was living with the family and all the promises that they had made were not there. But then I think that was part of why I did get married within a year, or at the end of the year. So, the first few years were sort of tough. But America was not that much of a surprise to me, sometimes it reminded me of England, but at Duke in North Carolina.

SM: And but were there any maybe occasions that you were treated unfairly for your non-American origin?

RR: When I was in the hospital there, I had the entire room. There were, there were nurses who would not touch me. So at one point that the doctors found out that I hadn't been fed for three days. So I had found out where the refrigerator was. So I would drag myself there and so the doctor said, what are you doing it and I said, I haven’t eaten. They wouldn’t wash me you know. They wouldn’t you know, whatever. So I did see that in the South. This is more women talk. I noticed. It's also what you don't want to notice, just for survival, you know that. But being married to a white American, I get a lot of, I'm surprised as to how subtle some of that is. But it's there. And I'm getting more and more aware of it. You know, we met at Sonoma State when he had come back as a student after his army thing. And I was his landlady [laughter]. And those who knew us were like, apparently waiting for us to get together and I was like no. I mean, I used to take him, he didn't have a car. So, he would go on dates in a bus and meet somebody at a bus stop. And I would go, this is terrible. And he would, I would loan him my once in a while. We became very good friends before we would go on dates. And what is interesting, and maybe it's because you know, now that I'm talking about it, it's because the milieu has changed. In the university or that yeah, there was some, you know, I I had colleagues who once, one of them came and said, we give you three and a half years and another one, because he was a student. And you know he's bright and brilliant. Those words don't even fit. He is so beyond that, was like, what's he doing with you? Why have you taken him away? They were, you know, in my face. One of them, as I said three and a half, but now being away and just living in a general you know neighborhood I notice it. No in this just this area there's more interracial couples, but I notice notice it. They said, “ke ghana bairao ke tu kai ani saathe che? Maine joeach.” [“that many women say why are you with him?”] My neighbor bhi to ghani che. Sometimes it's hard and I feel angry about it, really angry. But at the beginning of it, okay that happens okay. Here we are 40 odd years, old couple, holding one another more or less and because I really believe that if there's jealousy, there it really affects people. It's it's bad, let's use the word, vibes going on there. Even in the neighborhood and within the neighborhood but what about those Parsi women who come to me and say, “kitlo mehjanu chokro che, kitlo handsome che, ne tu kitli kaari doos jevi che.” [“Look what a nice man he is, look how handsome he is. And look at you, you are so dark.”] Yeah, my mother, she had that. But my parents were very open about that. So, my mother, when I first got married, was very upset about it. And yet she was the one who hid couples that were Muslim and Parsi, Muslim and Christian and they were the ones with ne divorce mah bhi kitle gharbar keedi. Hoon suicide karoon, hoon ai karoon [in the divorce, she also created prolems. She’d say I will kill myself, do this and that.] And I said Mommy, you weren’t with that couple who went to the, But you know it went fast. I mean, she really loved because Chuck such as that they played, what did they play whatever, not checkers, but the word game Scrabble. And they fought like mad and it became good.

SM: How has being in the US affected your family life, especially family life back home, or just general relationships?

RR: I left home so young, more or less, you know, right, two years of college. And I tend to miss that for some time. But for example, today, I was waking up and saying I call Nazneen, and see how my Roshan aunty, my kaki is. And we lived together for many years because they, we had an extended family. But she might, she was very sick, she may be gone by now. But I don't know that. I tried my best to keep in touch. I went to every two years. And I would try and be both in Mumbai and Karachi. But with the death of my aunts, and of course, my parents and all, I haven't been it's such a nuisance to go there. Because of course, I was born in India, but te jione, visa you know. The last time I got a visa in to go to India, which was some years ago, and he gave me some years to go, you know, that I could go back was I had to, I pulled out a Sanskrit shloka. And I said, okay, I'm gonna read you this. And if you're in India, can you? Can you translate this for me? And he said, No, can you? And I said, yes, I'll do it for you right now. And it's from the Gita. And he said, okay, okay, I’ll give you the visa [laughter].

RR: Well, I was, my mother was very, very pro India. So, I grew up learning, you know, all the songs, all the independence songs, she told me, you know, all the big stories about India, you know, and so if somebody said, are you a Pakistani or an Indian, I say I'm an Indo-Pakistani. That's what I call myself, because who I am culturally, and then I don't know Urdu that well because I was the first class to have Urdu in matric. So, we never had good, many teachers, but I love Urdu and there was things in Muslim culture that I just absolutely think wonderful. At heart, it's so.

SM: Now when you look back, how has time changed your perspective of living here?

RR: I'm glad I am, with the life that I have. I don't know how I could have dealt with the fundamentalism in Karachi, Pakistan, because my Pakistan was so different, you know. And so, I have Pakistani friends here. And we have, Roshni behna [sister], you know, close by. We have brothers and sisters, but they are here too, because they can’t live there in many ways, but what what they do and what they believe in, you know, I am a great friend of Islam. I can think of those three religions, the Semitic religions, Islam speaks to me the best, more than Christianity or not the customs, but the core and it's so close if you look at it to Zoroastrianism.

SM: What does it mean for you to be a Zoroastrian in the United States?

RR: You know, I never think of it because Zoroastrianism is what I believe. Even the 101 names of God, is fine. Because I feel very humble in face of saying, God is so and so God, it's so so I have I know, I don't know, but I feel blessed. And that's why the strongest part of Zoroastrianism that I think I carry on, and you make me think about it, is a real deep belief in Asho Farohars. Real belief in them. Where you know who they are, what they are, you know, different ideas. And I think that may be one of the biggest things we we contributed as a religion.

SM: Is there a particular Zoroastrianism principle or tradition that has meant the most to you?

RR: Oh, to me? The principle, the three point principle, the three point principle that I think is the strongest. It's so like, makes your mind think. Good thoughts, good, you know, words and good deeds. Good thoughts? What what do you know how to think? What is it about thinking is I I love to think about the mind and how it works? And what do you mean by good thoughts? You know, beyond living, you know, everyone is the equal, and all that which is hard. But when you're angry at someone, what's the good thought there? Is being an angry justified? Is that a good thought? Maybe, maybe if it's going to be to good word or a good deed? You know, that's we keep on saying manashni, gavashni, kunashni but those are very difficult concepts. I mean, the concept of there's only one God or not one God. Yeah, you know, that's an individual thing. But this is living in society, as a spiritual being or religious being. So that is one the older I get, I used to think about this as a child. And it's been I think of it as a lot. And I really respect that that is the basis because it makes you think, makes you think and feel, and thinking so many spiritual traditions of people who think aren’t spiritual traditions, don't pay attention to thinking. They think it's something separate. I mean, we are in a body. So, the body, Zoroastrianism says you are in the body. Be clean, do this, do that. Don't do that. I think that sitting a part, I don't know when it started, because other cultures have it top. Hinduism has it too, has something to it. And I had a neighbor, it was neighbors, we had neighbors, Parsi neighbors, as you said, as a girl we had periods. He used to, their family was orthodox. And for whenever she had a period, you know, she had her little chula, she had to cook her own food, and she wasn't bad and all that. But she did go to work. She was a teacher and one day, I said, I read this is so old fashioned, it’s terrible and you know why? And she said, don't say a word. Don't say word. She said, this is the only time in the month that I get to rest. I don't have to go and start cooking. I don't have to wash dishes when the servant is there. I don't have to do but I don't have to stitch his, anu Sudreh [laughter]. And this one, you know, she's had completely different point of view. Since then I think what if women set that rule. I've wondered why this thing about dogs and of course you know about the funeral and the dog comes in. The first time I saw it, they didn't talk about it. Really. But dogs, I think it's because of the culture we grew up in. Zoroastrians seen the dog as a watch person, of course. But also, the pastoral culture, with a dog takes care of sheep and I'm been wondering if that you know, protector, but also of the sheep and you know, the animals. So why did the scripture from that culture have a dog leading you?

SM: If you could put three things you own in a time capsule, what would they be?

RR: You had said five, so I bought five. I have them. Can you see what this is? It's a watch. I don't know why since childhood and it’s got a chain and it's always goes around my neck. I have always sort of I must probably had an aunt or someone who had watch, locket watch and I always thought that was so cool. But I it's the thing about people giving you watches, started you know, people would give you a wristwatch as a gift. Wristwatches, two or three were given to me. None of them would work on my wrist. Different one. And, you know, right now I'm not doing but I usually use my hands a lot, when I talk. That's another Parsi thing. I always wanted a watch that I would wear and neck. And so when Chuck and I decided to get married, Chuck got me a watch that I could wear around my neck and instead of an engagement ring. He brought me a necklace first, and then he brought me a watch. And it was at the time, when I was also turning 40, I was 40 when I got married a second time. And that to me, is very, very important to me. And it has stopped working now and then. But you know, we do it. And it works. And I always have it around my neck. And one day just a few years ago, when we were we have a mucky backyard, I dropped it, I couldn't find it. And then a day later, I walked out and there it was. So, so I always have it around my neck. And it's very hard for me when you know, you go to the doctors or something, they say take off. And I don't mind taking off my ring or whatever. But I do have a ring.

RR: And I told you that the mother in Oaxaca was my real mother in this lifetime. And in Oaxaca, in Mexico when children are born, they're given a bracelet with their name on it. Can you see my name on it? So about three years after I had been going to them, she gave me this and said this means that you are my real daughter. So, she she had she'd never had any child of her own. She had an adopted son that only had adopted since he was born. And one not the stories is that they took out his blood and put her blood in him or something. But I've never wanted to even hear that story. Then this is my Asho Farohar, always in front of me. This last one, then I have this bowl. It's a hand bowl. It's inside is red. Can you see? It's got you know things in it and it's got, its hand painted. And it's actually made up a gourd. It's Oaxacan. And that's one of the things that make big. There’s actually a big tray up there. I have that, I have my well-worn Avesta, which has translations in English. I don't know how it was given to me. I also have my kusti prayers. It was given to me by my mummy’s masi who I didn't know much. She she was very rich. And she left all her money to all her nieces and nephews except to me [laughter]. Which is okay, my dear sisters got it. But it was I thought it was hilarious. But she gave it to me, I think 1952. But no, this is the other one, that is really old. This was done in 1959. So, and I use it a lot. Because it has the Avestan so I can pray that and the meaning is not in Gujrati, but in English, I could do the Gujrati. So, I did have that. I have my Asha Farohar definitely. And then you get it's a candle. And it’s encrusted with shells, I got it in Oaxaca, when I was, I made some amazing different friends in Mexico through a painter whom I use to follow Spanish painter, she’s long dead, I got to know her husband, her old husband and his wife who became very good friends. My very, very good like family friends. He had been in an internment camp, three times, he was Jewish. And he was from Austria. And we were very, very good friends. And she was German, by the way. They had a daughter, Isabel, and she was like my god daughter, because I got to know her when I got to know them. She was about four or five. And she was very dear to me. And they were very dear to me. They, they both had had a terrible life. And then she was married. And then it's very weird math. But anyway, young and she was very young. She had trained herself as a therapist, and psychologists and apparently, at those days, I had done quite a bit of work in psychotherapy. And she had heard me talk about it. And I had given some kind of presentation on sleep dreams and things like that. And so that's when she decided that that's what she wanted to do. So she was working on that. And so every time we went to Mexico, we would stop in Mexico City and be with them, and then go to Oaxaca. And so one year Chuck was going to follow because he was still working and that was with them. And so she was married, I visited her at her home with her husband and dropped me off at the main house and said you know, I'll see you, they were going to visit me in Oaxaca in about three weeks and a phone call came in a week later, she died in a car accident, so many in a car accident and the heartbreak from it was missing a little girl who was like a daughter to me. But also this couple, Walter, her father had lost his parents. And so he was adopted by a Jewish family, and so he was put in a Nazi camp, and he had stood, the last time I saw them before she was because they are now both gone but we were in touch with him for many years they came visited us and we visit them, he had said to me, he had told me his, he said, I want to talk to you about my life. So I know little bits and pieces about so he told me about adoption, what it meant when the Nazis came. And he said, the worst part was when they forced him to look at, they forced him to look at his father, as they forced his father to clean the front yard with a toothbrush. And he kept on saying, let me help my father. And they said no, so you know, on his knees. Anyway, he had told me all those stories, and he had said, everything has been fine the 30 last years because of our daughter, and I think it was about 10 days later, I went to Oaxaca that I got this phone and said, Oh, you guys are coming over, they said no, it's about just died in a car crash. So I don't think I've ever screamed the way I did. But the family in Oaxaca just came, they held me. I've never been like that. And so then I flew over to Mexico. And Chuck was here, he was going to come later, so he came and met me and they were so, so brave. And anyway, that was what Isabel had given and had said, hey, we'll see you in two weeks or so, so I've never lit it. And but it's very strange, every now and then it has this wonderful perfume that comes and being a Zoroastrian you know and a perfume and candle or a fire, you know, sukkur, it's very much that way, so that was that part. So these are the things but the thing that I first thing I put on is this the watch with wonderful, funny little blue bird on it, but that went.

SM: What would you like to convey to the following generations, particularly the Zoroastrian generations in the United States?

RR: I don't feel I wanted to say good enough, but I don't feel what would I give them? Or ask them? Yeah, that’s what I feel, I would just say, you know, that, I feel very connected to them, they can do what they want. They know that the thing that Zoroastrianism has taught me so as soon and Parsi, you know, what we have done with Zoroastrianism has taught me is choose your path carefully, and follow it. And if you say your prayers, say your prayers, if you don't want to, don't worry about that. Don't worry about that, also, to be proud of who you are, hey listen our ancestors, wow. And I don't know if I told you that, a few years ago, I was at the dining table with, at Nazneen’s. And there was a man and he was a Zoroastrian. And but he was not a Parsi. He had just walked from Iran to West Pakistan, and then come here. I mean, it wasn't easy in Gujarat either, you know, the thing that has always sort of made me happy is with all that we didn't you know, ohto thamthiani, oh jag mashoor, you know, and that whole Chaye Humay Zarthoshty, is we don't make suffering the core of our lives. We fight back. And that's what we are we live back. If that's the word I want, I lived through it. And I think that's what I mean, sitting as a child and hearing stories about biases who've gone through or Iran or in India or Pakistan and listening to them. So, I was like, yeah, yeah, they are brave, they're courageous. But there was always sort of a sense of humor there. Or joy. There was no oh, how we have suffered. And that taught me a lot that you can go through anything and or it might kill you in the end, but don't make suffering the core and also, with that, be aware of other people's suffering. That's what the community always taught me. I mean remember, I was this came to my mind I think yesterday morning, when we go by a beggar in Mumbai or Karachi and you're with a Parsi, what does a Parsi usually say to the beggar if she or he doesn't give the money? Do remember? Maaf karjo ji, please forgive me. Yeah, yeah. I used to yell at one of my uncles, why do you say maaf karjo ji, just put your hand in your pockets [laughter]. Yeah. But it's this awareness. I don't know if the other generations, I think they have it, but I feel I owe a lot of what I'm what I like about myself to the community, to the core, to my parents to the core. I mean, I don't agree with everything they did. They don't agree with everything I did. But I wouldn't want change that education I had, or even in Mama school with anything else that formed me.

SM: The last question for you, Roshni is what is home for you? And how do you define home?

RR: Home for me now where Chuck is. It really is even if in this home, he's not here then it's not really. But where do I find my or recognize my roots? Yeah, when I go home to Karachi or Mumbai, there are parts that I see. I used to recognize it when I went to Lebanon. But what it is, is as I said, it's okay, that's a very good question. How did I feel the minute I landed in Mexico? I went, this is home, Mexico City. You know what it was, it was a crazy wild rain storm. It was just like the monsoons. And then the lightning was going on crazy. And some of the Americans going ah and whew wow look at lightning, and just seeing people who look like me. And so that that also felt home. So, it meant home as a physical place, physical people, where I'm comfortable. So that would be with a friend who doesn't look like me at all, but it's home. Like my closest friend is, she would at it [inaudible]. But she used to be a student of mine. She's older than I am. And she does a lot of spiritual things and all of that. But, you know, being with her could talk about anything. Home is part of being with you, talking to you na, being home is not one place. Some maybe we carry our homes with ourselves and when we in within ourselves, and we recognize it in others. Do you think that’s what home is? I don't know if I'll feel at home if I'm in Karachi now, but it feels home. I know, when I was in Karachi, or in Mumbai, very much when the season I recognize the season, I recognize the smell, the wind, the land, when you land. I remember when you get down at the airport in Karachi, and then you drive that road to the city itself, which has changed yet. You recognize the hill. This hill has always been there. You recognize that tree, wow that tree is there. And if and I felt that way with Beirut, when the last time I went. Oh my God, that I tree is still there, from the airport, and they're still selling those coconuts there. What kind of physical thing, but don't you recognize it as oh, this is like home in other places, too? But the smell of sandalwood. Oh, yeah, smell sandalwood. Just I just stop and pray.

SM: While we end the interview, I just wanted to give you space to share anything you would like to particularly share with or have thought about and I haven't asked you.

RR: Yeah, I feel very honored. And I feel very grateful. I feel old, in a good way, in a good way. I really thank you. Because it's made me think about things that I have pushed back or have been thinking but have not been able to convey to someone else and things that you know, deep inside of me and I never thought I'd be, we have a person to talk to about it. Because my niece and nephew were born here and you know, things like that. My niece is in Pune and Mumbai. I’d like to see her when she comes back here. She's been there and she's waiting. I don't know, when she's coming back. She's a few months, my sister's there, right? And my cousin's and also, she's with them. And loves it. I thank you very much, because I hadn't thought about certain things that you asked me about. You also have made me think about distance. That's the word that came, right now And what does distances mean? Physical, spatial, time. And that's very interesting for me that I say time because I'm very aware of, you know, and I’ll be 83, 84 this year. That I have fewer years ahead of me, physical years than I have behind me and that there are distances of time, but space, which is not true of everyone, but it's true, which is very true of those I think, who are expatriates, or were. So I mean for us, you and I and people like us. It's not even places. It's language. It sounds, it smells. It's full color. It’s memories. Nostalgia, which I can't really share with others except with you. And I don't, I mean, the sister I have here is 10 years younger than I am. And I think I told you I heard a tell somebody at a party. She said, I don't know Roshni, I just until I came here became here, you know, when she was all grown up, with two kids and her husband, she said that all I know about Roshni is from gossip and rumors. I was like hey, hey, tell me the gossip you’ve heard about me. She won’t tell me [laughter]. But so, I don't think I'll be going back. The trip, you know, physically, at 83. I do not like to be separated from Chuck for a few hours. Because we were for so many years too. Yeah, because right after we got married, he went back to Stanford, and we would meet sometimes, once a week, you know, something like that. But just the traveling is really hard. I want to express my deep gratitude to you for doing that and appreciation. Because you make me start thinking also a time going, which I was not, didn't have enough courage to think about, but then I think back and you know, you've asked them. Wow, know what an adventure it has been, it remains an adventure. And you'll also also, and this is the last thing, you’ve really made me I mean, I think about it, what it means to be a Zoroastrian. And you know, you wanted pictures, I have pictures of my Navjote with the Dastur Dhalla. I knew Dastur Dhalla as a child, you know, you went to mama school, once a week when there would, he would come once a week. And he used to come and speak to us. And then of course, when I was the head prefect, and all I would go to the car. And I remember, I mean, just being of course he, this was I think maybe the last year before he died, just being in his presence. I know there are people here in Texas who don't like him. Dhallaism, I can’t understand because he was, didn't keep it pure. I was brought up really because I was taken to churches and all. When I was very young, we were in South India with because my father was in the Navy. I think I mentioned that. We went to church, they took us to church, the Center School District. No, but I will remember watching people baptize, and you know what this kacha kar, the clay kind, had the dogs had. I melted after because I [inaudible]. I had a friend and her little daughter went to a Catholic school and she came home, and this child had nearly drowned that puppy dog in the bathtub. Of course, we never touched on it. And I'll just remember my my education is very much in Sanskrit and Hinduism. So, I'm given classes in Hinduism and Hindu mythology and things like that. So I must probably know academically more about Hinduism than I may know about Zoroastrianism. I was the director of the India Studies program at Sonoma, one of my friends said we have a Pakistani head to the Indian so I changed it to the South Asian Studies. But yeah, my other my mother taught me I remember my age, I grew up with Hindus.

SM: This is the end of the interview. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story with Roshni.

RR: Sambali ne rajo, bye. [Take care].

Collection: Sharmeen Mehri Fellowship Project
Donor: Roshni Rustomji-Kerns
Item History: 2022-06-10 (created); 2022-06-29 (modified)

* This digital object may not be sold or redistributed, copied or distributed as a photograph, electronic file, or any other media without express written consent from the copyright holder and the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA). The user is responsible for all issues of copyright. If you are the rightful copyright holder of this item and its use online constitutes an infringement of your copyright, please contact us by email at to discuss its removal from the archive.