Dear Editor Wischnowski,
I am writing today to thank you and the rest of The Philadelphia Inquirer team for your wonderful front-page coverage of the South Asian American community in the Sunday, July 3rd edition. The article titled “Indian population booming in Philadelphia area” certainly constitutes one of the finest pieces of research-driven feature-writing I have seen in quite some time. As one of the 477,586 Sunday readers of The Philadelphia Inquirer, I am thrilled to see that the third-oldest, eleventh-largest daily newspaper the United States continues to maintain its reputation as the Pulitzer Prize winning publication of its yore. With the advent of joke publications, such as The Onion, arriving in this town, it’s heartening to see some hard-hitting news in the Inquirer.
First and foremost, I would like to tip my hat to journalists Michael Matza and Joelle Farrell for their wonderful reporting. To echo the first quote in the article, “Stereotypes be damned.” Such breadth of interviewees! What segues! The software-developer. The dentist groom and the physician bride. The retired chemist. The civil engineer turned motel-owner. The managing partner. The real estate agent. And lest we grow too comfortable in our community’s affluence, the additional video on your website featuring the taxi driver. A moment of silence for this lone unskilled Indian American man who aspires to achieve the American dream. And a hat tip to you guys for featuring him! I bow to your benevolent reporting. Nick Kristof could learn something from you people.
Thank you! I’m so grateful that mainstream media has finally covered my community. Confession: I’m not actually Indian-American. I’m a Pakistani-American from the Christian community in Philadelphia. But it’s okay. Vast history of secretarian violence aside, we’re all browns in Philadelphia. And on behalf of the Sri-Lankan Americans, Bangladeshi-Americans, Nepali-American and Afghani-Americans, I applaud your coverage. With simply one sentence, “dozens of new Indian restaurants and groceries; Sikh societies, Muslim mosques, Indian churches, and Hindu temples” you covered everybody. E-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y. (Well, the rest was mostly Gujurati Hindus. But that’s almost everybody!)
And in general, you featured everything that defines desi culture. Your paper is indeed correct. We often have ornate “marathon” weddings featuring overwrought brides “that want to try to marry in the culture.” We are professional. Fecund. Educated. Affluent. Skilled. Un-skilled. Legal. Not-quite-so-legal. Uncomplaining. Good at math. Entrepreneurs. And did I mentioned how much we love extravagant weddings? Well we do. Nothing like a good arranged marriage and a Slumdog song to get the blood flowing. (Also, thank you for the follow-up on our lovely couple’s wedding at http://www.philly.com/hindu. I love Bollywood dancing AND Hindus! Bride magazine and NYTimes Weddings section, eat your heart out!)
Naturally, as a South Asian American, I swoon over the numbers you quote in the piece after combing through the 2010 Cenus. What stats! It makes my math-loving heart thump hard. Exquisite research, really.
973 – the number of Indians that came to live in Upper Uwchlan, Chester County, in the last 10 years
600 – the couple’s wedding guests
400 – the number of wedding guests staying at the Lows on Market Street and directly bolstering the local economy
293 – the number of Indians that came to live in Mansfield, Burlington County
100 – the number of times the lovely bride had to kneel to greet the guests before she really felt it in her gams
74 – the number of complaints made by Indians to the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission
30 – the mean age of the lovely couple
28 – the number of rooms in the Gujurati motel
18 – the number of Indian weddings hosted by an Upper Darby banquet facility
5 – the number of days during the typical Indian American wedding
4 – the venues needed for the wedding-planner-less bride for the requisite nuptial
Thanks to you and your article, I know now more about the strain of wedding planning Indian Americans than ever before.