I have never been asked so much in my entire life what my nationality is than since I moved to Iowa. In Alaska and Eugene I was asked a few times but for the most part it wasn’t something many people cared about. Here I seem to get that question non-stop. From walking down the aisles in the Hy-Vee to handwritten letters and plenty of emails, everyone seems very curious as to where I am from. In fact I received a letter just a few weeks ago asking what Native American tribe I belong to.
My first response when someone asks me is usually to say Minnesota. I was born in Saint Paul and spent most of my childhood in Minnetonka where my parents still reside. However when I answer with this I usually get a quizzical look like I have not answered the whole question. I am going to clear it up once and for all
I am a first generation American. My parents came to the United States from Lahore, Pakistan to go to the University of Minnesota. My dad came first and after a few years my mom followed him. They both intended to get degrees and return to the homeland but decided to stay instead. While they were at the University they formed one of the first Pakistani Students Associations and met many friends that they still talk to today. I also went to the University of Minnesota and joined that very organization that they helped form when I myself was in college.
My last name is an unusual one and I get many questions about that as well. Chughtai’s can be traced back to Genghis Khan. He had four sons one of which was named Chaghadai. Thus that is where it all started and we are decendents from him.
You may also have heard of Abdur Rehman Chughtai. Most do not know him but he was a influential painter who was known for his “Chughtai” style of art. He was born around the turn of the century in 1899 and is my mother’s uncle. After the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, he came to be known as the national artist of Pakistan. My mom’s brother now paints much in his same style and my parents collect much of his original artwork.
That is probably much more than you ever wanted to know about me but there it is Have a wonderful day!