Partial Transcript: Myself. Uh, I’m, uh, now I’m a grandmother.
Keywords: Brother; College; Daughter; Father; Fear; Grandmother; Houston; Husband; Immigration; India; Karachi; Kids; Miami; Migrate; Pakistan; Parents; Prayer; Pregnant; Religious; Riyadh; Saudi Arabia; School; Sister
Subjects: America; American; Family; Houston; Husband; India; Pakistan; Sadia; Saudi Arabia
Partial Transcript: My kids uh went to public school here, and uh at that time I think public school much better [laughs].
Keywords: American; Basketball; Cleaning; Cooking; Cross country; Daughter; Football; Houston; Husband; Kids; Pakistan; Public school; School; Soccer; Son; University of Houston; UT
Subjects: Children; College; Houston; Kids; School
Partial Transcript: So that’s, I’m very grateful that they all had good education, that’s a main purpose to move this country.
Keywords: Children; College; Colorado; Daughter; Denver; Divorce; Education; El Salvador; Family; Grandkid; Houston; Job; Married; Pakistan; PhD; Restaurant; Riyadh; San Antonio; School; Son; UT; Wedding
Subjects: Children; Marriage; Wedding
Partial Transcript: At same time I was doing restaurant, children, I’m doing hospital volunteering...
Keywords: Community; Food; Grocery; Helping; ICNA; Interfaith; Islamic Circle of North America; Memorial Hermann Hospital; Senior citizen; Volunteer, Hospital; Women's shelter
Subjects: Community; Hospital; ICNA; Volunteer
Partial Transcript: Saudi Arabia—my husband, uh, somebody came, you know, from there, Saudi Arabia.
Keywords: America; Chemical engineer; Dubai; Education; Factory; Hurricane; Husband; Japan; Job; Karachi; Kids; Miami; Move; New York; Pakistan; Plastic; Pregnant; Riyyadh; Saudi Arabia; Sick
Subjects: America; New York; Pakistan; Saudi Arabia
Partial Transcript: My—I think my uh older brother, he moved first in 1970, uh he did Masters in Biochemistry, and I think he found some job here.
Keywords: America; Biochemistry; Brother; Education; Family; Friends; Husband; Job; Marriage; Masters; Miami; Pregnant; Sibling; Wedding
Subjects: America; Job; Move; Sibling
Partial Transcript: I don’t know—if I was thinking why—told me to open the restaurant—I wanna kill that person [laughing].
Keywords: APPNA; Breakfast; Business; Catering; Close; Cook; Dinner; Family; Food; Frasco; Friend; Gala; Houston; Husband; Kids; Kitchen; Lunch; Manu; Money; New Orleans; Pakistan; Partnership; Party; Popular; Radio show; Restaurant; Washateria; Wedding; Work; Working
Subjects: Business; Catering; Food; Frasco; Houston; Money; Restaurant; Work
Partial Transcript: Yeah, yeah that’s a big difference—woah that’s a big difference.
Keywords: America; Casper the Holy Ghost; Computer; Difference; Father; iPhone; Kids; Language; Mother; Pakistan; Parents; Phone; Pink Panther; Respect; Scooby Doo; Talk; Technology; Tom and Jerry; TV; Verbal; Violence
Subjects: America; Kids; Pakistan; Parents; Respect; Technology; TV; Violence
Partial Transcript: They are uh—yeah I taught them the values—learn by yourself.
Keywords: Bible; Buddhism; California; Children; Christianity; Daughter; Educate; Facebook; Fun; Husband; Islam; Jesus; Kids; Muslim; Peru; Quran; Religion; Religious; Son
Subjects: Children; Islam; Kids; Muslim; Quran; Religion
Partial Transcript: I do volunteer hospital, interfaith organization—interfaith mostly I work and now I’m working for ICNA relief—ICNA relief work.
Keywords: Austin; Catholic; Charity; Domestic violence; English; Help; Hospital; Houston; Husband; ICNA relief; Interfaith; Iraq; Married; Money; Refugee; School; Volunteer
Subjects: Charity; Domestic violence; Help; Houston; Volunteer
Partial Transcript: A lot! Oh my god it’s growing like crazy—this city I see like before I know many people because of restaurant also because so many people come, and so by face I know a lot of people.
Keywords: Community; Dallas; Friends; Growing; Houston; Husband; Medical center; Mosque; Muslim; Pakistan
Subjects: Community; Houston; Muslim; Pakistan
Interviewee: Farzana JalaliInterviewers: Melissa Verne (Junior); Shireen Usman (Junior) Date/ Time of Interview: June 11, 2013 at 1:00PM Transcribed by: Melissa Verne; Shireen Usman Edited by: Chris Johnson, Patricia Wong Audio Track Time: 1:40:36
Background: Farzana Jalali was born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1951. She grew up inKarachi and lived there until 1975, when she moved to Saudi Arabia. In 1979, she moved to Miami, Florida, and in 1983, she moved to a suburb near Houston, Texas. She has held various jobs since coming to the United States, including a lengthy period of owning and operating a Pakistani restaurant. She also enjoys volunteering, and is involved with the Islamic Circle of North America, as well as an Interfaith Society, among other organizations. She has five children—four of whom were born in Pakistan, and one who was born in Miami—as well as many grandchildren. She is now retired and lives with her husband in Sugar Land, TX.
Setting: The interview centers on the topics of laborand capital to develop a working history around the context of childhood experiences, family life, and daily activities. Much attention is given to Ms. Jalali’s various work and child rearing experiences in the U.S. The interview was conducted in the living room of Ms. Jalali’s home, which is located in Sugar Land, a suburb outside of Houston. The duration of the interview spanned a little less than two hours, with minor interruptions.
Interviewers: At the time of this interview, Melissa Verne is a rising junior at RiceUniversity, majoring in Asian Studies and Political Science. She is originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, is of European descent, and spent a year living in Taipei, Taiwan, where she began to study Mandarin Chinese. Shireen Usman is also a rising junior at Rice University, and is majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Anthropology. She was born in Lahore, Pakistan, but has grown up in the Kansas City area and lived there for most of her life. As an immigrant, herself, she has an interest in learning more about Asian American History and contributing to the HAAA project.
Key:MV: Melissa Verne SU: Shireen Usman FJ: Farzana Jalali —: speech cuts off; abrupt stop …: speech trails off; pause Italics: emphasis (?): preceding word may not be accurate [Brackets]: actions [laughs, sighs, ect.]
MV: Uh, this is Melissa Verne.
SU: And this is Shireen Usman.
MV: We are here today on June 11, 2013, in the home of FarzanaJalali to interview Farzana Jalali for the Houston Asian American Archive oral history project. Um, can you begin by briefly telling us about yourself?
FJ: Myself. Uh, I’m, uh, now I’m a grandmother. [Laughs] When I came I wasyoung. Uh, like, 1979. Uh, came ’79, I brought four kids with me. And I was seven months pregnant. My daughter born in February of ’80, 1980. Youngest. I was in Miami at that time. Um, and uh that’s—don’t know how many years, they’ve gone so fast. [Laughs] Just ask me any question and I will tell you, 1:00like, what do you want to know about our family or me?
MV: I guess begin with, um, can you tell us where you were born, and what—?
FJ: Yeah, I born in Karachi, Pakistan, uh, 1951. April 25. And my parents migrated from India.
MV: Where in—?
FJ: At that time in 1947, from Pakistan separated from India. So,uh, they came late, from— people, some people moved right, like ’47 and, but they I think moved in ’50, 1950 or something, to Pakistan. So I have, uh, two brothers, older brothers, then I have one sister that, 10 years younger than me. She born after me, you know, 10 years later. So, uh, I raised in Karachi, and 2:00Pakistan was a very peaceful, nice, good country at that time, whatever we are hearing now is totally opposite, and I had a real good, uh, time. I went to school, college there, and no fear, nothing, we just go—you know, people I think very nice at that time [laughs]. And uh, that’s about it, and I was, because uh, I have older, two older brothers and after that, I lost three, uh, one sister and two brothers in between. So I have uh four year difference, like, ten years older, my brothers are. So I grew up, like, tomboy or something like that, because I play always with my brothers’ friends and cricket, and things like that, you know. Uh, outside, and uh, but uh, my father, my father is very 3:00religious man, but both are like balanced, you know? They are, they teach us all the values, and religion, and everything, but they never said, “No no no, don’t do that, don’t do—you’re not allowed to do that,” because I was very active in school and college, I have, I did I think everything. To singing to drama acting to debate, and I used to play badminton, so I’m a badminton champion for my college—school, so very active, so we’re like, uh, just balanced family, and I’m very grateful for my parents that now I am—taught my kids same values, they are same, like me now, my daughters [laughs] and my sons. So we, uh, then I just uh, so I graduated, 1971, uh, and I did 4:00[unintelligible], and right after I engaged, uh to my husband, and I got, you know, married, like, uh March 31, ’72. So then new life start then, in 1975, uh, I have uh my first son born in ’73, and he was 10 ½ month old, then twins born, I got twin daughter, Aisha (?) and Affia (?) [clears throat]. So, I raised I think triplet [laughs] and at that time, I was in Pakistan, so many help—so much help over there, I had some servants and my mother and, you know, family 5:00was helping me.
But in ’75 we moved to Saudi Arabia, uh, and in Riyadh,I lived in Riyadh, and um, but I have to come back, because I got pregnant, my son born in ’76, so husband stayed there, but I going back and forth, you know, so close from there. Riyadh to Karachi’s so easy. So just uh, that uh, four year I think I lived there after that, uh, and 1979, December, Christmastime we moved here, in uh Miami. We moved ’79. And uh, right after, two months later, my youngest daughter born, Sadia in February 16, 1980. And uh, 6:00just I got so many, I don’t know, those after—those years I—sometimes I’m thinking like, “Where I’ve been? Like, what happened?” like I don’t remember the years I am raising the kids. I don’t remember even daily life. Like, it’s like [unintelligible] you know, I don’t know. While I was, I—literally, I was going by the clock, I—“Oh, 3:00? I have to do this. Oh, 5:00? Oh, now I have to do—” You know, because I have to—I used to work up, uh, I worked for a while in preschool you know? So, 6:00 I have to open the daycare. So, I remember that I used to, uh, wake up like 5:00, in early morning, and you know, after that I just getting ready and praying the morning prayer, 7:00and then I wake up my kids and they used to go with me. All five kids I have to take with me early in the morning so that daycare bus take them to the school. They drove them to the school, the older kid, but youngest two stayed with me there, and uh because of them I really worked in the preschool, because Sadia was too young, I just want her to, you know, drop somewhere else, I don’t know, to stay [laughs] front of my eyes, so uh that’s why I started working. I got some certification, early childhood program, this and that, whatever the requirement and I started that. Because I got bored also, they all, you know, they went to school and I just home. So— that’s it, I just uh, then got so busy with the schooling, with the kids, five kids, you know, but then I think in 8:001986, I think, went back to Pakistan. My parents were very weak and old, and— we all here now, my brothers lived in Miami. I moved to Houston in 1983, and uh, my youngest sister got married and she was still there, but uh, then my brother already uh, you know, paperwork done for—immigration done for my youngest sister, so she ready to come here. At that time, my mother got heart attack uh, two times, and my father was very sick, so we decided to go and bring them here. They cannot live alone. So I went to ’86 to Karachi and I—I bring them with 9:00me. And they stayed I think—my mother, one and a half year here, and she passed away in 1988. Right here in Houston. My house I used to live in Bear Creek area. Uh, that time I think we—my children got so close to her, and they also see that—you know how to take care of the, you know, parents, and they ares—my mom always back and forth to the hospital, and too many time ambulance come and, you know, take her. And uh, we were, I was so involved with that—with her. So we all take care of, take care of them. And after—right my mom passed away, then my brothers took my father to Miami, because they thought 10:00he gonna be very sad if they live in the same house and everything, so I said okay just a few months was over there—they all—you know if our tradition parents always stay with the son, you know? Most of the time. And I say, no, no, that’s not a rule, it’s just a cultural thing. Just, you know, our religion doesn’t say—Islam doesn’t say that. That’s not a rule, that any kids can take care of the parents, you know, no matter daughter or son. So that’s why I forced them to stay with me. I’m glad I did. So he went there, and right in three month he passed away. Right after my mother. So in March he passed away in Miami. It’s so sad, they both are apart after that, because they been together for 50 years, you know. And but whatever, you know, God will [laughs]—so um, 11:00that’s about it.
My kids uh went to public school here, and uh at thattime I think public school much better [laughs]. Stratford is especially—where I live, it’s a very good district. And so I just got involved with them for—they are very active. My daughters, twins daughters, are in cross country, they’re in cross country, my son plays football, my youngest son is basketball player, so you can imagine my life was like—you know I was in the car most of the time. Early morning six o’clock they have practice, my daughters, to take them to park somewhere, but my son have to—in the evening, football game and practices, and the other son had basketball practices, and but I always want to 12:00involved with them you know, with their activities, so I sell, you know, concession stand [laughs], selling hot dog, something always in the school. Uh, I’m volunteering with something. So, and the youngest one, she always uh, like a, so called nerd, the people call her, because she doesn’t have any interest in playing or nothing, she just uh—[knock on the door]—was somebody there? [Recording paused while FJ went to speak to the man at the door]
MV: Okay, so you were talking about your daughter.
FJ: Okay, so—what I’m talking about?They all raised here, like American kids, they have very good friends with them, some still call me ‘Ami,’ you know, like one of them, [laughs] but they’re with the kindergarten with them, the girls. And the boys, they come and enjoyed. 13:00But uh after that, that’s what I’m telling, that the years go by so fast, that I don’t even remember, I just remember that, that I’m just running around all the time. I was like crazy [laughs]. And my husband also helping me, but you know he’s not like a man like work in the house, or washing dishes, oh no no, he doesn’t do any house work. He just very different man, and in our country man doesn’t work. Man, like, they don’t work, like in the house, around the house. In Pakistan most of the time, younger generation is being changed, but uh, our generation, older generation, man come home, they have like a pride to not work in the house, around the house. And some, all that, they don’t need even because there are lot of servants, you know, there—they, you know, they working in the house, so that’s why they don’t work. They’re 14:00used to it, but over here it’s different story, you have to help, you know. Every work you have to do your own, you know, nobody’s helping you in the house. Raise kids or running the house, cooking, cleaning, everything. At that time ‘80’s, you know, we don’t find even cleaning worker like, these days I know many, you know—this lady comes and cleans the house and everything. At that time, no, and I always have my kids, you know, just “You have to do this,” [unintelligible] so “you clean your own room, I’m not gonna clean it!” And my son, you know, boys like, when I yell or something they say, “Okay, I’ll do it, I’ll do it, don’t worry, don’t worry, nobody coming.” But what do you not mean nobody coming? Just put your clothes on proper place. When I go they put everything under the bed, and, “Oh, okay, I clean everything,” [laughs] then I say, “I know, can I look under your 15:00bed?” [laughs] So they say, “No, no don’t do that!”
So you know, the—they just raised at, you know, now that all thought us cruelest mother,but that lost. At that time they don’t like their mom is yelling all the time, telling them do this, do that, and that—I think my son went to UT, the first time somebody’s going from the house, so I was so upset, “Why don’t you want to do University of Houston? Why you have to go?” You know, other state, other city. Thank God they’re in same state, at least, two and half hour drive, they say, “Mom, it’s two and half hour drive, you can come any time.” So, but it was so sad for me, I was crying and crying at that time. Why he has to leave? And every week I used to go to Austin [laughs], you know? I 16:00don’t know he has grocery or not, let me do the grocery, and I don’t know he has food, has he eaten anything? Let me cook something, you know, take it over there. So—that, gradually—and at that time I have a restaurant. Did I tell you? I opened a restaurant in 1990 to 2001. We were busy in the restaurant. And when my mother came from uh Pakistan, ’86, we opened our Washateria, you know? Laundromat. At that time I was busy in that, and back and forth to the hospital, and [unintelligible] you know, Washateria’s timing was too long. Seven o’clock to ten o’clock [laughs], all day, from the Washateria opened. So uh, that’s three years I think we had that Washateria and then 1990 I got involved 17:00with the restaurant. First we did, first year we are with somebody, and a partner, and we uh buy a, we bought I think Goino (?) restaurant, they used to be here. After that, 1991, uh, we open our own, Frasco. The name was Frasco, and Frasco name was like, we were sitting with the kids, and let’s find a name, some, then why don’t we do it with our letters? Family names, you know? So Frasco start with Farzana, Riyad (?), A for three kids Atnan (?), you know, and Aisha, and then ‘S’ for Sadia my youngest and Salman (?) my husband, and ‘Company.’ Frasco, they made a name. The people ask, is this same—we have one shop in Pakistan named Frasco. Oh, you are a franchise? You know, no no no, 18:00we don’t. Just a—just a family name [laughs]. So, two minute we create this name you know, and uh that’s the busy time. The restaurant and people, my kids graduating that—same, you know. And during those years and they’re going to the colleges. My—that’s, I’m telling, every week I’d to go to Austin. And I’m so busy in the restaurant and I just, I don’t know, have to see my son. So my daughter, two daughters, and my youngest son, they went to Southwest State University in San Marcos. So three over there, one over there, and only one at home, you know. Uh, she didn’t go outside, she went to the University of Houston, and uh, she did also Master’s. And my other, not youngest did 19:00Master’s in education. Sadia is a family therapist, family and marriage therapist, youngest one. She did Master’s, and uh, twins they graduated from Southwest State University, uh, one is a, uh, did uh mass communication and—[knock on door] he’s going?—one is [unintelligible] therapist in Methodist Hospital. My, uh, son is nutritionist from UT. He graduated from there.
So that’s, I’m very grateful that they all had goodeducation, that’s a main purpose to move this country. To get a good education for the kids. So thank God we achieved that. By the grace of God. So uh that’s 20:00about it, after that they’re getting married. So young! My son found some girl, here from Pakistan, but she is uh doing pharmacy in UT, and um I told her that uh, I told him that if ever you like somebody just let me know. They have very— [Phone rings, recording is paused as FJ goes to answer phone]
FJ: He found some girl, and I told him I need a good—son, okay, I need a goodbackground, family. Good parents, good—you have to check that [laughs]. My—whoever, it’s been like— good values family girl I need, so uh he said uh [laughs] he likes somebody, Sofia the name is Sofia, so she—he said, “Oh, I have a girl, I really like her. Do you want to meet her parents?” I thought 21:00oh, you already like her? You haven’t even graduated yet, at that time, you know, but he said, “I’m not telling you I’m getting married now, just—you know, I just, I’m telling you that you told me that,” so I said okay. But my daughters always will visit too, you know, UT, and they’re very close to each other, the sister brothers, they always go with some events and things, so I said, “Go, check and meet that girl.” Yeah, they liked her very much, and her I think mother stays with her for education, her father live in Riyadh or something. They been here too long time but they’re father went there for contract work for something, so the mother stayed with her daughter in the UT apartments, somewhere very close and he said, “She’s so sweet, she cooks for us,” and this and that, uh, you know, have your mama’s food, make something like that to you [laughs]. They’re very good people, so. Then I went 22:00there and he get, uh married like age 22, very young he was, I said, “You have to know you just got a job, and you to—” He said, “I have Master’s, I have to do that, this and that, big planning,” but so early they got married. And that’s also—she was studying—uh studying like in the UT, and but she proceeded, she did Ph.D in pharmacy. So they stayed apart, he lived— he worked to Colorado, he moved to Denver, but uh she stayed in San Antonio, she was completing her Ph.D, and then she graduated and she went back there after she finished the college, so and uh, right after six month, my son got married in 23:00’97, 1997, and six month—my daughter is ready now. [Laughs] I thought, “Oh my God. Six month!” Have to do it over again, and same time, tell you, I have restaurant. So I’m busy like crazy. Because we didn’t—we don’t have, we didn’t have at that time, lot of restaurant in Houston, uh, like Pakistani restaurant. So we all busy with the catering, so much catering, for the wedding, and sending food to Louisiana, New Orleans, and Temple, Texas, and Dallas, you know, we’re going out of town catering so much, because people like the food and said, “Oh, there’s a wedding, you have to send the food.” Uh, so, very very busy, and my daughter, after six months, she got married. She found some boy from here, and uh, very nice, but I’m very grateful that they found very 24:00good people [laughs], that’s the good part. I looked and I said, “Fine, that’s good,” so then my other daughter uh, she stayed with me for a while. She liked somebody but she said, “No, not now, I have to finish this and that,” so she— one of the twins married early, and the other one in 2001 I think.
So in between my son got involved with someone, the youngest one,so he married to the some El Salvador? El Salvador girl, Roxanna. She’s very good, she was good girl, but they divorced after a while, six year together, but they were so young. They were in the college, they both were not mature, but 25:00over here, you—what do you say if somebody, if some—your kids asked you to get married, you cannot force them not to do it. Because I tried to make him understand, you have to finish school. “Doesn’t matter, you know, you’re still in the school.” They don’t realize when they’re young that marriage is not a joke, you know? You have some responsibility and, so I think they were so young. So they married for six years, but I don’t know what happened. I like that girl, I have no problem with her, she was very nice person. But I—something happened between them, and okay, I said, fine, I was so sad, but what can do? [Laughs] If they’re not happy to live together, cannot force them. So that what happened, that part he didn’t get married back yet. Uh, 26:00they youngest one, she also married in 2000. She did Master after her wedding, later, but now I have much, a lot of grandkids [laughs], I am busy with that. My life never been like, very slow down because I’m the person who also looking for work [laughs]. Because I—I real—too much I did in my life, you know, so I don’t want to be calmed down. I think if I will sit down I will get lot of uh, diseases or something, I am scared, so no no, I have to work. Just be hyper. So I look for the volunteer work. Now I have time. At same time I was doing restaurant, children, I’m doing hospital volunteering, I gave—Monday, I go, 27:00that’s when I go to Memorial Hermann Hospital and I tend to guests there, and uh I’m a member of Interfaith for long time, I did 15, 16 years like taking food to the seniors, senior citizens, groceries once a month, drive for and I have to drop their grocery. I enjoy helping people, to go work with them, so whenever I had time I did that. They stopped the program now, senior citizen, you know? Like before they—last year, they finished that program, food for senior citizens. They—now they said they have hot meal, like meal or meal program or something, so they stopped giving them groceries. But we have sometime women’s gathering, you know, Interfaith, and so I involved with that. Um I like to work, whenever needed, now I involved with ICNA, organization, 28:00Islamic Circle of North America. They do lot of community projects, and they have women’s shelter here in, near downtown, and they have food pantries, so we collect food and give them food, and you know, help them whenever they needed something, I go there too. So, that’s about it. Now I’m little bit, you know, slower down [laughs]. I walk every morning, about two miles, so I want to keep my joints working. I’m old man—old lady, but [laughs] I feel like I have to keep working [laughs], otherwise I will be sit down. Whatever. [laughs] So any question? If you want to ask me, I don’t know what to tell you more. But I—in the summertime, we always go to uh vacation, you know? Like we love 29:00to drive and my—telling everybody that really the driving with the family, with the kids and going, you know, out of town, other states or somewhere, is really a quality time with your kids. Because I think we are very close to each other, and the siblings are too close to each other, because uh we always take them together. It’s so uncomfortable, so many choo-choo cha-cha, all the way, “Are we still—California is here now? How far we get?” Just two hours, we just moved to—in the Texas, three hour, four hour and they’re talking a lot, “We’re in L.A. now?” Now we are—“Oh, how long? How much time left?” Gah, oh my God, all the way we have like questions. My husband yells at them, 30:00“Stay quiet! I don’t wanna hear any more—” [laughs]
But, you know the kids are, when they’re in elementary school, and so, we travel a lot.We go to California, to drive—drove to San Francisco, Denver, New York, Miami every summer, because they have friends there, because they used to live there, so they have friendship, they have cousins there also. My brother lived there, so they always want to go to Miami, but uh that’s a very good thing we did, I’m glad whatever, you know? We have—we ever have time, we just traveled, here and there with the kids. [Alarm goes off] Ah, it’s okay. So uh—any question if you want to ask? [Recording paused as alarm is turned off]
MV: Um, we have some questions we could ask you. Um, oh did we start it already?31:00
MV: Okay. Um, I was hoping we could go back a little bit, and talk aboutwhat your parents did?
FJ: My parents did? My parents uh, work—my father. Mymother never worked. My father was horticulturalist, so he work in a common office, and uh he loved like working with the parks and you know, the recreation stuff like that in Karachi. That’s it.
MV: Um, so you mentioned that in Pakistan you had a lot of servants. Were you from avery wealthy family?
FJ: Yeah because we have like a servant over there, we have somebody to clean up thehouse, somebody taking care of the yard, somebody come inside even cook, you know, like food. But we don’t have cook or something, my mother used to cook, but she had helper, like, cut things and make a dough to the roti make chapatti, 32:00and the, what is called, tortilla in here [laughs]. You know, so the little work, but my mom cooks, so it’s uh—it’s a—but we’re not very rich, but we’re like good and count that we can raise us good.
MV: Why did you move to Saudi Arabia?
FJ: Saudi Arabia—my husband, uh, somebody came, you know, fromthere, Saudi Arabia. He’s looking for uh—he, my husband is a chemical engineer—so he wants to establish a plastic factory in Riyadh, didn’t even have a, you know, garbage bags, uh so he was want to start the factory over there. So he—somebody told me my husband has a specialize from Japan in 33:00plastic, uh, plastic I guess, I don’t know what, but something in plastic, so my cousin or somebody, uh brought him and they meet each other, you know—they met each other and then he said, okay you wanna come over there? So he said fine. At that time um, I think people are moving from Pakistan most of the time to Dubai or close, you know, in the Middle Eastern countries, and so he said, “I want to go and start with the factory for two years and come back.” Or one year maybe. But uh, yeah he just went there, then I moved for a while, I didn’t like it. At that time, it’s too early in ’75, the cities are not built like now, it’s um—at that time, they are just um, the whole city is 34:00construction everywhere. You see lot of, you know, cranes in whole city, and so much dust, and I am so much allergic in the dust, so I basically I’ve got little kids with me, and they always sick, always have sick or runny nose, or sinuses over there. So I just stayed six months and move back to, you know, [laughs] Karachi, and I go back there, come back. And my brother came from here, visiting us over there, so then he said, “What are you doing in the dust city over here? Why don’t you come to America?” And my husband said, “No, I don’t want to go to that far. My father is old, you know? I don’t wanna go.” Actually his all friend, his Master’s class or whatever, with him, mostly have—most of them move to America, in different states, and they all 35:00keep saying, “Come on, you know, come on, what are you doing there?” He said, “Oh, no, no, I don’t want to leave.” [Laughs] “I’m fine here.”
But uh, my brother came, and he said, “Oh it’s okay, you can apply,but maybe we will come just to visit.” You know, my husband wasn’t angry that we completely moved here or, you know, he said, “Okay, you go ahead, apply, do application. We’ll come and see we can visit you.” So he applied, and uh, I think uh ’78 he came to Riyadh. And at that time, in three months we got a letter, that you go to Jeddah and get your, you know, physical testing, and this and that, whatever, paperwork and forms and this. I say, oh, so soon, you know? So I think in six month we moved here, because they quickly the paper 36:00came, everything done, and then we have to go back take all the stuff back to Karachi, I put all my stuff in my mom’s house. I say the—because they get certain date to come to New York, we are immigration got in New York, so we did just, we have no choice, we have to come on certain date. So in two, three months we have to pack up everything. And first we thought we just go and see, but the dates— everybody has to come on same time. So all four kids, and six people came [laughs]. So much money to spend, you know? I remember there used to be a Pan Am- Pan Am Air flight—I took the Pan Am from Karachi to New York, straight flight. I feel like oh my God, I felt like I’m sitting forever in the airplane because I was pregnant, uh, you know like, six month pregnant, and I 37:00was—can’t breathe, and all the sitting like that was walking on the plane, and I was like when are going to go away, it’s like too long. The first time I flew that far. But we came just for a while that we stay and we come back, but we never go back, because it’s too hard to go with the kids, four kids again, to get in new country, find—you know, found a job, and that job is not good in the beginning, and then you just settle down right away. So hard. So we just decided no, they will get a good education or something, should we just stay here. Go and visit though. First time I think I went to Pakistan, after five years in ’85, 1985 I went to visit my parents, my family. Then I got busy, 38:00with all the raising the kids at that time. Stayed in Miami, and in Miami he couldn’t find his uh—because he’s looking for his career whatever job in the factory, or engineering job, but he couldn’t find it, so then um we moved to Houston, because some job offer came there, so we just move for that. Right we came, Alicia came, the hurricane? [Laughs] We came in June I think, in August, big hurricane came at that time. 1983 Alicia was very bad, we didn’t have electricity for a while. Well, you know, I said, “Ah, what?” Because Miami, every year hurricanes come in Miami, since, you know, we knew that, okay this is the same place. Houston never have any problem with hurricanes [laughs], sometimes. But right after two month, hurricane came. I still remember that. 39:00That year was really something, because December we have 10 degree temperature. I think Christmas day? We are out of electricity, everything froze, no water, no electricity. That was very, you know, harsh year, uh, ’83. We never have temperature after that 10 degree, that, that year happened. It’s a hard freeze, you know, everything. So many accidents. So memories, so many. And, something else?
MV: Why did your siblings move to America initially?
FJ: Uh, why did they move? That’s a good question. My—I think my uh olderbrother, he moved first in 1970, uh he did Masters in Biochemistry, and I think 40:00he found some job here. His friend lives here in Miami, two, three friends, same batch, they came here. And they said, uh I think—who? He came for studying, I think, to study more. Uh, I don’t remember that—yeah, I twenty or something, I don’t remember when the student comes. So, I think he did—yeah, he medical, he’s medical technologist after that, so he came first. He always wanted to come. He just, I don’t know, have to go and study more there, and so he just [laughs]. He wanted—he willing to come. He said, “No, I have to go,” and he just came. And I was—I was, I think in the college at that time. 41:00And he gets fight with us, in two case. One, he has one son, one year old, yeah, and one born after he left. So she was pregnant, so in ’72 right after my marriage, he born, the baby. Then his wife and all—everybody came here. So he just wanted to come for education, I think, higher study. Something.
MV: So, did you—
FJ: Then my younger brother move after that. You know, when one familymember go they all just thinking everybody should go now [laughs]. I moved very late, because my brother, that brother leave in—I think he came in ’72 right after my wedding he came here, so that’s what happened. Then one by one 42:00everybody came. And, what else?
MV: So you moved to Miami initially to—
MV: —be with your brothers?
FJ: Right. Because my brothers there, so Ithought I gonna be stay there where the family is already, and we moved there, but because we didn’t find a good job there, the job situation wasn’t good at that time, in Miami, so that’s why we move here. If he could find a good job, maybe we’re still there, because my brother’s still in there. You know. My husband, many friend he got in Miami, he found, you know, I said, “Oh my God, you already have friends here.” So when we move to Miami, it like no change, because the family there, the friend there, every weekend some—taking kids to the park, and all three years, so busy over there we thought. We back 43:00and forth, different parties, and picnics, and the kids small and, you know, there’s so nice weather over there, and beautiful park on the beach, so we enjoyed living there. And it’s still— my kids are—I feel it’s my hometown in Miami [laughs]. Whenever I go there I feel like home. My old friend there, family there, so. We all visit. Every time we go there we enjoy it. But I like Houston. Houston is really good city to live [laughs].
SU: What are the main differences between Miami and Houston?
FJ: Houston is very big city, butyou can find your own culture here, like, so many people. Even in Sugar Land, so it’s like Karachi. We have like, two minute, I go here, there’s, uh, restaurant and boutique and Asian market, you know, the grocery, and everything 44:00is three minute, two minute drive, you know, the shopping area here. So, it’s so convenient. So convenient to living here. And it’s neat and clean. Good place. A little like your own country or city you’re living [laughs]. But I like—I want to—I drive everywhere, for the—that’s why most I want to work, I volunteer work. I was telling my organization, because they go to disaster and whatever, like tornado came to Oklahoma, and they go. They have some disaster management team. I said, “I want to, you know, get training over there, because you think I’m very old, I don’t want [laughs],” but they want young people. They said, “Oh, no, no, sure you can come,” but I still 45:00work, okay? Let me go there [laughs] So, I like to work. Giving back to the country. Whatever I got it from here. We—all my kids also same way, my daughters volunteer. I just had, last month we have a cancer—breast cancer walk, I think, Reliant Park, before I did the heart walk, and something I always participate in those community things. I love to. Something else?
MV: Did you ever—after coming to America, did you ever experience any sort ofdiscrimination?
FJ: Discrimination? Really, I don’t find it. After, you know,9/11, people are saying this and that, some more, you know, people are—but uh, 46:00I don’t, I don’t feel like. I think we—if we stay in our shell, it’s more you feel like, “Oh, we’re discriminated against.” If you are, you know, more talkative, and good ethics, if you have good manners you have, people don’t bother you, you know? Like you have to be honest, you have to be, you know? Like, do something for them, you know? You tell them that you are good people, like everybody’s not terrorist, like how many million people live here? 4.5 or 5 million, so how many terrorists are found? Maybe five? Four? Six? So, local people are more destroying the country, than the other people. The school firing, the college firing, daycare, this and that, every time—how much 47:00crime have we had? It’s so sad. Shouldn’t be like that. So, like, not only Muslim, every—evil is everywhere, and unfortunately I feel the media—now I am feeling that media is irritating a lot, it’s contributing a lot to making people separate and discriminate. Before it’s not like that. Now print media, that media, TV, everywhere, there is some planning, there are something going on in the world, or—I don’t know who is doing what, but somebody created the world like that. To be just disturb people, fight to each other, do something, make a group, cut down to shortest and shorter—every, you know? Too many groups. People can’t be united, people cannot stay together, you know? Like if 48:00we be together, what happen? But if you keep poison your ear, your mind that, “Oh, somebody bad here, somebody do to you something,” one day, yes, you will think, yeah, of course something going on, you know? So the media is a big part of that. I blame media for that. It’s not that much. It’s not—people are very good. People bad and good, every religion, every culture, every country, you know? But you have to—if you propagate, like, goodness, you will spread goodness. If you propagate evil, yes, evil gonna spread. That’s a simple thing. So I blame media for that. People are not that bad. You know, my—you know, disaster happened in West Texas? The company—the, some factory blew up and something happened. My daughters, they collect all the food item and 49:00the money. My daughter and my son-in-law drove over there, and they went, and the money also they give to—they were crying, you know. The people, the local people, the white people. They’re hugging, they’re crying, they say, “I don’t believe it, nobody came. You came? All the way from Houston?” So you have to have good heart, the problem is we don’t have good heart. If you have good heart, no matter who you are if somebody you see in pain, you have to help, without thinking, oh that’s Muslim? Or that Christian? Or that Pakistani? That—it’s a human, you know! So, they have to have good heart. So, discrimination or whatever they’re doing, they don’t have a good heart. And thing is that I don’t feel it. I—because I, maybe I don’t mix up too much. 50:00Maybe I—if I work, in some company or something they will feel that way. But my husband never talk about it. I—so I don’t know. I don’t feel like it. My kids never tell me anything. There is some people but if you’re good, nobody gonna bother you. My belief is that. You have to prove yourself. You have to act good, you have—don’t worry about negativity or whatever. You keep doing your good stuff, people will quiet after a while. How many times they will give you a bad word, say something to you? Just—smile to them [laughs], you know? Keep quiet and smile, and what—they gonna be quiet after a while, you know? So. That’s what—I never feel anything. 51:00
MW: Uh what were your children’s friends like when you first came to Miami—like werethey mostly Pakistani or did they kind of have friends all over?
FJ: No they have—theyhave all friends everywhere. All kind of friends—Nigerian to, you know, Russian to Chinese whatever, they’re friends, they’re colleagues and eh they all mix together [laughing]. There are— they never see anything just Pakistani—or anything. But, like they—if they go to Mosque or you know if they go to some certain program of course they are you know with the people of their own religion or culture. And—you know the—if we have uh some religious programming or some scholars come or some kid talk or something, so because 52:00Islam is everywhere, so it’s not Pakistani—you know over there you see Chinese Muslim, you see Yugoslavian Muslim, you see Israeli Muslim, some you know Arab Muslim—this Muslim—so you know the country’s all mix up—their religion may be same, but they all grew up here. They don’t know Urdu, my language—they’re talking in English [laughs]—same language, same food—they go to out to eat and same things, they go to three o’clock Fifty-Nine Diners—and enjoy, you know [laughing]. [inaudible word] friends and family sometimes. The kids are same everywhere.
SU: So, how was working in the daycare? How did you, um, decide to do that?
FJ: Because of—my daughter.53:00Because she was uh three years old at that time—I think two-and- a-half or three, so she goes to preschool, so I thought I gotta stay at least at the same place so I can watch her. She’s in front of me you know. So, and I enjoyed kids. I—that’s why I have five kids [laughs]. I love to work with the kids. So, I thought, uh, I will work with the kids—better for me, and I really love it. They small, young kid—I have the two years old at that time—they are terrible two also there, but [laughs] I love them a lot, so they listen and they are so good. But, my daughter in other class with preschoolers, so that’s why I decided because of her—I don’t want to put her in the daycare, or work—I go work somewhere else—I don’t believe that. 54:00
SU: So, which daycare did you work at?
FJ: At Carriage House—there’s Carriage House in, uh, Bear Creekarea—northwest of Houston. Very close to my house, neighborhood—and the lady was really good—the director of there—Jane and her husband. They were running like a family business, but they were very good people—very—they’re Catholic—but very religious people—like very good hearted people. I love that because they—she always invited to her house—time—you know Christmas time. And, sometime I bring her some food—you know our food to—she love it. So, we have very good atmosphere there—all the teachers—different teachers from different countries—they’re mostly white people—fine—we all good friends. We all 55:00work together.
SU: So, that was the first neighborhood you moved to in Houston?
FJ: Yeah, first neighborhood. First, uh,—same area—Bear Creek area.We lived twenty-five years I think over there. When I go Highway 6 towards north, I feel like home, you know [laughing]—like oh you know that new shop opened, new restaurant opened, this and that you know because they goes to school—all there—the—they graduated all from Langham Creek High School—very good school. And uh, so I left most of my life there. Over here, we moved about seven year—no more than twenty-five we lived there because it’s almost thirty-three years now from ’79, yeah—so, no from ’83—from ’83 we moved here—so I uh—thirty years—the— that was also a nice area. 56:00
SU: So, then why did you decide to move to this—
FJ: Yeah because my uh daughters married, and they got a house here. They all livehere and they push me—they force me to move because, “why you living so far” when me and my husband lived there. And you know I have to babysit—they need babysitter close to their home [laughing]. “Mama you’re so far! I have to—” My daughter working in uh—one of the twins daughter—she work, she worked for, uh, CBS. She produced morning show. So, she—her shift is at night, you know eleven to morning. So [laughs], she works until she—she has two daughters—so she has to bring them over there to spend the night with me and then she goes to Allen 57:00Park where the station is—far away. So she said—“Oh my God, from Sugar Land to over there and there— triangle is too much traffic for me!” Then other daughter moved this side, so I decided that’s good—we’re getting old, we have to stay close to somebody—close to the kids. That’s why we moved—because of the kids. My husband—didn’t want to move—he lived that area. He has friends everywhere—even gas station person—“hi, hello”—everybody in the shop he knows there. So, he said no I don’t want to move, you know. But after two years—now, now he settle down. He keep complaining—kept complaining, “I have to go back there—why did we move? Whatever the kids say—we have to do it now?” [laughing] I said oh no, no—we need somebody close to us too, so that’s why we moved. My husband had 58:00a triple bypass uh in ’96, 1996. We had a restaurant at that time. That time my sister and my brother-in-law came, so we uh took them to the restaurant and said work here for us. Thank God at that time they were there, so we were busy in the hospital. So, his health is okay now.
MV: Why did you—sorry –
SU: Go ahead—
MV: Why did you decide to open a restaurant?
FJ: Uh, yeah that’s a good question. I don’t know—if I was thinking why—told meto open the restaurant—I wanna kill that person [laughs]. But, uh, I don’t know—I—one of our friend I think, he was buying a restaurant and he said—he always come and you know they all like my food—they said I am a good 59:00cook, I dunno. But, people say that, so I [he] said, “Why don’t you join me? I don’t know anything about kitchen, you just take care of kitchen—I have a lot of people there, but we need your recipes, your—you know supervision, so they can change the food.” I think because of that, and, uh, by ’90 I was—I think I had nothing to do I guess that time [laughs]. I sold the Washateria, and ah bad luck you know sometimes it happen. Washateria, you know, we have break in like crazy—all the time! The shopping area is like that—the behind shop is empty, so I don’t know they come from the ceiling, they come from the backside, and easily they come down to inside. You know there’s a 60:00quarters there and you know we already take it out, money at night. But, still they broke many—we found in the morning machine is broke and this and that—that we were sick of it. You know, three years—that business is not good. So we sold it and we—I wasn’t doing anything and then he offer, and it was a good offer—he offer a good salary or something—I work for him, you know, but he said it a partnership, but of course I have to work there—I’m a working partner. So, I start working and people love the food and all of a sudden it’s got so much popular. And, then you know you feel like oh I am doing something good so just go involved you know. And, it didn’t work out—the partnership—some money problem, distribution—something happened. So, we said no we have to do it separately. So, we first we open only catering. I said no I’m not gonna make a restaurant [inaudible words]. I think there’s 61:00a small place we just did the catering from there—wedding and things like that. The food got so popular, everybody love it and they keep coming, orders coming and then we thought that we cannot find the worker because they all want to work regularly. Nobody just work only for weekend because we used to do catering just for weekends. So, we keep looking worker—one coming, another going—and it’s so hard to keep up, you know. I—so that’s—we decided no we have to have something like restaurant so we can have at least permanent workers with us. So, that’s why—that’s when open—I think I stood there for 16-18 hours. My ankles get swelling that was like after a while. Then my 62:00kids forced us to close it. People are still asking, at the peak you are close the restaurant, what is this? I said well my kids wasn’t interesting to running the business, like if my son wants to do it or my daughter, we could do it, but ten years enough. I cannot work more than that for that hard. Because restaurant business you have to be there. I have ten people working in the kitchen, but I have to—I had to be there. I—I if I don’t get— people complain something wrong, oh taste is not like that—so because of my recipes I make sure that they are doing right because our food is very complicated also like you know that’s—you have to have certain good tastes otherwise it is not good. So, just I’m tired—I got tired with it after a while—that 63:00lifestyle. But, I recall business running good, so we don’t want to close it, but one day they all had—they call us at the restaurant—my kids and their spouses. They said—you we used to, I forgot to tell you—we used to have a family meeting—when my kids small. Every Sunday—the day of family meeting. So, my husband take—you know took all the report from the week—what did you do— everything doing, have any problem in school? What’s going on? You need anything? You have enough clothes, shoes, everything? Or-or like we talk like that so if they have any problems, they talk, you know. So, that day—the when restaurant—I was talking to—they called us—today we have a family meeting. I said, “Oh okay now you [laughs], you gonna call us for family meeting. Okay what–” I got scared first. I said, “Oh my God some—somebody has married 64:00problems between—or what. Why they are calling everybody to come you know tonight?” My son, daughter-in-law, you know everybody. And they said “abu”—you know father, they call abu—abu (father) and ami (mother)—“that’s enough. You did enough work for us. Now we all gone. We have our own life, you need some rest now. Please close this restaurant.” And, I said “I cannot close, I still have a parties next month or next week, you know we are booked before for weddings” and—no that’s never gonna happened if you stay there—you don’t have anything to do—because you’re booked long, you know, before. So just tell them that so they can arrange somewhere else, you know. Like just stop otherwise you’ll never close the restaurant. Your health is you know getting affected now. I always complain—hurting my 65:00feet and leg and so much problem—so much pain. Everyday I’m taking Advil, Tylenol, this—many times in a day. They got scared—they said no, we don’t want your health to get—deteriorate like that. You’re just—you did enough. They all forcing us and they all talking us and we keep saying, no we have too much to do and this—no just write a note, announce on the radio show—you know we have local radio, desi (South Asian). “Frasco gonna be closed tomorrow at four o’clock.” I said not tomorrow—give one week at least [laughing]. They said—first they said no, tomorrow. That’s it, no way. Uh you keep going—people will talk to you and they make you to do it—their party. Then you’re gonna stay here. You have to give one date—that’s it. People are so 66:00like calling—“What happened? We heard Frasco closing? What’s wrong? Are you okay? Uh—are you sick or something? [laughs] Something happened in the family?” [Laughs] Nothing happened, but we decided to close. Uh so that’s what we closed—just right there. We did you know because they just all day talk— all night just talking, talking, and convincing and so many argument happened, but finally we decided okay, they’re right. I think we should do it. I tried to make them do some work—come join us, go do, take care of that—you don’t do it, but just learn something, and we can rest and you—“No way we cannot run that business.” [laughs] You know, no, no we cannot do that. Especially, local you know old people working so hard because they take so much 67:00advantage and your—you know your fath- my husband so popular, everybody knows him. So, I said especially everybody his friend—so you cannot do business with the friend. They all take advantage from—we cannot do it [laughs]. So that’s—we just close it and why we started—same thing—I think I’m good or something—people like the food and I got involved, and once you’re involved you’re just on on and on—ten years gone by—we didn’t know ten years—we had a restaurant—very hard business. I think it’s the hardest business—restaurant—because you need everything to be fresh, everything to be—you know one time we did, uh, New Orleans, and we did uh physician— 68:00American Pakistani Physician—organization here. APPNA, I don’t know you heard the name? APPNA. They have uh once a year they have a big gala, you know for three days—a convention something—all physician, all American-Pakistani physician. So, they have a—in a Hilton—New Orleans for three days program and they gave us uh you know like contract that you have to do it this time, our food. I don’t believe it how did I do it, it’s twelve hundred people all the time— like from lunch, and dinner, and breakfast. [Sighs] Ah I don’t know—I was so crazy—I don’t know how I did it! We took food—like marinade, chicken, chicken I don’t know how many— two, three van. We, you know rented, and the van with you know fridge and freezer kind of van— we took 69:00food uncooked from here, whatever we can, but cook over there in Hilton kitchen. We took three worker from here and other they gave us, and we did breakfast, we did lunch, different menu, different thing and they love it, but I want to die there! [Laughs] Who told us to do that? You make money like that—its crazy! [laughs] Oh my God, so we did that too—it was a big event. One event we did like in, uh, Pakistan day you know, 14th August, celebrate here and [inaudible words] Reliant Stadium at that time, that round one they have over there, 18,000 people and just us—the one restaurant cater there—like we send the food there. Two things I’m never going to forget—that time we have 70:00twenty-five—that year I think Bosnians coming—lot of Bosnian refugees coming to Houston, so we hired all twenty-five, thirty people with us. And the whole family member—my family—my sister’s family whoever come to see us just stand here and work [laughing]. I worked them—it’s so—gosh everything you know—too many people. That, the big event—two I’m never gonna forget in my life. We did good—you know the restaurant was—you know we made money, but this hard money—hard way to make money.
SU: So, was your husband working in another job and running the restaurant—
FJ: Yeah, he has insurance71:00business—always he work side business is insurance and the license—insurance agent, he was working very little, but he is involve always—but he comes to the restaurant too because I cannot do it alone and most of the catering—he does it—you know took care of the catering, and I got the both—I have to do both—catering and restaurant. So, yeah he was working insurance side-by-side, very little, but now after that he is completely working as an insurance agent. Okay.
SU: So did he ever work as chemical engineer—in U.S.?
FJ: Yeah he neverfound job in his own—only one time he has a plastic factory here. Actually, whenever we moved is a big bad time for the city—’83 it was a, uh, recession 72:00time in Houston. All the houses were foreclosing here, and out of job—businesses were closing at that time, so he start working in a fac—plastic factory here and it’s closed now, six month. Then after, he never find job his own field. Here he worked for different companies, for different things, but not actual his you know, whatever his career is—can’t find job here. But, we survived—good [laughing].
MV: Did you plan on working in your own field because you majored in chemistry and botany?
FJ: Yeah I did, but over here first I didn’t have time to ever learn my degree, you know, Ihave to go to college for at least one year or something—two year—then I started—I go to community college and now it’s like I did one or two credit, 73:00but I have to do more. I couldn’t do it—my babies were so small, and too much work—five kids—I couldn’t manage, so that’s why I never pursued that. I have too much to do. I don’t want my kids to be—you know leave it somewhere and somebody else have to take care and I just do my career, I—no I just gave up that time—I said no, no the first job to raise the kids right. So, I first of all stayed with the kids and working after my business—I work in the middle. Oh yes, I remember—I—retail job I did for a while in uh JC Penny. I think maybe six months or so. I fell down there. [Laughing] I slipped 74:00and I fell down. I—six, seven month I did work in West Oaks Mall, JC Penny—Westheimer and Highway 6 and children’s section—I don’t know it’s a—when they waxed the floor or something—didn’t no sign or nothing—very bad—I slipped on my back and fell down like that. I have to quit the job after that. I—so much—so painful. And between—I think before my mother came—’85, ’86 I think for few months I did work. I didn’t work after that in retail shop. If I want to—if I—maybe I could find it—a retail job is not hard to find, but it didn’t work.
SU: Um, what do you notice about like the differences in how kids are raised in Pakistan75:00and how you raised your children here?
FJ: Here? I you know—35, 33 years out of Pakistan, but kids are all like a—my kids or the—
SU: Um, maybe like difference of what you remember from growing up in your ownchildhood and how your children were raised?
FJ: Yeah, yeah that’s a big difference—whoathat’s a big difference. Really, our mother—if just look straight in our eye, we just sit like that you know. We didn’t never say why to our parents, that why you telling me that, why I have to do that? Over here? It’s a two years old—“Why? I don’t want to do it! No, I don’t, I can’t!” You 76:00know [laughs], they reply you quickly? And, over there—older kids, big kids cannot say to their father or mother, “No, I don’t want to do it. No, I don’t like it.” No—so much respect and so much you know—they have—that’s a big difference. The, it’s more verbal—more verbal kids here. They talk a lot. I don’t know, it’s a— it’s a cultural difference in the—bold more—or kids are—the involvement is like that. Everybody doing same so the kids, you know, doing same thing. Here they see everything, and the TV’s a big trainer. TV cartoon is a big trainer, but one difference I found now the—when my kids were growing up, you know, the cartoon was very good. The kids programming are really good. They have some values in it. You know, I still 77:00remember Casper the Holy Ghost and Pink Panther. You know, they’re funny, they’re good, they’re enjoyable, but they’re not violent. There’s so much violence now. The kicking and hitting, and bad word—they don’t—I’ve never seen it. I don’t remember anything like that. They very soft-spoken—you know they are funny—they like tease each other like Pink Panther—you, I don’t know you’ve seen that or not. Tom and Jerry and—Tom and Jerry still come, but still that change you know—the—but, Flintstone and you know cartoon like, uh, Scooby—Scooby Dooby Doo [laughs]. Things like that I remember they—now I—everything is violence—everything is—you know the 78:00Spongebob or whatever, what is that. The language is so bad—so bad even though it’s good, it’s good—you can, you know it’s a cartoon, but they using bad language. It’s not good for the kids. That’s why kids are so hyper, so violent. You know like they are—no more—no respect left for the parents because these cartoons—the TV programming. Before it’s not like that—early ‘80s or something—very nice. You can you know safely you can leave the kids to the TV. Okay just watch you know I have some time—peaceful time, but go watch cartoon. And not anymore you have to look what they are watching. What shows they are supposed to watch, they can’t. It’s hard to raise kids now. 79:00It’s really hard. How to control them—I don’t know. But like I see my kids and when I was growing like how we gonna talk—we’re not allowed to talk back to the adult. Not our uncle, aunt, not even you know a stranger if it’s adult or old person. We cannot—we never have like roll our eyes or you know give our [laughts]—the—never. We have to respect. But, one thing—respect has gone—they all one level. Whoever your age—two years old or twenty—same. Like they no difference between—their brain is this much, but they think they are this much inside. I think, uh, sometime technology also is a revolution time 80:00like very nice thing happened— very good thing happened with the computer, or technology came, but the bad thing happened that small brain has too much information in it—that’s a bad thing. The brain and formation is not equal, like first they grow little by little, now they have this much, they grow like—and formation is like for adult. They know more about it. So, I think when you’re age group and maturity come, then you need certain age, certain information—good for you. Like gradually you get mature, but now it’s, I think it’s so much crazy-pun going on—like too much information coming, 81:00coming, coming. Formation from everywhere—just your fingertip. My—I don’t know—six, seven year old [grand]daughter knows more computer, things to do with it then me. Even an iPhone you know—the kid two years old—you play game. “Could you put your password please?” No I don’t want—“give me your phone, can I play game, can I get your phone?” No. So they know everything—you know the little baby, six months old, she knows that she has to do something. She turning the phone like that—it’s not moving, but she knows that something gonna happen if she go like that on the phone, so that’s a problem. That’s a big problem. Very little brain and too much information—that’s a bad part for this technology. Otherwise, it’s very benefit—we all benefit for that. But, it’s bad in this way. I think parents 82:00have more work to do now.
MV: Is religion as important to your kids now as it is to you or have any of them movedaway, sort of, from religion?
FJ: My kids?
FJ: They do volunteer? What you asking? Sorry I didn’t—
MV: Oh, are they very religious?
FJ: They are, uh,—yeah I taught them thevalues—learn by yourself. I provide you the—we have a book—you know like Quran—so we don’t like—just uh—we used to have whatever my parents doing, I’m doing you know? I don’t have knowledge for that. I didn’t do enough education or educate myself for that. I was doing whatever my parents 83:00were doing. But, these kids, they have questions, right. They cannot whatever I say—say do this, do this. So I provide them the books, and things—they go their own, they read, they decide what they want to do. So, our book, uh, Quran has like way of life in it, so I said go study that—read and decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong. So, they are religious. They are like more fun-loving kids. Like they do everything, but they stay on—whatever the path is whatever the Islam’s laws are, what the values are—they stay on it. So you can say they are religious I guess, but—now you what they are doing 84:00these days? All four—one my son live in California, so he is far away and he was busy and he was missing out—but four of them, they—they went to Peru. They are there now—their kids—their husbands taking care of the kids—their husbands are so good. One has started going—my son is a principal in a school in Clearlake, so he is off and said, “I have to get out. I’ve done too much work.” So he planned to go to Peru. He’s the kind of person—he want to see whole like world—he planned that way—that I will go this year to Europe, this year this, for this year he is plan all the time. So, he go different countries. So he said I want to see Peru. They found some Heron City (?) pop up, some city, some discover in Peru or something—ah I don’t anything—found it somewhere. So, he decided—my other daughter said okay I will go—her husband 85:00said you can go. So then, other daughter—her husband said you can go—I can take care of for one week you know—and I’m here so I said you can come anytime here. So, all three daughters and my son— they all in Peru now for a week. Everyday I see a picture from Facebook. They are sending from different places. So, they are—they are very fun loving people. Like they are not just very conservative—you cannot do—you cannot do this. It’s not like—Islam is really it’s not like that. It’s a very open and very easy religion away—far way come very strict—that’s the way of life just same similar 86:00thing in—it’s a—you know first Buddhist came, and then Christianity came, and then Islam come. It’s a series, so we have very common things. Religion is not like a something new in it—it’s a series. One book came, another Bible came, and then the last book came—Quran. So, we know the stories of Jesus in the Quran. We know the stories from Moses from the Quran. So, because it’s a part—it’s a—like something coming from one episode, two episode, and the last episode—you know like that. So, we know all the prophets, all the prophets that Christian believe, Jews believe. We cannot be a Muslim if we don’t believe in prophet Jesus, or Moses or—we cannot be a Muslim—Islam is not completed. So, that’s why I’m telling—we are not supposed to fight 87:00because the people are not telling the right thing to them. You know Christians—we all in the same boat—we are all the same people. Our—our things are so common in between—the values—whatever the Moses taught his nation, Prophet Muhammad say same thing—he taught his followers—same thing Jesus told them. Same word it says in Quran, so—the—Jesus’s Mother Mary’s life whole story is in the Quran—how she bought— how you know, what happened to her. So, there are so many common things. And so that’s why I told my kids do read, find out by yourself, you know, how to live. In Quran—how 88:00your creator told you to live—just live like that and you will be happy because it’s natural, you know. That’s it.
SU: Um, how did you meet you husband or was your marriage arranged?
FJ: Oh, that’s—you know the arranged marriages at that time. The parent decide whatto do—which boy is good for which girl, what girl good for that. Like in this care—my case, his— he and my brother are same university, you know—they are friends, same grade—same you know doing. So, he used to come to our house, and in India back far away—his grandmother and my grandmother—they are best friends. They have house together in India—same neighbors. So, the—they know the family. My 89:00mother knows his, you know, family. And, they all grow together—my mother and his uncle, aunts you know. So, we have a friendship also like almost relatives. So, he used to come our house and I—it must be liking also there [laughs]—you know I like him. So, my grandmother—he always say—“Your Nani”, she told me, “why you don’t like Farzana?” [laughs], He said no I like, but she’s too you know young because we have ten years different between you know—so I don’t something start and then parents you know kind of ask for—that’s it. It happened. So, it’s more like arranged and also 90:00liking. We know each other like—it’s not like that all of a sudden—some marriages happen and you’ve never seen that person you know in your life and they arrange from the other city or the day of marriage the car—no that’s so scary—no it didn’t happen to me [laughs]. In my mother’s age its going on like that—like they’ve never seen a person and they have to be married to that person. But, in my age it was not like that. It was a little bit—we can see each other, meet each other.
MV: Where in India were you parents from?
FJ: Parents? My parents? India—in Delhi, Faridabad, you know what place called inIndia. I have Urdu-speaking people, you know?
MV: And, when did you first learn to speak English?91:00
FJ: Look we have education in English in—alsothere—Pakistan. So—I’m not good—I don’t speak too good English—but I can—maybe you understand what I am saying, right? [Laughs]
MV: Of course
FJ: Because I didn’t go to school here, but—
MV: How are we doing on time?
SU: Um, we have been going for an hour and a half. So, maybe just a few morequestions?
FJ: Okay, a few more!
SU: Or do you have to go somewhere or—
FJ: No, no—just somebody will come and it’s okay—fine, you can ask me.
SU: Um, so you said that you volunteer in several places. Um, what is the main place,did you say that you volunteer? 92:00
FJ: I do volunteer hospital, interfaith organization—interfaith mostly I work and nowI’m working for ICNA relief—ICNA relief work. And—where did I work—I work many places. I work for Catholic charities because when Iraq War happened the Iraqi refugees also start coming here. So, I think the Catholic charities bring them—they brought them here. And, so I have to work with them—what they need—they need to drive them to the—giving license or English classes or I drove them to hospital or school. So, I just work with them and I collect stuff for their apartment—they new—they were new here, so I work with them also and I 93:00don’t know— whoever needed, wherever—many places. I think I don’t even remember—one I—lady come from Austin she called, she was—husband— some domestic violence or something—she’s from Malaysia or somewhere. I don’t know why, how she called me—she all of a sudden said, “I came from Austin and my husband was very abusive”. They got mar—I said are you a fool or something—she got married on Internet. She found some person from Internet. She already—he married for three times already before—and she so young twenty years old girl. She came all the way from Singapore to Houston—Austin. They have like marriage ceremony, nica, in somewhere and he took him [her] to 94:00you know Austin. He was sick man. He was like involved in many things. So, she has nowhere to go. She doesn’t know anybody—no money, nothing. He used to lock the door outside when he left for you know work or something. I don’t know how, but—she got somebody in Austin something. He helped him [her] to go to the bus stop and she arrove to Houston, and then I don’t know how she found my name or something—she called me. “I am standing here. I have nobody. I just came from—” And, I got scared! You never know it’s a story or what. I gonna involve in something—big problem. I said go call Islamic Center or other organization. “No, I don’t know anybody.” and “Please help me. Sister 95:00help me.” And, then I couldn’t stop—I said I have to—maybe it’s genuine that I have to go. Maybe she— some other bad person you know got involved with, or she trust on somebody that you know—I don’t know more harmful for her or something. At night I think I—my husband was yelling at me, but I said please I have to go. Come with me! At night she’s standing on downtown somewhere. And he said, “What are you doing? You know who is she?” And I said, I don’t know, it’s just human and she’s in a problem—I have to go. I—then I went there, my husband so many questions to her, interviewed her on the street, and then brought her home. And, she was really in trouble I think. She—then we found out—yeah her husband is very crazy person. And 96:00“he gonna kill me” and this that. I said just go back to your country right now. You have a house there. You have parents there. You just left—knowing somebody from Internet. Are you crazy or something? So, uh I think three days she stayed my house and I— [Doorbell rings. Interview paused.]
SU: So, you were talking about the girl—the Malaysian girl?
FJ: Oh yeah, yeah.I’m telling you like sometime I do very strange—my family doesn’t like that. “Why you keeping some stranger in your house? And, you don’t know!” And, I was really up night looking at her—she’s at home. Where is she? [Laughs] I was scared too, but I said no, no she need help. So, I collected money you know like for the airfare. And, I give it to her. I said please just 97:00go. This country is not for you. You cannot stay like that. You have nobody here. Where you gonna go? No job, no work. She doesn’t want to go. “Oh my parents gonna kill me!” It doesn’t matter. That’s your parents. That’s your country, and they are not going to kill you. Because she—I think against their will she just left the country or something. So, just go back there. At least you’re safe there. So, that’s what I did one time. I send her back. I said no. I think she tried to stay here. I said no, no I cannot keep you in my house too long, and you cannot stay alone. Nobody here so then you better go. So, I just send her back. After I think, uh, her husband called or something and find me. I didn’t talk to him. I didn’t say anything. He was asking about her. I don’t know she’s gone somewhere. I don’t know—don’t call me 98:00ever [laughs]. That’s sometime I do some crazy stuff. But, you know it’s a genuine thing. So, if somebody bad—you be in trouble. I really was scared, but you know somebody ask you I want to solve your problem. I don’t just leave like that you know. So, what else question? More question left?
MV: I was—yeah, one last question. As a final wrap-up, um have you seen thePakistani or—or Muslim community grow in the U.S. since you’ve been here?
FJ: A lot! Oh my God it’s growing like crazy—this city I see like before Iknow many people because of restaurant also because so many people come, and so by face I know a lot of people. But, now if I go to some party or something, I 99:00feel like I’m new here. People asking, “When did you move?” I said okay—I just moved [sarcastic]. So, there are like very new people. A lot—it’s growing—Muslim community growing a lot. I think every community growing a lot here—Houston especially. People are moving from everywhere to Houston I guess. I heard Dallas—my sister saying everybody moving to Dallas. So I don’t know community is growing everywhere. So, yes for sure it’s a lot—because we have now more than hundred mosques in this city—in Houston, and so of course it’s growing. Now there are whole apartment complex—some people have their own—you know, they bought a land and they make complex. People are well set—set here—well set. Many doctors—a lot of our friends 100:00are—right here is the Medical Center so many doctors here also. Lot of Muslim doctors, so of course this city is growing. What else? Cover everything?
MV: Yeah I think so. Yeah we got a lot from you. Thank you so much!
SU: Thank you somuch!
MV: That was a very interesting interview![The recorder is turned off; interview ends]