Andresh from Mumbai

Andresh grew up in the slums of Mumbai, India.  He lost his father at young age, and he and his mama-ji were left in a small, roach-infested, one-bedroom apartment.  While Andresh’s mama-ji was taking care of her seriously ill mother,  the apartment they lived in was broken into. When she and Andresh came back home, there was nothing left.  Despite the broken door and windows, they slept on the floor since they had nowhere else to go.  When Andresh’s grandmother passed away, Andresh didn’t have any other family besides his Mama-ji, and mama-ji didn’t have any other family besides Andresh.  Mama-ji always had a difficult time finding a since she belonged to the “untouchables” caste.

8772270_f260Even though “untouchability” was officially abolished by the Constitution of India in 1950, Andresh believes it will take a very long time for it to unofficially go away or good. On a daily basis, everyone reminded them of their low social status in various indirect and sometimes direct ways.  Since he was seven years old, he started working odd-jobs in order to “make ends meet.”  Andresh deeply resented on how he and his mama-ji was being treated and vowed that he would someday make it to America where there is no discrimination and everyone is treated equally. His grades were not as good as he had hoped, but he was still able to get into the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai. He was accepted under the reservation system (affirmative action).  While the caste system is illegal, the reservation system is legal and mandatory.  As a result, he could gain preferential admission to the university as a member of “a scheduled caste.”  Even before he entered the university, Andresh was working at various jobs, so he could support his mama-ji and pay for living expenses.  He designed web sites, sold cars, made phone calls as a telemarketer, worked as an artist for a graphic design company. served food in a cafeteria, tutored other students,  performed data entry, provided IT tech support over the phone, and he also worked as a security guard at a warehouse.

reservation system
Somehow, he was able to juggle his busy schedule and find time to study. He graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Technology in Electrical Engineering.  He worked for a few years outsourcing American jobs for various Indian tech  firms until he decided “to do something else” and “go to grad school.”   Andresh likes to joke that studying for the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) was kind of tough because it took him some time to remember materials he learned in the “fifth grade.” He was  able to get a scholarship and gain admission to the University of Texas at Austin’s business school program. Andresh finally enjoyed studying something “easy and fun.”  Andresh was also active in the Indian Student Association, where he even won the “Yaar of the Year” award for his help organizing events like “Bhangra Bash.”   Bhangra is a unique blend of folk or traditional Indian music from the Punjab region with more modern Indian beats that are portrayed in Bollywood culture.

Participating in these fun social events meant a lot to Andresh. It allowed him to talk to someone besides his mama-ji, but it also to let out his creative side.  While his mind was  thinking about electrical engineering and finance, his heart was elsewhere.  Ever since he was a kid, Andresh loved Bollywood movies and music. His favorite movie is Biwi No. 1. He often imagines himself as Salman Khan reenacting ad dance scene  with Sushmita Sen to his favorite song, “Chunari, Chunari”(scarf, Scarf).  When he is not singing “Chunari, Chunari,” Andresh enjoys hits like Chori Chori hum Gori Se  (Very Secretly) and “Balle, Balle” (Hooray, Hooray!).  Andresh is not a huge fan of American pop-music, but he does like listening to Hindi versions of pop-hits  such as Sitam by Amar Dhanjan. (Power of Love by Celione Dion). Andresh also appreciates the more serious side of Indian cinema.  He takes a keen interest in  movies that involve philosophical issues. For instance, one of this favorite movies is the classic Jana Aranya (The Middleman). On the surface, the movie is about a recent college grad trying to find a good job in India.  On a deeper level, the Andresh is captivated by the movie’s more serious themes such as the pursuit of happiness and the significance of friendship.

middlemanThe Middleman

After graduating from the university, Andresh accepted a full-time position as a Finance Professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.  In addition to his job  teaching, Andresh enjoys  investing in the stock market and in various commercial real estate ventures with his friends/business partners. He is the President of “Nash Inc,” a real-estate holding S-Corporation that owns popular chain hotels and convenience stores all across the Texas panhandle and even parts of Oklahoma.  Nash  represents the first letter of the partners of the S-Corporation – Niru, Andresh, Seemant, and Hemant.  His mama-ji is now employed as a full-time manager at one of  the hotels, and she feels “no discrimination” in her new home.  As his business is growing, Andresh hopes to be the next Indian “slum-dog millionaire.” Andresh  knows there are many intelligent, beauty, and professional Indian girls out there. He is friends with many of them, and he likes spending time with them.   However, he is scared to get into a relationship because he feels he is inferior to them because of his background as an “untouchable.” For some strange reason, he is  attracted to CUREan girls (Colombian, Ukrainian, Russian, and Ecuadorean).  However, his mama-ji  warns him that it’s probably not a good idea. She thinks even though they may be nice girls, they are all somehow connected either  to a South American drug cartel or Eastern European mafia.  Therefore, they can’t be trusted or their families and friends will try to burglarize their home again. Besides, she says their culture is not Indian, so they have nothing in common with Andresh. Therefore, for her they are “untouchables.”

Andresh tells his mama-ji that he sometimes wished if she didn’t constantly try to think for him and tell him what to do. He reminds her that he is a grown-man, and he is capable of making his own decisions.  His mama-ji also complains to Andresh that she is unhappy with the Volkswagen he bought for her. She think he should try  harder and make more money at work, so he can buy her a new Lexus SUV.

suvMama-ji’s dream car

She even pressures him to negotiate a higher salary for his job at Texas Tech University.  In that situation, Andresh tells his mother that she should go find her own job and buy her own SUV, even though she is 60 years old. After all, someone’s opinion of her does not have to  be her reality.  Despite the hardships and dicrimination she faced, Andresh thinks she should finally stop going through her life as a victim and relying on him to  financially support her since he was 16 years old.  At that point, Andresh’ mama-ji tells him that she thinks he hates her, and he will be sorry for treating her like  this.  Andresh says he he will always love her and take of her.  On the other  hand, he wishes that she would finally forget the hatred and pain she feels and at least  try to do something for herself. Moreover, he asks her stop trying to change him, accept him for who he is, and appreciate what he has done so far with his life.

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