24th January…40 Years Anniversary to USA – Oasis Thacker

Dallas Vacation Pictures November 2013 (Photo Gallery)

Hi friends,

On 24th January, 1973 at 1 am approximately, I first time got on airplane at Mumbai airport….and that also to USA! On the same day at around 8 pm I landed on Dallas’s Love Field airport (of the size of a bus-stop! DFW international airport was not born yet.) Who knew that I would be part of the new airport project while working for American Airlines few years later! Yes, I landed on this little regional airport. I knew nobody in Dallas. I was on a student visa. Few boys from International Student Association of University of Dallas, where I was admitted, were supposed to pick me up. But no one was there. I was scared. Love Field airport was becoming deserted after the last flight, and hardly anyone but the cleaners were there. I used one of my few dimes to call the university,but the telephone switchboard was closed at night, so no one was picking up the phone. I could speak English, but this was Texas, where people spoke with heavy southern accents, that are difficult to understand for even Americans of other states. On the other hand,  I spoke English with heavy Indian accents. We could not understand each other. I could call a cab. But I had come with $5000 bank loan, of which I had  already spent $2000  for traveling expenses, school fees for my postgraduate work, etc. Even if I could afford a cab, I would be scared to ride it in totally unknown country.  Finally a cleaning personnel at the university picked up the phone. One night class was still going on. He asked in the class, if anyone knew about picking up a new student from the airport. Fortunately three students from India and Pakistan were assigned to pick me up, who were in the same class.  That is why they were running late. I was happy to hear the news. These students did come and pick me up later.

So it has been 40 years today from that day. I havespent approximately 30 years of which in Dallas, and the rest in Houston, Milwaukee, San Diego;  and  India. In that sense, Dallas is the town where I have lived maximum in my life. I can call it a hometown. Actually I can call three places my hometowns:

  1. Dethali, a small village in Gujarat’s Kheda district where I was born and spent first 11 years of my life till I completed my 5th grade. A village with no electricity, no running water, no paved road or petrol driven vehicles or even radio!
  2. Ahmadabad where I went to high school and college, and got my engineering degree. Spent 15 years at that time. I am camping out in Ahmedabad at present for last 3 years.
  3. Dallas, the city where I spent maximum years of my life.

The idea is not to write my autobiography, or even a mini-biography. Just go back little bit in the memory lane on this 40th anniversary.

I have been through lot of personal and financial ups and downs in last 40 years. But basically I have enjoyed better standard of living than if I had lived in India during those years. Here are some highlights of last 40 years. I have not been rich; but I could have been, if I had decided not to pursue Poetry and Music. There were opportunities that I rejected. The world is better off with my creations than if I had few million dollars in banks.

Here are few highlights…. the surplus of last 40 years that I am proud of after I subtract all downs from all ups.

  1. My three beautiful, educated and talented kids, who were born and educated in USA. I love them very much.
  2. My Engineering and Management Career: Who knew that a poor boy who was born in a small Indian village with no electricity or running water, would be working at NASA as an engineer 26 years later (only 8 months after entering USA, and waiting tables)! Some friends were not so lucky, and they had to wait on tables for a longer periods. The job also helped me get a permanent visa in USA.  My job at American Airlines, during the period when the airline became NO 1 in the world from NO 10. I had a very responsible job as a project manager, handling multimillion dollars electrical engineering projects, and  I was in charge of Electrical Facilities and Maintenance throughout AA systems. I also handled very responsible projects working for private companies.
  3. My friendship with Mr. Wilson and his family. He was one of the vice presidents at NASA, who helped me get the job while he was on a recruiting tour at my university campus. Later he and his wife became like family. They invited me at Christmas and Thanksgiving times, when I was feeling lonely, and maintained relationship with me till the end.
  4. MY POETRY: This is something I am most proud of as my achievement. I was a poet before I entered USA, and my poems were published in top literary periodicals of Gujarati Language. But there were only few poems in my notebook. When I left India, I said goodbye to poetry, considering the financial, educational (engineering and management), and professional responsibilities I had ahead of me; not to mention getting adjusted in the world’s most advanced country in the time of no internet, no TV (in India), and hardly any knowledge about USA before I left. But I could not stay away from poetry for long. As a matter of fact, while totally isolated from Indian literature, I was writing better poems than before, at the same time, handling very responsible engineering/ management positions and raising kids.
  5. POETRY (Continued): I never dreamed that Umashankar Joshi, the writer of the century of Gujarati Language, a highest honor recipient in Indian literature, the chancellor of my university when I was a student,  a freedom fighter with Gandhi, would be my house-guest during his second visit to USA. During his first visit in 50′s, he was a house-guest of the great Robert Frost! Not only that, he would demand that I show him my poems.He declared that he would help me publish my first poetry collection (Bhoori ShahiNa Kuva Kanthe {At the Well of Blue Ink})  Not only that, he would write a foreword for my book. This honor he has given to less than 10 writers till he died. In 6 page foreword, he complimented me as a new voice, new spirit in the literature. I consider this as the highest honor of my life. Later, another great poet Labhshankar Thakar wrote the foreword for my second book. I have enough poems for the third Gujarati Poetry Collection, that I have published on my blogs. I have also published several  Hindi language poems and few English language poems on my blogs, and hope to write more in future.
  6. MUSIC: Like poetry, I was aware of my creative ability in music. But except for playing bongo, and composing one of my songs for college programs, I had restricted myself from getting involved in music. Poetry was too much to handle with engineering study and profession. Music was out of question. But that did not last long. During my stay in Dallas, there were hardly any rhythm players for private Indian gatherings. I started to accompany singers and musicians  by playing rhythm on table tops and on hollow walls. Later I taught myself Indian Dholak, bongos and later a drum set. I also began composing on a small keyboard. During mid 90′s I was all music. I self taught a professional electronic synthesizer. Composed music, wrote lyrics, created orchestra using my synth, composed rhythms, played all instruments and rhythms on my synthesizer, and even programmed new beautiful instrument using my synth. I had done so much within one year after getting the keyboard, that I took a chance to stay in India for 3 years, to try my luck in India’s music industry. I came close, but few unlucky things happened. So I produced two music albums, few loose Hindi songs, and returned to USA, to go back to engineering. I also produced one instrumental album. All these you can see/hear/read on my blogs and websites.
  7. In 2006, I learned webpage design and audio recording and mixing. Also photo editing and video editing. All of the above talents allowed me to start my two websites and blogs. I am happy to say that friends from over 120 countries visit my blogs/websites and enjoy my creations.

So on 40th anniversary of my migration to USA, I feel that I did do my best in different fields for which I had natural talents. I feel content on this anniversary, but I have not achieved the height that I have aimed at. I will continue working, and hope that I give you even better progress report on the 50th anniversary!

I left India as Ghanshyam Thakkar, and have come back as Oasis Ghanshyam Thacker. With dual citizenship, I will be floating between the two countries. But it will never reach the height of the overwhelming excitement I had experienced on 24th January, 1973



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