My earliest childhood memory is of an immigrant navigating suburbia—literally. She was my mother, Nirmala Kalita. In 1978, my parents bought their first home in Massapequa, a working-class town on Long Island;the down payment was made with savings from her night shift at Burger King. My mother was left with no choice but to learn to drive. As she nervously steered our newly purchased yet secondhand orange Vega, I sat in the back, my two-year-old frame strapped into a car seat.
So my confession begins: I am a product of the very subject I write about on the pages that follow. My father emigrated from India to New York City in 1971, sent for my mother and elder brother the following year, and began to climb a corporate ladder from the bottom: a temp job at Citibank. Their move into a $40,000 split-level home on Long Island thrust my brother and me into a school system where we were the only nonwhites, as far as we could tell. We endured little blatant racism but plenty of