This week’s “American Desis” podcast” with hosts Akaash Singh and Arjun Gupta featured Gupta’s friend, Ahmed Deria.
By Farah Khan
With his ivy league undergraduate degree from Dartmouth University, his MBA from Harvard University, and his career in finance, Deria easily holds his own against Singh and Gupta’s commentary and remarks better than the other podcast guests so far.
Born in Abu Dhabi to parents from Somaliland, Deria grew up in Connecticut and spent most of his life in New England. The conversation between Gupta, Singh and Deria, focused on Deria’s upbringing as a first generation American and how he grew over the years in the midst of surrounding influences from his predominantly White schoolmates to his local Somaliland community.
Singh and Gupta were curious as to Deria’s identification or lack thereof with the black American community, and not too surprisingly, Deria reported identifying more as a first generation American immigrant than anything else.
In fact, when talking about his girlfriend, Deria stated that they both share common ground as first-generation immigrants, despite both being from different cultural backgrounds; she is Korean.
The entire discussion revolved around Deria’s identity and his upbringing, and it all seemed to flow seamlessly until Deria discussed his trips back to Somaliland.
For Deria, his parents homeland was as far from “home” for him as it could be. Other than enjoying his visits to see his family, Deria found himself out of place in Somaliland. As somebody who is second generation American, I was surprised by this, because personally, I have always felt so at home in India.
Even though no close family members of mine live in India, something about our motherland pulls me in the minute I arrive. Over the past several years of my lengthy love-hate relationship with India, I have never found the country to feel as foreign to me as Deria found Somaliland to be for him.
Cultural alongside religious identity were brought into the mix when Gupta and Singh asked Deria about his connection with Islam. During this part of the discussion, Gupta brought up the fact that Deria drinks alcohol (unlawful in the Islam religion) and was curious as to how this impacted his interactions with other Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
I could not help but laugh at the discussion around the peer pressure that some teetotalers face when those around them insist that they join in on the fun and have a few drinks too. My advice from personal experience? Offer to be the designated driver and you can then sip on as many diet cokes as you want without being hassled.
Deria’s non-South Asian perspective brought a new dimension to this week’s podcast, and Gupta and Singh easily aligned many of Deria’s experiences with the universal immigrant experience in America.