History of the desi umbilical

In the early 19th century, the Southasian diasporas remained actively engaged with political struggles in their lands of origin. Today this has morphed into an obsession with economic returns.

As I exit most mornings off Interstate 84 into Hartford, Connecticut, I pass a corner where about 30 Southasians gather to catch the bus. Most of them wear backpacks, and many have headphones on, listening, I imagine, to the sounds of Lata Mangeshkar or Krish. These are in-sourced employees – on short-term contracts through firms such as Tata Consultancy Services or Wipro – working for large insurance companies such as Aetna or Travelers Insurance.

Along Farmington Avenue, where the software engineers cluster, is a nondescript store called Cosmos International. Run by a family from the Baltic region, Cosmos sells Southasian, Arab and Eastern European packaged food and spices, as well as fresh food and snacks from the Subcontinent. It is an oasis for the software workers and for the larger Southasian community in Hartford, a place one can buy rice together with a DVD of the latest film, or find halal goat alongside a tongue scraper.

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