Growing up Amit Dixit was not your average Catholic school pupil. Originally from India, he wore a plaid school uniform and was familiar with religious texts. But, he says he felt wedged between Indian and American cultures, which sometimes clashed.
“It was challenging,” said Dixit who lived in a traditional Indian setting at home, but at school he was submerged in the American lifestyle and Catholic teaching.“You have to really walk on a fine line between two cultural perspectives,” said Dixit.
“I remember one time bringing home the bible because I had to do a report on a Saint or something I don’t remember. So I had a bible in my room and I had to hide it in a drawer and you know as being the Indian Brahmin woman as my mom is, she came in and said ‘What is this bible doing in your room?’ I said, ‘Well it’s for school,’” said Dixit.
Dixit, who now heads the South Asian Arts Council in Boston, is a native of Jaipur, the colorful capital of the northern Indian state of Rajasthan, popularly known as the Pink City. Dixit describes his family’s settlement into the U.S. as a memorable and extensive process. His father, Narendra Dixit, a dentist, came to America with only eight dollars in his pocket craving a western experience.
It was the 1970s, often called the brain-drain era due to the high emigration of professionals from India.
Although they had the liberty to pursue their American dream, transitioning to the American way of life was no easy process for Dixit’s father who was not licensed to practice dentistry in America.
“Whether it was as a laborer or something else, he worked for a year to afford tickets for my mom and I,” says Dixit.
His father was issued a green card and found work in a metal factory while studied he studied to obtain his certification to practice dentistry.
“I remember, for three years in a row, he failed by one point, but when he got his American citizenship he passed by one point,” said Dixit.
Dixit’s balancing act between the US and India is further complicated by the fact that he is gay. As barriers for the LGBT community have fallen in America, they have gone up in India. Homosexuality is prohibited by law in India, but here he as the liberty to be an out gay man.
Dixit, who is on the board of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), says he hopes that India can use America as a model of progression.
“We take a chapter of the struggles in America [the Stonewall and gay marriage battles]… We have to adapt this in an indigenous way in India,” said Dixit.
His dream, having lived in the U.S. as a citizen for 30 years now, is multifold.
“The American Dream is made up of many dreams from all different cultures.”
LESS THAN 12 HOURS AFTER OUR INTERVIEW WITH AMIT DIXIT THE COUNTRY OF NEPAL WAS ROCKED BY A 6.8 EARTHQUAKE. OVER 6,000 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DECLARED DEAD. AMIT JOINED HUNDREDS OF BOSTONIANS IN COMMEMORATING THE VICTIMS. ( VIDEO JUN TSUBOIKE)