Mutyala Bhaskara Rao

Duration: 39Mins 27Secs
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Uncorrected Transcript

Interview with: Mutyala Bhaskara Rao
Interviewed by: Nik Nikam
Date:
January 13, 2013
Archive Number:



NN: Welcome to the Foundation For India Studies.  It is a Indian Oral History Project done in collaboration with Houston Public Library in the Houston Community College. Our guest today is Mr. Bhaskara Rao Mutyala. Mr. Mutyala welcome to the Foundation for India Studies.
Tell us what part of India you have come from and when you came and your journey in this country?

BM: Thank you for inviting me. My name is Bhaskara Rao Mutyala and I was born in Kakinada which is a district headquarters and also a college town.

NN: And what state is it?

BM: Andhra Pradesh.

NN: Andhra Pradesh. Okay. Yeah.

BM: And we are about eight siblings, seven boys and one girl and my elder brother and my sister got married and they are on their own and we are six boys staying with the parents and my father never went beyond grade school, so he wanted his kids to have highest education possible, so he worked hard and earned money and he put funds away for his children’s education.
And unfortunately, in 1956 December, he died and at that time I was 18, and other five boys are from 6-14. And I decided at that time I should do my best to achieve his dream. So I worked hard next three months and in March, ‘57, I had inter-final exams and I had first class and got admission in government engineering college in the town. So I joined that engineering college.

NN: So when did you finish your engineering college? And this was in Kakinada?

BM: Yeah. Kakinada.

NN: Okay.

BM: All my education and all my stay in India was only in one town.

NN: I see.  Most people think -- I mean Andhra means Hyderabad. How far away is this from Hyderabad?

BM: It’s about close to 400 miles.

NN: Oh! Is that right?

BM: Mine is a costal town and so it is -- so I finished the BE in ‘61 and I joined as a lecturer there and by that time, my next brother joined in MBBS in the same town. So I thought it is the best time for me to come to United States and do my Masters here for year and half and do practical training another year and half and go back and start an industry, take care of my brother’s education.

NN: So this was back in 56-60’s?

BM: In 61, I graduated and for one year, I worked and in ‘62 I came to United States.

NN: How difficult was it for you to come to United States in ‘62 as an engineer -- I know as doctors, we have much easier access to come to the United States.

BM: For engineers it is easy in a way for graduate students, because once you have the rupees the Reserve Bank gives the permit to convert into dollars. The University of Michigan gave estimate like $5,000 per year. So the Reserve Bank approved $5,000 per year to bring, once you have the rupees there, like I said earlier my father had the funds setup. So I came with the Reserve Bank permit, and I came to the University of Michigan and had started my Masters there. Originally as I said, I was going back in three years, study there say 18 months and work 18 months and go back.
But while at Michigan, I realized the undergraduate engineering is much better in this country compared to India.  Also I realized that achieving my father’s dream is easier in this country than in India.

NN: So what particular field were you in?

BM: Mechanical Engineering. I told my brothers if they want to do engineering it is better to come here after high school. I started job in ‘64 and in ‘65 one brother finished his high school and he came and he started college here, and I was working in Battle Creek Kalamazoo area.  Even while working I started my MBA in the evening program, so I can go to the university, where I can look after my brother also.  And then in ‘66 another brother finished his high school, he wanted to come, so he came in ’66.  In ’67, I went home, because under Johnson Immigration Law we all got green cards quick.
(00:05:00).

NN: I see yeah.

BM: And before I was in the waiting list, but when the Bill passed and the green cards came right away, so I went home and I got married to Sita in '67 and she finished her 12th grade few days after the wedding, and being smart, she even with all the wedding and everything she was 3rd in the high-school.

NN: That’s pretty good.

BM: And when she came, she started college here and then the following year '68, my last brother came. So four people in college --

NN: So in addition to doing your Masters you helped several of your brothers and also a wedding.

BM: Right.

NN: That’s very good.

BM: Yeah.

NN: So what did you do after graduation?

BM: I worked in various US corporations like Clark Equipment, Brunswick Corporation, Pullman Standard.

NN: Yeah.

BM: 20 years as an engineering management, in Michigan, in Indiana, in Alabama and  my last job is at NASA in Houston.

NN: Yeah.

BM: And it's 20 years of --

NN: So in what capacity were you at NASA?

BM: At NASA, I was in the design engineering.  Actually, in Lockheed working for NASA.

NN: Yeah.

BM: I was engineering specialist; it's kind of senior level.

NN: I see, yeah.

BM: And we did design for the Shuttle-13, some support structure for a large format camera.

NN: Oh I see, yeah.

BM: I was only short time there because by completing 20 years, I decided that I should become an entrepreneur.

NN: Oh, what year was this?

BM: '83.

NN: '83.

BM: Yeah, I finished 20 years of engineering jobs. So I became an entrepreneur starting a small auto transmission shop in Strafford.

NN: Yeah.

BM: And after few years of experience, joined with two more people and bought a franchise system. We moved from San Antonio to Houston headquarters, it was already in San Antonio.

NN: I see, yeah.

BM: We moved here and we expanded and Atlas Transmission became number one in Houston in number of stores.

NN: So you manufactured the products or you did just --

BM: No, it's a service only.

NN: Service, oh okay, yeah.

BM: Because actually we originally wanted to start an engineering corporation, but my partner who is a Korean American --

NN: Yeah.

BM: And at that time in '82 Houston burst.

NN: I know.

BM: The engineering firms, they are giving keys and saying take over.

NN: Is that right?

BM: So we said, no way now.

NN: Yeah.

BM: So we had to do something, so we started a service, providing the -- repairing the automatic transmissions for cars.

NN: Yeah.

BM: Then we started some body shops and quick oil changes. So I was in the small business, even though we sold this franchise, after five years due to my partner's health situation, we did business about 25 years.

NN: I see, oh that’s pretty good.

BM: And you know it was good.

NN: Yeah.

BM: We contributed to U.S. economy, created jobs.

NN: Yeah, so how many different service centers did you all have?

BM: In Houston, we had more than 20.

NN: I see.


BM: And in Texas, close to 40.


NN: Is that right, that’s all over Texas.


BM: All over Texas, it's a franchise system.


NN: So from there, where did you go?


BM: Retired.


NN: Oh Retired.


BM: Last 5 years, it's a retired life.


NN: Okay, let's talk about some of your personal life in terms of children and your social activities; you know what kind of things you believe in like social and spiritual, cultural.


BM: Like I said, I married Sita and she finished her 12th grade after the wedding and all her college happened to be in this country. She had Bachelors in Purdue University, Computer Science and had a CPA license and also she did executive MBA while working for Chevron in Houston at University of Houston.


NN: I see.


BM: And she -- my wedding to Sita happened to be the best thing in my life. We have a beautiful partnership.


NN: That’s good.


BM: She helps me in achieving my goals and I help her achieving her potential and she is a true companion and forever friend and she helped settling all my brothers in all that situation. And to give one example how she -- good accommodative is --

(00:10:03)


NN: Yeah.


BM: Several years in Houston in my house, my mother and my mother in law both were staying.


NN: I see.


BM: Several years. And we never had any complaint, she is that accommodative.


NN: Yeah, it's a real challenge.


BM: And our daughter -- Sireesha and she got medical admission at UTMB just after two years of college.


NN: I see, yeah.


BM: In her class there are 200 people, she and one boy are only two people without Bachelors degree, very smart.


NN: Yeah.


BM: And she is a pediatrician now and her husband is emergency doctor and he with a few more -- few other people started a Faster Care.


NN: I see.


BM: The emergency clinic--


NN: Oh I see, yeah. So where do they practice?


BM: In Dallas.


NN: In Dallas, oh I see, yeah.


BM: Then I have one son and he had pre-med in Penn State.


NN: I see, yeah.


BM: Medical school at Texas A&M.


NN: Yeah.


BM: And 12 years, he was out of state doing radiation oncology residency and fellowship at Harvard and an academic job at Albert Einstein in New York.


NN: I see.


BM: And while he was working in New York, Scott & White in Temple, Texas invited him to start the radiation oncology department at Scott & White.


NN: Yeah.


BM: He came as a chairman of the department. He started the whole department three years back and he enjoys working there.  He is the chairman and he also started a radiation oncology residency program at Texas A&M.


NN: Oh I see, yeah. So now he is in Texas A&M.


BM: In Temple, Texas his job.


NN: Temple, Texas, yeah. But he is part of Texas A&M.


BM: Texas A&M -- he is associate professor in Texas A&M.


NN: Oh that’s good.


BM: And my daughter-in-law is an attorney.


NN: Yeah.


BM: And she had Health Law from the University of Houston.


NN: Yeah.


BM: And she did MPH while they were in Boston.


NN: I see, yeah.


BM: And she worked in children defense type of organization in New York and now she is doing Ph. D in UT where they had health law and MPH are useful.


NN: Yeah.


BM: And they live in Austin.


NN: So did you all experience the cultural clash when your children were growing up because they were exposed to the American children, the customs, the school systems, did you recognize any sort of a difference?


BM: Well, for them there may not be difference in one sense and actually, it is a blessing for them, because they have best of both worlds, because from parents they have the eastern values and religion and all these things and here the local. So they -- since we are immigrants, we are so conscious, we spend a lot of time with the children, so they have best of both worlds.  They never had any clashes or complaints--


NN: Yeah, because some kids from Indian families, they have some difficulty adjusting to the requirements of our Indian culture being strictly enforced while they are growing up and --


BM: Yeah, and luckily we didn’t have any clash and they are well settled and they are always good in school.  And my wife wrote a children story book, it was titled 'What is Vemana Saying?'


NN: Yeah.


BM: And Vemana is an Indian, Andhra Pradesh saint.


NN: Saint, oh I see.


BM: A philosopher and he wrote a lot of poems.


NN: Is that right?


BM: And all the eastern values are there, actually they are mostly universal values.


NN: Yes.


BM: And that book got two prestigious awards in this country and Mom's Choice Award for values and life lessons and National Parenting Seal of Approval, it says it's a treasure and every kid should have in his library.


NN: So this is in English?


BM: In English.


NN: Okay, what's the title of this book?


BM: What is Vemana Saying?


NN: What is --


BM: Vemana saying -- yeah. And this book --


NN: So it's available in Amazon and all?


BM: It available in Amazon and we --


NN: What year was this probably?


BM: Three years back.


NN: Three years back, oh that’s good.

(00:15:00)


BM: Yeah. Amazon and also, you know, my wife had self publishing and sells too.

NN: Oh! I see this is pretty good. So did you have any publications or writings yourself?

BM: No. I had technical papers while I was working, I was in the research and I got one or two patents.

NN: Yeah. It’s pretty good. What about like cultural activities and things like that I know you spent a number of years in Texas, and especially in Houston area.

BM: Right. While we were in Chicago, we are the founding members of the Telugu Association of Greater Chicago.

NN: I see. Yeah.

BM: When we came to Houston in ‘81 Telugu Cultural Organization is already there, ICC is already there. So I am a trustee in Telugu Cultural Association and we are active, we used to have Telugu school for all the kids. At that time in ’81, the facilities are not like now.  Now there are four places, Chinmaya Mission, Meenakshi Temple, AshtaLaxmi Temple like that. At that time, we used to have the Telugu school in our houses.

NN: That’s true. Yeah.

BM: In all these --

NN: Yeah, most of the religious organizations were held in somebody’s houses.

BM: Right. So we had in our house for few months and then somebody else’s and in every three months, we changed the house and my wife was one teacher and several teachers, volunteer teachers.

NN: So how has this -- cultural association has changed from 20 years ago to today, because we hear all this different factions within the community or your own Telugu community, sort of competing.

BM: Right, right. One is, you know, they became bigger, because of the numbers increased. They are also competing organizations. So in a way it is good. The competition is always good and as long as it’s a healthy competition. It’s not like a political type thing. It’s not only for positions but as a whole there are --

NN: Yeah, for people I think, they have different choices to make. So were you involved with cultural associations as like president or trustee?

BM: I normally always like to work behind. At Chicago, one of my brother was a president of Telugu Cultural Association and for TANA, which is the National Organization one of my sister-in-law was a president.  In 35 years of TANA, only one lady president, that happened to be my sister in law. So I always like to be behind the scenes, except in Meenakshi temple, I was in the board for 12 years.

NN: I see. Yeah. So what kind of activities were you involved with the Meenakshi temple?

BM: In Meenakshi temple I was in the Board.  When we first came in ‘81 to Houston, that’s when they started building the main temple, and we also put a brick for the temple. To make Telugu community active in Meenakshi temple, as a trustee I was instrumental in bringing several Telugu priests and also made sure the Telugu festivals like Ugadi are celebrated on a regular basis.

NN: Oh, I see! That’s pretty good. And as your kids were growing up did they learn Telugu and were they well-versed in the Telugu activities and all this?

BM: Yes. There was a Telugu school, you followed like first five grades bring books from home, follow here and make them graduate. They get only some exposure, they can understand and they can speak. Understanding is better at first level, speaking is next with an accent and writing is not that good.

NN: So what do you think is going to happen to all subcultures from India, from Karnataka and of course, I spoke Marathi at home, so we had two different languages, one in the street and one in the house and my kids actually don’t speak either language. So your kids, they were exposed to Telugu and all this is again, what’s going to happen with the second generation and the third generation you think as far as all this different fractions of Indian culture?
(00:19:58)

BM: Yeah. I think, world becoming smaller and smaller, it becomes one and some of languages may be there may not be there, but culture wise I think it should be fine because we had all kinds of temples and all these associations --


NN: All these temples are all run by the first generation Indians, I wonder in how much our children and their children would be able to sustain the same amount of enthusiasm and energy. 


BM: May not be that much, yeah, but Chinmaya mission is run even now with some of the acharyas who grew up here.  


NN: One of the advantages of Chinmaya Mission’s is it's name so they can understand. Somebody can teach them in English because even if you go to Meenakshi temple everything is in Sanskrit and -- there's nobody to explain to you what actually is happening like even in a wedding ceremony, most people are just not following what is happening unless somebody translates that.   


BM: Right, and it comes because the Chinmaya Mission has a lot of influence and that’s in English and also our kids who go to Chinmaya Mission actually they can explain why the poojas why these things better than us.  


NN: See, interesting. I go to Baps, which is close to my house and they have a pretty strong cultural hold on not only themselves but also in the first generation Indians because most of their prayers, are all held in Gujrati and so they have a pretty strong influence on the first generation Indians but I'm not sure. If it translates all the other different groups.


BM: Right, because of the Chinmaya Mission and also like for example this new Congress has Tulsi Gubbard.  She is a practicing Hindu and she is a local girl and she took the oath on Bhagwad Geeta.


NN: That is true, I think yes the landscape of Indian -- I'm sorry American politics has been changing quite rapidly and rightfully so because like the meeting I went this afternoon it was about the changing landscape of the people in Fort Bend County, where there are lot of South Asian people so I think, they really have to take into account all these different things. So tell us about what other things were you involved besides your profession, during these years?


BM: Besides the profession and business, and then, a lot of social work like Meenakshi temple and we are active in Chinmaya Mission and active in TANA and Telegu Associations.  In Houston, we have plenty; ICC, India House and Gandhi Statue.  Since we came in ’81, compared to now, in last 32 years, Houston grew in ethnicity population, in South Asians as well as other communities.  With all these other associations as well as temples, Gurudwaras and stores and restaurants, so many, so many--
   

NN: You are right. Houston, I came here in 1980 and then last 32 years, I've seen Indian population probably has exploded, obviously it is closely about 125,000 to 150,000 Indian people and their siblings in Houston Metropolis area which is a pretty large number, it's something they have to really look into. And you have any kind of hobbies and how do you usually spend your time?   


BM: Hobbies wise, I am a motivator and advisor for countless youngsters, family, friends in India and U.S., in their college and career planning and new business ventures.  I do that and recently after retirement, we’re going to India every year for two months.  We do a lot of seva things there like -- with all my brothers, we started a high school and a physiotherapy unit in a general hospital.  In our village we put septic tanks and sanitary lavatories.  Got an old age home for seniors and renovated a old temple, like that, we do there.  My alma mater, my engineering college recently, we got an indoor stadium, a sports stadium, which I started.

(00:25:15)


BM: And there also, they used the word motivator, it is surprising.  I didn’t tell them and also I didn’t go, because this year I had a health problem.  It just opened by cabinet minister Pallam Raju on Januray 2nd and on the slate, they wrote my name on the top, said project originator and motivator.  It took eight years, it's a government project.         


NN: I know it takes a lot of time with government.


BM: And here like for example, Houston gave so much, our jobs and our business environment and excellent education for our kids.  So for the children book which has a universal values, we donated to all elementary schools in several school districts in Houston, Fort Bend ISD, Houston ISD like that CyFair ISD all that and also in Texas --


NN: The book is poetry or is it like?


BM: It has a poem in Telugu, then in English and then a story which illustrates the moral like that, so it is for below 10 year old children in elementary school.


NN: How many pages.


BM: It's about 20-30 pages because the children --  


NN: I know.


BM: We also donated for organizations in Houston like, read for Houston YMCA and Fort Bend Women Center like that and also in other parts of school districts in Texas as well as in other states also we have been donating. 


NN: So are involved with, you had any political connections or ambitions in terms of American politics, any of that?


BM: American politics are wonderful, that checks and balances, the three departments is a wonderful and two-party system is great and the most important -- my favorite thing is when they have more than two people are contesting in primaries and no one gets more then 50% run off. That is the best because unless you have 50%, you are not representing, it's a not a democracy, whereas in India people are ruling with simple majority, they get only 20% or so, they rule which is not true democracy in my view --   


NN: Well, this is all parliamentary rules set by the --


BM: In parliamentary rule, they can have run-offs, they didn’t have in constitution and --


NN: I guess they like to see things that are favorable to them and -- so you are involved in music or any other cultural type of activities?


BM: Mostly like, -- behind the scenes like we made our kids do -- my daughter has a Veena and Kuchipudi dance like that, my son has art and dramas in Telugu Cultural Association.  We had a lot of plays. My wife was active in it, I was mostly behind the scenes --  


NN: So these are like stage dramas?


BM: Yeah stage dramas.


NN: So where were these played?


BM: Played here in high school or also at the end of the year after Telugu school, we used to have in Huntsville Park or something where you can camp for over night.


NN: That’s fascinating, That’s very good. So what are your future plans? Because now you have all the time. 


BM: Right, right. Future plans now do lot of seva karyakramas here mainly and then when you go to India also continue there.  Here, like Houston has all kinds of organizations like Pratham, Indo-American Charity Foundation, Daya, so many organizations are there. Right now we participate, we can get involved more and also charities, doing maybe with the universities or something.  


NN: So like in 60s, 70s or 80s when you came to Texas, it was still a southern state and people had the perception that there's a lot of discrimination in southern states, especially for foreigners and all of this, what was your experience when you came to Texas?
 
(00:30:07)


BM: My experience, actually I can told you before, I was 8 years in Michigan, no discrimination problem, 8 years in Chicago area in Indiana, no discrimination problem.  Surprisingly, I was transferred to Birmingham, Alabama in ‘78 and people were saying -- Yeah typical southern and had riots and all, so people were scaring me and all.  It was to my surprise, that’s the best place. There was no discrimination, our house was two doors down the country club LPGA conducts there -- Ladies Professional Golf Association, our beautiful house and I was there in ’78 to ’81. The Birmingham has majority white population and elected black Mayor, because he was qualified, he’s Ph.D and very nice man and so there is no discrimination.  And I came here in ‘81 and I didn’t find anything, and surprisingly lot of people complained at the job.


NN: Yes, quite a few people have experience, especially, I guess if you are working for like a firm like a college or university or like a corporation, maybe different versus being a private entrepreneur.  


BM: Probably because I never experienced, because even when I first came, I came almost like 50 plus years, 51 years. When I came, there were not many, community wasn’t there, I was bachelor, my roommate was a local guy and even now we communicate.  I was a best man for his wedding and he came all the way from Michigan to here for my daughter’s wedding.  And lot of my friends, colleagues in early years, we still communicate and I never faced any discrimination.    


NN: So when you came to Houston, how many Indians were there at that time?


BM: At that time also, they might be having 20,000 it's a quite a big population –


NN: What year?


BM: 81.

MM: 81 yeah, so all these associations were already --


BM: Telugu Cultural Association was there and Krishna was the President at that time. ICC was there and of course Chinmaya Mission might be there, I didn’t know, I realized about Chinmaya Mission little later.  


NN: I think they came --


BM: And Meenakshi Temple just built, they started building the main temple and it grew.


NN: So what do see in the crystal ball for your children and grandchildren because they are in different league, and of course each generation is in a different league because when we were growing up our parents were in a different league. 


BM: Right, I would say excellent future because like I said earlier our children have best of both worlds, and they got best education.  They don’t have any cultural problem here because they’re born here and on top of it they’re good professionals and they have money.  Besides being smart, they have money, so with that their kids will have excellent chance to have even better education. Our kids went to public schools, they never had a lot of tutorials and other things at early age.  Now like for example, my grandson is a three year old and he already second year at University of Texas, he goes to -- it seems there is a children development program at UT and he had a class of 6 people, 3 teachers. So our grandchildren will have even better life because our children being smart and have money compared to our level.   


NN: What about the cultural traditions and all, you think they’ll be able to pick up especially your grandchildren. 


BM: They do pickup to some extent, may not be all.  Because of Chinmaya Mission and even Ivy league universities have Hindu Council Societies. 


NN: I know University of Austin has Indian students, it’s a pretty large association, so they do get to interact with the Indian community and also they celebrate Diwali and all these festivals.

(00:35:11) 


BM: And also now like this girl Tulsi Gabbard being a Hindu and getting all the publicity and Julia Roberts, she says I'm a practicing Hindu, with some of the mainstream people will be coming to the Hindu fold and some of these people down the  road --


NN: Do you think Tulsi Gabbard is getting the attention because this is just fresh in our minds versus Bobby Jindal, when he was elected as a governor in New Orleans?


BM: Because of our community being very rich in education and also as far as monitory, so all the politicians have to approach and that gives edge for them too. 


NN: So what are the most important lessons you have learned with your 30 or 40 plus years of experience and 50 plus experience in this country?  


BM: In this country, mine is, I feel that we are fortunate to live in United States where we can achieve our dreams and reach our potential.  And I will tell the people, go ahead and dream as high as you can, and work hard and also, I tell them be a catalyst to the people around you to reach their potential.  But again I caution them, this is a country, a land of law. So every country may have laws but this country implements.  I give them the examples like even presidents are not above the law, Nixon, Clinton and George Bush’s daughter, none of them can escape and even our Indian American icon Rajat Gupta, by violating a minor thing -- everybody thinks it's a minor thing, he cannot avoid punishment.        


NN: That’s what I was going to come to, with all this free access to information and all these things, do you think you know people maybe subjected to greediness and for like quick success things like that?   


BM: Yes, anybody, go back to our scriptures, once greed enters and you become slave to greed and in this country, lie is so tough, you pay for it. So as far as, you know, at least two generations, our kids, they are smart so they should not get into trouble, majority of them.  But of course you always have few people.


NN: I think it's just law of statistics, because when you have 100,000 people, some people are just going to be just less fortunate or less able to achieve like most of the people and so what are your future plans?


BM: Future plans, you know --


NN: You're going be staying -- or you have any plans to go back to India or --


BM: We stay in Houston because -- as far as I'm concerned, I stayed 24 years in Kakinada and after that 8 years in Michigan, moved here and there but 32 years in Houston.  I consider myself as a Houstonian, and weather wise it's just like my Kakinada, it is hot and humid in summer and pleasant Spring and Fall.  And another thing is as a senior citizen, you need health facilities and Houston has world’s best health facilities, all of our Indian prime ministers and presidents, they come here, get treatments.  Several years back when P.V. Narasimha Rao came for his bypass surgery, he wasn’t the prime minister at that time, so I received him at the airport and put him and got his surgery taken care, and everything, took him to the Meenakshi temple.  Because of that when he became a prime minister, his official U.S. tour started with Houston.  He came here, started with a pooja at Meenakshi Temple and meeting with Dr. Cooley to thank him and then his official tour started.  So when our prime ministers and presidents are coming here, you are a senior citizen and we’ve been living here so long, what other place?  Houston has everything, has a museum district, theater district, and professional sports.

(00:39:59)


NN: You're absolutely right, this is a fourth largest city in the country and you can live in a suburb and still enjoy all the amenities of one of the biggest cities in the country and all within driving distance. 


BM: And also for our ethnic, we have Meenakshi Temple, Chinmaya Mission, Gandhi Statue and all kinds, India House and everything, all ethnic things.  Houston has all professional teams, we had we enjoy – Texans, we are season ticket holders.  


NN: That good. Let's talk about American food, did you get accustomed to the American food or you still prefer desi food? 


BM: Good question, in the early days, I didn’t have a choice, I was at the university and then worked. There are no Indian restaurants or anything.  So first five years as a bachelor and my roommate was an American, so I had to force to eat and I developed a taste, so preference wise I prefer desi food, but since I got used to it, I can eat anything.   


NN: What about your kids, do they make Indian food or they all sort of moved on to sort of mixed.


BM: They moved to all kinds, especially my daughter, my son-in-law is Taiwanese, born in this country and his parents are migrated from Taiwan. Actually when my daughter was at UTMB, when she first told that she wants to marry Taiwanese, I was shocked I flipped, I said no way, I didn’t want that I was so stubborn and I said no way and she said, well if you don’t want me to -- she told me, unless I approve she won't marry, either she marries that guy or no marriage at all and it was a big trauma for her, for me, for my family and for my brothers, everybody around me and for three years, and then I saw the light with the help of my wife and said okay, go ahead and marry him.  We did grand wedding, 700 people, marriage was at Meenakshi Temple and reception was at DoubleTree Post Oak and it's a big wedding.    


NN: So may be you can explain little more on this topic because there are a lot people who are in a same situation as you -- when their children come and say okay, I want to marry somebody American or somebody Italian or somebody like German or somebody, so explain to us what are the things that you went through and how things evolved and then it turned out to be not as bad as we originally think it is.


BM: Yeah. Now originally I thought it was bad and that three years I made --


NN: I mean what kind of fears went through your mind?


BM: Fears are, -- just because, I was born and grew up only in one city in India and my exposure I think.  But what turned out to be is that’s the best thing ever happened, because main thing is, it’s her selection and so she has to pay the consequences. So she may accommodate or whatever flexible and also they both were brought up here, they don’t have any culture differences, they don’t have any language differences. The wedding was in 2000, that’s been 12 years. Now we have beautiful two grandchildren 9 year old boy and 7 year old girl, and my grandchildren are bringing up as Hindus.


NN: I see. Yeah. So this Taiwanesian, is he Christian?


BM: Yeah. He probably doesn’t have much -- is not inclined to religion --


NN: So not too much into it.


BM: Not too much inclined, that’s why we had wedding at a Meenakshi Temple, we didn’t have a Christian wedding.


NN: Yeah. Okay that’s interesting. I mean this is a really important problem for people actually, as time evolves because most of the first generation children, by choice or not, they are in these positions.


BM: And we have to go back to -- our scriptures say that marriages are made in heaven.


NN: Yeah. One of my very close friends, both of his son and daughter ended up marrying people from different cultures.

(00:44:58)


BM: Yes. And they work out good. Scientifically, cross breeding is good.  Scientifically, ethnic, close relationship, medically it’s not good.  So on that respect it is good and since they know each other well and accommodation will be good and as long as, they are not fundamental in religion and both pull each other different way.


NN: That’s true. Yes.


BM: Then it should work out good.


NN: That is true because some religions are very strong, in exercising, and their only way of following faith or --


BM: Right. So as long as you don’t go in that religion.


NN: Yeah. So what other challenges did you all come across like after the marriage or were there are any challenges or --


BM: Since 2000, it’s 12 years, its smooth sailing.


NN: That’s very good.


BM: And actually next week, they, my daughter and four of them are going to Belize and we are tagging along for four days.


NN: Yeah.


BM: So, it’s a smooth sailing and my grandchildren are bringing up as Hindus and so it’s -- everything is smooth. So I think if we go back to our scriptures, marriages are made in heaven, so they -- that’s why they get attracted to each other and it happens.


NN: That is true because a lot of times parents struggle, struggle, struggle for years and don’t get anywhere and children have their own plans and sometimes it just works out to be bad, than  what parents were wishing to happen.


BM: Right. When you are asking me about, what difficulties I had when I first came, I remember the first day, the day after I came to this country in Ann Arbor, I had to go, see my counselor to take the courses, to register the courses and I had an accent problem and he asked me how many credits you want to take? Then I asked him what does a credit means? He said if you take three hour course, that means you meet three periods in a week and I calculated in my mind, the engineering college I went in Kakinada, we go eight periods a day for five days, 40 and Saturday five periods, 45, so I said 45 credits Sir. He said what? First of all, he couldn’t understand my language, I couldn’t understand him.


NN: Yes. I mean you both were right, you were just thinking in your own vision which you --


BM: Yeah I said 45 times I want to meet because that’s what I used to do, 45 periods in a week. So he said, hey, Masters is only 30 hours, in one semester you want to finish?  Then he said, for student visa you need 9 hours, but average is 12 hours, you have choice between 9 and 12 what do you want? The way you are speaking, I recommend 9 hours. But if you insist, I can allow 12 hours.


NN: You wanted to do it one year.


BM: One semester. So finally, I bargained to 14 hours and I paid for it, so I didn’t listen to him so I paid for it, I just passed, but the rest of the semesters, I was in Dean’s Honor List.


NN: Oh, okay that’s pretty good.


BM: And That is accent language problem, I had.  And in the culture problem, one problem I had was, I was working as a grader for a top-notch professor there, so with his recommendation, wherever I have applied, I got plant interviews. The first interview, the guy calls me, that’s at Libertyville, in Illinois 50 miles from O’Hare.  He calls me, he says, hey Mr. Mutyala, you can buy the ticket and we reimburse or we can send you the ticket? Okay, once you land at O’Hare, you go to Hertz, tell you’re coming in for International Harvester and you take a car and they give you the directions, you come and go to the Holiday Inn, and next morning, I’ll come to breakfast and pick you up and take you there. And I said hold on; I don’t have a driver license. The guy, a human resource guy, didn’t say for two minutes, because I was in Michigan and where the auto capital of the world every 16 year old had a license, and here I was in the prestigious school as a graduate student. No license, he asked that, is he having some disability or what.


NN: That’s interesting.


BM: That is culture problem.
(00:50:00)

NN: I know, yeah.

BM: So those are the little difficulties I had to go through for a year or so. But other than that, no discrimination, people are friendly in Houston and in mid-west, everywhere -- even in Birmingham, Alabama, everywhere, we went, we enjoyed.

NN: That’s interesting. Well it's been nice talking to you and Mr. Bhaskara Rao Mutyala, do you have any final thoughts before we conclude?

BM: No, it’s the same thing, I say that work hard and obey the law, and sky is the limit. And when I said, sky is the limit, somebody said that is an old saying, now they go beyond the sky --

NN: With the satellites and all --

BM: Satellites and all, you have to change your top limit.

NN: Yeah, right yeah.

BM: So it's a wonderful country.

NN: Mr. Bhaskar Rao, thank you very much and Sita, thank you very much.
SM: Thank you.

NN: I am Dr. Nik Nikam for Foundation for India Studies, Indo-American Oral History Project in collaboration with the Houston Public Library and also Houston Community College. Our guest today was Bhaskar Rao Mutyala. Again this is Dr. Nik Nikam, thank you, have a good day.

BM: Thank you for having me.

NN: Thank you.