As an aspiring author, seeing my name on a book cover has always been a dream. I call it a dream because as a full time engineer, I never thought I would write a book, let alone have a book cover with my name on it. After years of people urging me to write a book, I finally decided to give it a shot. Writing the book has been a fascinating journey. I never thought I would enjoy interviewing people and converting those talks into stories as much as I did. Every story fascinated me. Every person poured their heart out to us which in turn became America Deconstructed.
In the past few months so much has happened to us. We began querying our book to agents and publishers since 2015. For almost two years we were stuck in a maze that included amazing feedback and no “real” contract. I say real because we had publishers who offered to publish our book if we paid them, agents who almost gave us a contract until they realized we queried one of their publishers – the list is almost endless. We have wondered if seeing our name on a book cover was even reasonable. Every person reaches a point when you have had enough. Early this year, Shaima, my coauthor and I decided to crowdfund our book through the Publishizer platform. Publishizer was a crowdfunding site for authors. They are the publishing market version of Tinder where they match authors with publishers. Through Publishizer, we did not get 250 pre-orders but ended up getting a traditional contract. In July, we signed our first publishing contract with Motivational Press.
We were yet to see our names on a book cover. That momentous occasion happened last week when we finally saw our book cover with our names on it. This journey is far from over. But every little milestone is celebrated because we realize every small victory is a celebration of immigrant power. Our book releases in Spring 2018 and we cannot wait.
I am an Afghan immigrant in America. When I started high school in America I could barely speak English. There was an Mexican guy in my class who used to tease me a lot. He didn’t like me for some reason. I would complain to the teacher but she couldn’t stop him either. One time I remember I had my hair down and he put some stuff in my hair ( I can’t remember what it was but that stuff was all over my hair. My hair was long and reached my waist). None of the students that were sitting behind me, including the fellow Afghan guy who was sitting behind me, let me know about it. The class finished and my friend who was sitting in front me noticed it. In another instance, he was standing next to this fake blonde beautiful girl and when I passed them and he said “Hi ugly”. I replied back “Hi Puto”. One of the Mexican guys I know taught me Puto which means ugly. So I wanted to tell this jerk Mexican that he’s ugly. But it actually means “fucking”. When I said Hi Puto, he got shocked and turned red and the fake blonde girl was dying of laughter ( she was Mexican too). But that however didn’t stop him from teasing me. After two years in high school, I started wearing a hijab. One day I was talking to my teacher when someone pulled my scarf down from the back. I got so mad and turned around to see who pulled my scarf. The minute I turned around he turned around so I was facing his back. And I slapped him so HARD on his back that he almost fell on the ground. He was scared to even look at me from that day on.
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As I was brainstorming ideas on what my first blog post ought to be, the creative person in me wanted to find an appropriate definition for immigrants in America. I found some cool ones which had the perfect definition on who an immigrant is- someone who left their country for another one. I also found ones where immigrants were portrayed as damsels in distress who were lured from their home countries into America. While that definition makes America seem like a predator lurking around the corner, we weren’t lured into America. We came here on our own terms because America was the land of opportunities. I say we because I am an immigrant who was lured into America by her parents. I grew up in India until I turned seventeen when I finally moved to America or California to be precise. California is the epitome of the melting pot culture that America stands for. Yet, even people in California have their preconceived notions about immigrants. I have been mistaken to have been born in America because I speak good English. I have been asked if I took a shower on the street in India because CNN or BBC decided to show slums in India as India to the world. I am not the only one who has had to battle these misconceptions. Most immigrants irrespective of their race, ethnicity, color of their skin have had to battle these misconceptions. Thus was born America Deconstructed the book and America Deconstructed blog.
America Deconstructed began as a conversation between two friends who joked about the misconceptions they faced as immigrants. Those college conversations took shape into a book years later. For the book we interviewed sixteen immigrants and have written about their journey into America and the life that followed. There are confusing coffee shop runs, to go or take out, Taliban, war, marriage, kids and even death. The book covers the human side of immigration and is filled with funny, embarrassing situations, humor, heartbreak and tears. We do not care about laws and policies. We care about the human experience behind immigration. America Deconstructed blog follows the same format of quirky cultural differences. If you want a light hearted, fun blog filled with loads of quirkiness to brighten your day or night, follow us. We strive to satisfy!
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