by Parth Shah
There’s a story I like to tell that my mom hates.
It goes back to my parents’ first few years in the U.S. So my dad immigrated by himself to a suburb outside of Seattle in 1991. Less than a year later, my mom and my sister left India to join him. I came into the picture not too long after.
My dad worked full-time at a gas station and my mom stayed home to take care of us.
One evening when my dad came home from work, he asked my mom what she did with us that day. My mom told him that she took my sister and me to the aquarium.
When my dad asked her which aquarium, she told him it was the one in the back of the supermarket. As a lifelong vegetarian, my mom didn’t know that the live lobsters kept in tanks at the back of the grocery store were meant for eating.
My mom was born and raised in Amdavad, it’s a large city in the Indian state of Gujarat. She grew up in a world surrounded by other devout Hindus who practiced strict vegetarianism. That means no beef, no chicken, no seafood, no eggs.
My parents raised my sister and me as vegetarians in a world eight thousand miles away from Amdavad, where to this day vegetarianism is still not completely understood because it’s the norm.
The second episode of Hyphen is all about decisions. You’ll meet people who’ve chosen to live their life in ways that set them apart from the social norm.