So much has already been written about our friend, Mr. Asim Datta, that we when we sat down to interview him for “I, Foreign Born,” we wondered if we could add anything more! Asim smiled and said that if we wanted to, we could just have a pleasant conversation between friends and see what came out of it.
Indeed, we wanted to visit with him because, over the years, we have come to know Asim as a very gentle, caring person. We also admire him for his involvement in many worthy organizations that have enhanced the lives of all of us living in Northeast Ohio. Among these are: the International Community Council-Worldwide Intercultural Network (aka ICC-WIN); the Cleveland Cultural Gardens; the Cleveland Museum of Art; and the International Services Center which, in 2016, was incorporated into the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants-Cleveland (aka USCRI); the Federation of India Community Associations of Northeast Ohio (aka FICA Cleveland) for which he is now a board member after having served as its president for several years. He told us that his goal is to raise the visibility of the Indian community in Northeast Ohio and make people aware of its presence and its accomplishments in almost all professional fields including medicine and technology. Most importantly, he wants to create possibilities for those who are not a part of the Indian community to understand its culture and, in turn, help his own people build bridges with the Greater Cleveland community.
Asim came to Cleveland from Kolkata (once known as Calcutta) about thirty-six years ago. As a self-employed marketing/advertising consultant, he wanted to see those techniques in the United States because, at the time, what was going on here was quite advanced thanks to our exclusive grasp of multiple media.
Due to innumerable personal friendships with many Americans, and exposure to American films, literature, news media, Asim had already accumulated a lot of knowledge about our culture here in the United States before he even arrived. Even so, he still had interesting stories to tell involving the subtle differences between Anglo-English (which he was well-versed in) and American-English (which he wanted to acquire).
Asim worked in the academic computer services department at Tri-C. Initially, Asim planned to only stay in the United States for a couple of years but he and his wife liked it so much that they decided to remain in this country permanently. So, their daughter, Priya, was born here. This has proven to be a very good thing for her because opportunities for advancement are better here in the United States than they are in other locales. At this time, Priya is now a first-year law student at Georgetown and Asim has nothing but optimism about her future.
Around 1992, Asim launched “Point-To-Point Worldwide” which became a very prominent enterprise specializing in international travel. Asim credits its success to the very high level of service their clients received irrespective of where in the world they were. Even though the agency is no longer advertising its services, over the years a lot of people came to know and trust Asim so he makes himself available to continue to guide them in their travel needs.
In the course of our discussion, the subject of his upbringing naturally came up and we were intrigued by the revelation that he was born on the very day day that Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated; nevertheless, the Mahatma remained an important force in his family’s household and his teachings were revered.
In addition to his parents and his three siblings, the house was also home to his grandfather who taught the children a lot about the values of peace, respect and non-violence. Asim believes that the positive interaction between three generations living in close proximity to each other was an important factor in terms of molding him into the person that he now is.
As he reflected upon his life, Asim told us that he believes that it is important that a person rid himself/herself of the negativities associated with anger and hatred.
In terms of his own purpose, Asim quietly voiced, “I do what I have a passion for which is to bring people together in this community as a unified group.”
Along these lines, on that very day Asim was scheduled to attend a meeting regarding the creation of the much-awaited Centennial Plaza in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens.
It says a lot about Asim’s character that when we told him that we would send him this interview so that he could read it before we posted it, he replied that he would probably make suggestions in order to avoid and eliminate unintended errors, he would not re-write what we had written because, “I respect your work.”