Sadruddin Noorani is a Pakistani-American immigrant, and arrived to the United States at the age of 23 in San Diego, CA. Here, he describes his journey and how America became home.
I actually did not come to America to live or study in the USA. I was working in the merchant navy and my ship came to USA from Brazil to Mexico and we were in Mexico for almost a month, and from Mexico we came to San Diego. We did not have any order of where to go at the time and so our ship anchored in San Diego and we were there indefinitely. We didn’t know how long we would stay because we didn’t have any business. We were anchored outside the port, about maybe three miles away from the port. The captain told us that we don’t know how long we would be there.
We were working everyday from eight to five in the boat and then in the evening we would get out everyday, for shopping, to go to the restaurant, float around, have fun, and things like that. So one day, when we returned from having fun and around 8 o’clock or 8:30 the boat was gone. There was no boat. It was 24th of December, which is Christmas Eve, and no port authority, no customs, no immigration, no agent, not too many people around, just a couple of people in the port. And we asked them, “What do I do? What happened to our ship? Do you know anything about it?” And they said, “Your ship was gone about an hour ago.” We started looking for people who could help us, because we did not have any documents, no passport, everything was in the boat. Then, we decided to stay in a motel, we didn’t have much money because all of our belongings and money, everything was in the boat.
We only came out of the boat with whatever we needed to use for the day, so we did not have much money. So we stayed over night, we were three people, left out – we got stranded. We stayed in a motel, the next day we had breakfast, and we started looking for an agent who would help us, and nobody was there to help, because it was now Christmas Day, the 25th of December. Everything was closed, we came back again to the port, looked around to get help. No help. Finally, we started looking for other options. I started calling my consulate services to issue me a passport, so we could go back. They could not recognize who we are, and they said, “If you don’t have proper documents, we will not issue you any documents.”
So that’s how I got stuck here for a longer time, and then started working, and going to school. And then, I ended up here finally. Because the passport took almost six months for me to get, actually more than six months. By then everything was scattered. I started a new life in USA. I came to Chicago and I got settled here. I liked it so much that now I don’t want to go anywhere. This is home, home sweet home.