A word from Chitra

by Chitra

Nearly thirty years ago Michigan State University offered both my husband and I each a half-time graduate assistantship to pursue a PhD in mathematical statistics.

For two people living day to day with a small daughter, in a poor third world country, it was a god’s send.

There was one catch. We had to pay our own way to get to US. After selling everything we owned, we had just enough money to buy tickets for two of us, but not for our daughter. Then we found out, at that time, airlines allow children under the age of two to travel free as long as they sat on their parents lap. So, we booked our flights and came to this wonderful country, two days before our daughter’s second birthday, with two suitcases and only $50 in hand – but most importantly: with a lot of hope.

In the middle of our studies, I remember my advisor telling me that due to the Reagan budgets cuts to higher education, MSU had to reduce my assistantship in half. That was my first experience with a Republican administration.

Living in Michigan as full time graduate students, taking care of a little girl with a small stipend, wasn’t easy. We could never afford new clothes, books, cars or really anything new for that matter. I can remember in winter walking knee deep in snow, carrying grocery bags with my little girl trotting behind me, making snow angles on her way, bundled up in the warm jacket that others had donated to the community swap box.

Fast forward a few years, and after a lot of hard work both my husband and I earned our PhDs and went on to become college professors, and today we can send our daughter to a graduate school without worrying about loans. In fact, today we are living our American dream.

That is why when I heard then Senator Obama give that rousing speech at the 2004 convention, I thought to myself, ‘that is my story he is telling’.

By the time he started saying, “in no other country on earth is my story even possible” tears were rolling down my cheeks.

We knew that was true, because we had lived through it.

After that speech, I started reading everything I could, including his two books, to better understand how someone could so completely understand what we too saw as the American dream. The day his candidacy was announced, I was elated at the news.

I used to tell my daughter, when she complained, that it is not the material things that matter, it is something we have to understand and enjoy immensely everyday in this country – it is freedom and education that matters.

The country I came from practically had no freedom of speech, no freedom of press or none of the freedoms that we take for granted here. Yet, we had one important right: every six years we are allowed to vote to elect a government of our choice. This is the only freedom we have without government intrusion, the only chance we get to say something about our government without getting beaten.

We treasured and guarded it with our lives. That is why, usually, almost 95% of the population votes every time there is an election, some even risking their lives.

We always knew how important voting is and we never took that right for granted. We know the power it has on our education, the power it has on our social well being, the power it has in every aspect of our lives.

Growing up in this country, my daughter was so cynical and skeptical about politics. So, when Senator Obama announced his candidacy I just asked her one simple thing: just listen to him and make your own judgment. When my daughter believes in something, she does everything to see it through.

So, she took a break from her graduate program, became a field organizer for the 2008 Obama campaign and started telling our story at house parties and meetings, bringing tears to the audience and convincing them how much we need his vision and to vote and organize for him.

I don’t know whether I am as good as she is at telling this, but if I can convince at least one person how much is at stake in this election, how much we need President Obama to save our education and our social well being, I have accomplished something.

We need to organize, donate as much as we can – and volunteer.

I know one thing for sure: we need him now more than ever.


108 Responses to “A word from Chitra”

  1. 4 aristac
    May 1, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    ooh nice pic

  2. 5 Ladyhawke
    May 1, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Love you madly Chips. Have a good night dear.

  3. 7 vitaminlover
    May 1, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    God bless you.

    • 8 phoenixriz
      May 2, 2012 at 1:20 am

      Dr. Chitra, what a moving story. I am so happy that you, your husband and baby made it to the US. You brought tears to my eyes. If only more Americans knew how fortunate they are to be born in this country. It is extremely important that we work to re-elect our President and CIC. Blessings and happiness to you and your family. I will pass your story on to others.

  4. 9 aristac
    May 1, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Fire broken out at Tyler Perry’s Studio

  5. 12 hopefruit2
    May 1, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Chitra thanks so much for sharing your heartwarming and dynamic story of perseverance, hope, courage as well as belief in President Obama!

    • 13 Hachikō
      May 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      Yes, thank you, Chitra. I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard Barack speak at the 2004 DNC. I didn’t cry, then, but I was awed, and like you, began to devour everything I could about this man. I’ve cried when he won in ’08 and have cried many times since because of his goodness and my continued awe of him.

      Your story brought tears to my eyes, and I thank you for sharing it. I thank you for your passion for this country and its possibilities. I thank you for your love and support of our President.

      Blessings, Chitra.

  6. 14 GGail
    May 1, 2012 at 11:05 pm


  7. 16 GGail
    May 1, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    Ok, I’m signing off with that HOT picture seared in my mind.

    Good night all. Thank you Chipsticks!

  8. 17 Pamela
    May 1, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    What a beautiful story, chitra, thank you so much for sharing it, and for letting me be first, even tho I had already said goodnight TOD!

  9. 18 utaustinliberal
    May 1, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Chitra, thank you so much for telling your story. It’s beautiful. Experiences like yours makes me fight even harder to make sure Pres. Obama is reelected.

  10. May 1, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Oh my, my harrumph was all about not coming in first. It seems I posted after something rather serious. Did not mean to offend.

  11. 21 Walking_on_ Sunshine
    May 1, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story Chitra. 🙂

  12. 22 utaustinliberal
    May 1, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Thanks so much for this BernyP. 🙂

  13. 24 aristac
    May 1, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Wasn’t there suppose to be a state dinner the Japanese PM or am I thinking of something else?

  14. May 1, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Oh this is the best thing I’ve read today. Beautiful!

  15. 28 Ladyhawke
    May 1, 2012 at 11:22 pm


    I loved the history lesson on Afghanistan. The American people and Republicans can not be reminded enough about the mess that was created by the Bush administration.


    Tonight, I’d like to speak to you about this transition. But first, let us remember why we came here. It was here, in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden established a safe haven for his terrorist organization. It was here, in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda brought new recruits, trained them, and plotted acts of terror. It was here, from within these borders, that al Qaeda launched the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children.

    And so, 10 years ago, the United States and our allies went to war to make sure that al Qaeda could never again use this country to launch attacks against us. Despite initial success, for a number of reasons, this war has taken longer than most anticipated. In 2002, bin Laden and his lieutenants escaped across the border and established safe haven in Pakistan. America spent nearly eight years fighting a different war in Iraq. And al Qaeda’s extremist allies within the Taliban have waged a brutal insurgency.

    But over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan security forces. We devastated al Qaeda’s leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders. And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set — to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild — is now within our reach.



    • 29 Cha
      May 2, 2012 at 1:08 am

      Si, Bravissimo! Thank you for this, Ladyhawke. And, I thank PObama was this briiliant summary of his and his TEAM’s Work since he’s been in office and the history of it all.

  16. 30 Tally
    May 1, 2012 at 11:31 pm


  17. May 1, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    CNN is reporting that a suicide car bomb went off after President Obama visited Afghanistan on Tuesday. In addition, the Associated Press reports that an Afghan official said three explosions and a shooting occurred in the eastern part of the capital. More details to come…

    WHOA! That was close!

    • May 1, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      hence the need to keep his visit a secret and dismiss quickly all the earlier tweets of PBO heading to Afghanistan….

    • 35 isonprize
      May 2, 2012 at 12:10 am

      I’m sure AF1 was idling on the runway, ready for wheels up at any given second. They had a plan A, B, C and D, to get Pres. Obama in and out of Afghanistan safely.

    • 36 anniebella
      May 2, 2012 at 4:39 am

      jovie141, I don’t mind saying that I am glad President Obama is out of that country and on his way home.

  18. 37 desertflower
    May 1, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Beautiful, heartfelt, real thoughts on what it means to be an American….and what America means to so many. Thank you for all you do, Dr. Chitra!

  19. 38 collegekay
    May 1, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    That is such a wonderful story you should email it to OFA!

    • 39 Cha
      May 2, 2012 at 1:14 am

      Mega Excellent Idea, collegekay! Thank you, Chitra, for your magnificent story and thank you, Chips for posting it. I’d been looking for it ’cause I missed it on the blog but saw that you were going to repost.

  20. 40 amk for obama
    May 1, 2012 at 11:55 pm

  21. 45 sabreen60
    May 2, 2012 at 12:08 am

    What a wonderful and beautiful story.

  22. 46 auni
    May 2, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Most of you are asleep, but I have a question tonight. Today in the Vancouver WA paper, The Columbian, the political cartoon shows the president speaking to empty bleachers, with only one student who is on his phone and not looking at the President The caption is something about “he doesn’t have the young people’s support”. The drawing is in such contrast to the reality we see here of photos of cheering college students at the President’s speeches. I want to write a letter to the editor complaining about the cartoon. However, other then on this site there aren’t real pictures out there that I can direct people to. Can I mention this site in a letter to the editor? What would Chips say? Would that bring some haters here? Maybe I should just say what a lie the cartoon is and not mention this site?

    • 47 Tally
      May 2, 2012 at 12:35 am

      YES!!! Those photos should also be on whitehouse.gov I think.

    • 48 Tally
      May 2, 2012 at 12:38 am

      Sorry – MENTION THE SITE. Fuck this editor. Don’t worry about the haters – Chips filters new posters. DO IT. Chances are the Editor won’t print anything you write if he printed that cartoon. WHAT AN ASSHOLE.

      Can you link that page so we can ALL write to that asshat please?

    • 49 Cha
      May 2, 2012 at 1:32 am


    • 50 jackiegrumbacher
      May 2, 2012 at 7:38 am

      If a cartoon is supposed to evoke a sense of truth or make you smile, this one failed miserably because it’s an outright lie and a product of malice. The cartoonist is so filled with hate, he reflects his own wishes in his cartoon, not the reality. I think it helps to actually ridicule the cartoonist. Also a sad reflection on the paper that it would feature such such hate-filled material on its pages.

    • 51 edp4bho
      May 2, 2012 at 9:59 am

      Morning auni. I think it a good idea to get the actual number of the attendees at his most recent college rallies, with dates and locations, and send that info. If they care to seek truth, they will look it up. Otherwise, they are hiding from the truth, and hope that others will do the same. I heard a report this past Monday on news radio about PBO’s supposed lack of support from the young supporters who were instrumental in putting him in office. The reporter gave low numbers due to the economic situation, but when considering the war on women, his numbers supposedly have climbed to over 60% support among college students and young in general. More info needs to go out to this demographic, in my opinion, because being young, so many rely on their own small space and concerns. My 20 something niece last summer, posted on her FB page that she was going to vote for PBO because gas prices hadn’t “been this low in a long time”. She prefaced this with “I don’t know about the rest of you, but……….”. So that proved to me that some young folk really don’t understand what government does. Now that gas prices had risen, I have to wonder what she thinks now, if that was her premise for approval.

  23. May 2, 2012 at 12:30 am

    TALLAHASSEE — Community health centers across Florida will share $21.4 million in funding made possible by the Affordable Care Act, even as the state government continues its fight to invalidate the health care overhaul.

    The 15 Florida organizations receiving funding are part of a federal network of community health centers that cater to the poor and those lacking private insurance. The money received this year is expected to help the centers serve 41,190 new patients.

    In total, $728 million is being allocated nationwide to support renovation and construction projects at community health centers. The federal government has earmarked billions of dollars for thousands of centers to expand services and reach more patients.

    Other provisions of the health care law are also being implemented in Florida even as the Supreme Court considers the state’s case to have the law declared unconstitutional. Though the Legislature has refused to implement certain areas of the act, there are other provisions that don’t require the state to assist with implementation or pass through funds.


  24. May 2, 2012 at 12:32 am

  25. 54 SueBee
    May 2, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Chips!! This video is hilarious! This happens to be the dance company I dance with..I will never forget that day. Our goal right now is to get to the Obama WH to dance for Michelle and Barack Obama…Wish us luck 🙂

    • 55 Cha
      May 2, 2012 at 1:36 am

      But, we get to know what it feels like to get bin laden THANKS TO PBO! Wow SueBee, that looks like one Cool Dance Troup ..GOOD LUCK!

  26. 56 99ts
    May 2, 2012 at 12:42 am

    This Aussie is very late logging on today – but had to mention Jackie Weaver isn’t the only one down under who loves PBO – we all do – the collective sigh of relief when he won the election in 2008 could be heard in every corner of our land. (Sadly our own governments are heading to the right at the minute – but with hope not for too long – and they are no way far right – as in legislating against women.).

    I am amazed your President went to Afghanistan. I thought it slightly strange when I read the post saying he had “no official appointments listed” – should have known something was happening. So glad it all went well.

    And the post from Chitra – shows how just a small amount of help can make such an amazing difference. PBO sure understands.

    Thank you Chips for all the wonderful news and pictures from your world – has to be the most uplifting site on the internet.

    • 57 Cha
      May 2, 2012 at 1:42 am

      Hi Aussie 99ts! I’m up..I live on Kaua’i and it’s only 7:30pm here. I’m interested in anything Australian for one reason ’cause my son-in-law is from your fine country. And, Love that you Love our President Obama so much like we do. He’s only brilliant for the whole Planet!

      • 58 itgurl_29
        May 2, 2012 at 2:03 am

        I wish those “disgruntled” aka republican voting Navy Seal would come out against the President. I’d like to see them try it. You’d see a backlash against them like you wouldn’t believe. You don’t go after your own Commander in Chief and get away with it.

  27. May 2, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Thank you, Chitra…I adore your story.

  28. 60 sabreen60
    May 2, 2012 at 1:03 am

    Why the President cannot be swift-boated. This is a pretty good article. Short but sweet.


  29. 63 Bobfr (aka Our4thEstate)
    May 2, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Dear Chitra,

    Simply THANK YOU and let us hope these folk read your magnifcent, heart-touching message:




    Yes WE Must

  30. 67 desertflower
    May 2, 2012 at 1:27 am


    Some spectacular historical reporting by Professor Einer Elhauge of Harvard Law School in the New Republic thoroughly rebut the argument. He has found three mandate equivalents passed into law by the early Congresses—in which a significant number of founders served—and reports that these bills were signed into law by none other than Presidents George Washington and John Adams. As Founders go, one might consider them pretty senior in the hierarchy. Their acts can probably be relied upon to give us a reasonable idea what the Founders intended to be the scope of congressional and governmental power.
    Amazingly, the examples of individual mandates passed by the founders are so directly applicable that the claim that original intent precludes affirming the heath care act should become almost laughable:

    You HAVE to read the rest!

    • 68 Bobfr (aka Our4thEstate)
      May 2, 2012 at 1:29 am

      df, This Is A Remarkable Report!!!

      Dear Chips, If you can, in the am, please highlight this important essay. Thank you.


      • 69 desertflower
        May 2, 2012 at 1:37 am

        Will it matter to the Supremes/ Can you Tweet this to the proper people???

        • 70 Bobfr (aka Our4thEstate)
          May 2, 2012 at 1:45 am

          Will work on appropriate tweet and send during the day on Wed to as many as possible, df. It is such an important message. Thank you.


          • 71 desertflower
            May 2, 2012 at 1:51 am

            Oh goodness….I stumbled upon it in my rotations of sites I visit….maybe I should have gin and tonics more often:) It IS important,I just wonder if the truth will matter….

      • 72 desertflower
        May 2, 2012 at 1:40 am

        Here’s the tnr story by the Professor….worth the read!


        • 73 Cha
          May 2, 2012 at 2:02 am

          Mahalos, DesertFlower~

        • 75 desertflower
          May 2, 2012 at 2:02 am

          Just a snippet:

          Six years later, in 1798, Congress addressed the problem that the employer mandate to buy medical insurance for seamen covered drugs and physician services but not hospital stays. And you know what this Congress, with five framers serving in it, did? It enacted a federal law requiring the seamen to buy hospital insurance for themselves. That’s right, Congress enacted an individual mandate requiring the purchase of health insurance. And this act was signed by another founder, President John Adams.

          Not only did most framers support these federal mandates to buy firearms and health insurance, but there is no evidence that any of the few framers who voted against these mandates ever objected on constitutional grounds. Presumably one would have done so if there was some unstated original understanding that such federal mandates were unconstitutional. Moreover, no one thought these past purchase mandates were problematic enough to challenge legally.

  31. 76 geeja
    May 2, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Chitra thank you for a beautiful story.

  32. 77 LDS
    May 2, 2012 at 2:00 am

    Dear Chips, the only words that come in mind tonight are ………THANK YOU!
    What a day! What a President! What a Joy to be alive and experience all of this!

    Good night, Mr. President. Thank you for all that you do. God bless you , Michelle and the girls, Mrs. Robinson. Thank you all for the sacrifices you have made. God bless the troops in Afghanistan. Hold on. We are almost there. Thank you and your families for the sacrifices you have made.

    To the people of Afghanistan and Mr. Kazi……..PEACE.
    Sweet sleep everyone in TOD’ville.

    • 78 HZ
      May 2, 2012 at 2:29 am

      Beautifully said, LDS. With that, I will say thank you to our wonderful Chips and to all of my TOD Family who give so much to all of us daily. Thank you again, Mr. President. Get some rest and know that we love you and our men and women who are serving us all over this world. God’s blessings to you and our First Lady. (((((((((((((((((((((Good Night, TOD Family))))))))))))))))))))HZ

    • 80 jackiegrumbacher
      May 2, 2012 at 7:29 am

      Beautifully said, LDS

  33. 81 amk for obama
    May 2, 2012 at 4:36 am

    • 82 amk for obama
      May 2, 2012 at 4:37 am

      he Dow Jones index in New York has closed at its highest level for more than four years after data showed US manufacturing was stronger than expected in April.

      The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of manufacturing activity rose to 54.8 last month from 53.4 in March.

      A figure above 50 indicates expansion.

      The Dow rose 66 points to finish the session at 13,279, its highest since 28 December 2007.

      The index has been rising steadily since sinking below the 7,000 mark at the beginning of 2009, and broke back above 13,000 in February this year.

      The Nasdaq and the Standard & Poor’s 500 also closed higher on Tuesday.


      • May 2, 2012 at 7:52 am

        In the words of Mitt, let’s hold PBO accountable. I blame him for all of this good stock market news. Darn, he needs a stern punishment. Four more years.!!

  34. 84 anniebella
    May 2, 2012 at 4:37 am

    I believe it was the 2007-08 Republican primary when Rudy Giuliani said that Mitt Romney was a man without a core. Now yesterday he goes campaigning with that same man he claim had no core. Now either Romney grew a core, or Giuliani has no core eithter. I think it’s Giulani has no core either.

  35. 86 amk for obama
    May 2, 2012 at 4:38 am

    • 87 anniebella
      May 2, 2012 at 4:43 am

      What is McDonnell poll number? They can’t be all that good.

    • 88 jackiegrumbacher
      May 2, 2012 at 7:50 am

      I can’t imagine why anyone would think that the 2010 class of R Republican governors would be an asset as VP. They’ve all shown themselves to be nasty incompetents, mean in spirit and incapable of governing. So please, Romney, pick one of them. How about Scott Walker?

      • 89 amk for obama
        May 2, 2012 at 7:58 am

        since mittbot is a narcissist, I can’t imagine him picking anyone who has even with a slightly charisma than him. So it is probaly going to be another willard, the dullard.

  36. 90 chitra
    May 2, 2012 at 5:52 am

    Chips, Oh my, thank you I didn’t expect such an honor for my little story. I feel like I walked in to my third semester calculus class on the first day of the semester. Happy nervous and excited all at the same time

    • 91 Jax6655
      May 2, 2012 at 7:28 am

      Chitra, greetings from another MSU alumnus, this is a great story of the American Dream.

      Are you folks still in Lansing?

    • 96 jackiegrumbacher
      May 2, 2012 at 7:53 am

      Chitra, thank you so much for sharing your story. It angers me so much when people become lazy or cynical about voting. They just shrug their shoulders and say it doesn’t make a difference when the evidence before them is so startling. I wish your story and others like it could be broadcast across the country. People have to wake up and see what a precious right voting is and why we have to hold on to that right for dear life.

    • 97 globalcitizenlinda
      May 2, 2012 at 8:38 am

      thanks a lot for sharing the thoughts of some of us who have travelled so far to get here and experienced so much. we know exactly what you are saying in this write-up!

      the treasures that abound in this place can be greatly appreciated by those of us who have grown up with so little.

  37. 98 amk for obama
    May 2, 2012 at 6:15 am

  38. 99 LOL
    May 2, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Great read over at TPM

    “In other words, Romney’s actions have spoken louder than his awkward replies to the original bin Laden smackdown. In the face of attacks meant to show he can’t stand up to Osama bin Laden, Romney shows he can’t stand down the far-right homophobes in his own party.

    The two things are worlds apart. Literally. But they put Romney in the same place. ”


  39. 100 LOL
    May 2, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Thanks Newt!!!

  40. May 2, 2012 at 6:55 am

    TUCSON — Richard Carmona, the Democratic candidate for senator from Arizona, had a rough childhood in New York City. His Puerto Rican parents had drug and alcohol problems, and he was homeless for a time. He dropped out of high school and went to Vietnam, where he won two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars.

    When Carmona came back, he put himself through college and became a police officer. He once rescued a man on a cliff by rappelling from a helicopter. Another time, he saved a woman from an assailant and then shot and killed the man when he fired at Carmona.


  41. May 2, 2012 at 7:31 am

    I think this President has gotten better press 1 year after he ordered the killing of Bin Laden.
    If you recall(last year), the MSM all pimped GW Team as the ones who single handedly killed Bin Laden?

  42. May 2, 2012 at 9:33 am

    GOOOODDD getting up Morning to all my O’s!!!! Got up early this morning, got my run in, gonna do a little yard work before the thunderstorms move in. I saw the strangest thing on FOX this morning, before I got up. They had this tribute to the OBL killing going back to 9/11. There was this ominous theatrical music in the background and it actually dissed Bush and respected PBO (they probably didn’t mean to) . It was really eerire. Maybe, it was a dream.

  43. 108 cat48
    May 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Chitra, Thank you for sharing your story. It’s an inspiration. I don’t think ;people realize how much we have in our country to be thankful for; and I know a lot don’t realize what a gift President Obama has been during these hard times. You made me cry in a good way 🙂

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