Meet Chicagoland's Immigrants: Christy Palangattil (country of origin: India)

While Chicago has one of the richest immigration histories among American cities, something seems to be changing. I would like you to meet some of the immigrants that are still living in Chicagoland. They'll tell you some things about themselves and about the area they live in.

Interview with Christy Palangattil

Could you please introduce yourself to us?

I am the biracial daughter of an Indian father and American mother. My parents met and married in the States, and I was born in Winfield, Illinois several years later. When I was 11 months old, we moved to India. We lived in Bangalore for many years, and I attended the Bangalore International School where I met people from all over the world.

When I was 15, my parents moved back to the United States. Moving right before my sophomore year was difficult, and it took me a long time to get over my culture shock. We had previously visited during the summer, but it was different to be permanently here. However, despite the rough teen years, I am so glad to have lived in two different countries. I love living in the US now, but I am glad that I also got the chance to grow up in India.

Lego exhibit at the MSI

Lego exhibit at the MSI

Which museum in Chicagoland do you enjoy best? Why that one?

I like the Museum of Science & Industry and the Art Institute best. I love the Museum of Science & Industry because it has so many fascinating exhibits and is great for all ages. I love the Art Institute because I love art, and the Institute has such an extensive and varied collection.

Since when have you moved to Chicagoland and how long do you still plan on staying? Why?

My family moved back to the Chicagoland area when I was 15. My family is still here, and we have no plans to move. I'd like to travel, but the Chicago area will be my home, at least as long as I have family in the area.

What's your favorite activity in Chicagoland? Why?

I love going to plays and musicals. Chicago has a wonderful theater scene, and I like taking advantage of that, especially since I was a music major. I also love eating out at good restaurants. Chicago has a wonderful food scene, and I like trying new restaurants and eating food from all over the world.

What do you like better in Chicagoland compared to your home country? Why that?

While we certainly have a long way to go, especially given Trump's win in the election, this is a better country for women. India is one of the worst countries in the world for women, and I'm glad that I'm not raising my daughter there.

Women's March in Chicago

Women's March in Chicago

What do you not like about living in Chicagoland? Why?

I don't like the weather. I don't like cold or humidity, and Chicago is bitterly cold in the winter and hot and humid in the summer.

What's your favorite restaurant in Chicagoland? Why that one?

Frontera Grill. I've eaten there many times, and each time it has been an amazing experience. I had no idea that Mexican cuisine was so varied until I ate at Frontera. I especially love the ceviche there.

Which typical Chicago dish can you recommend? Where do you get it?

I'd recommend both Chicago deep dish pizza from Gino's East or Giordano's, and Chicago style hot dogs. The hot dogs from the little stand outside the Shedd Aquarium are amazing!

Which movie, shot in Chicagoland, do we have to see? Why?

The Blues Brothers. The music is great, the acting is hysterical and so much of the city is showcased in the movie.

Where/how have you met new friends after you moved to Chicagoland?

Since I moved when I was 15, I made my closest friends through high school, college and graduate school.

Chicago Cubs Christmas Tree at the MSI

Chicago Cubs Christmas Tree at the MSI

How Americanized are you?

I think I'm pretty Americanized, but I do get frustrated at how unaware so many people are about the rest of the world. I'm proud of being an American, but I don't think we're a perfect nation, and I think it's ridiculous to pretend that we are and to refrain from critiquing the state of our nation. I think that the idea of American Exceptionalism is abused and often used in a dangerous way to keep people from thinking about the problems that we have in this country.

Winter in Chicagoland

Winter in Chicagoland

Thank you so much for answering these questions. Although I know you pretty well, this interview has taught me more about you. We will definitely have to try out Frontera Grill and re-watch The Blues Brothers, since I saw that move before I had ever been to Chicago. I think your view on the world is well thought through and open minded, that's one of the things why  I am proud to call you my friend.

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