While looking for Halal Carts to interview, I walked upon the most famous one of them all: The Halal Guys. Beginning as a food cart in the 1990s, The Halal Guys has become a fast casual restaurant that has taken over the world. There are now approximately 70 carts/stores and many more opening throughout the world. People in countries as far as the Philippines are now franchising The Halal Guys to serve people a platter of chicken over rice. I got the chance to speak with the Director of Operations/Manager of the first original cart on 53rd St. Now, there are roughly 7 Halal Guys carts in approximately a 100ft radius all serving hungry customers. There is a never-ending line of awaiting customers that only gets longer at night. The manager was very nice and told me a fascinating anecdote about how he started working for The Halal Guys in 2004 as a dishwasher. Throughout the years with his dedicated hard-work, he was able to rise the ranks and ultimately be at his high position he is at today in the corporation. I think this anecdote goes along well with the general attitude many newly-arrived immigrants hope for – the mantra that if one were to put in the dedicated effort, then one will eventually see the fruits of one’s labor. The story has a nice ending to it, but I also interviewed Halal Cart workers who are on the other side of the table.
At another cart just a few blocks away from, a worker explained to me how he sold only $10 worth of food in nearly 4 hours! I was shocked. This cart is a few blocks away from The Halal Guys, so no one really buys from it. Business was terrible for this newly immigrated worker who faced the negatives of capitalism.
After our discussion about cultural food in class, Raian and I were pretty hungry and decided to get some Indian buffet food. We choose to eat at a buffet because we were basically starving until that moment and wanted to fill ourselves up. After walking around a few places examining the price, menu and other various factors, we decided to go with Dhaba, a Punjabi Cuisine place that offers both dining, takeout, and delivery. Dhaba is a sort of higher class Indian restaurant that has been recognized for its outstanding Indian cuisine, excellent service, and friendly staff. Additionally, with waiters and chefs from South Asia, it was easy to see that Dhaba tried to portray a more authentic look. In contrast, Raian and I have also gone to places like Haandi, which provide Indian food for a lower price and the waiters and chefs are from a Mexican descent. Additionally, the environment at Dhaba was very different from Haandi. Dhaba was a lot cleaner, customer-friendly, and the food was, in general, more fresh and tasty. On the other hand, Handi was a lot more dirty, noisy and less aesthetically-pleasing. At Haandi, the food was not as authentic in comparison to the food in Dhaba as well. I think the fact that Haandi does not have chefs from India ultimately does hinder it from reaching its full potential. When people typically go to an Indian restaurant, they want a cultural feel in which they eat food that was cooked by someone typically of Indian descent. However, I think at Haandi this criterion is not met and causes it to lose potential customers.
With President Trump’s recent pejorative comments against illegal immigrants and an executive order banning six countries (Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iran) that have a Muslim majority population from entering the United States, it becomes increasingly transparent of the xenophobic characteristics of policy makers in Washington and their supporters. Often not, these comments and orders are backed up with fallacious comments that the Trump Administration advances as the truth.
In class on Wednesday, we discussed the New York Times article “Here’s the Reality About Illegal Immigrants in the United States.” The article was an interesting read that shed light on the actual facts based on real statistics and data about the current situation with illegal immigrants in America, and not the one purported by the Trump administration.
For example, the article elucidates that only 2.7% of all illegal immigrants have been convicted of a felony. In comparison, based on a Princeton University study, “about 8.6% of the adult population has a felony conviction.” Trump uses phrases such as “rapists” and “murderers” to describe illegal immigrants, but this is clearly not the situation. Furthermore, another interesting fact in the article explained the means of how most immigrants essentially became “illegal.” Rather than furtively crossing the Mexican-US border, most illegal immigrants are illegal due to just overstaying their visas.
The graph above shows that although crossing over the Mexican border may have been the largest cause of illegal immigration during the turn of the century, the most prevalent cause of illegal immigration today is overstaying one’s visa. I was personally most astonished by this fact because the Trump administration so vehemently asserts that a wall needs to be placed in the Mexico-US border to effectively stop illegal immigration. However, this graph shows that border security in the south has been improving and efforts should actually be placed in monitoring visa stays.
I think this article brings about many key points and it was great we got the chance to discuss its importance in class on Wednesday. Moving on, we should monitor more carefully what politicians and people with power say so that “alternative facts” are not accepted as the truth. I think social media sites such as Facebook allows for these “fake news” stories to be shared so frequently and then eventually be accepted as facts by the general population. Facebook has heard of these complaints and had created a new service which starts to flag fake news stories (http://wwlp.com/2017/03/10/facebook-taking-steps-to-stop-the-spread-of-fake-news/). Although this feature is too late because I think these fake news stories played a vital part in swinging the election, it will ultimately be very beneficial and eventually stop false facts from permeating social media.