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Hoosier reflects on first year of citizenship, a journey more than two decades in the making

Maisum Ali Farid
Posted at 10:40 AM, May 16, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — "The field of 33" most commonly refers to the starting lineup of the Indianapolis 500. But for the first time in 2022, there was a second field of 33: 33 newly naturalized U.S. citizens.

Among the field was Maisum Ali Farid. While Farid officially became a citizen in 2022, he’s been a Hoosier much longer than that.

“We’re part of this community even though I just became a citizen,” Farid said.

He knows Indiana culture inside and out. From attending events like the Indiana Black Expo and Indianapolis 500, and even Bloomington’s Little 500, Farid has lived an authentic Hoosier experience.

But his upbringing began on the other side of the globe.

Farid and his family moved to Indiana when he was 12 years old.

“We came here legally,” Farid said. “My dad was going to do business, and we had a visa. We had everything in motion.”

That was until September 11, 2001.

“At that point, a lot of our documents were revoked,” Farid said.

Revoked because Farid says he had three things that working against him.

“I’m Muslim. I’m from Pakistan and I grew up in Saudi Arabia. That kind of pushed our timeline much longer.”

A timeline that much like the Indianapolis 500, was a test of endurance and grit.

“Before getting my citizenship, there was always a question mark about what was going to happen,” Farid said. “That’s why I tried to get all of my degrees in as soon as I could.”

Farid became a homeowner, published author, and restaurateur all before becoming a U.S. citizen. Farid is the CEO & creative director of Chapati and Shani's Secret Chicken located in the International Marketplace on Indy’s west side.

“This is our neighborhood,” Farid said. And although it feels like home, it hasn’t been an easy journey.

“It’s the most difficult business people can do, but it’s also the most rewarding,” Farid said.

Farid credits their loyal customers for uplifting the business.

“Tolerance is just a stepping point, right? We all need to try this cuisine. We all need to listen to each other's music. At least try, that's where it all starts. After that, things always get easier. It's the first step that is always the most difficult.”

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