The most common question Pooja Bhatia gets about her biography is: “Iowa? How did your parents end up in Iowa?” The answer: “Brain drain.” Actually, two brain drains. Her parents were part of the post-Nehru, technocratic generation of Indians that came to the U.S. at the very same time that small towns in the midwest and south faced their own brain drain of doctors and engineers. As a result, her hometown of Clinton, Iowa (pop. 27,000) is more ethnically diverse than you probably imagine.
The second most common question is: “But what was it like, growing up in Iowa?” The answer: Great. Pooja has since lived in Cambridge, Mass. (for college and law school at Hahvahd, and yes, if you say it like that often you will make her uncomfortable), Anniston, Ala., Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Brooklyn, NY, and she can report, with all sincerity, that Iowa is indeed a good place to grow.
The third question tends to be “Haiti? Why’d you go to Haiti?” Well, that’s a long story, and it involves curiosity, justice, love, friendship and music. She stayed there for four years and got the education of her life. She also did some human rights work and wrote for the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the London Review of Books and other publications. Pooja currently lives in Brooklyn, but remains the undisputed Mango Eating Champion of Port-au-Prince.