Where Are You From?

Joya Dass
2 min readMay 31, 2023

A question I get in airports, taxi cabs, and while shopping

Photo by abolova . on Unsplash

I get asked this question often.

In New York City taxi cabs.

Clothing shopping in Florence.

This morning, going through airport security in Frankfurt.

I stepped onto the platform, placing both feet akimbo on the yellow foot prints, to test for any metal or whatever the machines scan for. I was weary from a missed connection and unexpected overnight stay in Germany.

I raised my hands above my head for the scan. The airport attendant shimmied up in a mock dance posture, matching my hands to his in a make believe ballroom dance.

“Where you from?”

And there it is.

“My parents are from Calcutta and Burma.”

“Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore?” He’s rattling off cities he knows in a thick German accent.

“I’m American.”

And if you heard the snark in my voice, you would also hear, “New York City.”

His colleague, tone-deaf, chimes in “Bollywood! I love Bollywood.”

It’s funny how a complex identity can reduced to a limited understanding of one social identity.

I interviewed Subha Barry, CEO of Seramount, in 2021. I’ll always remember this line. “Each week, make a concerted effort to have dinner with one person who doesn’t look like you, sound like you, is different from you. That’s how you can champion diversity at an individual level.”

I’ve created the event.

I’m hosting a founder story in Brooklyn this Saturday 12–2pm EDT. There is 1 spot remaining for 1 woman leader. Register here.

Make this the one event you attend this week, that allows you to meet someone different than you.



Joya Dass

If you have a goal and want the steps to make it your reality, I have a solution. www.joyadass.com