• Monday, June 24, 2024


on Aug 20, 2019
Interview by bookGeeks: Dr. Scott Haas has had several works to his credits. He is a passionate writer and a clinical psychologist based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In conversation with bookGeeks, Dr. Haas talks about his recent book “Those Immigrants! Indians in America”.
bookGeeks: Dr. Haas, Greetings from India. To start with, tell us something about yourself.
Dr. Scott Haas: I’m a writer and clinical psychologist, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I write, read, run, cook, walk the dog, watch and go to Celtics basketball games, and have a clinical practice. My practice is 99% consultative, and in urban communities of colour, chiefly, where I do state and federal disability evaluations; I also work in two private psychiatric hospitals. Most of my work is interviewing, usually diagnostic. When I’m not here, I’m in Japan or Switzerland two or three times a year and in NYC a lot. Married, two kids.
bookGeeks: Has your profession as a Clinical Psychologist helped you in your writing? If yes, how?
Dr. Scott Haas: Clinical psychology has helped a lot in terms of analytical thinking, acceptance of what people say, trying never to judge, buttressing empathy, fostering curiosity, developing research skills, and honing interview skills. I love to interview people.
bookGeeks: Can you shed some light on ‘Those Immigrants!: Indians in America’? Especially in the current scenario in the wake of the executive order on Immigration by the Donald Trump administration.
Dr. Scott Haas: I started the book about five years ago when I was on holiday in a house by a lake in Kerala with my wife and kids. At first, it was inspired by a recognition that more and more people were coming to work from India in Boston in places where I worked, and I wondered more deeply what had brought these individuals to the States, and what challenges they faced and what skills they used to overcome or accept these challenges. In line with that, I wanted to surmount stereotypes about successful groups, whether Indians or Jews or Chinese or Koreans, and to see what actual strengths and strategies existed rather than nonsense like “Tiger Mothers” or genetic intellect. After the book came out, I realized, kind of sheepishly, that my own background as the son of a political refugee from Germany who came to the States in 1941 played a role in the choice of what to write. Trump’s regime was a strange, unhappy coincidence. The book within the context of the Trump Presidency is fortuitous in the sense that it demonstrates who people are, one by one, who came to the States with hope.
bookGeeks: What methodologies did you adopt for your research in this book?
Dr. Scott Haas: I started by choosing people I knew or wanted to know based on their work. These individuals introduced me to their friends and colleagues. I interviewed people and wrote down their stories.
bookGeeks: What was the inspiration behind writing a book on Indians immigrants in America? What drew you to the subject?
Dr. Scott Haas: Mostly, as noted, it is an effort to understand what skills a successful immigrant has; the lessons of the group are applicable to other groups, immigrant or not, such as mentorship, education, family, understanding hierarchies, and so on.
bookGeeks: Please tell us something about the other book(s) that you have penned.
Dr. Scott Haas: Gosh. Hmmm. “Hearing Voices,” my first book is about my training year as a doctoral intern at a Harvard Medical School hospital in Boston. The second book, “The Da Silvano Cookbook,” is a straight-ahead cookbook with stories about a famous restaurant that was in West Village, NYC for forty years. (I write a lot about food.) “Are We There Yet?” is a book about the many trips we took as a family, my wife and I and our kids, renting or trading houses. “Back of the House,” is a book about the psychology of chefs and those who work in restaurants, and has a number of chapters about famous chefs in NYC. I’m working now on a book about a boy who was left in the mountains in Japan by his parents.
bookGeeks: Please share your other interests with our readers, outside of your profession and writing.
Dr. Scott Haas: I run, write, read, hike, cook, and walk the dog. As noted, I go to Japan a lot, and write extensively about the nation.
bookGeeks: Have you ever been to India? If yes, please share the experience with the readers and the places you visited.
Dr. Scott Haas: I’ve been to India three times, each visit was three-four weeks. The first visit was thirteen years ago. That was mostly running around: Delhi, Rajasthan, Agra. Seeing friends in Delhi. The second trip was amazing: We rented a cottage in Mashobra, near Shimla, and stayed a month—Monsoon, monkeys, reading, writing, sub-Himalayas, little treks, gin on the verandah, delicious food. The most recent visit was mostly in Kerala, renting a couple of houses, with a brief stay at the end in Mumbai. My son is currently getting his doctorate in political science/economy at NYU, and his research is chiefly in India so I’m sure we’ll be back very soon. And my wife is an MD who teaches Family Medicine at Boston University, with a program she runs in Cambodia, so it may be that her work will take her to India as well.

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