Yearning for peace and stability

Kuldip Singh Pangli  


When describing the spirit of his native home, Kuldip said, “We are farmers, we are Sikh, and we work hard. That’s what we do.”  

Kuldip was born and raised in the state of Punjab, an agricultural region in northern India, and his faith is a central force in his life. As a Sikh, he follows three main principles: constantly keeping God in his thoughts, earning a living through honest effort, and serving others with kindness and generosity. “No one will ever go away hungry from a Sikh temple,” he said. “You can show up in the middle of the night and they will feed you for free.”

He and his parents moved to the United States in 1996, motivated by more than a decade of unrest and violence: anti-Sikh riots swept through India in late 1984, resulting in the deaths of more than 10,000 Sikhs. Although most of the violence occurred in Delhi, about 300 miles to the south, Kuldip’s family felt threatened.

“After 1984, we had a bad situation with terrorism and stuff like that,” Kuldip said. “We are peaceful people. We don’t want to hurt anybody. Everybody wanted to come to a peaceful life, and America was a peaceful country.” The family moved to northern Wisconsin in 1996 to join his eldest brother, who had recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Superior, and later they moved to Madison.

In 2007 Kuldip and his wife, Karamjit, moved to Fort Atkinson and purchased the Mobil gas station and convenience store on Janesville Avenue. Today he and Karamjit work together running the store, and they’re glad to have found a safe and stable place to raise their two sons, who attend Fort Atkinson High School.

“We came for a peaceful life,” Kuldip said. “We work together and we are enjoying our life. People are so nice and friendly.”

This portrait and story are part of "A Place to Call Home," a special exhibition by writer and photographer Lori Compas at the Hoard Historical Museum in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.