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Sunday, May 1, 2016

India to SL, Pronto duo here to stay

Thursday, October 4, 2001

Most people must travel only a few miles to arrive at the Pronto store located on Highway 110 on the southwest side of Storm Lake.

The new proprietors of the convenience station, however, traveled over two continents and the Pacific Ocean to get there.

Sabby and Mona, owners of the operation since July 16, came to Storm Lake via California and India, and said they were excited about their experience in Storm Lake over the past two months.

"Our time here has been very good so far," Sabby, 28, said. "In fact, many of the people have encouraged me and given me tips on what to do or how best to proceed in a certain situation. They've all been very helpful."

Sabby, who goes by only his first name, came to the United States six years ago from the city of Amritsar, the spiritual center of Punjab, a state located in northwest India bordering Pakistan.

After earning a degree in economics in India, Sabby obtained a master's degree in hotel management from UCLA in Los Angeles, and decided to come to Iowa because of the low-key lifestyle the state had to offer.

"It was really my dream to settle in the United States and own a small business," Sabby said.

"I saw a peaceful atmosphere here in Storm Lake, and that was an environment I wanted to raise my kids in," Sabby continued. "Small towns are always better than big towns for that purpose, because you get to know your neighbors face to face and can connect with people in the community."

Another reason Sabby said he decided to come to the U.S. was the freedom of mobility it offered to everyone regardless of their birth or religion, unlike religions in India, which he said put a more restrictions on what its citizens can and cannot do.

"There is much more independence here," Sabby said. "The United States is a more open-minded country, and there is more opportunity here to show your efficiencies. You can be what you want to be."

The present-day situation between the United States and Afghanistan may mean conflict near his homeland.

"The situation is pretty peaceful over there right now, because India is helping the United States with fuel and army provisions," Sabby said. "I still talk to many people over in India today, and the Indians are in favor of what the United States is doing over there."

Sabby and Mona, meanwhile, are in favor of life in Storm Lake, and Sabby said he is excited about what a future in northwest Iowa can offer.

"We plan on staying here a long time," Sabby said. "We think Storm Lake is simply a great place to be."