He is now in the process of making a documentary film.
The project became a series of astonishments for Bald.
"I think the revelations I had along the way had to do with how resourceful both of these groups of men were in dealing with a home country that was under the rule of the British and on the other hand, another country that was closing its doors to them and passing increasingly more restrictive and racist immigration laws," Bald said.
Aladdin Ullah, whose one-man act "Dishwasher Dreams" explores his father's experiences, imagined how difficult life must have been for the Bengalis.
"These were illiterate men who came to America with hopes of a better life. That's like me going to Sweden to start a Mexican restaurant," he said.
"They learned the American hustle, not the American Dream."
Ullah was young when his father died.
"I rejected my culture. I was a hip-hop kid, a kid from Harlem. I listen to rap. I didn't have any connection to Bengalis."
But it was an acting role that led Ullah to reconsider his father's identity.
He was preparing to play the part of a stereotypical Middle Eastern prince in a Hollywood movie. "Death to America," he shouted at the mirror, practicing his line.
He reflected on his father. He was not a king; he was a dishwasher.
"I felt my father's presence in that hotel room."
Ullah wanted to know more.
Habib Ullah and Ibrahim Chowdry likely arrived in New York City some time in the 1920s.
Chowdry had been a student leader back home in East Bengal and fled after British authorities were alerted to his activities. He rose to prominence in New York as a Bengali community leader.
Habib Ullah came from Noakhali in what is now Bangladesh and settled in Harlem.
Ullah left East Bengal's rural Noakhali district at the young age of 14, traveled to Calcutta and found a job on an outgoing ship.
Bald's book documents Ullah's arrival in Boston, where he either jumped ship or fell ill. His son, Habib Ullah Jr., always thought his father had gotten lost.
Either way, he ended up in New York, married a Puerto Rican woman, Victoria Echevarria, and moved to East Harlem.