A Journey In Black and Indian Love

A Peek inside the marriage of an African American woman and her East Indian spouse

India Trip Report March 27, 2010

Well, we finally have another trip to India under our belts. Out of all of the trips we’ve taken, I have to say that this one was by far one of the strangest in terms of things being out of whack for us.

I should have known things would be different when we got to the airport at 5:45 for our 6:15 flight. I can’t tell you what threw us behind because I honestly don’t know but fortunately we were able to make the flight with few problems. The trip was longer than usual because Continental has changed up the route that we generally took. It was an uncomfortable flight and when we finally landed in Delhi we discovered that my cell phone and a couple of bottles of medication were missing. We knew it was on the flight we had just gotten off of and we immediately went to the Continental office but they claimed nothing had been found.

Fast forward from the CRAZIEST taxi ride I’ve ever had and we land at the B and B which starts 8 days of M griping about everything he possibly can. “The soap is too small-what is this sample soap?!”, “The water is too cold.” “They want us to pay 40 ruppees for this?! Are they crazy?” blah blah blah.

I finally had an utter meltdown on him about the 6th day in because I couldn’t take the constant whining anymore. He was coming across as a spoiled Americanized brat.  Sure, I had my own complaints but it was only about the traffic and the way the drivers were insanely navigating through the streets. At one point during a particularly rocky rickshaw ride, it suddenly occurred to me just how much God protects us on a daily basis. Here I was riding in an aluminum can with no seatbelts in traffic where no one obeyed traffic laws, where everyone was racing to cut the next person off and it occured to me that I could die in this situation. For some reason in India, I become much more of a risk taker because I know certain things are related to culture and there’s very little I can change.

One of the best parts of our trip was my meeting with my in-laws.  For you long time blog readers you may remember me saying there was one sister of M”s whose husband openly told me they were against our marriage from the very beginning but he never told me why even though I asked repeatedly. I only met the sister and her husband once after our marriage and it was three years ago. Since then, whenever we visit India, I have refused to visit because I wanted an answer about why they were against our marriage. I don’t do fakeness and the last thing I was going to do is meet with someone who didn’t care for something that is such a major part of my life.

Anyway, since the last time I refused to meet with them, they pulled the kid card on me, meaning they kept telling me through M how disappointed their kids were because they had not met their American auntie.  When I have learned about M’s family is that they don’t believe in apologies the way I do.  Rather than apologize and say ‘we’d like to meet with you’, it was easier for them to use their children as a catalyst for another meeting. I’m okay with that because I understand.  I honestly believe they didn’t think M and I would last for as long as we have. Much of it has to do with M’s past as a wild child. They didn’t think he was ready for such a huge committment. I have since found out that the other reason is because I was a divorcee with two children, taking their precious never married brother.  ROLL EYES.

Anyway, I digress. We met with a great number of conditions on my end. I confess I was nervous for a number of reasons.  I shouldn’t have been. The visit was awesome.  I could tell M’s sister was a bit nervous too but evenutally we all warmed up to one another.  The kids are absolutely adorable and I immediately took to my niece Manya. They are both bright loving children.

M”s sister tried to stuff me with food. She even fried chicken for the first time because she thought I would like it. I later asked Manoj if it had anything to do with the stereotype that black people love fried chicken and he was mortified. He said “no way! If she knew there was a stereotype she would never have prepared it.” At one point when I was in the kitchen helping his sister, she said to me, “I like you, you’re all about family.” 

The  night before we left,  M and I took them all out for ice cream. The brother in law and I talked business, politics and family.  He told me, ‘  Even though we only met twice now, we’re close.’  That meant alot to me.  When we were parting from one another, everyone welled up a little bit.  Manya and I blew kisses at one another and I gave all of them big hugs which they aren’t accustomed to. I explained to them that I’m a hugger and do that to show them I love them. The kids just lit up at that.  Manoj’s sister and I exchanged a few whispers with one another and off we went.

We took lots of pictures of the trip and I even recorded a rickshaw ride. This brings me to my next piece of gut wrenching, sickening news. I lost my camera on the trip home.  The last place I remember defintely having it was in the Houston airport where I was trying to convince Manoj to take a picture in front of the big cowboy boots they have near the tram.  He refused so I took a picture of the boots themselves. We were on concourse B and stopped at the McDonalds which according to my investigation since, may have been where I left it.  I’ve called both the airports, talked to lost and found at Continental and even called the McDonalds where an employee working that day remembered seeing a small black bag that was left behind which she says she moved to the counter where they leave things passengers leave behind in case they return. She says she remembered a man picking up the bag. I have no way of knowing if it was mine or not. I can only hope and pray that the report I made both via phone and through Continental’s lost and found form online will lead me to the return of the camera. I’ve let everyone know they can keep the camera, I only want the sd card. I’m even offering a reward for it. I was looking forward to sending the pictures to Manoj’s mom because they would bring her so much joy.  Right now the only tangible memory I have from the trip is a newspaper I bought back home with me.  So sad.

I’m tentatively planning another trip to India in the next three months and this time we’re taking the kids with us.

I think I’ve written enough for this post. I hope everyone is well. Until the next blog….

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23 Responses to “India Trip Report”

  1. Empress Samantha Says:

    I have been waiting for you to write about your trip and it was well worth the wait!! Thanks for sharing with us. What really struck out was how your brother-in-law said he liked you because you’re all about family. That’s one thing that I respect and love about Asian cultures is their strong sense of family because we don’t see that in the States. I’m really close with my family and many in the US think its strange but when I go abroad its a different story. My dad told me that when we were in India (I was 2) someone told him he liked that my dad is so family-oriented because an American stereotype is that we don’t value family.

    So sorry about losing your camera. I hate when that happens, especially when you have so many memories and cool moments to share. I’m glad you worked things out with in-laws.

    I think its funny how M is becoming more Americanized and you’re being more laid back. Interesting dynamic.

  2. hotmanslayer Says:

    I love your blog and I hope you find your camera! Keep an eye out on this site and maybe somebody there will have your camera: http://ifoundyourcamera.blogspot.com/

    • blindianlove Says:

      Hi, thanks for posting this. Believe it or not I already visited this site. There are also a few more sites like this too. If I told you guys everything I’ve done to try to locate the camera you’d think I was insane. LOL. Thanks again for posting the link. You never know, it may help someone else.

  3. I’m so pleased for you that you’ve got all those old problems sorted out. :-) No more stress hormones whizzing around every time you think about the situation over there. It just shows what we can all achieve if we just “give someone a chance” and take them for what they are, not what we think they might be.
    It’s also interesting the way they worked around the problem, by using the kids as a carrot for you. Good on you for understanding what was going on.
    Such a shame about the missing pictures, :-( but good to know that you can look forward to each trip now without the anxiety that you had before.

  4. diverse Says:

    I’m glad that you and your husband made it home safely and also that you didn’t let those other potential trip spoilers get in the way of you having fun.

    I’m also in awe that your in laws are finally warming up to you, even though they wanted to use the kids to break the ice. Now they get they get the learn who the real you is. It’s unfortunate that you have some people who spend their whole lives missing out on life goodness because of prejudices that they may carry about people. Even if you are divorced, you have to get to know the person before deciding their character. Good people are not always what we want them to be, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t get know them because of it. One of my aunts have one arm and a severe case of scoliosis. My grand aunt thought that she shouldn’t have children because of her disability( doctors say that women with scoliosis runs a higher chance of having a miscarriage), Three daughters later,she’s all good. My uncle was with her for 25 years before they called it quits. My uncle has been with many women, but there have not..and I don’t think there will ever be a aunt quite like his ex. As of this day, we still visit her and my cousins.

    Ive got to get out my fear of flying, because I don’t want to miss out on life. My pops loved traveling, but my mom( who I think helped contribute to this fear) didn’t–at least on a plane. Even though I didn’t want to be an army brat, I envied them to some degree. A former classmate told me that he’s retiring from his traveling–at the age of 32. I wish I could be saying that. I’ve been asked to go to India, Senegal and some Latin American countries. Little by little I’m trying to get out of it.

    I’ve read where you kids have went to India before. It’s great that they are doing it again. They get to enjoy other things besides living routine lives. If there is one thing that I loved about my dad was that he was a travel freak. He hates staying home past two days. It’s not him. Even though he’s not the 100 percent man that he was in the past, he’s still talking about traveling and doing it. Traveling is evident in my heart and i”m planning on doing the same. Life is so much more than my home.

  5. Charie Daviston Says:

    Thanks so much for posting. It’s tragic to lose the camera. All those memories!!! I am glad that there was healing and reconciliation with his family and you. Can’t wait for your next trip!!! Hug

  6. Toni Says:

    Thanks for the update. I am so happy that you had a “meeting of the minds” with M’s family. Congratulations ! I know this must be a huge weight off your shoulders.

    Toni

  7. Selena Says:

    Love your blog!

    Beautiful recap and glad you made some headway with the in-laws. Sorry about your camera. I know the feeling. During Desert Shield/Desert Storm I took a ton of photos. But someone at the place where we took the film to get developed took everything. I managed to walk away with a couple of photos but about 90% of my film was taken.

    Looking forward to hearing more!

  8. Gori Girl Says:

    Awwww – how horrible that you lost your camera! But the experience of it all is the most important part, after all, even if you don’t have any photos to show for it. It’s great that you guys were able to meet and get along with your in-laws.

    We just got back from an India trip too, and Aditya was reeling a bit at how much inflation had nudged up the prices of everything. I think it’s a common NRI issues. :)

    • Charie Daviston Says:

      @ Gori Girl

      I read your blog and really like it. From what I’ve read it seems that Indian families have a hard time with interracial/intercultural dating and marriage. Do you think that it is even more of a problem for the Indian family if the SO is Black/African?

      • Gori Girl Says:

        Glad you like my site, Charie. :)

        To answer your question, I think it would depend on the specific Indian family, and a few variables:

        1. How much the family members bought into the “fair and lovely” meme in Indian culture. Obviously, if you favor lighter skin over darker skin, you aren’t going to look favorably on dating a black person.

        2. How straight-up racist the family was. India, like all countries, has its share of racist people, and Africans/black people tend to be on the lower end of the totem pole. For an understanding of how this racism occurs in a country without a lot of black people, I suggest this article. (It’s about racism in Korea, but I think most of the points also work for India).

        3. In the case of a black American, how much and what kind of media the family has seen about “black culture” in America. Whether you think there’s one “black culture” in America or not, I think we can all agree that there’s often a specific sort of slant on black characters in Hollywood films and TV shows – and, to grossly generalize, I think it’s one that many Indian people are hostile to or find difficult to understand. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that families in India and African-American families are that culturally different from each other in reality – just that Indians, going off of the stereotypes they see in American media,think they are.

        I think Obama’s popularity in India might be eroding this perception, to some extent, but it’s still there. Heck, there’s still a strong undercurrent against Americans generally based on American media – for instance the belief that all American women are sexually promiscuous based on things like Desperate Housewives. I know that my MIL was really worried about being able to culturally connect with me prior to meeting me – all she knew of America came from American media, and that made her think that her son was dating someone she couldn’t ever understand or communicate easily with.

        4. Whether the family knows anyone who lives in Kenya, Ghana, or other African nations (or if they’ve lived there themselves). There’s a decent expat community of Indians in Africa, and I imagine that having lived side-by-side with black people, in their country, might change one’s perceptions of Africans, and, by association, all black people. Whether this would be a good influence (i.e. lead to less stereotyping) or a bad influence (i.e. more stereotyping), I wouldn’t know – but I think it would certainly affect something.

        Overall, I think that, given general racism and fair & lovely meme ub Ubdua, it’s unlikely that a black American significant other would have an easier time than a white American significant other with an Indian family, but I don’t think he or she would necessarily have a harder time. It’d really depend on the family. For my in-laws, I think my being American was really the difficult factor, while my ethnicity was negligible.

        I’d love to hear yours or others thoughts on the matter!

      • blindianlove Says:

        Gori Girl,
        As always you are insightful and thoughtful in your response. Thanks for this feedback. I agree with you some of the acceptance may be connected to how fair the person is. I have had serious conversations about how my family would be accepted there in India. My mother and my sister are much darker than I am and I know that I have to prepare them for what they MAY be met with in some parts of India if they visit the country. I don’t pretend that my having lighter skin hasn’t made the “pill” of M being married to an AA easier to swallow. I’m sure it has and I doubt his family would EVER admit it or to be honest even if they realize it themselves. Sometimes reactions to things may be subconcious in nature. In other words, if I were my mother’s skin tone, I wonder if the reaction to me would be much more intense. Within the black culture, there’s the phrase “light enough to pass.” It means that that the black person may be so light in complexion that they could actually pass for someone white if people didn’t know any better. I think the same can be applied to some shades of AA’s passing for Indians.

        When we lived in India, the property manager of the flat we lived in told a group of repairman that my parents were South Indian and I grew up in the states. I didn’t find this out until after they had left and I was livid. What was wrong with them knowing I was black?! Would the repairman refuse to repair the things that needed to be repaired? Would they have treated me differently? I still wonder about that incident to this day. It shouldn’t matter what shade I am but the reality is that skin tone plays an issue not just in intercultural realtionships involving AA’s but across India as a whole.

      • Charie Daviston Says:

        @ Gori Girl

        Thanks for taking the time to provide insightful information about this topic. Sorry I am so late in responding.

  9. Jackie Says:

    I just wanted to let you know your blog is amazing! 21 and I’m African American and my boyfriend is Indian as well! (Hes mallu) and I was looking online for similar situations. We have been dating for a year an a half and its getting really serious. The only thing ive been worried about this far in our relationship is the problems we would face as an interracial couple. Ive dated outside of my race but im very aware of how judgmental towards other races especially blacks but reading your blog gave me a lot of hope!

    I know you dont post pictures of your children but i was wondering what they look like? Ive always wondered what my children would (eventually) look like with my boyfriend because ive never seen a black/indian mix in children. im guessing their adorable!

    Another question i had was how was it when you first met his family? did they have any reservations about letting you into the family because of your race? and if so how did you deal with it? well anyway i just wanted to personally thank you for writing this blog! i started looking for something similar to this after getting in a fight with my boyfriend about the problems we would face because of our race and it really did help!

    Thanks again!
    -Jackie

    • Rachel Says:

      Hi ,Jackie my husband is mallu as well…would love talking with you.

    • EddieN Says:

      Hi Jackie:

      >> I know you dont post pictures of your children but i was wondering what they look like? Ive always wondered what my children would (eventually) look like with my boyfriend because ive never seen a black/indian mix in children. im guessing their adorable! <<

      Here are three examples of offspring of a blindian couple:

      Rachel Roy with her two children from ex-husband Damon Dash:

      Asha Shetty and her husband Stephen Cutting, and their three kids:

      Former Universal Motown Records executive Shanti Das, and her parents:

      http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2009/11/cnnmoney_charity_helps_bury_de.html

      As much as I'd rather not agree with the "mixed kids are all beautiful" stereotype, these kids all are :)

      As for how other people will deal with you two because of your different races: that's something that is pretty much out of your control. Each of us gets flack even from people who share the same racial heritage as us, for reasons good, bad and indifferent. My personal philosophy is, if I were to circumscribe my behavior or who I live with, love, or want to marry, only because I'm afraid of the reactions of others (strangers, usually), I'd be cheating no one but myself. As such, I refuse to do it. And I just put down the stares to the fact that me and the lady on my arm make for a stunning couple :)

      Hope this helps.

  10. Rachel Says:

    I have been married for 8 years to an Indian…I am a black female..I was very glad to find your blog and to read about all your experiences.

    • blindianlove Says:

      Rachel
      Welcome to the blog. What part of India is your husband from? M is from Kerala.

      • Rachel Says:

        Hello and thank you..his family is from Kerala his mom keeps a house there …but she lives in Mumbai with her daughter and son in law..but she travels there often by train to visit her mom and other family members.LOL wouldn’t it be great if M and Vinay knew each other?

  11. rosalyn beatty Says:

    It’s my 1st time seeing this site. I love reading about Hindu culture, history & religion. I live in Connecticut & whenever I tell Indians here about my interest in their culture — they immediately ask ‘where am I from’ or ‘is my grandfather from India?’ I smile & tell them ‘no, but thank you I feel that Indians are so attractive that it’s a compliment!’ One Indian woman asked if I have some ‘South Indian’ ancestors. I am African-American. Like many of ‘us’ there is some Native American ancestry in my background. Asian Indians have told me (& other Native Americans) that they believe that Native Americans originally come from India. They think that the indigenous Americans look like Asian-Indians!

  12. You and your husband should make youtube videos it is free to upload free to do everything


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