A Journey In Black and Indian Love

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

She’s Almost Here!! August 8, 2012

Hi Blindies!
Let me start this blog with a big “thank-you” to each of you who sent us well wishes on our pregnancy. We found out we will be having a girl, news that thrilled “M.” Throughout the pregnancy, he has told me it would be a girl. In fact, he was so confident in his prediction that he refused to pick out a boy’s name. Originally, he said he wanted the baby’s sex to be a surprise but as excitement built once I knew, he caved in and wanted to know.
We’ve had quite a number of people who asked if he was disappointed we were having a girl thanks in part to the idea that all Indians prefer male children. While that may be true in some parts of India, it’s not true for Kerala. It’s a matriarchal society and as my sister-in-law said “girls are special.” At first I was slightly annoyed that people would ask such a brazen question but then I began to look at it from a different angle. I realized that part of me felt relief that they asked as opposed to continuing to carry around incorrect assumptions about what was “normal” in Indian culture and what was not. How else are people supposed to learn? The whole purpose of my starting this blog was to give a glimpse of what life is really like for mixed culture relationships like ours. We don’t subscribe to be anything but happy. Isn’t that what this is all about?
Generally, in Keralan culture babies are named only after the baby arrives and there is a baby naming ceremony. I guess you long time blog readers know that we don’t do anything the typical way. We’ve already got a name picked out for her (some blog readers know it) but for the rest of you, we’ll keep it a surprise.
In the coming months I’m sure you’ll probably be hearing from me first-hand about parenting issues in a multi-cultural relationship. Some of the things “M” said he didn’t have a preference on, he suddenly does. Something tells me this little girl is going to have him wrapped around her fingers. Since this is his first baby, I think he’s in an “ignorance is bliss” phase right now. He has no idea what he’s in for in the way of less sleep, crabby babies, toddler tantrums, poopy diapers etc. It’s kind of cute but having already been a parent of a newborn before, it’s also scary. After seeing his reaction to another Indian student winning the National Spelling Bee, I have a feeling he’s going to be a bit of a tiger dad (eek!) I’ll keep you all posted.
On another note, I’m excited to say we had our first Blindian Love meet-up last month. Five of the members made their way down to the Deep South to help “M” and I celebrate our baby’s impending birth. We originally were supposed to have a traditional Keralan ceremony, however, things fell through and Amma (“M”’s mother) could not come after the auspicious date was already chosen. We realized if she came on the auspicious date, then she wouldn’t be here to spend time with the baby. God always has a way of working things out and instead we had a “Blindian” celebration with soul food, Indian music, Henna tattoos, a sari tying contest and baby charades. Big thanks to Rashida, Maria, Renee, Jilliane, and Stephanie for traveling so far and surrounding us with so much love and support. “M” and I can never thank you enough.
On another note, the Facebook group is growing by leaps and bounds. We now have over 100 members in Blindian Love and about 40 or so members on the couple’s side. Couples in committed and serious long-term relationships are eligible to join Blindian Love Couples after posting for a while in the general group. We’re a no drama zone that has conversations on everything from religion to eating with hands and everything in between. If you haven’t had an opportunity to stop by the Facebook group, I would encourage you to do so. I’ve met some of the most awesome people through it.
In the meantime, I wish you all the best on your journeys lovelies.

 

Raising Hope, Hell and Two Beautiful Babies October 25, 2011

When falling madly in love, we imagine quiet dinners, adventurous outings, white picket fences and 2.5 kids. When we are thinking about those 2.5 kids and the dog named Rover, we rarely think about the realities of co-parenting. Sure, we may talk about what religion we will raise the children to be or how we would like them to be educated but how often do we talk about who’s going to be “good cop” and who’s going to be “bad cop?”

In my house I’m the bad cop. Much to my dismay, M spoils the kids rotten. He’s always saying “but they’re kids. This is the time they can eat whatever they want to” or “Honey why are you making them go to bed?” (uhm maybe because it’s MIDNIGHT?!)

M doesn’t grasp the fact that raising children here is so very different. No they can’t roam the streets alone like you see so many children in India doing…there are pervs on the streets. No they can’t eat big gigantic bowls of Fruit Loops for breakfast, lunch and then gum for dinner. They need to fill up on fruits and veggies and NO- Law and Order, First 48 and Criminal Intent are not appropriate viewing choices for ten-year-olds.

The foods here are filled with preservatives and considering our children are already genetically pre-disposed for obesity, it’s all the more reason they eat fruits and veggies and chill on the sugar. While I’m trying to make sure they choose healthy snacks, M is bringing gummy worms, candy bars and ice cream home. I’m telling them to go to bed and he’s letting them stay up after I go to sleep then they are dragging during the day. I limit t.v. time to two hours each day during the summer and weekends only during the school year. You get the picture. He’s like the cool uncle and I’m the overbearing auntie.

This may sound cute but really after a while, it’s a royal pain in the ass. It’s a constant discussion and even though I sit and explain to M how differently parenting has to be here in order to raise successful children, I can tell he just doesn’t get it. Fortunately, mama’s rules always end up winning out in the end but it’s not always easy. When I was cautiously observing how M. would be with children, I thought these shows of love and affection was so special. I wasn’t thinking how they would be if they were it was every day behavior.
Five years in, we’re making small steps of progress. I’ve finally gotten M to stop contradicting me in front of the kids. He’ll give me little looks but most importantly, we wait until after the kids are out of the room to make most decisions so we can present a united front. That’s not to say that M. doesn’t cave in to our daughter’s “papa pleasssssseee” or our son’s male bonding rallies because he does. It just means he’s more aware that kids these days don’t come in packages that you water, feed and bam…successful adult.

Culturally, there are things M can’t fathom having to deal with as a parent. Whether I like it or not, the kids’ bodies are changing and I would much rather have them hear from me or M about those changes than from other children or out on the street. No, those conversations weren’t easy but whether I like it or not, our children are exposed to so many things from friends and peers. I’d much rather they have the proper info than to be misinformed. M can’t believe parents have to have these types of conversations with children at all. Trust me, I wish I didn’t have to but life is life and being unrealistic won’t get me anywhere.

I may rail against M’s parenting decisions sometimes but I have to admit I have learned a few things about gaining new perspective.The fact of the matter is that there is no handbook to proper parenting and what may work for one parent, may very well not work for the other. M and I are carving out a new parental path here. IMHO, there just needs to be balance and consistency. Until the next blog lovelies.

 

A Holiday Recap and Facebook Page Update January 16, 2010

Hi everyone! It’s good to take a moment to catch up with you all. M spent his third holiday season here. This year we decided to do something a bit different and go on vacation.  We spent 10 days in Gatlinburg, celebrating Christmas and the New Year.  It was the best decision I’ve made in a long time because we needed to unwind and decompress as a family unit. We enjoyed nature drives to Cades Cove, shopped, did part of the Roaring Fork Nature trail (the other parts were closed), played mini golf, went to Wonderworks (and interactive science museum) and basically just slept when we wanted, played board games and read alot. Unfortunately, I was sick the entire trip. The crud hit me the evening we got there and  lasted the whole trip. Even though I didn’t feel my best, we still had an awesome time.

 We had the pleasure of spending part of the trip with one of my closest friends Sibreena and her two daughters. They came up for three days of the trip and my mother and her boyfriend came up to spend the New Year with us. I was shocked my mother even made the decision to come up but I’m glad she did because she got to spend time with M and I and the kids. I think seeing us as a family unit put her mind at ease a bit. She saw that the kids and M horsed around and talked together as they would with anyone else and equally as important, she saw that we’re just like any other couple. We laugh and joke ith one another and occasionally snap at one another just like average people in a relationship. Mom saw there’s nothing different about M from the average Joe. He has his particular ways like, he watched CNN and Law and Order fanatically and drank tea and coffee like crazy. He has an affinity for reading and put hot sauce on everything because one of his gifts was a gourmet hot sauce set that had about six different kinds of hot sauce. He and my mother’s boyfriend bonded over this and their love of garlic.

My mom was able to get a glimpse into the relationship I have with my in-laws when she heard me talking to my niece, nephew and sister in law. We had spoken to my mother in law earlier. I’m not sure why she had the look on her face that she did when I was talking to them. We speak to the kids only in English since they are learning the language in school and the sister in laws speak a blend of Hindi, Malayalam and English depending on who they are talking to. We talked about their school and teachers and a party they had over the holiday. I think hearing the conversation somehow removed the veil of mystery my mother had somehow created in her head about how I am with M’s family.

One of the best moments came when my mother (I think to her very own surprise) realized M has a sense of humor when he made a joke about some  potatoes (long story) that had us all in stitches. She playfully told him “M, now I’m ashamed at you I can’t believe you said that!” and laughed as she repeated her punchline. They talked about real estate and the Christmas Day terror attack.  

On the flip side, the worst moment came when my mother made a off color joke about “Indians and their spices and having everything smelling like curry and you know how they are.”  That’s the reader’s digest version of her comment that has been seriously censored for the sake of the blog. When she said it, I immediately swiveled around and said, “You seriously need to cut it out. That was so inappropriate. What if someone in his family made a remark like that?!” She looked surprised when I proceeded to continue to lambast her about ignorant and racial remarks and to think about her own feelings. Surprisingly enough, she actually half way apologized and tried to smooth over the situation. From that moment forward I didn’t have another problem out of her the whole trip.  She did get a little upset with M about letting the kids going out for a walk in the snow with no coats or hats on but even I upset about that, especially since one kid  was still recovering from a cold. 

The funniest moment of the time with my mom came when the New Year rolled in.  My mom, the kids and my niece and I were all standing on the balcony watching three different firework shows from the deck of the chalet. When the New Year rolled in, M looked at my mom, then looked at me and actually shook my hand and said “Happy New Year Babe.” I of course was shocked at the formality but I didn’t say anything. However, the SECOND my mom walked back into the chalet, he quickly grabbed me and gave me a big kiss, saying “Happy New Year!” When I asked what the handshake was all about, he said “Babe I couldn’t kiss you in front of ma.” LOL.  I told him I was pretty sure my mom realized that we kissed and then some since we were married. When I told momma about it later, she thought it was funny that he was going to such extremes to show respect for her.  Believe it or not, my mom, M and I all went shopping together while the kids stayed home with my mom’s boyfriend since he had a cold too. It was a pleasant time.  This trip was beneficial in so many ways. Two people who are important in my life came a step closer to letting their guard down with one another. To me, that was one of the best gifts I could have been granted.  I’ve posted a few of the trip pics above. I hope you enjoy them. 

Now, on to the facebook page information. At the suggestion of reader, I’ve created a facebook page for other blindian couples. The name of the group is Blindian Love. You can find it in the Facebook group search function or email me at blindianlove@hotmail.com and I’ll send you a group information. Right now the group is set up where members have to be approved. I did that to keep out the crazies and any negative comments. Like this blog, I hope this facebook page becomes a place of support and knowledge. I want people to be able to comfortably share pictures and information with one another without fear of any type of negativity or judgement. I hope everyone understands my decision to control the membership for this reason. I’m looking forward to seeing some of you all on Facebook! Until the next blog my lovelies.

 

Isn’t It All Good Hair November 11, 2009

New Hair Nov 09

New Layers for Me

M and I were anxiously waiting to see Chris Rock’s movie “Good Hair” but unfortunately it came and went from the theatre in my town within a week.  Now we have to wait to see it on video.

M says one of the things that he wishes he had known about being with a black woman was all that we go through with our hair. Now let me just say that over the years I have gone through all kinds of hair styles. I’ve done it all.. braids, weave, natural, wigs, twists and yes even a jheri curl!

I admit, I’m pretty bad..I run like crazy from the rain when I don’t have an umbrella (to which M says is a sad pitiful way to live. LOL) and I always wear a shower cap in the shower.  I remember being in high school when the hip hop rap group Salt N Pepa were at the height of popularity. They had a severe asymentrical bob that was chopped short on one side and left long on the other with a “stacked” look on the back. I begged my mom to let me get my hair cut like that but she refused so I had to be creative and pin my hair back to get the “look.” 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve toned down my hair style bravery and now go with the more safe and easy maintenance styles. I’ve learned in my travels to India to take ethnic hair products. When we lived there, I spent several weeks desperately searching for anything that would work on my hair. I had failed to even think that I would need to pack extra when I was preparing to go there.  I was one desperate sista and it was one lonnnngg difficult hair summer. Fortunately, my daughter’s hair was in braids which made things much easier.

Essence magazine has a great article in last month’s magazine about the hair drama we as women go through. It’s thought provoking and it makes you think about the little insecurities we all carry within ourselves unknownly. I recommend it as a read for anyone regardless of your ethnic background.

M’s first real experience with ethnic hair came when it was time to take our daughter’s hair down during the time we lived in India. M volunteered to help with the process then tried to bail out a mere 30 minutes later. Bless his heart, he kept getting her hair tangled as he was taking it down. Thankfully, he didn’t let that experience scare him away completely (notice I said completely). On his off days this past summer he was responsible for combing Peyton’s hair. He did the best he could and I must say, a much better job than I expected. One day I came home to a hair surprise. Peyton’s hair was combed and I actually asked M if another woman had combed her hair because he did such a good job. He had it done in two neat braided pony. I didn’t even know he knew HOW to braid.

Then there was the time I decided to sport a style where my hair was pulled back and I had put a little chignon comb piece at the back. M, the kids and I were in Goa and the hotel we stayed at had a slide for their pool. As I slid down the slide for the first time, my first thought as I hit the water was ‘OH NO my hair piece!!” I could just see it floating in the pool and people wondering what kind of creature it was. M said the first thing I did as I came out of the water was touch the back of my head to see if it was still there. Thankfully it was.. ..However, on the flight back to Delhi I wasn’t so lucky. M put his arm around my neck and as he did, he knocked the hair piece off. It literally rolled under the seat behind us. We couldn’t reach it no matter how hard we tried and unfortunately, much to my horror, M had to ask the guy sitting behind us to reach under his seat to get it. The guy did it with such a straight face that it made me feel even worst. That was the last time I wore that hairpiece in India (notice I said in India not the last time period…LOL).

Anyway, I’ve shared my embarrassing stories with you to say that as women, we go through so much to conquer the idea of what others think we should look like which is one of the points of Chris Rock’s movie. As women, we put ourselves through insane processes to have longer hair, different texture hair, or different colored hair. Unknownly, we pass these hair insecurities to our kids. Not good..I admit.  M is astounded at the amount of money I spend on hair each month..and to think I’m mild compared to some women who are at the salon every week.

I’m threatening to cut all of my hair off  a la Solange Knowles but I’m not brave enough yet.  This week, I had layers cut in my hair. I doubt I’ll wear this style on a regular basis since it would require more time than I have in the mornings but it’s nice to have a temporary change. 

I’d love to hear your hair stories..good or bad..or funny.  

 

How do you do all that you do? October 26, 2009

I’m zonked this week. M is working a crazy new schedule that we’re all trying to get accustomed to, the kids are extra busy with school stuff and this is beginning a busy season for both businesses.

The other day I was chatting with a friend who lives in Seoul and she was going on and on about how she admires me and how she doesn’t know how I do it all. She knows I automatically go into deflect mode when she starts talking like that. I do what I do because I don’t want to be doing the same thing in ten years. In ten years I’d like to be whereever I want to live, doing whatever I want to do without having to even THINK about how I’m going to pay for it. In other words, I work my butt off now so that later in my life I can relax and enjoy.

My friend called me her hero. Ugh. While, I appreciate the admiration, the fact of the matter is that there is nothing whatsoever heoric about working to take care of your family and prepare for our future.  People do this all day, everyday. My kudos go out to the single parents who do this on their own. I have help and I recognize that I’m blessed to not only have M but also the kids’ dad being an active part of their lives. It makes it easier for me to balance when I know the kids have family with them. Not everyone has this assistance.

There are tradeoffs to living the kind of life M and I do. I have fewer friends because I can’t always go out when some of my more social friends want to. Eventually, I’m silently dropped from the invitation list. LOL. Why continue to invite someone when their response is always, “No I’m sorry but I can’t.. I have to be at the boutique” or “Sorry girl but I’m wayyy too tired.” I don’t mind no longer being invited because it makes it easier on all of us and takes away any awkward moments that come as a result.  On days when I’m exhausted and I question why I do what I do, there’s a little voice that reminds me that tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us and these things that I trade on a daily basis to work, I may end up one day regretting. It’s always an emotional and physical balancing act. I’m always looking for ways to do a better job as mother, wife and friend. How do you all balance? I’m sure we all do a million things a day.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you all… until the next blog lovelies.

 

Happy Diwali October 18, 2009

 

M is from Kerala and doesn’t celebrate Diwali but I’d like to say Happy Diwali to all of you who do. I posted the above link because 1) I am thrilled to see an administration that acknowleges this festival given the high number of Indians who live here. 2) I love the brief history given by President Obama about Diwali because even those who don’t celebrate now have this knowledge of why the festival is important to many Indians. 

If you do celebrate Diwali, I would love to know your traditions and how you celebrate. Until the next blog lovelies.

 

The Part of Parenthood No one Discusses October 6, 2009

My babies are sick. My sweet little angels are running fevers and fighting off the flu. This is the part of parenthood that no one talks about much.

The dads (Papa and Daddy for new readers) and I feel horrible We can’t transfer their pain and make them feel better even though our insides ache to see their discomfort.  To make matters worst for them, they had a field trip tomorrow that they had been looking forward to for a month. They can’t go because they have not yet been fever free for 24 hours and even if they were, I can still tell they feel pretty puny so they still would be home.

I know I’m not the only parent going through this right now and it’s certainly not the first time my kids have been sick. However, as a parent it never gets easier to see your kids not feel well. I’m using the hand sanitizer and clorox wipes every other minute. To all of you who have managed to remain healthy, be careful. This stuff hits you out of the blue with a force you don’t expect. Until the next time my lovelies…

Asick

 

What’s It All For? October 1, 2009

Have you ever had one of those days where you wonder why you do all that you do?  I’ve had one of those days today but only in the last few hours has this feeling overtaken me. Today was one of those incredibly long days where I had long hours with a client AFTER I had already put in my hours at the station. What I thought was going to be an hour max with him turned into two and a half hours. I left there running to a coaching session I had for one of my voiceover students. By the time all was said and done it was close to 7:45 before I got home. As I pulled into the garage, I asked myself “why do I do all of this?” 

Okay okay..before anyone sends me a comment berating me about how I should be grateful to even have work in an economy like this, save your energy. I already know this and I am quite thankful. I also know why I do all that I do.. I do it because I like stability and being able to pay a mortgage or travel whenever I want.  However, when you are as exhausted as I am right now logic goes completely out of the window. It’s moments like this that I dream of being a backpacking traveler sitting in an outdoor cafe somewhere sipping on a chai.

Ah but alas reality kicks in and I realize that even though I’m exhausted, I have healthy kids, am financially stable, have a good marriage, and a job that I love so much I don’t want to quit it to run my businesses full-time.  I am so much better off than many others right now. Plus I have all of you wonderful readers supporting me. How much more could a girl ask for? (uhmm no one really wants me to answer that at this moment of sheer and utter tiredness because the list would start with a hot stone aromatherapy massage… but I digress)

Until the next blog …(by the way.. aren’t you surprised I blogged THREE days in a row?! haha )

 

A Typical Blindian Day September 30, 2009

Daisy2

 

 

One of my readers got on to me about not posting more regularly. This one is for you Stacee.

There are many people curious about the kind of relationship that M and I have. For some reason, the curiosity tends to lead some to believe that we somehow lead a very different life from others. I really wish that were the case but we lead a relatively common life. Don’t believe me? Take a look at our typical weekday (pulled specifically from today)

6:30 a.m M rises and awakens the kids and starts breakfast

6:50-7 a.m M awakens me

7:25  a.m. M and or I wait with kids at the bus stop 

7:30 a.m. M makes coffee and chats with me as I finish getting ready for work

 7:50 a.m. M heads to our store and within 10 minutes I head to work. 

8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. M works at our store while I work at the station. We talk six or seven times a day 

5 p.m. M or I pick up the kids from school 

5:30  I begin cooking dinner (sometimes M will cook) While one of us cooks the other helps kids with homework. If the kids have no homework, we all hang out in the kitchen and cook together.

6:30  We eat dinner together as a family 

7:15-8:00 Family time

8:00-8:15 kids take baths and go to bed. 

8:30-10 p.m.  Alisa works on voiceover jobs and things for Payson Jewels (right now it’s working on the website revamping for Payson Jewels). M watches television.

10:30 to 11:00 or so M and I talk while he irons the kids clothes.

11:00  Lights out for everyone. 

As you can see, we’re pretty boring. We do occasionally shake things up a bit by going out to dinner or watching a movie etc but what you see above is our typical day. I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into our daily lives. I know to some people it may be a bit “Leave it To Beaver” but it’s not. It’s just who we are. Until the next blog…

 

Family Reunion September 29, 2009

My great aunt and M

Labor Day weekend,  M and I attended my family reunion on my grandfather’s side. This was the third reunion he’s attended since he’s been here in the U.S.   I love my elders. It occured to me this past weekend how welcoming my relatives at the reunions have been to Manoj. No one told looked at him strangely or mimicked his accent. In fact, I have one great aunt (72 years old) that absolutely adores M. I’ve posted a pic of the two of them above.  She made a beeline for him at this most recent reunion within seconds of speaking to me.  She spent more time posing for pictures with him and telling him how much she adored him than she did spending time with some of our other relatives. This was my momentary eutopia where everything was they way it SHOULD be. There was lots of unbiased love for him. More importantly, M loves her and finds her attention special.

It’s always disappointing when I hear of families that don’t accept the other mate from the other culture. Even though my mother is much more accepting toward Manoj and calls him her favorite son in law, I have recently noticed that there is still a small underlying level of uncomfortableness she seems to have around him.. almost a kind formalness if that makes sense. He’s been here for more than two years now so somehow I don’t think that will ever change.  I think the only reason I only recently noticed her kind formalness toward him was because of the stark difference in how my extended relatives treated him at the reunion. They didn’t try to change up a joke or drop any of the cultural colloquialisms just because they were in front on him. My mother does it all of the time. It’s not that she’s not kind towards M, nor is it a situation where she doesn’t respect him. She does. It’s just a bit difficult to explain the difference. I think perhaps part of my mother’s behavior may lie in her lack of understanding about other cultures in general, not just M’s. When she was so upset about the intial marriage between M and I, she kept saying how she just didn’t trust foreign men.

On the other hand, my MIL is as loving and as I say, “cool as a fan.” Anyone else see the irony in this?

I awaken each day with the hope and dream of a grand gathering between M’s family and mine.. a couple of days of learning and communication about one another’s cultures and a realization of how we really are more alike than anyone thinks. Although I know this is a long shot, I never give up the hope. Until the next blog my lovelies.

A

 

 
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