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.

 

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.

 

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 )

 

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

 

The Lessons of Friendship August 17, 2009

Friendship 

I love getting older. It seems that with each passing day I realize that I have learned a new lesson or gained new appreciation for something previously neglected.  Lately I’ve been thinking alot  about my friends and how they have become family to me. My best friend and I have known one another for more than 20 years now and I know that whenever the chips are down I can count on her. My other closest friend has only come into my life in the last four years but I know beyond a doubt that whatever I need I can count on her as well. Her family has become my family and the love that they have for one another, I am now thankful enough to have had them share it with me.

For those of you who have traveled the road of broken friendships, you know that true friends are rare to find and when you do find them, you have to learn the keys to good friendship as well. I’m learning to rewrite the definition of family. Do any of you have friends that are more reliable than your own family?  I’m thankful enough to say I do. I have friends who have traveled with me to other countries to hold my hand and friends who have stayed up with me and cried with me when they should have been sleeping. I’m thankful that my backdrop of friends come from every walk of life and every ethnic background imaginable. Not everyone can be labeled a friend but for my lovely bunch, they are more than friends-they’ve become family.

As I get older, I’m grateful that I am no longer afraid to let go of “friendships” that don’t work for either of us. I recently had to do this to a person that I realized had been sucking the life out of me for years and finally I wasn’t afraid to tell her this.  I began to notice that whenever I saw her number pop up on my phone that I either rolled my eyes and sucked in my breath before answering or I wouldn’t answer if I couldn’t deal with her latest drama filled antics. The friendship may have worked for me 7 years ago but no longer did we fit. The conversation was awkard and always framed around the soap opera she calls life. After coming back from the trip to Gatlinburg I knew it was time to cut her loose and I did with a dose of honesty that we both deserved.

M doesn’t have friends, nor does he want them..this according to him. I wonder how he goes through this life without having a meaningful friendship. When I asked him about it tonight, he said ‘I’m just very choosey when it comes to the people I want as a friend.’  Apparently,  no one has passed M’s rigorous test of friendship thus far. I try not to pressure him and thankfully my uncles do ask him over to watch football games sometimes during the fall.

This year I’m learning to back off from work a bit and nurture my friendships with those women and men who have really shown themselves to be meaningful. How do you nurture your friendships? I’d love to hear how  you do.. until the next blog lovelies…

 

Standing in God’s Grace August 4, 2009

I’ve always considered myself to be a spiritual person and in the last week I’ve experienced God’s presence in major ways that I had not before. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I was going to Gatlinburg to celebrate my 35th birthday with friends and family. The plan was to zipline, go whitewater rafting and enjoy the presence of my friends. For the most part, the plan was followed but we opted not to go ziplining for several reasons, the main one  being the fact that I almost drowned after being pitched out of a raft on a class IV rapid. Let me explain.

Off I trekked with two of my friend and their families along with my family to the beautiful Smokies that you see above. My family and I enjoyed a day of tubing on Friday and on Saturday we went rafting with USA rafting. I had confirmed that there was only going to be class two and three rapids because I was taking my twins and I wanted something that would be safe. So off we go on the lower Pigeon River with my friend Sibbreena. I should digress for a moment and tell you that Sibbreena only went because I wanted her to go. She kept telling me how she was only going because it was my birthday. White water rafting was never something on top of her to do list but she said she wasn’t going to go on this trip and not do something crazy with me.  Throughout the safety talk she would ocassionally glance back at me and buck her eyes as if to say ‘are you all nuts?’ 

We finally got to our rafting spot and our guide, Travis, gave us the instructions we needed to navigate through our first few rapids. They were a piece of cake but I noticed the water began to have a lot more force behind it as we got further down the river. Sibbreena and I were at the front of the raft and were setting paddle pace. My twins were directly behind me and M was at the very back acting as motor man while Travis guided us.

Travis told us we were about to approach a class four rapid named the “Lost Guide” Supposedly the rapid got its name because guides would sometimes fall out.  We all laughed and told him we were not going to lose him.  I then asked about the class four rapid and mentioned how we were told there were only class two and three. Travis said it was the only four and we would be fine.  When we got to the rapid all I saw was what looked like a waterfall with the water flowing upside down. That’s the last thing I remember after seeing Sibbreena pop out of the raft like Jiffy Pop next to me  until  my faculties came back to me as I realized that I was choking on a mouthful of salty briney river water. The force of the water had pitched me out of the raft too. I looked up to see Sibbreena to the left of me and I began to scream for her to grab my hand.  Another current then drug me back under and when I came back up I was completely panicked. A thousand thoughts ran through my head, including the fact that I had lost a shoe, and to flip on my back the way they said to do in the safety instruction. When  I flipped on my back I  saw two things that made me completely freak out 1) I saw one of my children being plucked from the river. 2) I realized my raft was exremely far away and that the nearest raft to the left of us was quite far off.  When I realized this, another current pulled me back under and it was then that the thought occurred to me that I was going to die on my birthday with my children watching.

Another thing they taught us in the safety class was to hold our paddle up in the air and shout paddle so that if a raft was near they could pull us in by the t-bar.  I realized while underwater for the third time that I still had my paddle in my hand. I popped up out of the water and yelled paddle only to realize the rafts seemed to get farther away than closer. I’ve never felt so defeated before. I began to cry and scream for someone to please help me.  The current originally seemed to be taking us toward the banks of the river and I kept thinking that if we got close enough that we would be able to grab onto a branch.  As soon as I thought this was my way out, the current changed and began to shift us back to the center of the river. I finally heard one of the raft guides yell out “Swimmer!” But I saw no one jump in..(I figured out later we were the “swimmers” only we weren’t swimming at all.. we were being drug by the currents), he then yelled out “Rope!” They had told us in safety training that As soon as I saw the rope being thrown at Sibbreena who was to the left of me, I realized it was going to fall short. Thank God Sibbreena had the thought to take her oar and grab the rope with it.  That’s how they were finally able to fish us in. Needless to say when the rescue raft pulled us in I was in tears and shaking like a leaf on a tree on a windy day.  I thanked God for having protected me and my family. 

About the time we began to settle our nerves we were transferred back to our own raft where Travis told us we had to resume our positions. I wish you could have seen the looks on me and Sibbreena’s faces. I turned to Travis and said “You want us to do what?! You’ve got to be kidding me” But he wasn’t. Sibbreena and I silently resumed our positions  and the next rapid we hit was a class III. It was harrowing and I prayed aloud the whole time. Sibbreena told me later she hadn’t heard anyone praying so hard and loudly before. What she didn’t realize until much later was how the experience had shaken me in a way that words can’t explain. Later when we talked about what happened, she told me it was life changing for her as well but that she didn’t regret doing it.

Two more weird things about the experience.. when we got in the raft, Travis handed me both of my shoes that had been in the river..my first thought was “what the hell?! you found time to fish my shoes out of the river but not me?!”  The second weird thing is that the sunglasses I had on my face were STILL on there even after having been drug undercurrent three times. I think it was the straps on the helmet that kept them on. Either way I was surprised.

Since having that rafting experience I’ve not slept without being back in the water. It disturbed me so much that I’m constantly reliving the moments several times a day. It’s not healthy and I realize that despite how crazy others may think I am, my goal is to conquer that rafting route without falling out. It won’t be soon but it will happen one day. I know that if I don’t do it, I’ll have always let that moment define me in negative ways.  I am thankful that my family and friend are safe. Prayer does change things.

Three days after the rafting trip, I had surgery. I had already told the doctor’s I have had my near death experience for my life so they needed to be on point. I was in recovery and had been awakened and M had been brought around when I began to have severe chest pains and problems breathing. I was immediately whisked to the urgent care area where they tore my gown off, hooked me up to some electrodes and began to pump medication in me. I don’t remember a whole lot other than My surgeon suddenly appeared he began to use a fist to rub around in my chest. Another doctor (the anesthesiologist I think) was yelling out medication orders. I soon got physically sick and began to throw up. Well as you know there was nothing to throw up digestive juices which the doctors and nurses said was full of air bubbles. They seem to think the problem was from air being trapped in my chest wall. Before long I began to feel better but they kept me longer as a precaution. Again, I feel I was standing in God’s grace.

M doesn’t understand how these experiences have shaped my thought process about things and how scared I felt and still feel. He said our raft guide was very concerned about us hitting some of the many rocks in the river but that he felt assured we would be rescued with no problem because we had on our life jackets and there were many rafts in the area.  He said they immediately got my son out of the water as soon as he hit it. But what disturbs me is that I don’t recall M even asking if I was okay. Of course he said he did but I don’t remember that.

M’s sister told me the other day that he has always been an internalizer-even as a kid he would never talk to anyone and would brush things off.  I understand his nature but times like this it doesn’t work for me. I need him to understand the seriousness of all of this and how it has really screwed with my head. I’m a bit too close to death these days and I don’t like it.

Everyone keep me in my prayers. I’m sure I’ll be okay but it’s only been a week so I still have some things to sort out. Enjoy the pics from the trip.. Until the next blog my lovelies…

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers