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….

 

India Or Bust January 24, 2010

M and I will be returning to India soon for a visit. I’m nervously excited.  Even though I’ve been there so many times and know what to expect, it’s been a longer length of time since our last visit…almost a year. I’ll be spending more time with my in-laws than I ever have before. It’s one thing to talk to someone on the phone all of the time but yet another to be in person. In face to face situations, you see expressions and feel the emotions more.

I’ve noticed the last couple of times we’ve gone back to India that M seems to be a bit more uncomfortable with aspects of the culture. He’s a lot more impatient and is easily irritated by the things that I see as just part of being in India. For example, the traffic drives M nuts now on a level I don’t understand. We’re usually not in a rush to get to anywhere, we KNOW before we even head out that there’s going to be traffic and heat so why be so irritable about it? I think some of the convienences of being here are making him in some ways become the very type of person he likes to avoid in India. M doesn’t see it that way. I hope he finds his place of zen on this trip. It’s hard to believe that in a little over  a month ,M and I will have been married for four years. There are days like today when I look at him and I’m still in awe that we chose one another. It’s a journey some days.. we both laugh sometimes because we have such a different type of relationship than we’ve both experienced before. I’m just glad we chose to make the journey together. 

I have a Facebook group update. I know it will be slightly confusing and I have a feeling that I’ve probably created a bit more work than I’m ready for in one way but there are now TWO Facebook groups. One is for Black and South Asian couples only. The name of it is Blindian Love Couples. My hope is that those of us in Blindian relationships can find common ground and support in the commonality. This is a group for couples only.

The second Facebook group came about as a result of several emails I got from several readers who wanted to communicate with other Blindian Love Blog readers but may not be in a relationship. The name of the Facebook group is Blindian Love.

I look forward to getting to know some of you readers outside of the blog. My email address is blindianlove@hotmail.com if you have questions or comments about either facebook group. Until the next blog…  

 

July 4, 2009

I came across this post as I was purusing through blogs that other day. Hello Ji is Hello sir in Hindi. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Indian culture and an Indian’s perspective on various issues, this is an interesting place to start. 

I’m interested in your comments and thoughts after reading this particular blog post.

http://helloji.wordpress.com/2008/04/03/missing-daughters-of-india/#more-263

 

Until the next blog, Happy Independence Day everyone

 

MMMM.. The smell of a Curry Filled Home. June 26, 2009

Yesterday I mentioned I had prepared South Indian Shimp Curry for dinner on Father’s Day. M loves seafood (me not so much). I also made salmon croquettes and of course some rice for the curry.

I cook curry often but today was the first time trying the South Indian type curry. I must say it turned out pretty good.  I used curry powder, tumeric, coconut milk, chili powder, tomatoes and a few other items that escape me at this point.

I try to always blend our cultures even in the kitchen. This is a wonderful way to expose the kids to things they would otherwise turn away from. They love trying new dishes when I prepare them. Often I have them help me so that they can learn the fundamentals of cooking. I learned the same way at my grandmother’s knee and my kids love it. 

I’ve posted up a youtube video of an Indian cooking show. The clip is for one of my favorite dishes, dal makni.  I love it with tandoori chicken and parantha. Hopefully seeing it will inspire some of you to experiment in your kitchen.  Until the next blog.

 

Long Time No See June 1, 2009

I can’t believe it has been so long since I’ve had the opportunity to write on the blog. I appreciate all of the comments and the outreach from people who like the blog.

This past Memorial day, M and the kids and I went camping with several other members of my family. Overall, the weekend was okay except for one major glitch. My youngest aunt called M, Osama as he was walking out of the RV thinking it would be a cute joke.  Thankfully, M said he never heard her. However, other family members did and laughed. I immediately put her in check and told her the remark was extremely tacky. I also asked her how she would feel if someone from his family called her a derogatory name.  She didn’t say anything but I got my point across very very clearly to her and the family members who laughed. I am thankful that M has such a cool personality. He takes everything in stride and never holds a grudge.  I did notice that M and my mother had more camaraderie. Thankfully, despite the sporadic ignorance on the part of my family, he said he had a good time.

In more happy news, we booked our family vacation to Walt Disney later in the year. It’s going to be a busy year of travel because we just recently signed for some commercial property for our business and we have to take a trip to China and we’re thinking of combining it with the one to India. I think the kids are more excited about Disney than anything else. Here’s a tip for all of you who have been thinking about going to Disney some day.. Now is the time! Disney has some unbelievable package deals right now.

I don’t know if I mentioned this before but M is by trade a mechanical engineer with a concentration in automobiles. He was working as a process engineer when he was laid off a few months ago. Thank God we were preparing for something of this nature. It’s been months now and M complains daily about how nothing is panning out for him because of this economy.  Thankfully, we were preparing for something of this nature. We’re hoping the opening of a brick and mortar wholesale business will be successful. In the meantime, I try to keep M’s spirits up. Not having a job is emasculating for him and I try to make sure he knows that I understand and I don’t hold anything against him. As far as me and my kids are concerned, he is still the head of this household. That being said, M now feels that because he’s not working he cannot take part of major money decisions. We have to go back and forth three or four times before he will finally make a decision on an issue related to money. It’s frustrating.  I want him to remember that no matter what happens, he’s still the husband and father. That doesn’t change because of job status.

We live in an area that isn’t as open to racial diversity as it claims to be. I think being Indian is making M’s job search a little more difficult. The way I see it, is that those people who won’t hire him because of how he sounds or because he’s from a different culture are the ones missing out and if someone doesn’t want you for asinine reasons, it’s not the place for you anyway. I’d much rather work in an environment where people respect differences.

Sorry it took so long to post a new blog… more to come so until the next blog…

Blindian

 

Finally!! A guest post from Hubby May 17, 2009

 

After threats to withhold his favorite wings and fries, a few emotional blackmail attempts and a few stares, I finally got hubby to write a guest post. What follows is what my act of convincing produced.  It’s his random thought process about interracial marriages:

Inter-racial marriage/Dating………
Why is there a big talk about inter-racial marriage and Indians?Does anyone really know what type of racial divide we have in India? It’s not the color of your skin. It’s the religion and the caste.Now you might think it is only in hindu community that caste and religion matter so much but .it is not. It is wide in the Christian and the muslim community too.
You can be dark skinned and still be from the higher caste. You can be fair and be from the lower community. End of the day, it is your religion and caste and you are expected to stand by it. Now in India you’d even face problems when you generally date or marry for the same religion but a different caste.
 Marriage in the Indian community is essentially between families not just the two people. Marriages are generally arranged. Even when it is a love marriage within the same religion its still mostly arranged.  Family elders meet and get to know of one another and then proceed.  Now normally anyone would say it is a love marriage but unfortunately it is  still arranged.
Now about dowry.  Does anyone know really what that means.It is life time maintenance money to the husband to look after their daughter.
Fortunately I was born into a progressive thinking family who did think marriage is between 2 people not the family.  Basically I never had problems with my decision. I belong to a higher caste and I am proud of it. But i was never taught in my home that there are two types of segregation in human society. I had friends from all strata of the society. I am a Hindu who eats beef,–but that does not mean my family eats it. I was schooled in a catholic convent. I am happy with whom I am married to.
I dont think marrying from another culture like me would be a norm with all the Indians you all come across.Every area in India has their own do’s and dont’s. If you know what to look for then maybe you can find someone to treasure. It’s actually a complicated situation.
As far as someone who wants to go ahead with this sort of releationship, let me tell you that there are some areas and communities that are more tolerant and understanding than some others. Best of luck for all who’s still searching.
  
 

Breaking the Ice with Mom in law May 13, 2009

Sorry I’ve been delayed with the latest blog post. I spent the weekend working in the backyard and preparing our first mini garden.  The kids are excited about the possibilities of the fruits of their labor.

M and the kids treated me to a really nice mother’s day. I got breakfast in bed with orange cranberry muffins, bacon and fruit. I also got cards, flowers and the opportunity to sleep in, which if you are a parent, you know is an absolutely priceless gift. I didn’t get a chance to see my own mother even though we live less than two miles away from one another. She was out doing her own thing. We did take her gift to her on Saturday. We’re up to a record number of words between she and M. I think they passed around 15 words instead of their usual five.

I don’t think M and my mother will ever have the kind of relationship that she and my ex had and still have. I understand they are two totally different men but the chemistry is definitely far more different than I feel it should be.

M is always on edge around my mother. I think that comes from his knowledge of her previous disapproval of our relationship. Their conversation never goes beyond Hello how are you. This bothers me because there is no extension on either of their parts to get to know the other better.  I know that she no longer dislikes M. She knows that he is a good dad and that he’s good to me.

I do think my mother is more interested than she pretends to be. I’ve heard her mention a few things that indicated she’s been doing research on the culture. Initially she thought M was going make me wear an abaya and bow to him and all of his requests. LOL.. Brahahahaha she doesn’t know her daughter very well.

I’ve invited my mother to come to India with us in December but she is basically refusing. It is my dream that my family and M’s can one day break bread together. Right now the dream seems so far off.

On other brief updates. I’ve finally decided what I’m doing for my 35th. I’m having a friends and family weekend in Gatlinburg. Laughter, fun, games, river rafting, shopping and bbqing are all on tap. Given some things going on right now I felt the need to be surrounded by those I love the most.  I’m looking forward to a new year.

Until the next blog….

 

Surviving an Interracial Relationship May 6, 2009

 

Paper Dolls

The other day I was thinking about what it takes to keep a relationship going strong-especially when it’s intercultural or interracial.

Tips:

The following are my own opinions and based on both personal experience and observations.  They are merely suggestions on what can be done to help make not just an interracial relationship better but a relationship period.  Feel free to add your own advice as well if you’d like.

Leave the bags at the airport- In other words, if you’ve got old relationship baggage, don’t bring it into your current relationship. You’ll have enough to overcome without adding extra fuel to the fire. It’s not fair to either of you if the other is constantly reliving the mistakes of another person. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t remember the experiences because they may have very likely shaped you into who you are now.  However, instead constantly carrying around the weight of a previously broken relationship, use it to make you a better and wiser person the next time around.

Don’t chase your tail. – Sometimes the situation will arise where one person in the relationship may decide they are not ready to fight for the relationship against family or society the way they thought they were. I’ve heard absolute horror stories from people whose families are badgering and threatening them day in and day out if they don’t make the decision that is alignment with what the family wants.  If you’ve talked to your SO and they are not willing to choose the relationship over the family, then accept that and move on with your dignity intact. You want someone who is going to stand strong for the relationship, so don’t beg, don’t plead and don’t cry (in front of them). State your case once (maybe twice if they didn’t get it the first time) but don’t keep putting yourself in the position for continuous heartbreak or false hope.

Be Sympathetic- If your SO is catching hell because of their relationship with you, try to place yourself in their shoes. They are likely trying to please everyone under the sun.  Remember that their family values may be very different from your own. For example in India, they are raised that the family (mom, dad, elders etc) makes the major decisions and you are not to go against family. Can you imagine how heart wrenching that is to go against the very thing ingrained in you? Now, that being said, to avoid this situation, if they know their family is going to give them hell about their relationships then perhaps they shouldn’t start relationships if they know they will never go against family wishes.

Be Honest Even It Hurts Like Hell. – I have this thing about liars. I can’t stand them.  It’s so frustrating to find that someone has been lying. For, me it feels so insulting-as though the person didn’t trust me with the truth or thinks that I’m naive enough to believe anything. Lying is disrespectful not only to you, the recipients of the false information but the person lying is disrespecting themselves. The way I see it, is that we are all adults. If we can’t communicate with one another in an honest fashion, why even deal with one another? I know that people are sometimes less than honest because they want to avoid hurting the person they are lying to. However, nine times out of ten, the person is going to feel even worst when they find out they’ve been lied to. At the end of the day it’s really not worth it.

Communicate Even When it’s Tough.- One of the biggest problems that I’ve noticed in intercultural relationships that don’t work out is that there are usually lots of unanswered questions. For some reason people are afraid to ask the hard questions associated with other cultures.  They don’t want to talk about the uncomfortable issue of race, the role of family and the expectations each have for the other. One of my first serious intercultural relationships taught me this lesson. I asked very few questions about the person’s culture and the few I did ask, he lied about. Had things not wound up the way that they did, I could very well be married to another man, living in Saudi, having to dress in an abaya  everyday in 1000 degree heat with no way to come home to the US if my husband didn’t give me permission. …  which leads me to my next tip.

Do Your Own Research- Embracing your SO’s culture can be a beautiful thing. It will help you understand more about what makes them tick. I know that I was blessed to be able to live in India and to be able to go back and forth as much as I did. Not everyone has these resources, however, if you have the opportunity to experience your SO’s homeland, do so. I promise it will be a real eye opener. If you aren’t able to travel to their native surroundings scour the internet and library for information on their culture.  If you area has some activities related to their background..go..learn.. and have a good time.  For example, if your SO is Jewish, visit a synagogue or a Jewish cultural event.

Offer Support- Rocky times in a relationship are inevitable. Like a tide they will ebb and flow. It’s part of the growing process. How well you and your SO deal with your problems says a lot about how well the blossoms of your relationship will bloom. You’ve chosen one another because there was something about the other person that attracted or intrigued you. Always remember what those first moments together were like and why you chose one another. If your SO is having a rough day, be the ear they need or the shoulder they need to cry or lean on.

Stop trying to breathe life into a dead corpse-Know when the finish line is in sight- If we all looked back on our failed relationships, if we’re honest with ourselves the writing was probably on the wall long before we let it go. If the handwriting is on the wall for your relationship and you see that things are not working out  and you’ve tried without success to repair things.. it’s time to let go. Often we get settled into a comfort zone that is hard to break free of even if it doesn’t feel so good. We’re afraid of the unknown and what it may bring so we stay in relationships we know are no good for us. If you know you deserve better and you’ve asked for it and haven’t got it…let it go.. If you know you are no good for your SO and you are holding them back or causing them a tremendous amount of pain.. let it go.

My blog readers, I’m not a guru, nor do I claim to know it all. The advice I offered above is all gleaned from my own personal and sometimes very painful experiences. If just ONE person walks away from reading this with a new and improved perspective on how to make their relationship better, I’ve done my job and the two days it took me to write this post was worth it. Until the next blog..

 

Copyright © 2009

 

A Fresh Blog Post. Hot Off the Presses. May 3, 2009

I’m finally back with a fresh blog post. The week has been very very busy and I had not found the time to write. Hubby has been promising to guest write for me but so far that hasn’t happened. Every time I ask him about it, he says he’s still thinking about what he is going to write about. Let’s all collectively roll eyes on that.

After three years of trying to get M realize that not everyone in any one race is the same, twice this week when I was telling him about a negative situation that happened (one involving a check from a customer for our business), he automatically asked “was it a black person?”  His question gave me pause and made me ask him why he automatically assumed it was a black person that was involved in something negative. He didn’t have an answer for me, other than to say “I was just curious.”

Now mind you, M and I have had many discussions about why crime rates may be higher in some areas than others or why there are so many black on black murders etc. We’ve talked about the socioeconomic connections and educational factors that contribute to downtrodden. But somehow, I don’t think he’s grasped it all. Even now after all of this time being here in the states, he hasn’t connected with many other blacks apart from my family (or Indians either for that matter…come to think about it.. he hasn’t connected with anyone).  He needs to be able to experience people of all races from all walks of life so that he can see that there’s not just one type of person in any ethnic group. I really want him to get to a point where he recognizes that crime has no face and no racial group is immune from being the victim of a crime or committing one.

Shifting the topic to one more positive, on Friday the kids had their Spring Fling. I was so excited because I saw more mixed couples there than I had seen in the entire city we live in. Other than M and myself, there were at least four other couples I saw that night and they were all openly engaged with one another and small amounts of PDA.  It shows the grand old south where we live is changing its guard a bit. I like that.

Okay guys, I’m going to keep this one short. I’m a bit under the weather and my bed is calling me for a nap. Until the next blog. …

 

Oh by the way.. some comments I haven’t yet gotten a chance to respond to  yet but I will later this evening.

 

Dealing With Exes April 25, 2009

 

M and I have been blessed that the aspects of our relationship which could have been an issue for us have worked out. Much of this is due in part to how we chose to handle things that others would see as obstacles. For example, my race and my having been divorced with children could have been a hurdle that had the potential to destroy our relationship considering the social implications for M. However, we chose to deal with issues head on.

 

 

Let me digress momentarily and use this opportunity to say I don’t know why so many Indian men lie about the relationships they are having with non Indian or outer caste or religion women. By lying they are only causing a great deal of hurt for the women who are falling in love with them. I think it’s childish and reeks of selfishness. To knowingly become involved with someone knowing your future holds an arranged marriage is asinine behavior. I hate to hear of women going through relationships that are built on a lie or limited information. Ladies if you are involved with someone and you find that you know very limited information about them perhaps you should ask yourself why. If their family doesn’t know about you and you’ve been together for a significant amount of time ask yourself why. (Blindian’s stepping down off of her soapbox now). Sorry folks but this subject really gets my blood pressure up.

Anyway, as I was saying, we chose to deal with issues head on. One of those issues dealt with my children. When M and I married, they were five years old. My ex husband originally wasn’t too keen on my packing up his children and taking them half way across the world to a country he knew nothing about. One of the things M did without my knowing he would do it was talk to my ex, P, man to man. M told him that he wasn’t trying to replace him as a father and that he was going to do everything he could to ensure our safety and happiness. M also told P that anytime he had questions about what was going on he was welcome to call him.

At first, P, wasn’t very receptive to M’s talk with him. He wasn’t ready for me to move on and was still having a difficult time with being divorced even though it was two years after the fact. We had spent nearly 10 years together in a marriage that I think we both were shocked to find disintegrate due to a variety of reasons. I had to sit P down and tell him that he needed to realize that most men wouldn’t have talked with him man to man like that. They would have basically gone about being with me without regard to him. Once he thought about what I said, he realized that M wanted nothing but to get along and for the kids to realize they were loved by everyone.  P and I had an amicable divorce and we agreed early on that our jobs were to show the children how to have a healthy functional relationship even if we were not together. We don’t believe in the back and forth drama that some divorced couples have. It serves absolutely no purpose when you are trying to raise healthy well balanced children. That’s not to say we don’t have our disagreements, we do but even though we are divorced, P still wants to see me happy.

My sister calls me, P and M Demi, Bruce and Ashton because we all get along so well. M and P get along quite well. We all still occasionally have dinner together and will sometimes catch a movie. The kids know that P and I won’t be getting back together but they love the fact that they two dads and three grandmothers.

It’s not easy but at the end of the day we realize that our common goal are the kids..who have their first piano recital tomorrow so I’ll wrap this up.. until the next blog.

 

 
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