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.
She’s Almost Here!! August 8, 2012
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….
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Happy New Year From Blindian Love December 30, 2009
I do hope everyone has had a relaxed and stressfree holiday season. M and I decided to do things very differently this holiday season and get away from it all. I’m glad we did. We had a nice relaxed time and focused on what the season is really about for us- the birth of Christ, family and loved ones. Now we are preparing for the new year ahead. So my dear readers. I have a question for you.
I’m just wondering.. do you guys make New Years resolutions? It seems as I get older I no longer make official relolutions ..(maybe it’s because I’ve had so many failed ones. Now I just sit and contemplate the prior months and look ahead to things I want to improve in the new year but I don’t promise myself to do them . What about you? If you make resolutions how about sharing them with us?
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…
A Typical Blindian Day September 30, 2009
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
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.
The Lessons of Friendship August 17, 2009
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…