A Journey In Black and Indian Love

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

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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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…

 

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.

 

Smooth Times on a Rocky Road June 24, 2009

M and A at a Jazz FestivalI begrudingly admit that I was one of the over 10 million viewers who watched the Jon and Kate Plus 8 fiasco last night. It made me think about how many people I know who are going through relationship issues. Even M and I are coming off a week long rocky patch where everything he did annoyed me and everything I did or said annoyed him. It’s the path that every marriage takes. How you walk that path defines you as a couple. I’m thankful that we choose to walk slowly ..together recognizing that every day won’t be a picnic.

Before I got married, my great aunt who has been married for more than half a century gave me a bit of advice. She told me that marriage wasn’t always going to be easy and that there were going to be days where I wanted to unscrew his head off and vice versa but for us always to remember what connected us. That would be our bonding thread through everything. So we take one day at a time. Some days we love harder than on other days but we never stop working on our unity. We recognize that as parents we have an obligation to show the children healthy and well balanced relationships. M is an excellent dad and a good husband. He’s working hard at continuing to adjust to the cultural differences. It’s hard to believe that he’s now been here in the US for two years. My how time flies!

Speaking of fatherhood..We celebrated Father’s Day by watching movies (Defiance, Passenger, Grand Torino and the Wire). I prepared some of M’s favorite foods including Shrimp curry south Indian style. He was in heaven. I was raised to believe that you feed a person’s soul by cooking with love. I wholeheartedly believe that food can be more than just a stomach feeder.

Suprisingly enough, my mother who was so adamantly against my marrying M called him and wished him a happy Father’s Day and to say thank you for being a good father to her grandchildren. Shocked is not the word. We’re still surpised that she called.

I do hope all is well with you readers. Begin gathering your favorite Indian or soul food recipes for me..or any great recipe. Next blog is about cooking for a home full of different taste buds. Until the next blog…

 

A Much Needed Mini Vacation June 8, 2009

Hi Everyone!

I’m finally back to reality after combining a business trip with a much needed getaway. We just got back from Atlanta…took the kids to the zoo and to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. I love Atl but driving there is nervewrecking, not just because of the other driver, but because of how confusing it can get. With the exception if two places, we got lost everywhere we went. LOL. 

M seemed to be at ease because everywhere we went, we saw other Indians. Where we live it’s a rare sighting. He was shocked at how many other Indians he saw. What was so great is how many other interracial couples we saw. It seemed that everyday we saw at least three or four other IR couples. It’s a great sign about the direction of things. Until the next blog!