A Journey In Black and Indian Love

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

Black + Indian=Blindian June 1, 2010

Today, I read a post from an Indian American woman involved in a relationship with an AA male for the last five years. They are contemplating making another step forward and she is torn between love and family wishes and values.

Based on the little bit that the OP posted, I could tell this was a subject to which she  has given a great deal of thought. One of the things she mentioned in her post that grabbed me most was this line “It’s difficult when I have been ingrained in a culture that believes marriage is about two families coming together over similar values, lifestyles, and histories and that love is unstable and unreliable, something that will not be able to hold us together” 

Her words really made my mental wheels turn and I know I may get a great deal of slack for what I’m about to say but at least be open enough to know the thought process behind my words.  I think there is something to be said for arranged marriages. There are lower divorce rates and overall, arranged marriages seem to be more stable. Of course there are exceptions to this as there are in any generalization.

When we date are we not looking for people who share the same values and lifestyle as us? Yes, we want to have that euphoric feeling of love but speaking from experience, that feeling will only take us so far when it comes to enduring the ups and downs of relationships. That’s not to say that love is not important and does not have its place but I believe it is important to have shared values and lifestyles.  Do I think that you can be in love and have the things we desire as far as values, lifestyles and histories go? Absolutely! However, I also see the argument behind arranged marriages- IF all parties involved are okay with it. It’s totally different if someone is forced into a relationship because it’s what is expected of them.  I hope that everyone reading this understands that I believe in love. Love brought me and my husband together but so did shared values.   However, I also can see the argument behind arranged marriages. That being said, I only agree with arranged relationships if everyone involved is on board with the process. I’m a sucker for love and I believe there is a place to create new traditions and histories together but I also believe in respecting the ones that got us to where we are as long as they are not disrespectful or hurtful to others. Therein lies part of the problem with why arranged marriages are looked upon so negatively. When parents or relatives that are arranging the relationships are so ingrained in their way of approaching marriages, that they overlook the feelings and wishes of the person they are arranging, it becomes hurtful. I believe the intentions of arranged marriages and the idea behind them were good at some point but when people impose those their ways upon someone else, that’s a problem.   

Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many people who are thrilled to find couples that mirror themselves. I’ve also met so many people who are struggling to find answers to being in a Blindian relationship. For those people I say this, as I said to the OP. You already know that no one can make the decision that’s best for you other than you. I happen to believe that’s the healthiest attitude anyone can have when it comes to making major decisions.

Believe it or not, you are not alone . In the last four years that M and I have been together I have met at least four other black/Indian couples who actually got married but kept it secret for years. It’s such a sad way to live for them. There are always the questions and thoughts  of ” ‘why can’t you tell your family or friends about me? I’m a good person, they’ll like me just give them the opportunity to meet me and you’ll see'”…or “‘ I don’t like being anyone’s secret.'”  The thoughts of why and how they’ve allowed themselves to be in such a difficult place go on and on.  It’s inevitable that people on the outside pass judgment about relationships like this all the time (and for the record they are not exclusive to Black/Indian relationships). That judgement in itself can add a whole boatload of issues but I digress.

At the end of the day, people make decisions that shape their lives and the futures of not only themselves but of future generations as well.  This life is too short to make decisions based on how others feel you should live your life if it’s not something you’re completely 100% on board with. Make the decisions that you know in the end will bring you peace.  I’m looking forward to hearing your comments on this issue. Until the next blog..

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Indians and “They” April 20, 2010

I’ve noticed something lately and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it. It’s Indians and the word “they.”  I’ve noticed that this is used quite often when they are referring to other Indians.  From what I have noticed, it’s usually used to talk condescendingly or negatively about fellow Indians. It’s as if the person who is speaking isn’t included in the group they are referring to.

 M does it, my Hindi teacher does it, and several of my Indian friends do it. For some reason, this has been blatantly obvious to me as of late. However, I’ve also noticed that by contrast, the people saying “they” don’t use it when referring to the positive things about the same group of people. That’s when they say “we.”  For example, I had this conversation with M the other day where he was talking about how he felt Indians were obsessed with money. During the conversation he would routinely say things like “they will do anything to save a dollar.”  A little while later he was saying what hard workers Asians are. During this conversation he would consitently say “we” and he ended it by saying “we will put in 16 hour days, without thinking twice.” 

Am I the only person who has noticed this? I have my own thoughts about why “they” and “we” are used but I am interested in other opinions. I understand the desire to distance one’s self from things that are perceived as negative and embracing the things that are seen as positive but I’ve not seen this behavior on this level before or at least it’s never been so bad that I’ve noticed it before. I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions. 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…  

 

A Holiday Recap and Facebook Page Update January 16, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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?

 

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.  

 

The Part of Parenthood No one Discusses October 6, 2009

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

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

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

Asick