A Journey In Black and Indian Love

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

A Looming Birthday-Oh What’s a 35 year old to do. April 20, 2009

The Mountains of Pigeon Forge

The Mountains of Pigeon Forge

I turn 35 in a few months. It’s a birthday I’m looking forward to, yet dreading. It’s not really the age thing. It’s the feeling of change that is coming over me. The last time I felt like this, I was about to turn 30. I could feel the change in the wind but little did I know that every aspect of my life was about to change- my marriage, my finances, my friendships-NOTHING was left untouched but I emerged from the ashes a stronger and wiser person.

I happen to believe that where we are in this very moment of life is where God wants us to be. When I’ve tried to change HIS plan, I always wreak havoc so over the years, experience has taught me to just ‘be still.’  When I do, it always turns out for the best.

Last year M and I went to Las Vegas for my birthday. It was a great trip. We saw Cirque’s “O” which is absolutely incredible.  This year we are planning a friends and family weekend in Gatlinburg. I’m looking forward to spending time relaxing in the beauty of the Smokies with family and friends. I want to shoot a little pool, shop, play board games, have some late night gab sessions with my girls, watch the guys in a grilling battle to see who makes the best barbeque and just fellowship and soak up the time with friends and family.

Aside from Dubai and St. Martin, The Smokey Mountains are my favorite spot to frequent. I love watching the blue haze that lingers over the peaks in the morning. I love the small town feel of Gatlinburg and all it has to offer. The hiking trails, the nature overall and the opportunity to raft is calling me there for some down time.  This place of beauty is what I want to share with my friends and family.

I’m trying to make sure everyone will be able to come and will be able to partake of the weekend festivities. So far the expense shouldn’t run more than $200 for a three day two night trip that includes food. I’m trying to be mindful of everyone’s budget.  Does anyone have any ideas?  We’re staying in a chalet where everyone will have their own bathroom in suite. I know how important privacy is and wanting to have the ability to choose when you want to relax away from the group. I’ll have everything worked out and the invitation letter going out to everyone by tomorrow mid-day.  Until the next blog…..

 

Indian Movies April 19, 2009

 

Faana

Faana

 

I mentioned in a previous post that M and I watch a lot of movies. Thanks to Netflix I can indulge in documentaries and foreign films that my local movie store doesn’t carry. I thought I would take the time in today’s blog to pass along some of my favorite documentaries and Indian films. If you’ve never watched an Indian movie before let me forewarn you that they are generally quite long.  Usually they are over three hours .

Tonight we watched Kal Ho Naa Ho: Tomorrow May Never Come.  In typical Indian fashion this movie was well over 3 hours long and it seemed to just fall apart at the end.  Last week we watched Dil Chahata Hai starring Aamir Khan. It’s a great film about three guys who have been friends since grade school. It’s a film about life, love and friendship. We also watched Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. Let me just say BOOOOOO BOOOOOO. I threw popcorn at my own screen. If you like movies that rank a 10 plus on the cheese factor this is it.

Here’s a list of my favs so far:

Slum Dog Millionaire (excellent movie)

Sarfarosh (three and a half starts)

Salaam Namaste (four stars)

Water ( Part of the Deepa Mehta trilogy Five stars)

Salaam Bombay (five stars. A very touching movie about a little boy thrown into life in the slums of Mumabi. It’s directed by Mira Nair who also directed Monsoon wedding).

Monsoon Wedding (four stars)

Fire (Part of Deepa Mehta’s trilogy five stars. The movie touches on the subject of same sex relationships. I think this movie was amazingly done)

Arranged (Five stars…movie about an unlikely friendship between an orthodox Jewish girl and a Muslim girl)

Faana (three and a half stars. It’s long..almost like two movies in one) 

Movies I could take or leave:

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

Earth (Directed by Deepa Mehta and part of her movie trilogy, Earth, Water and Fire)

Beauty Academy of Kabul (documentary)

What are some of your favorite movies with a foreign slant and why?  Until the next blog..

 

An Ode to Friendship

M and I had date night last night. We went to hear a friend of mine who is a blues singer. I was one of the two friends who showed up to support her. It wasn’t like they didn’t know she was performing. I had personally called and sent text messages to all of our mutual friends to remind them. Some said they were coming and didn’t..others didn’t respond. I could tell she was disappointed with the low turnout. As I looked around the club, it made me think about friendship and how as humans, we take our relationships with others for granted.

My friendships are precious to me. I surround myself with very few people that I can actually call friends. I have many acquaintances but in my opinion, the word friend is so overused.  I learned a long time ago that not everyone can wear the friendship label because like any relationship it requires work and not everyone is prepared to do the work of friendship. It means remembering birthdays or important dates, losing sleep occasionally while a friend talks through their issues and it means pitching in when needed.

I sometimes think that technology is a curse. With emails, text messages and the like, most people in society no longer take the time to handwrite thank you notes, or visit with friends the way it was done 30 or 40 years ago. We’re all just too busy. However, life is short and we all need to remember to appreciate those around us that stand tall and strong with us through any storm.

I’ve had friends who have traveled around the world with me to witness the traditional Kerala ceremony between M and I. That’s some love. I’ve had friends who have stayed up all night with me while I cried over a broken relationship. That’s even more love. LOL.

M and I differ on the friendship thing. He’s a loner and from what I’ve been told by him and his family, he always has been for the most part.  He can take people or leave them and will quickly call me an agony aunt when I’m nurturing a friend through hard times. It’s important for me to have friendships and if I hadn’t seen it over the last few years I wouldn’t believe that M could live without having friends. My dear sweet nerdy M simply reads, plays with the dogs, does Sudoku or watches television in his spare time. My ideology is that if he’s happy with his friendless life, it’s fine with me. My job is to be friend, wife, nurse and psychologist whenever he needs it. 

How do you nurture your friendships? Do you feel the art of friendship is changing? Until the next blog..

 

To Stay or Not to Stay..That is the Question April 17, 2009

  

At least once a week M and I have the same conversation. I want to move back to India or at least spend part of the year there. M thinks I’m nuts and is concerned about trying to rebuild a life there. He’s also concerned about our son’s allergies and asthma. I can understand the asthma problems in Delhi (smog and air pollution) and even Kerala (various greenery) but in Goa he seems to do well and we’ve found that the allergy flair ups usually come in spring and summer. I think it’s possible, M isn’t so sure.  We have this conversation at least once a week and it always ends the same-in non decision. It’s kind of like the should we have a baby or not discussion. We at least agree on that matter it’s just the timing of it all.

After spending so much time in India, I consider the country to be a second home for me and I miss the pulse and vibrancy of Delhi and Goa. I miss the quietness of Kerala at night. It’s very hard to explain but the country is in my blood now.

In addition to my full-time job, I have two businesses that can operate from virtually anywhere in the world. One is a voiceover business (if you’re interested, email me and I’ll send you the website link) and the other is a catalog and e-commerce jewelry and accessory business (www.paysonjewels.com) so I think we can survive anywhere.  I understand M’s concerns. He’s over 40 now and finding a job in India at his age can difficult since the country’s population is so young.

One of the other reasons I want to move is because I want my children to have a different kind of life. Every day you pick up the paper or watch the news, there’s been another shooting or some random act of death that can’t be explained. As a mother, I am keenly aware of the kinds of things my children are exposed to when they are at school and no amount of piano lessons, soccer or scouts can remove some of the peer pressure they are and will be exposed to as they get older.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naïve enough to think that we can move away from all things negative. However, say what we will about countries on the other side of the world but they have very different kinds of crime than we do here. We don’t hear about schools or hospitals being shot up the way we do here. And whether we like it or not, their kids are usually more educated than ours. There’s something to be said for this. As parents we want to give our children the best opportunities available to them. We want them healthy, educated and filled with integrity. We want them to hold on to the childhood innocence they have now before becoming stained with the negativity of the world. As parents, we are fighting like hell to do this with each passing day.  We’ve got great kids.. we know it and we want them to remain so.

We have a great number of decisions to make in the coming days…Until the next blog.

 

This Blog’s For You-My Open Thank you Letter April 16, 2009

This is my open thank you for all of the blog love that M and I have been receiving. In the two weeks this blog has been up, we’ve had more than 3,000 hits. People from all walks of life and nationalities have reached out to say they are enjoying reading our experiences and that they want to see more.  Your wish is my command.

I should have posted a “disclaimer” or announcement on this blog, that despite the fact the blog is titled “Blindian Love” the blog is not, nor has it ever been solely for African Americans. It’s for everyone who’s in love, who’s ever been in love or who will ever BE in love with someone who’s a bit different than you. This blog is merely a glimpse into my experiences as an AA woman who happens to be married to an Indian guy. I blog about our life together as a Black and Indian couple (thus the name blindian) in the hopes that our experience, as unique as it is will offer hope to others who feel there is little chance for them to be together. Hopefully, by seeing a little slice into our world, we symbolize the phrase there is always hope.

I love hearing from everyone. Not only am I hopeful that people are learning and gaining hope from our experiences but I am learning from you all as well. The emails and comments serve as support for me and M.  For example, Deb encouraged us to cling close to one another and remain a united front. A person who wishes to remain anonymous and I are fast becoming friends since she’s also an AA married to a Desi guy.  I even heard from an Indian woman sharing her experiences. These are just a few nuggets of what I refer to as blog love.

Feel free to ask me the questions that are on your mind and if you know of someone you think may be interested in the blog, spread the word or link it up to your blog or website if you have one. M and I are here to help and spread a little bit of Blindian love… until the next blog.

 

Interracial Dating-Can’t We All Just Get Along? April 13, 2009

I’m constantly scouring the web in search of information on intercultural relationships. I’m always interested in how other couples balance out cultural differences. I came across the above YouTube video on one of these quests. To say I am apalled at some of the things I heard on the video is putting it mildly. While I’m glad to hear the candidness of the interviewees, it doesn’t take away my surprise at how some people view African American women who date outside of their race.

In my never ending quest for information, I also came across www.blackfemaleinterracialmarriage.com  The website is packed full of inspiring stories for women dating outside of their culture.

While I was reading through the posts, something I read hit home. The author was talking about the importance of black women not being afraid to step outside of their race to date. I knew this was a problem but until I read her words, it just didn’t click how some women may struggle with this decision.  My grandmother always raised me to see the best in a person and to be open to dating and marrying anyone as long as they treated me with respect. I’ve taken this advice with me through my life and have dated everyone from a Pakistani to a Saudi as well as a Hispanic guy and of course Indian. I’ve never struggled with my decision to date outside of my own culture so I just assumed the problem was isolated. Apparently it isn’t.

It saddens me to think that many women won’t date someone because they are from another culture. I know that often we are raised to “stick with our own kind” but think about how many opportunities at true love could be missed out on just because someone’s heart is closed to someone who doesn’t look like them.

I know the people who say stick to your own kind are probably only stating it because they feel it will protect you from being hurt or rejected. However, if this is the only reason why you are choosing not to be open to other experiences (i.e. people) then perhaps you should rethink why your happiness is so connected to the opinions of other people.

I once had a co-worker tell me I was going to hell because the Bible specifically talks about how dating or marrying outside of your own. I pulled my Bible from my desk drawer and asked him what scripture I could find that in. He fumbled around and finally made an excuse to leave the room. To this day, I’m still waiting for him to tell me where he got his information from.  People will tell you all kinds of crap if they think it will help them get their propaganda across.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the whole argument by some people that we’re “selling out” or not supporting our black men the way we should. However, that argument in my opinion does not have legs to stand on.  I could go on and on about statistics of how many black men date outside of their race versus the number of black women who do the same. I could also go on and on about how women traditionally are the ones who stand by their partner unwavering and longer in times of hardship but I won’t.  At the end of the day, they are all generalizations and not everyone fits into that one neat statistical box.

The point of all of this is that people should be free to love who they want despite the differences that others may see as obstacles. If you’re interested in dating outside of your race and you haven’t, ask yourself why. Is it due to fear of the unknown or is it due to lack of opportunity. Is it because all of your life it’s been hammered into you that you shouldn’t date anyone that doesn’t look like you?  Whatever the reason ask yourself are you happy with not exploring other options available to you.  Until the next blog…

 

Family Holidays

Today M celebrated his second Easter here in the states. This year was much celebratory than last year for some reason. The kids had an Easter egg hunt yesterday and today family and friends celebrated the resurrection of Christ. I watch M closely at this gathering.

Even though he’s been here for almost two years I find that he is still a bit hesitant around my family, my mother specifically.  Watching the two of them is like watching two birds doing a delicate dance. My mother swears she still has problems understanding him sometimes even though M’s English is fluent. She’s still trying to feel him out to see if there is a motive behind him marrying her daughter. M on the other hand is simply sitting in the shadows watching. I know this because after every family gathering, he peppers me with questions about what happened and who said what.

Even after two years the conversation between M and my mom usually consists of no more than two or three sentences at a time and they are always the same. This, even as she says he’s her favorite son-in-law and how good he is with the kids.  

I think we will always be this way with each of our families. When I’m around M’s family I always struggle to find something to talk about other than the weather or everyone’s health.  I sometimes dream of the camaraderie that both families could have if everyone was open to learning about the other’s culture. I’m trying to convince my family to go to India with us later this year so that both families can meet and begin to embrace one another’s lifestyles. So far, I’m being met with resistance. It’s easier for my family to go there than M’s family to come here.

One of the things that frustrates me about my culture the most is the lack of desire to see and experience the world.  Many African Americans are hesitant about going outside of the country. Often this is connected to fear of the unknown. We’re afraid of violence or constantly worried something bad may happen.  Then there’s the assumption that traveling outside of the country is too expensive to ever be able to afford. I’m by no means wealthy but I’ve seen parts of the world others only see on television and the memories associated with those trips are something I wouldn’t trade for the world.  Now I can’t sit still long without having some type of trip up my sleeve. If I can offer a piece of advice to everyone afraid to travel, it would be to always keep your options open. Take the opportunity to explore the world and its inhabitants around you. It can only serve to help you grow as a person.

Even if my family does not decide to travel with us later this year, I still hope that we can get the two families together soon to celebrate in one big reception. Until then M and I are like the mainland to two very different islands.  

I’d like to know more about you my readers…where have you traveled to or where would you like to travel to if you could go anywhere in the world with no costs?  How did you find the blog?  M and I are hoping to hear from you soon.  Until the next blog….

 

Loving Hard and Loving Long April 8, 2009

Joined together by love

Joined together by love

I wish we’d meet again in another lifetime when things will not be as complicated as they are right now. I wish when you tell me that you love me, sadness would not fill me up. It’s a painful pleasure to see you every time. As much as my heart yearns for you, I die a little bit more each day knowing you are what you are to me, someone I can never have. But I do, I love you. I mean it more than you do.                                                                                                                                           -Anonymous

 

 

 

I found this poem the other day and I thought of all of those intercultural Indian relationships that may be hindered due to race. Loving someone is hard enough without the added stressors that being in an intercultural relationship brings. You have to learn to love hard and to love long. I’ll take a page out of my own personal life to share what I mean.

One of the things I’ve noticed about many Indians is their ability to take any kind of negative situation and brush it off as though it were nothing. It’s like a perpetual positive attitude. Sometimes this comes across as uncaring and crass. However, in talking to other people who are involved in mixed Indian relationships, this appears pretty common to them as well.

I’ll give you an example. I’m a broadcast journalist and I recently learned that two of my stories picked up some pretty nice (and if I may brag on myself for one brief moment-Prestigious) awards. One was an Associated Press award for best commentary and the other is an Edward R Murrow Regional Award for best series. This was big for me because I was competing against stories from 200 other stations in four states. When I told M today about the Murrow award, I may as well have told him I was going to the store to get bread. It would have garnered the same reaction and he swears I never told him about the AP award last week.

When I was recently diagnosed with a serious medical condition, it was the same way until I forced him to sit down and have the “what to do in the event of” conversation. It was only then that he was forced to face the situation. You see, my sweet, lovable flawed M is an avoider. I realized a long time ago that it’s nothing personal with me. He’s always been like this and I doubt he’s going to change anytime soon. Some people just prefer to avoid negative or sad emotions. I know there are things about me he probably feels the same way about.  You see, that’s the beauty of a marriage. If you are honest with yourself, it will always be inherently flawed in some way which makes you appreciate the edges you’ve both worked so hard to smooth even more.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the best way to succeed in a relationship is to 1) always express myself no matter how much it may hurt either partner. I happen to believe that holding it in is worst because to do so may cause a buildup of hostility later and 2) choose my battles. Some things just aren’t worth wasting breath over. In moments like these, I choose to remember why I’ve hung in here as long as I have and that wipes it all away.

The other lesson I’ve learned (and ladies PLEASE hear this) is that it’s best to keep your relationship business to yourself. I understand the need to vent (trust me I do) but our friends and family who love us dearly sometimes don’t know when they are loving us too hard. In other words, remember that when you are telling your friends or family all of your business, it could come back to bite you. The memories of friends tend to be much longer than ours and they remember every gory detail which they will kindly remind you of whenever they get a chance..especially if they don’t like your guy.

I learned in my last relationship to never tell all of the details because friends, in thinking that they are doing what is best, will bash your man and tell you what you don’t need. When all is said and done and you and your guy have patched things up, you never forget what they said and they won’t forget what you said either. This can create a great deal of tension in the friendship. I’ve been on both ends of this (the giver of the information and the receiver) and I can tell you that it’s no picnic.  When it’s you hearing the friend, you think to yourself ‘is she crazy, why is she still with that fool,’ or ‘this is too much drama for me.’

I remember one friend in particular who kept going back to a physically abusive relationship and each week I had to listen her cry and say no more only to see her go back, just emotionally drained me. So I stopped being the antagonistic friend and began to always put a positive spin on things. For example, I’d remind her to do a list of pros and cons or ask her what she felt she needed to do to make herself feel better. Never would I say anything about the guy or their specific problem. I kept it focused on her.  Is this always easy? Hell no- Especially when you have a friend who has a fool for a man. However, if you love your friend as much as you say you do, then ride it out with her. That’s what I did and eventually she left him. Later she thanked me for not bashing him (apparently she forgot about all the times I did).  Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t speak your opinion honestly IF she asks. What I am saying is be careful of your phraseology when you do.

Our mouths are the most powerful weapon we carry. Our words have the ability to heal, hurt, encourage or discourage and those words can tear everything we have apart or build the impossible. So ..when you and your guy have issues going on-talk it out whether he’s listening or not. Until the next blog remember to love long and love hard. double-hearts