Back Again

I’ve decided to keep blogging.  I love to read what others are experiencing in their relationships and learn more about India.

Satya and I have been together now for three years.  Some things that I thought we’d have figured out by now are still up in the air (religion).  Other things were much easier than expected (visiting India and meeting his extended family).  Also, we are still in the same city I’ve been trying to move away from for nearly 3 years-very frustrating.

We’ve had our victories, like him finally receiving his permanent green card last month.  Don’t underestimate the stress of waiting for that to arrive and the stress of putting together all that paperwork.  Satya is much more methodical than me and we had many arguments about what to include (I wanted to include just the bare minimum).  The final weight of the package with its table of contents, color coded Post-It bookmarks, etc. was 4 pounds!!  We were lucky-we were able to complete all the paperwork ourselves without a lawyer.  Still, it was not an easy process.  We are breathing a sigh of relief now until the final batch of papers-for citizenship next year.

Another victory….Successfully hosting his parents for the past 3 summers for 3 months each time. Most of the credit goes to his parents for being so kind and so tolerant of us.  This summer we were both working and somewhat stressed out so we couldn’t spend as much time with them as we’d have liked, but we still had a good time together.  We’d all take walks together, play board games, watch movies, and go to the temple together sometimes.  It is nice to know that they love and support us and that we all feel comfortable together.

Some things are still works in progress.

Religion….We agreed that we’d both keep our religions and raise our future kids to respect both.  In practice though, we lean more towards Hindu/Lingayat more than to Catholic.  Mostly this is due to the attitudes we encounter at church such as priests in their homilies mocking religions like Hinduism for “worshipping rivers and rocks”.  I still feel like I don’t have a firm grasp of what Hinduism is exactly, but am slowly learning from experience-going with his family to the temple, celebrating some festivals, listening to beautiful songs with his mother like “Kali Maheshwari” and “Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma” etc.  It is hard to balance the two when Catholicism seems to say, “It is all or nothing,” and the Hinduism seems to say, “Come as you are…eventually we’ll all end up in the same place.”

Language.  My Kannada skills are laughable.  Maybe someday I’ll learn more.  We will be going to India again within the year so we’ll see. I just haven’t made it a priority.  Satya still intends to speak to our future kids in Kannada, so we’ll see how that goes.  I think if our kids were to have a fighting chance at understanding and speaking Kannada, we’d have to live in Karnataka for a while.  Or maybe encourage his parents to only speak in Kannada to them.  We’ll see……

Balancing our families.  Tricky.  This past January we went to India to see his extended family-aunts, uncles, cousins.  Indian hospitality can’t be beat.  This past July we went to Iowa to see my extended family-not so welcoming or warm and friendly.  I put part of this on Midwestern Scandinavian reticence-maybe if they after meeting Satya a few more times they’ll be more welcoming.

It is also hard to balance limited vacation time between the two families.  I wish I could see my parents for three months out of the year, but I can understand the reasons for the disparity.  My parents live close to two of my sisters.  Satya doesn’t have any siblings living near his parents and his siblings are unwilling to host his parents for more than a week.

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On a completely different note, I have a book to recommend Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull.  Very entertaining and well-written.  It is about Sarah’s adaptation to Paris and to her Paris love.  She is from Australia.  I think most people in intercultural relationships will find parts of the book that relate to them.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gori Girl
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 20:48:23

    Glad to see you back! (I’ve been taking an extended break from blogging as well.)

    It sounds silly to outsiders, but balancing family and vacations can be quite difficult! Until a month ago, we were living in DC – 3000 miles from my family, and around the world from his. It seemed like every vacation we spent traveling to see family! Now we’re in CA, where most of my family is, and his brother as well. So now the balancing act becomes how many Indian functions we go to vs. spending time with my family. Ah, family politics. 🙂

    On the Hinduism thing… have you tried reading a few academic-ish books on Hinduism? They probably won’t relate much to the specific practices of your husband’s family, but they will help in giving you a broader picture of the religion that he naturally has from growing up in India. And there are a few more bloggers out here who are trying to make a Hinduism/Catholic mixed household work, who might have some advice or stories for you…

    Hi Gorigirl. Did you or your husband worry about the competitive side of Indian functions? Satya worries about that-the material competitveness-who earns what, who drives what, who has the most gold, etc. Have you encountered any of that?? Needless to say, we have not attended many yet.

    I’m gathering more books… Two I’m reading now are A Place at the Multicultural Table: The Development of an American Hinduism and Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India. I’m enjoying Nine Lives very much.

    Reply

  2. Jessica
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 19:08:36

    I just found your blog and I have throughly enjoyed reading– so in other words I’m glad you decided to continue blogging!

    I would also recommend Almost French. I read it earlier this year and enjoyed it. I had purchased it while taking a French class and found many parts of the book applicable to me, even though that wasn’t my intention when purchasing the book! Also, I’m looking to start a virtual book club that reads books focused towards expatriates and inter-cultural relationships. If you interested visit my blog and let me know.

    I am also Catholic and trying to learn more about Hinduism, since similarly to your situation Hinduism seems to be the faith that we are leaning towards with our future children. Definitely ask lots of questions to your partner & his family. There are also tons of blogs out there about exploring Hinduism. I have also found youtube to be an extremely useful tool when I am looking to understand a specific holiday or festival. Especially the videos for children. It simplifies everything enough to make sense.

    As for balancing family- I too struggle with the same issues you are facing. Indian hospitality is wonderful and can’t be beat. My family and my husband’s family is like comparing night and day when it comes to hospitality. And it’s a daily struggle, especially since my husband doesn’t want to visit my family since they are not as hospitable as his. Ugh! Drama, drama, drama.

    Hopefully you’ll get everything figured out! Sorry this comment is so long. Look forward to your future posts!

    Hi Jessica. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Hmm, I will have to check out YouTube for festival info. Somehow I never thought about that.

    Reply

  3. Gori Girl
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 22:48:37

    Oh, man – I would so be in for an Indian/Intercultural book club. I have an hour train ride everyday, and am running out of things to read!

    Reply

  4. Meeka
    Oct 21, 2010 @ 03:20:20

    Nice to see you posting again! I agree with how you described the Hindu/Catholic thing… Huduga has always been the one to stress that we could have both Christianity and Hinduism, but as time has passed I really couldn’t find a way to reconcile the two and am now on the Hindu side myself.

    I’ve been trying to learn Kannada also, but it’s been rather erratic – if you want a a study partner let me know 🙂

    Reply

  5. Desi boy
    Nov 02, 2010 @ 18:06:21

    Namaste, I enjoyed reading your blog and your friend’s comments. Good to know there are more of us out there (and we thought we are the only ones trying to figure out a intercultural-interfaith relationship).
    From the desi guy’s point of view i’ll throw in my two cents…you ladies are doing great and so keep it up!. Not sure if Rosetta stone has any thing for Kannada, but my girl used it to learn a bit of hindi. Just wondering, have you considered spending a year or two in Bangalore or Bengaluru as it’s known now?

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    It does sometimes feel like there aren’t many in the same situation. Whenever we go out, we are always looking to see if there are other mixed couples. If there are, we feel more comfortable.

    I’ve looked for a Kannada version of Rosetta Stone, I don’t think there is one yet. I’ll look again.

    Yes, we have considered living in Bangalore. We want to stay in the States until his U.S. citizenship comes through-next year. Once that comes, we may consider living abroad. I’ve told him that I’d give living in India a year to see how it is. If it works, we could stay if not, we’d return. We do intend to visit regularly no matter what.

    Reply

  6. Nands
    Mar 05, 2011 @ 23:04:47

    HHmm…thts gr8 of u all desi gori ladies..hahh…its really nice how u & most of the ladies r adapting to our indian culture in a better way..hope u r enjoying the adventure with ur in-laws in a good way..hahh..u’ll nt get this in this west…so enjoy ur lyf..& yes dnt forget to express it…BYE..bhabi..

    Reply

  7. Mrs. Thundikandy
    Apr 22, 2011 @ 18:47:22

    When I read your posts, there are times that I feel you have taken a page out of my life and read it! LOL

    Reply

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