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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I’m an Aunt!

Late Wednesday evening, my niece was born.  She is the daughter of Satya’s brother and his wife.  Satya’s brother’s wife is also white-she is half French and half German.  Luckily, everything went smoothly without too many complications.  The mother started having contractions midnight Wednesday, went to the hospital around noon, had an epidural in the afternoon, and the baby was finally born around 10 pm. 

The baby is over 6 lbs and nearly 21 inches long.  She has lots of very dark, curly hair.  Satya is convinced the baby will look like his brother and like his mom-eyes, nose, shape of face.  I’m not sure yet.   I think the baby will have his brother’s eyes.  My sister in law is convinced the baby has Satya’s brother’s hands.  Satya thinks that the baby has his sister in law’s jaw line.  We will see. 

We were fortunate enough to see the proud parents and baby an hour after the birth.  The mother was pretty much wiped out exhausted sitting up in bed.  The father was walking around holding his new daughter proudly staring at her and showing her off.  The mother’s parents were there too.  The room did have a sacred feel to it somehow.  I feel lucky to have been with them for a few minutes. 

For Satya, he is extremely proud and happy that he is now an uncle.  He very much wants to see the baby again.  

It is interesting because both they and we are intercultural couples and we both have very different ways of dealing with those issues.  Everybody is different and not just culture, but personality plays a lot into it.  The new parents did take a lot of care to choose a name for the baby that works for both cultures.   The baby is named after a Hindu saint and name somewhat common in the U.S. as well.

Ideally, for the labor I’d want my mom with me as she has gone through it 4 times (3 times completely naturally) and maybe Satya to be there (I worry about him being grossed out though).  I know now he definitely does not want to cut the umbilical cord.  He definitely wants his parents to be close by-in the waiting room and with us soon after the birth.  I feel ok about that because his parents are not pushy and I know they would want to be there to share the moment with us.  I want the baby to be baptized and he wants the baby to have a naming ceremony and the ceremony where the baby receives its own Linga.  We do not know what ceremonies his brother’s baby will receive. 

 

We shall see…………

Relationship Meme

This meme is from GoriGirl’s site.  I loved reading the stories of various couples, so finally decided to add mine as well. 

What are your middle names?
Marie is mine.  I also have my Catholic confirmation name of Lydia.  Lydia was to commemorate my trip to Greece with my aunt.  Lydia was the first European Christian, according to the New Testament.  In Greece we got to see the stream she supposedly was baptized in so when I had to choose a confirmation name I chose hers. 

Satya does not have one officially.  Here in the U.S. he will sometimes use his father’s name as his middle name. 

How long have you been together?
Our first date was the end of August ’07 and this week is our first wedding anniversary. 

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
Hmm, we started communicating on eHarmony in July.  By the end of September we were dating seriously.

Who asked whom out?
I clicked on him first on eHarmony.  I liked that he liked traveling, knew so many languages, and said that he loved to paint.  I didn’t like it when he said, “Don’t think you have me just because I answer e-mails quickly,” or something like that.  I thought he sounded arrogant with that sentence, and so hesitated a lot before clicking on him.  Luckily, in real life he is not arrogant at all and is a sweetheart.

We went back and forth with our messages (eHarmony’s process is a bit exhausting).  He set up the first date.  I canceled because I wasn’t feeling well and because I was burned out on dating.  Luckily, we both made it to our first date the next week.

How old are each of you?
He is 30 and I’m 28. 

Whose siblings do you see the most?
His.  His brother lives a little over an hour away.  Mine are in Minnesota and Washington state.  His sister lives in California and last March we visited her for a few days. 

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
I think we both feel we are a bit in limbo with him finishing up his PhD.  The uncertainty of when he will finish, where we will move, and him having to deal with a bully of an advisor is very stressful.  Also, living in a studio is tough sometimes-we are looking forward to having walls soon.  On the bright side, living in a studio means that we’ve learned a lot about each other this past year.

Did you go to the same school?

Not even close.

Are you from the same home town?
Nope.

Who is smarter?
I’d have to say him.  He is a genius at math and computers and somehow even managed to get a very high GRE score in English.  Also, he was one of Karnataka’s best students in German when he was in high school.

Who is the most sensitive?
Him, easily.  If you look up the male Virgo, you will find his picture right there.  On the bright side, he is very caring. 

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
NJ has some delicious, affordable South Indian restaurants and our favorite is called Tanjore.  Another one of our standbys is Subway.  We get the footlong veggie delights with 3 or 4 sauces-Sweet Onion, Chipotle, and Honey Mustard.  Satya cannot live without his sauces.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
California was the furthest we’ve traveled so far together.  We’ve also been to Minnesota and to Washington state together. 

Who has the craziest exes?
Me.  He went out on a lot of dates, but didn’t actually have a relationship with any of them until me.  For him, the thing about Indians not dating was true.

Who has the worst temper?
Mine is much more visible and vocal.  He is a silent, cold lump when he is angry.  Fortunately, neither of us can stay angry for long and most of our arguments involve lots of laughter.

Who does the cooking?
Both of us do the cooking.  We like to cook our elaborate meals together.  Our biggest disagreement about cooking is about following recipes.  I like to know what will happen next and why we are doing things.  He likes to very loosely keep to recipes.  I think that is an American vs. Indian thing.  Usually we cook Indian meals because I don’t know many vegetarian Minnesota meals except for grilled cheese sandwiches.

Who is the neat-freak?
Him definitely.  See reference above about him being a Virgo. He likes to say I needed a Virgo in my life to keep me organized. 

Who is more stubborn?
We discussed some of these questions before and on this one we disagree.  I say he is the most stubborn and he says I am. 

Who hogs the bed?
We disagree again.  I say he does, he says I do. 

Who wakes up earlier?
At the moment it is me most of the time because of work.  He can survive on much less sleep than I can, though.  I wish I had that ability : ) 

Where was your first date?
Art Museum.  I was very impressed that he bought the tickets and had the little pins all ready when I arrived.  The first thing I noticed about him was his eyes-very warm and gorgeous.  We walked around the museum and I was impressed by how he enjoyed noticing the details of the pieces and his fun comments.  After that we sat by the river eating jello cups. 

He proposed at the same place we met.

Who is more jealous?
I will guess him. 

How long did it take to get serious?
I think for me, I knew it was serious after our third or fourth date.  He knew before that.  He also knew by the fifth or sixth date he wanted to marry me, although I didn’t figure that out for another few months. 

Who eats more?
He does, definitely.  You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but he can eat a lot. 

Who does the laundry?
Mostly me. 

Who’s better with the computer?
Definitely him-it is his PhD subject. 

Who drives when you are together?
Definitely him.  I’m still working on getting my driver’s permit.

Divorce because of Abortion

Today, Satya brought an article to my attention that says that under Indian Hindu Marriage laws, a husband can divorce his wife if she has an abortion without his consent.  To me, the law makes sense because if one person really wants to have a family and the other doesn’t then they are probably best off with a partner that shares their goals.  I would think it would be extremely difficult to stay in a marriage like that because what is the compromise–just have one child?  Adopt a 10 year old because the child is half grown already?  Not likely.

In the U.S. I don’t think an issue like this would come up.  Most American couples can divorce if they simply have grown apart and aren’t in love anymore.  The only way this would come up I’d think is if to get a divorce one party would have to prove the divorce is the other’s fault. 

There are sticky implications to the law.  It does limit the freedom of a married woman to make independent decisions about her body.  I don’t think there is any denying that.  What choice will poorer women have?  If there is a divorce, would they be able to support themselves or would they be doomed to a life in poverty?  Would women be doomed to having pregnancy after pregnancy?  Perhaps not because India’s government emphasizes small families and birth control.  Another thing to consider is India’s high maternal death rate.  An Indian woman has a 1 in 70 chance of dying in childbirth according to Unicef.  For comparison, an American woman has a 1 in 4800 chance of dying in childbirth. 

What do you think of the law?