Our House Search

For the past five or six years, I’ve wanted a house.  It is hard to say exactly why-more space, ability to paint walls or knock them down, ability to have a dog, more privacy-sure those are all great.  But those are all little things.  Maybe it is what it symbolizes-freedom, security, and maybe a bit of drawing a line in the sand and saying, “This is my space”.  True, in the past few years here in the U.S. the idea of house=security has been sorely tried and perhaps should be discarded.  But I  still have a fundamental yearning for a house. 

 

Satya does not share this desire for a house.  I think for him, financial stability comes before nearly all else.  That and to him apartment living is manageable-we have an open kitchen/living/dining room, 2 bedrooms, and a bathroom.  Cleaning takes just a few hours. When our washing machine inexplicably stopped working, we had a brand new washing machine installed the next day.  Our apartment complex took care of the whole thing, no questions asked. 

 

Then, there are our cultural differences.  In my family, people buy houses and people sell houses and move, no big deal.  Satya grew up living in family university quarters until he was about 10.  He and his parents fondly remember living in the university quarters-they were huge and there were lots of other kids to play with and friendly neighbors who helped out.  Then, his parents decided to build their house.  They already had the land, bought years earlier.  They just needed to buy materials and pay the laborers.  After years of careful savings, his parents were able to build their house and have it 100% paid off.  There wasn’t a mortgage because mortgages didn’t exist.  After the house was built, his parents have not moved.  Recently, they remodeled the house a tad-installing a toilet and in the shower room, retiling and adding a shower.  His dad adds gadgets-now they have an inverter so that the ceiling fans won’t go off during a power outage and some solar lights so they will have a light or two during an outage.  Unlike my parents, his parents are not searching for their “grandparent home” or their “downsized” home.

 

In India, people seem to build houses where their hearts are.  One of his dad’s colleagues, A., has rented part of another colleague’s home for years.  When A. retires, he will return to his village to live in the house he built there.  Then, there is Satya’s cousin who works in Bangalore.  He rents an apartment in Bangalore, but has a huge house and yard in the city in Northern Karnataka where he was born and raised and where his parents live today.  To me it seems weird-why not have a nice house where you spend most of your time now? 

 

So getting back to me and Satya, we moved out West last year.  It has been a huge change.  I thought we’d buy a house and live here for 5-7 years.  We’ve been looking at houses for a long time, but Satya just can’t get himself to commit to a house.  I think the real reason is that his heart just isn’t here.  I like the wide open skies, no traffic, safety.  He hates it here.  He has bad allergies from the tumbleweed, hates how people drive exactly the speed limit or 3 below, and isn’t sure he enjoys his job (perhaps the biggest reason).

 

My house dream will have to wait a bit longer it seems.  I see two possible scenarios-1) I get pregnant and Satya’s job satisfaction improves so we’d buy a house here.  2) We move to California or to NJ/NY where Satya has more connections and more opportunities career-wise.  Eventually, we’ll have a house somewhere.  Maybe it will be in India, since his parents have already bought land for him? 

Why I can’t be Catholic (or how to Insult Your Dinner Guests)

Satya and I finally jumped in and tried to find a local Catholic church to attend, but our experiment was a dismal failure.  It started optimistically enough-while I was in Minnesota helping my sick aunt I attended weekly Mass with her and my parents.  I mentioned to Satya there was a local church in our hometown I had been wanting to attend, so he started attending.  His first time, he got invited back to have dinner with an elderly priest.  Satya felt flattered and enjoyed the meal and kept attending Mass. 

I returned and the two of us went to Mass together.  After Mass, the elderly priest invited us to come to his house for dinner the next week.  We agreed, because how can you say no to an elderly priest?  The next week we attend Mass and then have dinner with the elderly priest, a woman from the parish, and the younger priest.  The elderly priest sits at the head of the table, I’m on his left, the other woman is on his right, Satya is next to me, and the younger priest is seated at the foot of the table next to Satya. 

The dinner did not go well, but like all uncomfortable things seemed to go on forever-nearly two hours in fact.  Younger priest asks, “Were you married in the church?”  No, we replied.  “Was your marriage blessed by a priest?”  Yes, we replied and then explained the blessing ceremony we had at my grandma’s nursing home.  “Did you sign papers?”  No we replied.  “Then it wasn’t officially blessed,” he said. He went on to mention that since the marriage was not officially blessed, I am not supposed to receive communion.  I did not know that before and am still processing that news.  I suppose I’ll have to research what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says exactly and go from there.

Then, he launches into a long speech about how the troubled world needs to be unified and saved.  The only way this is possible?  For everyone to become Catholic because Catholicism has 1 person in charge, the pope, and agreed upon truths.  Here my alarm bells were going off in my head.  Satya and I had long agreed that neither would convert for the other. 

Then, the younger priest talked about how science is destroying society.  Satya felt extremely insulted at that because he takes great pride in being a scientist.  Then, the priest also mocked reincarnation and vegetarianism. 

What did Satya do during these monologues?  He smiled and nodded in hopes of speeding the meal along. What would you have done?

I don’t know what the priest’s motives were.  To present arguments about why we should officially join his church?  To speed our decision along-are we going to join or not so we’d quit wasting his time? 

We left the meal exhausted.  We have decided we are going to move on.  All I wanted was to be able to attend Mass with my husband. Next, we are going to try an Episcopalian church with a female pastor.  We shall see. 

I do like the rituals and music of church and the saints, but the rest I’m not so sure of.  Satya and I also did not enjoy listening about how birth control, health insurance, and gay marriage (I have a gay brother) are going to destroy society. 

In other news, I am reading Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism by Rajiv Malhotra.  Anyone else read this one?  So far, it is very interesting.  I really like what he says about mutual respect of religions rather than tolerance of religions.  I completely agree. 

To anyone else, how has your interreligous marriage changed your religious beliefs and practices? 

India, 2.0

Our plan worked sort of.  We spent April in Karnataka with Satya’s parents and moved to our new place in early May.  Some things were definitely easier this time around, but other things were more challenging.  This trip was more about reality, I think.  Our first trip, Jan. ’10, was more of a celebration.  Not that this trip did not have its amazing moments, but it was much more real for me.  Perhaps it was the longer time period-2 weeks vs. 5 weeks.  I really thought of it all like, “Could I live here for real?  What would that be like?”  It was also a bit humbling.  At the beginning of the trip our attitude I think was, “We’ve done this before, we can handle anything.”  I think we both realized we are more American than we expected.

The traveling part was easier this time.  We flew Air France from NYC to Paris, then 2 hr. layover, then Paris to Bangalore.  This was much, much easier than having an 8 hr. layover in Frankfurt, which is what we did last time.  We got to Bangalore and were picked up from the airport by a hotel driver-very smooth and not stressful, just expensive.  Our hotel was more comfortable than last time-quieter, bottled water on request, etc.  We woke up with lots of enthusiasm and confidence.  We went down and ate a huge, delicious breakfast-vada, sambhar, chutneys, and lots of other tasty things.  An hour later our stomachs were a bit unhappy, but we just rested and drank lots of water.  In the afternoon we decided to venture out.  This is where things went a bit sour.  Our rickshaw drivers were not honest and the second one forced us to go to a ridiculous souvenir store and buy something.  After that, things were pretty much ruined for that day.  We retreated back to the hotel and then we decided it was best to head out of Bangalore.  We went back and booked a direct flight to his parent’s place for the next morning because we were feeling lost and overwhelmed in Bangalore.

In the evening, things looked up again when an old classmate of Satya’s visited our hotel with his wife.  They were very nice and very down to earth.  Both are computer engineers and work crazy hours.  Tbey work 9-6 in the office then come home and have to be on call until 10 or 11 pm at night.  Fortunately, we were in Bangalore on the weekend so they could visit.  Hearing about their struggles was sobering.  I think before that, we thought that life would be less stressful in India.  We no longer believe that.

We went to UB City which was another overwhelming experience-crowded, loud music, lots of fancy lights and fancy faux architecture.  It kinda reminded me of Atlantic City, only much newer and more wholesome.

Anyway, we ended up going to a very nice restaurant called South Indies and all of us ended up eating a very mild kind of dosa.  Called a water dosa maybe?? Not very tasty, but then our stomachs at that point due to jet lag and indigestion couldn’t handle much else. The decor of the restaurant was very nice.  I liked how there was a wall that had a fountain that made it look like we were sitting inside during a rainstorm.  I think it was supposed to look like a fancy, old South Indian home.

Then it was back to the hotel for sleep because of the next day’s flight.

The flight out of Bangalore to Satya’s hometown.  That flight was one of our best decisions……

Lingayat Practical Philosophy

This past weekend, Satya, myself, and his parents went to the temple together.  This gave me the opportunity to learn more about their beliefs and how they practice their religion. 

 

Here are some of their observations and mine:

 

“Any nice day is a good one to go to the temple,” This was said by my mother in law.  One of the hardest things for me to understand is that there is nothing like the Sabbath or Sunday to them.  People go to the temple whenever they feel the need or desire to do so. 

 

“Too much ritual, not enough devotions,”  This was said by my father in law.  The central god of the temple we attended was Venkateswara*.   There was a ceremony taking place there in addition to the usual ceremony with the aarti, the hat put on people’s heads for a few moments (Shiva temples don’t do this, but this was a Vishnu temple), the coconut drink, and the prasad.  This ceremony involved bathing the idol with milk, showing the god the offerings, etc.  The priests chanted in Sanskrit.  Satya was able to translate a little of this…prayers for peace, prayers for the cars of the believers, prayers for North America, etc.  After hearing the chant for peace, Satya and his dad were ready to leave, but then the ritual began again.  Also, at one point the priests came out and led a procession around Venkateswara.  The people carried their offerings (lots of milk, coconuts, and bananas) behind the priests.

 

Lingayats are a bit like Protestants or Quakers believing in simplicity. 

 

*A note about Lingayats and Venkateswara…according to Lingayat lore, Venkateswara stole money from one of the Lingayat gods.  To this day, Venkateswara is known as a rich god and at some temples there will be Lingayats chanting for the return of the money.  Despite these things, Satya’s mother was sitting right in the midst of the crowd during the ritual in intense contemplation.  Satya, his father, and I were sitting more off to the side.

 

“Do your best and whatever happens, happens for the best,”  and “Do your best, and leave the result to God,” common sayings by members of Satya’s family, including himself.  This covers things large and small.  For example, when Satya was in high school and was taking the tests that determined which school he was eligible to attend, his English score got messed up (he spoke English from the age of 2 and went to English medium schools, so I believe him that the score was a mix up.)  Anyway, that meant his cumulative score was one point shy of qualifying.  Was he bitter?  Nope.

 

“What do you do?” and its close relatives, “What can I do?”  and “What to do?”  This follows the above.  Some might call this resignation or a bit of cynicism, but usually signifies a recognition that not everything is in one’s control.  I hear a version of this everyday.

 

“Take the prasad, it is very important and carries blessings,” said by his parents.  Many believers will bring milk, cocunuts, or bananas to the temple.  These will be taken by the priests to be blessed.  Then, some will be returned to the giver.  Some will be offered to temple visitors.  Satya was hesitating about taking these, but his mother took a banana and split it into four parts for all of us.  I’ve heard that at some temples in India, free meals are given to visitors.

 

Learning about Lingayatism in particular and Hinduism in general is an ongoing process for me.  I learn tidbits here and there.

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.

Update

Sorry for not posting for so long.  The last few weeks were stressful.  Satya has had a few job offers so we were trying to decide which path to take.  For now, it looks like we won’t be making any big changes until the summer.  On the bright side, when that time comes we will be ready and hopefully we will both be in agreement.  I don’t think there is much exciting to say about that.  I think Americans and Indians take the same things into account when deciding which job offer to take. 

In our multicultural household, nothing majorly new to report.  We watched a few more Malgudi Days episodes, including some of the newer ones.  We saw the “Salt and Sawdust” episodes where Swami is grown up and has a wife.  The episode was very heart warming with Swami trying to help his wife write her novel. Unfortunately for the wife, she isn’t a great writer and the publisher’s like Swami’s food accounts the best.  My favorite episodes are still the original series about young Swami and his friends and family. 

In cooking news, we’ve tried sprouting some the beans we’ve gotten from the Indian grocery store.  One kind worked pretty well, moth.  The other kind, kala chana, we let sprout for too long.  The beans got strangely spicy and we decided not to use them at all.  I’d never had bean sprouts as a main dish before.  We will keep trying.  The benefits of sprouting the beans sound great-an increase in nutrition and digestability.

6 Random Things

Hi all.  Honeybee sent me this tag a few weeks ago.  Apologies for the delay in responding.  Below are the rules of the tag:

1) Link to the person who tagged you.
2) Post the rules on your blog (copy and paste 1-6).
3) Write 6 random things about yourself (see below).
4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

 

1.  Love to start projects.  My latest project is cross-stitching a Christmas stocking for Satya.  My goal is to have it done by next Christmas. Satya can’t rest until projects get finished.  Other projects: learning Kannada, trying out new vegetarian recipes and organizing the good ones, yoga, learning to drive.

 

2.  Since leaving for college at 18, the longest I’ve spent in one dwelling is 2 years.  We just decided not to renew our lease which expires March 31st.  Sadly, I’m not yet an expert on moving-my moves are usually somewhat chaotic.

 

 

3.  Countries we’d like to visit together: India, Bhutan, Greece, Slovenia.  Satya would also add some islands in the Caribbean.  We’d love to have a honeymoon in Bhutan, but who knows? 

 

4.  Things we are looking forward to having when we have a house: dog, thick walls, garden, gas stove, guest room and bathroom, kids. 

 

 

5.  Things I love about Satya: his kindness, his warm and sparkling brown eyes, how we can finish each other’s sentences, his reliability, his cooking ability, how he likes to hold hands, his joy in simple things like getting a Christmas tree or the growth of his houseplants.

 

6.  Best things about now:  new opportunities are on the horizon, we have the opportunity to lay the foundation for our life together, tomorrow is still the weekend, and our apartment feels like a home, our supportive families.

I’ll pass this on to Snippets&Scribbles, Evenshine, La Vida Loca, Gori Girl, Milwaukee Masala, and anyone else that would like to do this tag.

My apologies if you’ve all had this tag before.

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