I commented on a Kenyan blog post titled `Indians are racist…there I said it’ because as you can imagine,I am very interested in the subject matter. I proceeded to share a link to one of my posts to the readers and what followed was great interest from Kenyan readers keen to know more about my personal experiences (that they presume are not mentioned in this blog) . I will try and quench your curiosity to the best of my ability 🙂
Many readers wanted to know what it was like to date an Indian and what it took to convince our families that we were not crazy.
To be honest and to sound rather naive, I have never consciously considered my husband as Indian. This is a fact that is always pointed out by others. From the very first day I met him, he has always been this guy who I have the hots for :). Of course in the beginning, I thought I would return back to Kenya and this romance would be a wild youthful adventurous past. Then I returned to Kenya after being in India for a year and in the words of my mother-I do not recall the conversation-on day one I informed her that I had met the love of my life. And my mother who was the last person to know I had been dating a Muhindi (thank goodness she was not privy to facebook!) quickly reassured me that sometimes we can get carried away by love, and she knows the feeling-to which I apparently replied `You do not understand this kind of love!’
I think from that conversation you can tell just how dramatically this muhindi affected me. LOL. I was soon on a flight back to India.
My husband and I met at a dinner party organised by one of our mutual friends. However, we had both heard of each other (there is a bit of a long story there which may be written one day).
Dating in India is same as dating in Nairobi or in most of the places in the world. You go out for meals, movies and the usual hanging out with friends and since Chennai is by the ocean, lots of swimming and beach hangouts. To those asking me whether we were chaperoned, no we were not.
I must however say that based on many people’s questions, I have had some time to reflect and now realise our case could be the only one of its kind. I once did a piece on arranged marriages in India and this largely IS the prescribed way of finding a spouse till date. However, my husband’s parents who are in their sixties met and fell in love and chose to get married to each other. I guess they are pioneers of a kind because I do not know couples of that age who did not have an arranged marriage. This can probably answer and explain the questions of why it was easy for my husband to choose his own path in life.
While at university (USIU), I had a friend date an Indian guy but it was pretty clear from the onset that he was going through his rebellious phase and there was no way he would ever even introduce her to his family. Of course they broke up, but it was clear- you do not date Indians-at least in Nairobi, unless of course you were Indian.Fast forward to just a year after graduating and I was living in India and had met my husband.
The question of how our families reacted has been asked more times than I could ever count. Its still asked years later.
Our families were mostly afraid of the unknown- what will happen, how is the family of this person, are they serious?? My mother’s main concern was based on what she had read and watched on TV about Indian families and mother-in-laws who not only reject their daughter-in-law but run the lives of their sons. Being Indian, my parents-in-law largely wondered what kind of a family I came from (this is HUGE IN India). It was not enough that they liked me, no-my family was of great importance as well.
And so when they met there were sighs of relief (from them not us-we HAD DECIDED), as they realised they are pretty similar and in fact what they cared for the most is their children being happy.
And no, I did not pay dowry. Yes, I know in India it is the women who pay the dowry which is the exact opposite of what happens in my culture back home. I have always detested this financial and transactional business that happens before weddings. I personally feel this habit has no place in today’s world and thankfully so does my family. I however know that this system is very important to certain individuals and cultures, and with that I say to each their own.
I have also now come to know several stories of people who cannot even marry someone from another tribe, forget race. In India, people also cannot marry those who are from another caste or community (what we call tribes).
We did face some drama from potential landlords who could not believe the audacity of my husband and in fact, since we lived together before getting married, I can say finding a house was one of the biggest challenges- not family. If you think nosy landlords are ridiculous, I must also add that none of my workmates knew I lived with my boyfriend. Cohabiting is non existent in India and despite knowing I was dating an Indian, living together would have been preposterous to my workmates-this is a very judgemental society. Which makes me realise just how lucky I am with the family I found in India.
To those who have written telling me their painful stories and how they wish they had my guts, I say it’s not too late . In life we have two choices-fear or love. Make the choice that you will live with and do not blame anyone for choosing fear instead of love. And that’s my two cents for this piece.