Love Story: Finding God & Love in India

Beautiful Mani, from Mexico, found love and spirituality in India! Her blog, A New Life Wandering, was one of the first I read once I decided to create my own. She was living in the state of Maharashtra, the state where I now live! Her tales of rural India were fascinating, and now she blogs about her life wandering, never knowing which country she’ll be living in next. Here is Mani’s inspiring love story… 

Neither me nor my husband are from India, but our love story began there. I was born and raised in Mexico City. My parents, who are American and Mexican, gave me an Indian name and took me to India for the first time when I was just six years old. I returned to India countless times, to visit a place near the village of Ahmednagar in the state of Maharashtra.

sunset india expat life rural beautiful mani mexican love

Fast forward to 2008, during one of those spiritual retreats in India I met Josh, an American. We gravitated towards each other like magnets. We were staying in the same place. When we met I was there for about ten days before he had to return to the West. During those ten days, we spent so much time together. He was older, so for the first couple of days I was wondering to myself at night: “why do I have these feelings for him?”, I was also was in a two year relationship with someone else!

josh-me-motorcycle-india-road love love love love love

We continued to hang out. Together we would attend the local events, sit next to each other during the community meals and share rickshaw rides. We rode the motorcycle together, once I stood up behind him as he was driving and opened my arms like the scene of Titanic. A corny moment in hindsight, but it felt amazing. Sunset was over, the cool Indian breeze was brushing our faces and the night sky was dark and quiet. He was also totally impressed with me for doing that, as it showed my sense of adventure.

We did kiss. I fell into a deep sleep in his arms on the couch one afternoon at a friend’s apartment, while they continued to chat. I treated his small wounds on his feet and he removed my nail polish. It all felt completely natural with us, like we had known each other for years. I truly believe we did know each other in past lives; we are soulmates.

josh-mani-india-collage love love love love

At the end of the trip he went back to his life in the US and I went to London where I was studying Filmmaking at the University of the Arts. One year later, I followed my heart and completely changed my life by dropping out of college, going against all my friend’s and family’s expectations of me and moving to the US to be with my soulmate and follow God’s plans for me. This was the biggest decision I had and have ever made, and it was the hardest too because I did not have the support from friends and family, something I was used to having. But I just knew in my heart I had to do this, not just for love but for reasons greater than that. God gave me the strength.

king-ahmed-tomb-india-me love love love

I was 20 years old. I could write a whole book about our story, how it all went down with my family and friends, how we had to get married sooner than we planned because of immigration issues, how we had a second wedding, how we lived in our car and moved to different states in the US, and so much more. On the summer of 2013 we were comfortably settled in a 2 bedroom house with two amazing cats in Durham, North Carolina, but what did we do? We sold all of our possessions except for two suitcases and moved to rural India, back to the village where we had met. The short explanation as to why we did this is because God prompt us to do it.

saree style marathi firangi love style living in rural india love life spirituality mani

This is when I started my blog. My life in India was so interesting that I had to share it with the world. I experienced lots of firsts and lots of culture shocks, but most of all it was a major life experience. From learning to drive a scooter, wearing a sari for the first time and going shopping to the market, our life in India was a cultural and spiritual adventure. Moving to India is one thing, but moving to rural India is a complete different thing. We thought it was going to be a permanent move but circumstances led us to leave India after just 3 months. We ended up in Oregon, USA and that is where we are currently stationed in life.

tulip-farm-oregon-josh-me

Josh and I have now been together for five years and married for almost four. We have broken people’s expectations of our relationship (which weren’t good), we have gone through a lot of resistance which has only made us stronger, and we love each other more every day. When it is meant to be and it is in God’s plans (because we have no doubt that God plays cupid), nothing can’t stop it from happening. In spite all odds, age differences, cultural differences, geography differences, opposition, and struggling times, we have thrived. Our life is a constant unpredictable adventure and we have no idea what will come next.

To read about serial expat Mani’s life in rural India, and other travel writings, check out her website ANewLifeWandering.com

Inspired to share?

Advertisements

Guest Post: Creating a Masala Community

Beautiful Tina, from California, craved to learn more about her husband’s culture and meet other parents with half Indian children. A dear friend to me, she has taught me so much and given me lots of giggles. I really love her, it’s hard not to!

When you commit to an intercultural relationship, there are so many unique nuances which the people close to you cannot always understand and its difficult to find those who can. Thanks to Tina, there is now a support group specifically for women with mixed Indian children, she is the fairy Godmother of hundreds of friendships and facilitator of priceless support! Well done Tina, thank you for creating a group which has changed and enriched so many lives… 

Five years ago I met my husband. I fell head over heels for him and our relationship progressed quickly. We went from dating to engaged and then married within a few months. It was a classic American love story, but with a twist. The girl was born and raised in sunny California and the boy fresh from Punjab, India.

We met during college, just before finishing our degrees, his a Master’s in Engineering and mine a Bachelor’s in Political Science. He was the quiet analytical type, and I was a talkative girl that never backed down from a debate. On the outside we looked completely different, but the views we held regarding family, finances, God, humanity and each other were identical. We came from completely different parts of the world and different cultures, but we both knew on our first date that we wanted to be together forever.

I didn’t go looking for an Indian man to marry, the man I fell in love with just happened to be Indian. I knew almost nothing about his religion, culture, or language. I just knew that I loved him. I wanted to learn. I started with learning how to cook Punjabi food, such as aloo paranthas and butter paneer. I then learned about the Sikh religion and fell in love with the concepts of equality and charity taught by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. I started and still continue to learn to speak Punjabi, it has always been important to me that our family be an equal mixture of both our cultures.

tina4

As our relationship progressed so did my research, I searched for everything I could find on Sikh wedding ceremonies and mixed Indian marriages. No matter how much I searched, I found little written about mixed Indian couples. I hungered to learn more about couples like myself and to talk to other women in similar relationships. I had so many questions and no one who truly understood.

We married in May in 2010, the weekend before we graduated college. We had both a Christian wedding and a Sikh wedding ceremony. For the Christian wedding, I wore a white dress with red accents which my husband and I added ourselves. I wore a traditional pink Punjabi suit for the Sikh ceremony. Our ceremonies were small but beautiful and intimate. I fell pregnant right away and I realized how important it was for me to fully understand his culture, religion and language so they wouldn’t be lost on our future child.

tina tina1

 As I scoured the internet, I started to meet other couples like myself. As I became friends with these people, we started to have similar discussions about common issues regarding customs, trips to India, religion, and raising a mixed Indian child. I kept thinking “oh you should meet my other masala friend she had a similar thing happen”, or “You should see my friend’s mixed child, she looks so much like your daughter”. I now had all these friends, all in an Indian with non-Indian marriage.

I realized I needed to bring my new friends together so they could support and celebrate each other’s similarities. I created a private Facebook group and called the group Chat Masala. Chat Masala is an Indian spice that is both sour and salty and chat in the English language means ‘talking in a pleasant way’. I simply loved the play on words. The group was a support group for women who have, or plan to have, mixed Indian children.

tina5

It was important to me that the group for people in committed relationships who faced similar situations. I didn’t want to deal with the up and down nature of dating couples! I wanted to unite a group of committed caring loving mothers of mixed Indian children. Our group addresses the unique issues of bi-cultural identity, Indian-languages, multi-religion households, Indian and western holidays and customs, as well as visiting and living in India. The great thing is, only approved members can see and contribute to the discussions.

Chat Masala started with just a few members, a year and half later, we are now 119 members strong! We share pictures of our kids, food, weddings, travels and daily life. We support each other through births, drama with in-laws, issues with our children and even divorce. We discuss social issues like feminism, sex education, arranged marriages, and the caste system. I have met some amazing people through this group. I have made some life-long connections and true friends.

tina3

I have seen members of Chat Masala support each other through the best of times and the worst of times. Chat Masala has brought me together with women who truly understand some of the issues and situations I have faced being married to an Indian and raising a mixed race child. There is no need to explain all the background facts, customs or traditions in India to them, they completely understand because they have experienced it themselves. They understand things which my friends or family couldn’t.

I have had many accomplishments in my life, but I consider creating Chat Masala as one of the most rewarding. I have received many emails from members thanking me for creating this group. This group has helped us to connect, unite and support. We have inevitably had some conflict, but we always maintain a supportive environment. Whenever you bring together people there will be a difference of opinion, but I play an active role in preserving the safety of the group so that each member is safe to share and express themselves freely.

Five years ago I met the love of my life and we started our journey as a Masala Family. We had a Masala baby and together we are living the Masala Life. It’s a beautiful, complicated, magical, and sometimes exhausting lifestyle and I am happy to share my experiences with a group of women that truly understands it all.

Along side moderating Chat Masala, Tina writes an awesome blog at MyMasalaLife.wordpress.com! If you want to find out more about Chat Masala or become a member, please contact Tina via her blog. 

Inspired to share?

Love Story: Garba Love

This girl has some of my favourite eyebrows, a weird thing to say, but it’s true! Beautiful Nicole is from Illinois and she fell in love with a Gujarati. They knew they were made for each other and nothing could stop them being together. Please remember, it’s Nicole Pithva, not Nicole Patel…

Life before meeting my husband was a struggle, I’m the type of person who likes to get things done my way and by myself. I had been in a relationship for seven years and we had lived together for five of them. During most of our time together, he didn’t work. A few years into our relationship he decided to go to college, but that still left me paying the bills. I had to work an insane amount each week just to keep a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs. My family and friends told me many times that I deserved better, but I had not met anyone else that I could see myself with. I was stuck in a rut.

That was until a few loud “Gujju” boys moved into the apartment across from mine, I could tell they were Gujarati as I had been a nanny to a Gujarati family for three years. I found them rather annoying; smoking on their balcony, driving fast through the parking lot and playing loud music and dancing at all hours. They were, however, very courteous and always said hi to me. They would even invite my ex and I over to hang out with them. My ex was the type of person who hated everyone and just wanted to stay in the house. So aggravating, I was 25 and wanting to go out and have fun!

One of the annoying Gujju boys started talking to me more and more and I found him to be cute and interesting. He seemed more mature than the others. We began talking everyday in passing, when returning or leaving our separate apartments. He would recommend Hindi movies (most of which I had already seen) and Hindi songs. The more we talked, the more I wanted to see him and be with him. We connected on so many levels, it was crazy. That is when I decided to leave my ex. I kicked him out of my apartment, and Mitesh, who had dated a Gujarati girl for a year, decided to leave his girlfriend too.

Once we ended our relationships, we decided to go out for a date. We did the normal dinner and shopping, but it wasn’t until we attended a Garba event (Gujarati folk dance), that I knew he was the man I would marry and spend the rest of my life with. We had such an amazing time, a night I will never forget. We went to the Garba with friends, danced until one in the morning and then headed downtown to Chicago’s Devon Ave (“Little India”, as I call it) for some late night food. We didn’t get home until three in the morning!! Hands down, it was the best night of my life. I loved that Mitesh was so outgoing and spontaneous.

nicole gori amwf love garba romance garba

That was October 2012, and in March 2013 Mitesh asked me to marry him. Of course my family were SHOCKED to say the least. Well, they were in for an even bigger surprise, because Mitesh and I decided to elope on June 5, 2013. He and I went to downtown Chicago and got married in the courthouse. No friends or family attended, it was just the two of us and it couldn’t have been more perfect! I loved that we didn’t have the stress of planning a wedding and didn’t have to worry about money to pay for it. It was very special for us both, I love the way we did it!

However, our family and friends were not very happy that they couldn’t see us get married, so we promised them we would, one day, have a wedding. We are planning a vow renewal on our fifth wedding anniversary, together with our friends and family. It’s been two years since I met my husband and just over a year since we got married, and I have to say I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. We really do complete each other.

My family has come to love Mitesh as their own. And I am so happy that his family has accepted me. The first time I met his parents was after we got married! They came to visit us in August 2013 and stayed in our house with us for six months. Most people I know were worried about how his parents and I would get along, but I absolutely loved them! His mom and dad are my parents too and I wish that they could come back to the US to see us again (they live in Ahmedabad).

I have yet to get to India. I know I will love everything about it. I love Indian food, clothes, attending the temple, watching Hindi movies and dancing to Hindi songs! I feel that I was a desi girl in a past life. My husband always tells me that we got mixed up; I should have been born in India and he should have been born in America. I think that’s why our relationship works so well, we have the best of both worlds and get to experience each other’s cultures together.

I look forward to many more happy years with my one and only husband. A side-note: I’m also so very happy that he is not a Patel! No disrespect to Patals, it’s just there are so many, and I am happy that we are Pithva. I might be a gori but I have that Gujju pride. I am learning to speak Gujarati and even make Gujarati food daily (maybe that’s why my mother in-law loves me so much, I feed her son well).

Inspired to share?