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.

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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. 

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Love Story: Life As I Know It

Gorgeous Sarah is 29 years old and lives in Canberra, Australia. We started speaking a couple of weeks ago, during our first conversation I hadn’t laughed that much in ages!! Sweet and funny, Sarah also as a pug baby, called Apu (you know, like the monkey in Aladdin)!! Even though she has been married for over two years, Sarah only recently started speaking to other western women with Indian husbands. She has made some interesting observations since falling in love with an Indian and speaking to other ‘gori wives’… 

I have been married to a Punjabi man for just over 2 years now. I met him when I lived in Darwin, we both worked in the same shopping centre, and I was crazy about him from the first moment I looked at him.

My friends immediately said, “you do realize he is an Indian don’t you, that’s disgusting” and well, no I didn’t realize. I didn’t really know anything about India or Indians; I thought they all wore turbans!! The only thing I knew for sure was that butter chicken was an Indian dish. I didn’t know why my friends were disgusted, I thought he was beautiful! It was then I found out about the stereotypes of Indians, as a person who would never judge someone because of their race, that didn’t stop me from fancying him!

While we lived in the same state, neither of us had guts to talk to the other. It wasn’t until I moved to Sydney, and he moved to Townsville, that we come across each other again, this time on Facebook. I couldn’t find him at first, I spent ages looking for him on his friend’s Facebook page (my husband was super jealous when he saw that I had added his friend!). So anyway, the rest is history.

The first time we lived together, we had to share house with other Indians, it was quite uncomfortable. I remember feeling that I didn’t belong there, they spoke their language and looked at me as if I were an alien. I had already falling in love with this man, so I stuck it out.

There was a lot of tension and jealousy between me and the housemates, especially when I first moved in. They had lived in an empty house, with nothing but mattresses to sleep on. I arrived to the house, a stranger from another culture with a king size bed, big flat screen television, washing machine etc. The guys of the house watched me as I unpacked, they’d never experienced living with an Aussie girl before. It wasn’t long before we moved out and got our own place, thank God.

Eventually we got engaged, and then married. We’ve had my in-laws stay with us a couple of times, my mother in law has taught me have to cook my husband’s favourite dishes among other Indian things. I have been so blessed to have been accepted by them with open arms.

 

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One night, after a few nights of having my in-laws with us, my father in-law started crying, which instantly made me cry, but I had no idea why! He then started to tell my husband how they are all so lucky to have me as their daughter-in-law, so I cried even more!! My in-laws are amazing, and I have such a close relationship with my brother and sister in-law. Earlier this year, I spent six weeks in India, was wonderful.

When we were first married, I was living in a bubble, I thought I was the only white girl who married an Indian. I didn’t think it was a big deal, I don’t think my marriage is superior because it is an intercultural one, we are just two people who love each other. Then I started coming across other western woman who have married Indian men, these ‘gori wife communities’ started popping up. I was so excited to find other women who could relate to me and my marriage.

I soon realised that there were strange dynamics going on between some of the ‘gori wives’. There are some who I adore and could share my deepest feelings with, but I have also stumbled across a whole heap of woman married to Indian’s who have shocked me, and I cannot help but laugh at their behaviour! Living their life to try and convince the world that their relationship is the most perfect, that their husband is the best and viciously gossiping about the other ‘gori wives’. Why are some of the ‘gori wives’ behaving like this? I believe they are trying to prove to everyone that their husband really does love them and they aren’t just being used for a visa. I honestly think that these are the women who  aren’t sleeping at night because they have doubt themselves!

My life isn’t perfect, and I’ll never try and convince you otherwise, I’m just an Aussie in love, and he happens to be Indian (as pointed out by my ‘helpful’ friends the first day I saw him!).

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