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.
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.
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.
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.
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.