Saturday, April 30, 2016

My Intercultural Love: Nikita & SG

(Img via Timothy Colczak)

Nikita is a Blindian blogger who lives in the U.S. with her North Indian husband & daughter!

I'm Nikita and I'm African-American. I'm originally from Chicago, Illinois and now reside on the East Coast of the U.S. My husband's family is originally from Northern India. He was born and raised in Michigan. I have one child and no pets. I write a blog called Growing Up Gupta.

Three words that describe you...
Driven, Passionate, Classy.

Favorite childhood memory...
Going to Walt Disney World with my parents for the first time.

Where/how do you feel most inspired? 
My husband is currently my muse and I feel inspired daily.

Where/how did you meet your spouse? 
We met at work at a mutual friend's cubicle. I thought he was cute and that was it. He said that "it was like a light shined down from Heaven that said I was the one." After that, we saw each other at a work outing on May 5, 2004 and just started to talk to each other and we just clicked. We became friends, enjoyed talking to each other on the phone, and then he asked me out on a date on August 15, 2004. On that date, he wooed me by opening my door when I arrived (we decided to drive separately because I didn't want it be an official date), and handed me an orchid and said that he was going to treat me like a princess. We headed to dinner and just talked and talked, and talked. We had so much in common and our lives mirrored each others in so many ways. Neither of us wanted that date to end and so we stayed up all night and morning talking and we have been together ever since.

How long have you been together? 
We have been together for 11.5 years. We started dating/courting in August 2004.

What qualities do you admire in your spouse? 
I admire his intelligence, sensibility, loyalty, and work ethic. 

Favorite memory together as a couple... 
There are numerous I just can't choose one.

What did you know about your spouse's culture prior to your relationship? 
I knew that Indian men did not customarily marry outside of their ethnicity. Also most Indian marriages were/are arranged by their families.

How did you tell your friends/family about your intercultural relationship? 
I traveled home to Illinois and told my parents (both church Pastors) that there was a guy that I liked. My dad uttered his first name and asked what kind of name is that and I told him an Indian name.  They wanted to meet him, get to know him, and loved him after they met him. Some of my girlfriends were ecstatic for me, while others at the time frowned their nose up at the relationship because they had never heard of an Indian man and African-American woman being together. Let's just say we are no longer friends.

How has your relationship enlightened your life? How has it changed you & your outlook on life? 
It has given me a bigger picture of the world and human race. It has made me see that you don't have any control over who you fall in love with it . It may be with another ethnicity although you grew up thinking it would be with someone from your own ethnicity. I think life is so much more flavorful and beautiful since marrying my husband and having our daughter.

Who proposed and how? 
My husband got down on one knee at a beach in Michigan.

Describe your wedding...
We had two weddings. Our Christian ceremony in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (a destination wedding due to initial resistance of our union), and a traditional Indian ceremony in Michigan.

What does being married mean to you? 
 It means that I have made a decision to dedicate my life to a partnership with someone and them to me.

What are your dreams for your future together as a married couple? 
 Continued travel, more kids, greater successes, and growing old together.

What's the best marital advice that you received from elder family/friends? 
Never go to sleep angry - always resolve a conflict before you go to bed.

What positive cultural values do you bring to your relationship? 
We bring a joint love of family and cooking to our relationship.

What do you do to keep your relationship alive? What kinds of things do you do to connect with your spouse? 
 We make each other a priority. We make sure to talk about everything and anything that we believe the other needs to improve on. We do little things like sending a cute text during the day to say I love you. And when the baby is asleep we enjoy having dinner and movie date nights.

In what ways have you adopted aspects of your spouse's culture? 
I have embraced wearing Indian clothing and preparing Indian food, and even observing a yearly fast for him.

Has your family adopted aspects of your spouse's culture? 
My parents will wear Indian clothing to Indian events.

(Img via Ankita Ku)

What aspects of your spouse's culture do you find difficult to embrace? 
 The language has been difficult to learn without adequate resources on the Hindi language.

Name some cultural faux-pas that you have unknowingly committed...
We made sure not to commit any. However when we went to India last year we almost kissed each other in public!

What was the most challenging time in your intercultural relationship? 
When we were dating and he wanted to introduce me to his parents. They did not want to meet or hear about me. His parents didn't want to meet me because I am African-American. We overcame it with help from his family (sister-in-law) and childhood friends that got the chance to know me and loved me. His dad came around 6 months before our wedding, his mom didn't come around until about a month before our wedding.

What's the best and the worst part of being in an intercultural relationship? 
The best is sharing in a unique fusion of cultures. The worst is the language barrier and sometimes wondering if you are truly accepted.

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions that people have about intercultural relationships? 
That perhaps that they are all the same when they are not.

What are the biggest misconceptions about African-American women?
That we are all the same and we are not.

Have you come across people who disapprove of your intercultural union? If so, how do you deal with them? 
Yes, some of my husband's friends didn't approve and they bluntly said to him that my parents would never accept and that I would be disowned. He told them that it's sad that you would let a wonderful person walk away because of the color of their skin and that your parents wouldn't trust you to make great decisions; after all they raised you didn't they?

Take-away advice for other intercultural couples... 
Being in an intercultural relationship may not be easy at first. You may get uncomfortable stares, jibes, and even find yourself confused about cultural practices, etc. However as you grow in your relationship things will become easier and you will see how the fusion of the two cultures is an amazing thing that not everyone gets to experience. Make sure that your relationship is not built on sand and that you are truly invested in each other. I think we are all brought together for a purpose outside of ourselves.


Be sure to follow Growing Up Gupta on their Facebook page!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Now Featured On: Masalamommas ("Don't Ask Me If I'm the nanny!")

I am super excited to share my latest article on Masalamommas as part of a special intercultural series that they are featuring - by none other than yours truly! Lately I have been repeatedly asked the annoying question, "Are you the nanny?" nearly every time I take my daughter to the park. Ever since we got back from Hawaii, it has happened in a steady stream, especially as Maya grows to look more like her dad. So, of course I had to write about it! Unfortunately this is a reality for a lot of mixed parents, or even parents whose children don't necessarily look like them.

Click HERE to read my article and share it if you like it!

Have you guys ever been asked if you are "the nanny"? If so, how do you deal with it?


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Life Lately (in pictures)

Just a few snippets of our life lately, in pictures...

Maya's hair has grown longer than ever...

We got to visit my new nephew Siddharth...

I finally organized my spice cabinet and everything is neatly jarred and labelled...

We have been loving the seasonal produce at our local public market...

We had a major heatwave which brought out the gorgeous cherry blossoms...

My parents are shifting houses so we have found so many amazing things, like my dad's old record collection...

We have been eating delicious dosa's for breakfast every morning...

We have been doing so much art together recently...

Which means I find these funny little scribbles in my notebook...

Maya wants to walk Ziggy and hold the leash by herself...

And has to give him a kiss & a hug before bed each night...

And I'm feeling more in love than ever with our little family!


Monday, April 25, 2016

Best Children's Books about Mommies

I am so excited about Mother's Day coming up soon. Husband-ji will be out of town so I will be spending the day with my baby all to myself. Maya's school is also putting on a special Mother's Day tea party and song performance which I am eagerly looking forward to! Lately I have been finding a lot of wonderful children's books that celebrates the special bond between a mother and child. These would make great mother's day gifts for a family member or friend who has small children.

Here are some of our favorites:

Llama Llama Red Pajama (all ages)
This one is such a funny book and one of our favorites - we always laugh because the story is so relatable. Little llama calls out for his mummy at night while she is doing housework and works himself up into a tizzy when she doesn't come right away. The language is written in rhymes which makes it all the more playful. It is short enough to read to an infant, but funny enough to read to an older child too. This one is a must for building your child's home library.

The Mommy Book (all ages)
This book is a wonderful picture book to celebrate diversity when it comes to mommies and motherhood. It is paired with bright, playful illustrations that will keep your child engaged. It is a good reminder to children that not all mommies are the same - some stay at home, some work, some have short hair, some have long hair - but all mommies love their babies.

When Mama Gets Home (age 3+)
This is a lovely book that celebrates working mothers, and also sibling relationships. The children get home from school and work as a team to prepare dinner and set the table. This book encourages siblings to work side by side peacefully and to help their mother out. It also celebrates children's independence and confidence.

Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You (age 3+)
This book is so well written that it will make you want to cry! This book is about a mother's love for their child and that they will love them whether they go near or far. It assures children that their parents will love them no matter what. It is paired with beautiful understated illustrations and gentle prose. It also serves as a reminder for parents that one day our children will fly the nest, and they might live far away. This is a wonderful book for a first time parent or a new mother.

I Love My Mommy (age 0-5)
One of my friends gave me this book at my baby shower and it has been one of our favorites. It portrays a day in the life of a mommy and baby - going out grocery shopping, to the park - all from the viewpoint of the toddler. It is paired with rhyming verses and cute illustrations. A great book that celebrates all the things mother's do for their children.

Are You My Mother?  (all ages)
This one is a classic that has been around for years. A baby bird falls out of the nest, gets lost and searches around for his mother, asking every animal/object he comes across if they are his mother. Toddler children will enjoy answering, "No, that's not his mother!" as it becomes into a game.

Mommy Calls Me Monkeypants (age 0-5)
This one is a funny book that is so relatable to me, since we parents always call our children by funny pet names. The story follows a child playing, and the mom calling her pet names like "monkey pants", and "peek-a-boo" based on her activities. The story is quite endearing, and perfect for small children.

Little Mommy (age 3+)
This book is a quite traditional set up with the mom staying home and the dad working, but I still love it. In this book, it depicts two children playing house and looking after a dolly - the little girl plays "little mommy" and looks after the baby all day. I liked this book because it shows the nurturing side that children have towards babies/baby dolls. The book has beautiful old-fashioned illustrations that really takes you back to the 1950's.

Because Your Mommy Loves You (age 3+)
This book is a lovely story about a special camping trip that a boy and his mother take - and each step of the way the mother encourages the boy to do things on his own, instead of doing it for him. This story fosters independence, confidence and problem solving skills. It is also a great reminder for parents that we need to let our children figure things out on their own and that it's the best way they will learn.


What are your favorite children's books about mommies?

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