Thursday, July 18, 2013

How being married to an Indian has changed me

(Hyderabad, 2011)

If I have any cuts or scrapes, I immediately reach for the turmeric (haldi) and throw it on!

I am totally immune to chilli powder. You can probably even spray it in my eyes and I'll be fine.
***However, I'm still not immune to onions! When husband-ji is making onion chutney, I literally cannot open my eyes. I am like a blind person walking around feeling the walls!

I have learned the desi stare, a.k.a. the Indian staring contest. Who can hold the gaze the longest. I don't practice this in India, because there are too many people staring that I'd have to have 50 sets of eyes. But in North America, feel free to challenge me. I have won at least 5 staring contests - mostly versus Indian elders where they end up backing down.

In the summer, I only wear cotton printed kurtas. They're made for hot weather, so why not? Everyone in North America thinks they're actually more fancy than they really are.

The elder thing. There once was a time, long ago in another galaxy, where I couldn't wait to get out of my parents' house. Now, I go out of my way to visit my parents every day, and I have had my MIL stay with us  (in the same room!) for 3 months. I think I would have turned out family oriented, but having an Indian spouse has made me more family oriented.

My husband has at least 500 family members. I don't know everyone's names, but I can identify which is his paternal and maternal side by their noses. This is an absolute talent!!!

I am less patient with Westerners and Indians alike. Mostly because our family is so equally blended, I expect everyone to know as much as I do. It drives me mad when Westerners say, "Your husband isn't wearing a turban?" or when Indians say, "So, do you like Indian food?" Duh!!!

I have developed an interest in cooking. When I met my husband, I didn't even know how cook rice (a.k.a. put rice in the rice cooker and turn it on!!) Now rice has become a staple part of my diet, and even when my husband is out of town, I find myself cooking Aloo Jeera. I now enjoy the process of cooking, with adding different spices and smelling them as they cook. And along with this, I've developed an Indian cooking sixth sense - I know the exact moment to put the garam masala in.



(Funny video on the Indian head wobble)

I shake my head a bit too much. It shocks Westerners a bit. I think they think my head's going to roll off. I don't know how exactly this happened, but all of a sudden, all my friends starting saying, "Ummm...you know you're shaking your head like an Indian?" And I was like, "Really?!?! YESSS!!"

I can identify which language is which (Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, or other), and I can identify certain key phrases that make me able to understand a conversation. Indians beware! Don't talk about me right in front of me! (They love to...) I like to sit there like a quiet, demure foreigner whilst eavesdropping into my husband's family's conversations. If I'm feeling really ballsy, I'll join in on the conversation, but in English. They'll literally do a double take...they say, "So, uh, how much of Tamil can you understand?"

(Our big intercultural family has made me more family oriented)

BUT...

I still can't eat with my hands. If I try to eat rice with my hands, the whole thing either falls out or ends up on my face. The way Indians mix their rice into perfect eatable balls is a skill I have not mastered...even after 7 years!

I still need my Canadian breakfast. I need to eat waffles, eggs and toast, cereal, granola, fruit and yogurt, or even doughnuts. I cannot eat dosas for breakfast. Maybe at 11am... but definetly not at 7am.

I know how to tie a saree by myself, but it takes me about an hour to do it perfectly. Those damn folds get me every time!!! It really sucks when I've finished the whole thing and then realized I put the pallu over the wrong shoulder. Crap!

The concept of saying "thank you" and helping out. This is a little known cultural faux-pas. When my MIL cooks me something, I automatically say "thank you" and she gets mad at me. Every. Single. Time. This had sort of become a joke in our household. Also, one time when we were visiting relatives, I saw all the women in the kitchen so I decided to go in and help them by washing a few dishes. They all started screaming at me like a bunch of mad hens and forced me to go sit in the living room and wait to be served. I felt bad that I wasn't contributing, but they felt bad that I was trying to help.


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24 comments

  1. This article is so hilarious! I love it!!!

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  2. SUCH A FAB POST !!!! LOVED IT LOVED IT.... O THE HEAD WOBBLE

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    1. Thanks for reading...The head wobble is my absolute favorite thing, even more so than Indian food! It's practically a Bollywood dance move ;)

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  3. oh da head wobble :))))))))))))))

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  4. Great post. I am impressed that you can identify if relatives are from is his paternal and maternal side ! Have you ever tried pre-stitched saris ?(Padparadscha)

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    1. Yes, I gave in and bought one pre-stitched one in the many years that I was struggling/frustrated with trying to tie it. It made it so simple with the folds already stitched! But finally this year I was able to master the art of the folds, so I'm planning on giving it to one of my friends.

      Many of my Indian elders have married within their extended family (uncles marrying nieces, etc) so we have a large group on the Tamil (paternal) side in which they all have a very distinct noses that are practically identical! lol, it really helps me with identification, because some family members I don't know which speak Tamil or Telugu

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  5. I am Canadian, and married to a south indian guy too - you have no idea how much I can relate to you !! You seem more Indian-ized than me though.

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    1. OMG I'm so happy! Where do you guys live? We are in Vancouver.
      It took a long time to become Indianized ;) LOL....roughly 8 years! I go through phases too

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  6. Interesting to read. And wonderful how you have adapted to the Indian ways.. Wishing you many more years of happiness and togetherness

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  7. Hahaha....seriously this is so hilarious :) You know the Sari thing - hehehe happened to me too when I was newly married :) And identifying relatives (noses) - hahhaa- absolutely :) Can't wait to read more!
    -Veens @ Our Ordinary Life

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    1. Thank you! OMG the saree thing was the hardest! So difficult to wrap but well worth it!

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  8. Such a sweet post!!! Ending up with the saree on the wrong shoulder - I can understand your plight!!

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  9. I am married to an Indian as well (I am an american) and I was laughing through most of this because it's true!!

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  10. I'm also a foreigner married to a (North) Indian, and I loved your post - can identify with all of it...especially the saree, the breakfast, and NOT saying Thank You!

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    1. Hahaha the ``no thank you`` still gets me everytime!

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    2. i chanced on your post from boilingwok's she is my friends sis dont share this though..in case your wondering who this sudden anonymous is. I find your writings uber funny

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    3. thought you might like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOuTV4sgFxc

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    4. Thank you! Hahaha that is hilarious! Can't wait til my return to India and my head wobble will be full throttle

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    5. Really funny and hilarious post Alex.
      My partner is a redhead Aussie and has started sprinkling chili on most meals she eats lol.
      Taking her home this year to get married. Dad hasn't calmed down yet but I am firm about it.
      Wish me luck :)

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  11. Hehehe. Just sooooo cute. I am indian but when I read these blogs they hold a mirror to our faces. And one thinks. O really? Hmm. Wish you a looooong and haaaappy married life.

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