Saturday, February 21, 2015

My Intercultural Love: Teja & Landon


Teja & Landon are a beautiful Masala couple who live in Atlanta, Georgia. These college sweethearts have fought through thick and thin to be together, and have just celebrated their first wedding anniversary!


Introduction....
Name: Tejaswini (“Teja”) Indian, (Andhra - Telugu)
Husband: Landon (American - Georgia)

Three words that describe you...
Dependable, Goofy, Understanding

Favorite childhood memory...
When I was about 9 or 10 years old, we had a giant family road trip which included aunts and uncles and cousins. We drove through Bangalore and Mysore, in Karnataka, India. It was an awesome trip!

Where/how do you feel most inspired?
I feel most inspired while I am people watching. Whether it be at a mall, or at an airport, there is something very poetic about the experience.


Where/how did you meet your spouse?
My husband and I met when I started to work part time at a big box electronics store while in college. He was assigned to train me as a cashier.

How long have you been together?
In 2015, it will be 7 years, married for one.

What qualities do you admire in your spouse?
I love that he is very kind and loyal. No matter who is in trouble, he will be there to help. On a superficial level, I love how tall he is! ;)


Favorite memory together as a couple...
We took our very first vacation together in 2012 to Savannah, GA. One evening we strolled through Tybee beach and sat in a swing on the beach and watched the sunset together. That will forever be ingrained in my memories.

What did you know about your spouse's culture prior to your relationship?
I grew up in US since I was 10, so I was very assimilated to the culture already. I would be comfortable in saying that I knew my way around his culture very well before we met.

How did you tell your friends/family about your intercultural relationship? 
When I told my father, he freaked out. We had a big blow out fight, which ended with me moving out, and not talking to my family for 3 months. But after about 3 months, we missed each other too much. It ended with my sister asking my father, “who is going to be good enough for your little girl?” and he had no answer and that’s when he realized he was being unreasonable. 

How has your relationship enlightened your life? How has it changed you & your outlook on life?
It has taught me how to see the good in people. How to look past someone’s culture and look into someone’s soul.

Who proposed and how?
My husband proposed on Oct 4, 2012. We usually hiked a mountain that is close to where we live. We hiked up on that Thursday, and reached the peak right at sunset. It was odd that no one else was there, but as I looked at the view, I heard him call me and when I turned, there he was on one knee, professing his love to me and asking me to marry him, as the sun set behind him.


Describe your wedding...
One word to describe our wedding is: “stress-free”. It was a small affair, 60 guests. But I distinctly remember that planning it and executing it, I had no stress at all. It was February 8, 2014, and we had just gone through a snowstorm. But it was a perfectly clear day that day. It was very relaxing, and everyone enjoyed it to the fullest.


What does being married mean to you?
To be honest, being married gives me a sense of accomplishment. As weird as that sounds, it fills me with pride to say that he is my husband. It also gives me a sense of comfort in knowing that he will be by my side for the rest of my life, no matter the circumstances.

What are your dreams for your future together as a married couple?
Our dream for our future is the same as anyone. We would like to have children and move upward in our careers to be able to provide the best care for our children. Our goal for our marriage is to be 90 years old and still be able to prank each other and laugh.

What's the best marital advice that you received from elder family/friends?
-“Watch what you say, even in the heat of an argument. Words are like bullets, once you shoot them off, it’s impossible to pull them back.” 
“Take things slowly and cherish every day”

What positive cultural values do you bring to your relationship (from your own culture)?
The importance of family. 

What do you do to keep your relationship alive? What kinds of things do you do to connect with your spouse?
We make it a point to be in each other’s presence everyday. It doesn't matter if we are doing 2 completely different things, we will make sure we are in the same room. We also do date nights every week and text throughout the day to see how each other’s day is going.


In what ways have you adopted aspects of your spouse's culture?
I have completely assimilated to his culture because I, myself, grew up here.

Has your family adopted aspects of your spouse's culture?
My family still holds strong to the Indian way of life, but only to the extent of food. They have been here long enough to assimilate as well.

What aspects of your spouse's culture do you find difficult to embrace?
The most difficult aspect has to be….how broken his family structure is. It has ended up the way it has for extremely good reasons, but it is difficult for me to see the strained relationship he has with his sibling.

Name some cultural faux-pas that you have unknowingly committed...
In India, you are taught to be seen and not heard in the presence of elders. I am trying to break that habit, but it can be that I tend to be very quiet and some people take that as being rude or stuck up.

What was the most challenging time in your intercultural relationship?
The most challenging time was when my dad and I had the big blow out fight and I moved out. I moved in with Landon and his mother (my future MIL). But it was difficult because I was not living in the home I was used to, and I was also struggling with a lot of personal issues with my father at that time.

What's the best and the worst part of being in an intercultural relationship?
Best part: you get the best of both worlds (language, culture, food, movies, etc.)
Worst part: you get the worst of both worlds: (racism, bigotry, general hatred. etc.)

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions that people have about intercultural relationships?
I think the biggest misconception is that when you are in an interracial relationship, one party loses his/her cultural identity. I think that is absolutely untrue. 

What are the biggest misconceptions about Indian women?
That we are submissive. No way in hell am I submissive to anyone! I am a person with my own thoughts and opinions. 

Have you come across people who disapprove of your intercultural union? If so, how do you deal with them?
I live in the American Deep South, so of course we have. We have seen KKK members fly their flags in front of us disapproving of our union. We have had Indian people look at us like we are zoo animals. But in the end, our family and our friends support us and that’s all that matters.

Take-away advice for other intercultural couples...
In the end, you need to decide if your relationship is worth fighting for, if it comes down to it. Only you can make your life better/happier and only you can choose who is in your life. CHOOSE JOY each chance you get. Don't let other people bring you down!


(Wedding photos credited to: Abby Breaux)
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8 comments

  1. They are such a good looking couple! I love the photo with both of their families, so sweet!

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  2. The proposal story sounds so romantic and cute. A really gorgeous couple. And nice to know that in the end everything turned out well. Really inspiring

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  3. Teja and Landon are a cute couple. I wish them the very best in life and hope both families are loving and respectful of each other. Great looking family and kids have a bright future together.

    Melissa

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  4. They are certainly a lovely couple! However, to be honest, I don't think Tejaswini would have had the same kind of a barrier to surpass. Now if she had spent all her developmental years in India and then moved to the USA in her 20s, I think she would have had a really tough time getting her parents to agree. No, I am not belittling any of the challenges faced by this lovely couple but I just thought that the "geopolitical situation" (where you grow up AND what influences you grow up with) makes a difference most times, no?

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous, I was born and brought up in India and met and married my American husband several years ago. My parents had no issues at all with my getting married to someone from a different religion, race, and culture, so luckily I did not have to face the drama and emotional blackmail that I sometimes read about (though there were other reasons for this- it is a long story). All of my cousins have married people from different regions of India or different parts of the world and thus far none of my aunts and uncles has thrown a fit (that I know of).

      Raina.

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    2. They make a lovely pair and here's wishing them all the very best!

      Raina.

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  5. This was so cute and lovely. Yay to more intercultural couples!

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  6. Just found your blog.. I love your stories about you two.. My husband is american and myself is also indian but we are living in bay area, near SF in CA. I wish you two the best in life. :)

    -Anna

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Respectful comments only, please! (That means you, anonymous.)

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