Saturday, May 30, 2015

My Intercultural Love: Cheyenne & Raj

Cheyenne is a fun Midwestern girl, in a long-term live-in relationship with her dapper Bombay beau, Raj....She also writes a blog called Ladki in Love and is a big History buff!

Cheyenne: Caucasian American, from Indiana (Terre Haute IN, USA).
Raj: Punjabi, from Mumbai, India.
We currently live together in Indianapolis, IN, USA with our two cats and puppy!

Three words that describe you...
Curious, shy, and creative.

Favorite childhood memory...
I was raised by my grandparents growing up. My grandfather was a truck driver so he was only home on the weekends. Every Monday morning before I had to be at school (and he off to work) he would take me to a local donut shop. Even today that particular donut shop is very special and nostaglic to us!

Where/how do you feel most inspired?
In libraries, museums, new places. I've always had a love and passion for history and culture and that’s why I majored in History! I love learning new things, and finding new leads on interesting topics to research.

Where/how did you meet your spouse?
This was something Raj and I both struggled with throughout our relationship. I had recently written about this in my blog, the "coming out" story so to speak. We met online. On craigslist actually! For so long we were ashamed of that! I realized later that many couples are meeting online in today’s world, and had it not been for that, I wouldn't have ever met my best friend.

How long have you been together?
We are coming up close on two years!

What qualities do you admire in your spouse?
Where to start?! There are so many qualities I admire about Raj. I’d have to say a big one is his ambition. He talks about how hard his life was back in India, when he was in school. He had to go away from his family at a young age, but he has stuck through with it. Another big one is his ability to think logically. He is definitely the brains of the relationship! Whether we are making out a budget or arguing, he thinks things through without letting his emotions get in the way too much.

Favorite memory together as a couple...
About two weeks into us seeing each other, he suggested we take a small trip to Gatlinburg, TN. He didn’t have a car yet at the time, so we loaded into my tiny Yaris and made the eight hour trek there. It was such a beautiful drive! We only had time to stay for two days. We tried to plan to do some awesome things during that time, however I ended up getting one of THE worst migraines and I was down. We went back to the hotel room and he took such good care of me. I felt so terrible for ruining the trip for him, even though he insisted I hadn't. On the drive back home I think that was when we both realized we had found something so tremendously special - just being with each other...

What did you know about your spouse's culture prior to your relationship?
Intercultural marriages aren't unknown in my family. My uncle is married to an Indian woman, but unfortunately I realized I knew so little about Indian culture before I met Raj. Even in my studies in history, India was just not something that came up very often.

How did you tell your friends/family about your intercultural relationship?
I was actually quite proud of the fact and was so excited to tell everyone about it. While my friends were happy for me, my family seemed a little apprehensive at first, but it really took so little time for them to adjust and everyone loves him!

How has your relationship enlightened your life? How has it changed you & your outlook on life?
I’m definitely more enlightened about India and Indian culture. I’m still learning and almost every day it’s something new. It’s wonderful.

Who proposed and how?
Well, sadly that hasn't happened just yet! We've had serious talks about it, and we both know we will get married. We are just waiting for the right time.

Describe your wedding...
Again, this hasn't happened yet! However, we both hope to have a small American wedding here in the U.S. (mainly for my family) and then we will have a wedding in India for his family (and I definitely want this because Indian weddings are just so beautiful!)

What does being married mean to you?
I never saw myself as the kind of person to get married, prior to Raj. My grandmother always used to comment on that too and I was okay with that. Since meeting Raj, that has all changed. Now, I look forward to living life as a wife. I don’t feel that I can give a very sincere answer to this yet, since we are not married. However, the way I feel about it now is that it’s something very sacred. When you wed someone you are giving yourself to them and you will forever belong to each other.

What are your dreams for your future together as a married couple?
I dream that we both continue to be successful in our careers. We hope to be able to live comfortably enough that we can care for his parents, as well as our own!

What positive cultural values do you bring to your relationship?
Independence. Raj also thinks I’m not judgmental.

What do you do to keep your relationship alive? What kinds of things do you do to connect with your spouse?
Like most couples, we have to make an effort! We've found a big connection through food. I've learned how to make Indian food for him, and he’s made an effort to eat American food, which was not hard at all for him! He’s not a vegetarian and he does eat beef (only since being here in the US). We always have a good time together!

In what ways have you adopted aspects of your spouse's culture?
The food of course! I mainly cook Indian food for our dinners. I've always loved cooking in general, so getting to learn a whole new cuisine has been amazing. I absolutely love Poha in particlar. Even though I know it's technically a breakfast food, I make it as a dinner all the time!

Has your family adopted aspects of your spouse's culture?
Sadly, not so much. But hopefully one day!

What aspects of your spouse's culture do you find difficult to embrace?
The language. Hindi is going to be very hard for me to learn, especially since the scipt is so different from English.

Name some cultural faux-pas that you have unknowingly committed...
I accidentally called his father by his first name! We had all gone to see a movie together and at the end I turn to his dad and said “So Balbir, what did you think of the movie?” Ughhhh!!! Afterwards Raj told me that I shouldn't call them by their first name. So now they are "mummy ji" and "papa ji"!

Another time I hugged Raj in front of his mom. Never, ever, ever show PDA!

What was the most challenging time in your intercultural relationship?
Raj's parents came to visit us for about a month. This was the first time that I had met them in person. We had been living together, and they knew this, but actually seeing it was very hard on his mom. She cried a lot during the visit, because I think it was a lot for her to swallow (with us living together before marriage). We almost broke up a couple nights after he dropped them off at the airport to go home because it was so hard to see his mother cry. We have all come really far since then!

What's the best and the worst part of being in an intercultural relationship?
Best - everything! You get to learn in detail about a whole new culture. We never get bored, because there is always something new that we’re learning about each other’s culture.

Worst - while I don’t really see a negative side, I could say the language barrier. While it’s not a problem between Raj and I, it is with the rest of his family, but this is something that could be fixed!

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions that people have about intercultural relationships?
That the significant other is only out of a green card!

What are the biggest misconceptions about American women?
That we will divorce our husbands over the most trivial of things.

Have you come across people who disapprove of your intercultural union? If so, how do you deal with them?
Surprisingly neither of us have . . . at least not yet. While it was a shock to his parents, they never directly came out and said that they disapprove.

Take-away advice for other intercultural couples...
Patience, understanding, and trust in each other. Had Raj and I not had these things I’m not sure how long we would have made it. Patience is definitely key in this kind of relationship. Respect that your partner’s parents may be very shocked by such news, and may not act happy about it in the beginning. Because we were patient and didn't break up that night, we are here today. We are more serious than ever about marriage and even his parents are on board now! 



  1. Haha @ the greencard one! That DOES happen in quite a few cases, though!

    1. Actually as we are going through thw green card process right now... i find it very difficult to just marry for a green card these days...

  2. The green card one is a classic. Here in Europe they dont really have the concept of green cards (somehow different but anyways) so they always say the significant other is only marrying because he/ she wants the nationality...I totally forgot about that one in my interview but it might be also due to the fact that no one ever said it to me but to friends :p


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