Monday, December 13, 2010
Interview by Jennifer Kumar, Cross-Cultural Coach
Anu* moved from Mumbai, India a big metro, to small town in Oregon State in US in 2006. The following questions shed some light on a unique life experience of one woman who's influencing this world in a positive way by bringing together and blending cultures in her home.
Anu, many other Indian girls move to US or abroad after marrying. What makes your experience of moving from India similar to the other Indian girls? What makes your experience of moving from India different than other Indian girls?
Anu shares: I expected my experience to be different from other Indian girls but they are more similar than different. I deal with the absence of family and lack to familiarity to the same exact extent that they do, which is the cornerstone of our life here. It is all about dealing with what you don’t have most of the time.
The way it is different is that I work and am independent which some other girls are not if they came to the U.S after an arranged marriage. I do have the privilege of controlling some basic aspects of my life, I don’t have to rely on my husband to take me to the grocery store etc.
Did you have other Indian friends who moved away to marry outside their community or culture? If yes, do their stories resonate with yours in any way? Feel free to share what comes to mind.
Anu shares: My friends who have come to the U.S have so much more to deal with. Most of them are on work visa, which is a volatile status. In addition to what I am dealing with they have more uncertainties to deal with.
Most of the girls in cross-cultural marriages I know are American women married to Indian men. It's rare for me to meet an Indian woman married to an Indian man. Do you think there's a different dynamic in an Indian wife/American husband relationship as compared to an American wife/Indian husband relationship?
Anu shares: I imagined it to be different and curious to know what works, in addition two people’s open heartedness and desire to have a partner to share their life with. My marriage is very different in many ways to other American marriages (where both are American) from what I have learnt from others reaction. My husband solely manages our finance which is looked upon as “odd” by other people. I do ask for my husband’s consent to do a lot of things, which I thought were very normal but they are perceived abnormal! My colleagues have openly expressed their concern about this and strongly recommended that I shouldn’t “trust” him so much.
I think maybe you don't get a lot of chances to hang out with Indians. If this is true, how much do you feel being married to an American and rarely getting to see Indians helps you appreciate or fit into the lifestyle here differently than other Indians or immigrants who live in areas of US with higher immigrant populations?
Anu shares: I feel the need to confide in an Indian, they understand my psyche more than anyone. I feel more at ease with them. I am saturated with “Americanism” and it is also a good way of getting accustomed. I think it would be a bad idea to live in “little India” type of places and always feel alienated.
Us women can sometimes get sensitive about things guys don't think about! I think one topic is making friends. Girls and women form friendships differently than guys I think. If you agree, do you think creating friends with American females is different than Indian females? Why or why not?
Anu shares: Building friendship with American women is almost impossible! My thought process is so different that we can’t relate in most cases. It is easy to be friends with Indian women as they have the same values as I do; we have so much more to talk about. It makes me uncomfortable when they (American women) talk about their complex family structure, where the man they are with is not the father of their kids!
Do you have any tips of Indians or immigrants in US who want to make friends with Americans? What kind of topics do you think are safe to talk about, which aren't safe, or what aren't you sure about?
Anu shares: Having a sense of humor will certainly help, sometimes people build a barrier because they don’t know about our country and think they will offend you by asking or talking about it.
It also helps to know little bit about history and geography and break the stereotype of “naive immigrant”. There is so much that in not common between an immigrant and somebody who was born and raised in the U.S, the trick is to find a common ground.
I refrain from asking about their family or marriage in general.
Regarding daily life in an American small town, what do you think are the benefits or disadvantages of being and standing out as 'different'?
Anu shares: I see myself as their only opportunity to see the world outside! The disadvantages are many, someone responding to your human kindness with suspicion is hurtful.
What aspects of American culture surprise you? Which confuse you? Which have you come to accept and/or understand?
Anu shares: I was overwhelmed by surprises, and confusions. I expected the whole country to by like NY or Los Angeles, thanks to Hollywood movies. I couldn’t believe the open land I saw and asked my husband as to why Americans go to other countries to get a break when they so many unexplored little towns that are so accessible. I was shocked to hear the term “drug-babies”, it is very heartbreaking to know how kids suffer even in a first world country.
Despite threats about outsourcing I was surprised to know that almost 99% of people I know don’t have college education. Education is seen as your easy way out of harsh life in India and here it is unaffordable!
Thank you, Anu for sharing your wonderful story. If you have any feedback for Anu, feel free to leave it in the comments section below.
*Anu is an assumed name
Copyright ©2010 Jennifer Kumar, CC, Cross-Cultural Coach
1 comments so far...
By @ Anu on
Monday, December 03, 2012
Re: Anu's Authentic Journey - Marrying Indian Culture with Small Town America
"It makes me uncomfortable when they (American women) talk about their complex family structure, where the man they are with is not the father of their kids!"
I'm glad she's honest about this. Any critique of the "complex family structure" i.e. divorce and baby daddy drama here is kind of taboo or considered offensive, maybe even anti-feminist. Finally someone saying it makes them "uncomfortable"!
"Building friendship with American women is almost impossible! My thought process is so different that we can’t relate in most cases. It is easy to be friends with Indian women as they have the same values as I do; we have so much more to talk about. "
I feel the same way, but in two directions. I am not completely comfortable with American women nor am I completely comfortable with Indian women. I think both are extreme but in two different directions.