Editor's Note :
As India celebrates seventy years of independence, I thought there was no better way to celebrate our nation, than to acknowledge and celebrate the bonds that bring us together despite our cultural differences. Nobody exemplifies this more than the men and women that have tied the matrimonial knot despite differences in language, food and even religion. Throughout the month of August, the Times of Amma will be speaking to Moms who who are raising multicultural children and Moms who grew up in multicultural families.
Today in our Unity in Diversity Special Series, Rajshree writes about her parents' multicultural marriage.
Amma is a Malayali (Kayamkulam,Kerala) and Appa is from Tamil Nadu (Coimbatore/Kovai). This was an arranged marriage. Mom speaks Tamil+Malayalam at home so she did not understand the hard core Tamil of her new home. I must admit it was difficult for her to understand and speak even normal tamil itself. Appa’s family used to speak Tamilugu (tamil+telugu) at home which was new to Amma and she didn't understand anything at all. Appa was the only son and he had 5 sisters. So the comments from my aunts and my Grandmom would be mostly in Tamilugu. It was easier for them to comment in front of Amma itself at which she would keep smiling. After all, what could a 21 year old do at a place where she didn't understand anything and only had the option to laugh when all around her laughed? And mind it she was not supposed to ask the translation of their words, as we do now. But my cousins were very supportive to my mom and they would tell her about the conversation later on. And my Appa was very kind to her and the pampering and love helped her rise above her challenges and struggles.
Now, lets move away from the serious notes. Being in a cross cultural family you could celebrate all the festivals, here we would celebrate Onam, Vishu, Diwali, Pongal, Aadi pathinettu, etc. So, twice the dresses at times and twice the festival foods.
Ahhh food! One day it would be pure Kerala food and the next day it would be pure Tamil Nadu saapadu. One day it would be reddish watery fish curry and the next day it would be Coimbatore style Pulivitta meen kuzhambu.
Initially, My mom had difficulty in cooking. For example, they used Matta rice in her house whereas it was Ponni rice in appa’s. The cooking of both is different and one slip and she would get an earful from her Mother-in-law. But the urge to learn everything that my dad loved in food made her learn everything right from Sambar to Biriyani and later on she could easily cook for 50 to 60 people.
Coming from a small village without much exposure in cooking or cleaning to leading a life in a totally different place that too in a joint family is something great according to me. In a cross cultural family, you have pros as well as cons. But let the pros alone be in the memory to cherish as a legacy.
Thank you Rajshree for your nuanced memories of your Mother's life as a bride in a culture different from her own and of your own festive memories of your childhood.
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