It is August and as we gear up to celebrate India’s Independence Day, it is time for this year’s edition of the Unity in Diversity series!
For what better way to celebrate our nation than by celebrating the multicultural families that personify India’s unity in diversity.
We start with this love story of a Tulu girl and a Punjabi boy.
Where did you both meet? We would love to hear your story.
I am a Tulu girl from Mangalore, Karnataka and my husband is a Punjabi from Jaipur.
I met my husband, Rajat Krishna Arora on the first day of our job training at Infosys Mysore on 21st April 2008. A lot of love stories bloomed in this mesmerizing campus of Infosys but only ours ended in a knot for a lifetime.
We both were seated 5 roll numbers apart in the same classroom. I had not known of him until one day when I needed help in my module projects. But he says, he had seen me on the first day of the training itself, and it was love at first sight for him. After we completed our training, we were posted to Pune to start our new beginnings in the corporate sector. I chose Pune for my own reasons then, he had got Pune by chance. So we travelled in the same bus from Mysore to Pune and still I never actually remember talking to him. We got busy in our lives and our jobs. He had got a project in phase1 of the campus and I was at phase2, both campuses are at a distance of 2 kms from each other, still he was a regular at phase 2. He never expressed his feelings even till then, and I thought his visits were to meet his friends who also worked in the same project as I did. I only knew him as a shy guy from my training batch that is all. We used to go out very rarely along with our other common friends to explore the city. Our brief conversations and rare outings continued for a year.
Meanwhile he got his project changed and came into the same campus as mine. Still our meetings were very less and casual. Then one day out of the blue, he called me on my phone and asked me to check my mail. Yes! He proposed to me on email He was that shy. The mail was beautifully written; I had goose bumps after reading it. He had expressed everything he felt from the first day of the training till that day, i.e. 2 years later. But I was not really happy, I always considered him as a good and a nice friend. I was against love marriages, moreover I wanted to keep love and friendship separate and so I rejected him instantly. He was heartbroken; he was travelling in a bus to his hometown. I can’t imagine how his trip would have been. Meanwhile, I had decided to take a transfer from Pune to Bangalore to be close to my parents. From Bangalore I got an opportunity to travel for work to Malaysia. Now this is when I started falling for this guy. The stay in Malaysia made me feel lonely being away from family and friends, but this guy was always there for me whenever I needed him through chats and calls, eventually we were on phone (international calls) almost the entire time when we were not working. He was very compassionate and caring; it was really difficult to not fall for him. Yet, I had not accepted his proposal. Then I returned back to Bangalore. My parents started searching for a guy, I always wanted an arranged marriage, but somehow nothing clicked with any guy.
After two years of being in touch and constant conversations, I finally told my dad about this Punjabi guy. I told him how I found this guy to be really nice and how I felt that I could have a great life with him. I requested them to get to know the guy first and then decide accordingly. My parents met him, my mom who was completely against this inter caste marriage was charmed by his sweetness. Our parents met his parents, everything got set after some usual tiffs that come along with an inter-caste marriage and a date was fixed. November 28, 2013
Which languages do you speak at home? Which language is your child most comfortable in?
I am from Mangalore and my mother tongue is Tulu. He is Punjabi by caste and his mother tongue is Hindi. Rajat and I speak both in Hindi and English with each other and in Hindi with our respective in-laws. With our daughter I speak in Tulu and he speaks in Hindi. Our daughter, Raisha is only 17 months old and is too young to say which language she is going to take up. We would anyways like her to be bi-lingual J and learn as many languages she can. I myself can speak 4 languages and understand most of the Indian languages.
What would you call are the family’s favorite home foods?
He is a foodie, he cannot be without food and I am someone who can stay hungry just to avoid the stress of cooking: D our food preferences are very different, he likes tandoori and I like Chinese in starters, he likes dosas and I like rotis. He doesn’t eat anything that is natural or healthy like fruits, juices and I love them. I eat fish and sea food, he doesn’t even touch it. I have started liking cheese because of him and he started eating paneer because of me. We cook everything in our home from roti sabzi to rice with chicken curry. Raisha is a fussy eater, I am happy with whatever she can eat without a fuss, be it rice or roti. We just mutually agree on whatever we want to eat as our tastes are so different.
What are some of your biggest cultural differences?
His family being Punjabi follows a lot of traditions and celebrates almost every Indian festival. My mother-in-law religiously follows every fast and is very religious. On the other hand, I have never fasted in my life until marriage. My parents never forced us to follow traditions or fasts. So it was difficult for me to keep up to my in-laws expectations.
Did getting married to someone from another state bring you closer to your parents or did it pose a challenge?
Getting married to someone from another state has definitely brought me closer to my parents. Even though this is a love marriage, I go to my parents with all my silly problems and expect suggestions from them. I trouble them a lot with my family problems, they still listen to me patiently and help me and guide me in whatever way they can. But even before my marriage, I had realized how blessed I am to have such wonderful parents as they had shown trust and supported me in every walk of my life.
What have the biggest challenges been as far as starting a bi-cultural family is concerned?
Following their culture and traditions was not possible for a working girl and coming from different set of traditions. So my in-laws eventually realized this and do not pressurize me to follow all fasts and traditions. I only follow Karwa chauth religiously as it is a very important tradition in their family; Rajat also follows fast for me during karwa chauth. Diwali has been my favorite festival since childhood and so we celebrate that too together. Rest we do not follow anything, neither from his side nor mine, just because doing that is more convenient for us staying in the nuclear setup.
His family is pure vegetarian; on the other hand my family loves non vegetarian food. Consuming alcohol is normal for Rajat’s side of family whereas my family is complete teetotaler. Rajat has even quit alcohol for my sake as I have never been used to adjusting with anyone, when it comes to consuming alcohol. This was another very strong point that attracted me and made my parents accept this relationship.
What have been your greatest joys as a family from two parts of India?
Before we got married, our South Indian family had preconceived notions about North Indians and vice versa. These notions have been cleared as we now understand and know these two poles apart cultures very well. I do not see a North Indian as an outsider now. We actually are a big Indian family. Whenever his family visits mine or mine visits his, we adjust according to each other’s likings. It is very rare that we realize we are from different parts of India; guess 4 years into the relationship has blurred all the borders of the states we come from. I enjoy their hot jalebis for breakfast as much as he loves our kori rotti. I started understanding the difference between a mama and a chacha and he understands the difference between Kannada and other south Indian languages
We do not restrict or force each other to follow something we don’t want to. Mutual respect and support is very important to survive in a multi cultural marriage. We decide what is good for us as a family rather than follow the usual social norms.
We just love being with each other, traveling and exploring the world together and now with our new bundle of joy, Raisha we are understanding life better as parents.
Thank you, Disha for this lovely account of your Two States Love Story. We wish you and your family, all the very best.
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