As August comes to an end, we wrap up the Unity in Diversity series, with yet another Disha. This Disha is well-known on Instagram as the mother to her Baby Hashtag, a Blogger, a photographer and an Entrepreneur. You can find her here.
Disha reached out to me with her love story that brought a Rajasthani Jain from North India and a Catholic from South India to come together and create their own multicultural Indian Family.
Here is her story as the series finale to our Unity in Diversity special where we celebrate the multicultural families that personify India.
Where did you both meet? We would love to hear your story?
My husband Pramod and I met in a coaching classroom. I had just graduated from college and he had moved to my city for the classes. We bonded over one of our coach's jokes in class. We met in December and had hungout everyday of the week before, during and post classes over chai. Four months later in March, we decided that we were too perfect to be 'just friends' and started dating.
Which languages do you speak at home? Which language is your child most comfortable in?
There's a mix of English, Hindi and Telugu going around the house. Sometimes invariably I switch to Marwari especially when mother is involved in the conversation. So she is exposed to quite a lot. Frankly, I've had people telling me that she would not be able to pick words and speak of we spoke so many languages but she has accepted the languages beautifully. She is not yet a very talkative child, most of what she says is gibberish but the dominant language is English.
What would you call are the family’s favourite home foods?
We are poles apart when it comes to food preferences. Pramod likes a good home cooked meal. If it's his mom who is cooking, he loves it even more. Whereas I am someone who enjoys eating out more and trying different things. Although, if I had to put a finger on it, our favourite food is Idly and Noodles. We enjoy it and so does the toddler.
What are some of your biggest cultural differences?
I am a Jain from North India and he is a Catholic from the South, the differences are stark. However, none of it came as a cultural shock to me as I have lived in Hyderabad all my life. That's where we met. Culturally, we have a very inclusive approach at home. We each have our own set of beliefs but we also respect the other's beliefs as equally. The toddler experiences the best of both the worlds. She gets to celebrate Christmas with as much pomp and joy as she celebrates Diwali. I have a lovely family here who helps me make the transition without any hurdles.
Did getting married to someone from another state bring you closer to your parents or did it pose a challenge?
We had a few bumps initially but we were clear on one thing that we wouldn't get married if the parents did not agree to this. It was my uncle who initiated the whole 'let's get you two married!' Both the families met and everything worked out beautifully for us. I had just lost my Papa a year ago and I missed him dearly thought the wedding proceedings but I saw my Mum, strong as a pillar, getting her daughter married to a man who did not belong to her community. I thought to myself, that's a rockstar right there! 11 am phone calls to mum for recipes and hacks for cleaning dhaniya, video calls to show her how I redecorated a boring corner of the house, we are friends like that. Ofcourse, I've gotten crazy close to her post marriage.
What have the biggest challenges been as far as starting a bi-cultural family is concerned?
I am a very careless person and Pramod is the stark opposite. He just knows what to do and say where and when. He evaluates situations much in advance and reacts accordingly and so him slipping into the marriage and being a husband has been effortless. I, on the other hand, take a very laidback approach. Now imagine you put two people like that with a cultural disparity that polar opposite! It is a recipe for mayhem. Mostly from my end, but mayhem it is. We spent the first few weeks of getting married, working on our quirks and making sure it's a smooth sail ahead.
From food to clothing to the regular day to day, everything was super different from the way I had lived before marriage. Food, is one of the biggest challenges according to me in a bi-cultural family. The cuisine, the cooking style, the tastes. Everything was very different from what I was used to. So a middle ground was chosen and we decided to bring in elements of both our cultures in the kitchen. The Annam-Chaaru staple for meals stayed in the kitchen and I brought along Phulkas and Paranthas. That pretty much settled it.
What have been your greatest joys as a family from two parts of India?
As a familial unit, my little India lives in my drawing room. We have the values and eccentricities of the two extremes of this country. When I see my toddler enjoying the company of her Thatha-Nanamma (paternal grandparents) or her Nanu-Nani (maternal grandparents), I see so much love. Despite being so different, Pramod's family and mine reach out to each other regularly just for a 'How are you?' phone call. There's not a day when it feels like too much work, all this happened because of unconditional love.
Anything you would like to add?
I'm often asked if I ever regret having married out of my community. According to them, I traded a predictable simple life for a much tougher full-of-surprises life. I'm happy I did. I would never have settled for predictable. Spontaneous, volatile and fun is my second nature and I'm happy my little family is living proof of that.
Thank you, Disha for sharing your story with us. We wish you and your family, all the very best.
For more stories from multicultural families like Disha's and more stories on Motherhood, the different versions of a Mother's love and the many iterations of life as a mom, do join the Times of Amma community on Facebook and Instagram.
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