MEXICO CITY KIDNAPPED MY HEART!

Mexico City, the capital of Mexico is less traveled in comparison to Cabo and other resort areas. Mexico was never on my agenda of places to visit for one reason: it felt too close to where I live, California. I’d rather be in Dominican Republic than visit Mexico. On a lazy evening as I was watching TV, I happened to catch an episode of scam city, a show about scams around the world. That specific episode was on cab kidnappings of tourists in Mexico City. My mother was going to Mexico City to visit the Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. I decided to go with her along with our bodyguard, my husband. We did lots of research on cabs, the ones to avoid right before our trip. D-day was finally here and we were on our way to the airport.
We arrived at San Francisco airport at 8:30 for our 11:00 flight. Our excitement was snapped when the ladies at the counter said “Sorry, we cannot find your tickets”. For the next 3 hours we were on the phone with Aeromexico to locate our tickets. Needless to say our flight left us as we were trying to locate our tickets. They finally found our tickets and got us a ticket on the next flight out of SF, which was at 9:00 the next morning. We were supposed to have landed in Mexico City at 8 ish, but needless to say we were elated we were still going to visit Mexico City.

A flight ride through Cabo, and we were in Mexico City at 5:35 pm the next day. We had lost a day, so we had to make up for lost time. Our first stop was to get some fuel in our belly before sightseeing. We decided on a small hole in the wall place called “Gotan Argentino Restaurante“. The place was small but it oozed warmth. We knew not an ounce of Spanish and the owner tried her best to help us make our choices. Love transcends languages and it was indeed love at first bite. Love deepened with each bite until she brought out her grandma’s “cheesecake-ish dessert” and I was ready to marry her for it. The pasta was the best I had ever had too. Following gotan, we went to the monumento y museo de revolucio. We walked around looking for it and happened to spot it while finding gotan. It was in our backyard. It was the most chaotic serene ambience ever. People were having fun hanging out by the monument and yet it was serene against the star-studded sky. There was an elevator to the top if you want to soak in the view.

Our second day began early as we took a tourist car to basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe. Our cab driver offered us the pyramids tour as well with him being our tour guide. He spoke English and he offered us a deal for $40 us a person. Can’t complain when our hotel charged $106 per person. The basilica was beautiful with artistic architecture, an pious ambience and goose bumps rising experience. I felt all my problems wash away as we prayed at the basilica. I have never felt lighter in my life. The basilica is the biggest in the Americas and it is believed lady Guadeloupe had appeared in those very grounds. We reached there in time to catch some of the mass, and it was a spiritual experience.

The pyramids of the sun and moon were on my agenda. I have never been to a pyramid before and I sure wasn’t going to miss it. It was hot and humid, and we climbed a million stairs or so it felt like. The pyramid of the sun had more stairs and it was crowded. One piece of advice: do not look down when walking down beyond the next stair… It is eerie! The pyramid of the moon while being smaller with most of it being restrictive areas was the hardest to climb. The stairs were built for 7 ft people and at 5’5 those stairs were tall for me. We rounded our day off with some refreshing cactus fruit and a tour of the Chapultepec Castle. The palace was beautiful and in some areas looking down I felt like the damsel in distress. The palace is up a hill in a park. We ate some mexican snacks (I have no idea what it was called) as we sat around watching children get their faces painted. The innocence in the air was infectious and the hot sauce dripping popcorn definitely transported me back in time.

Third day in Mexico was going to be laid back with some street food. We began with a street tortas. My footballer husband could not finish his torta- they were huge! We were sore from the pyramids and slowly cruised through the few more churches, the palace of fine arts, the national palace from afar ( it is closed on Monday), shopping areas and good old coffee. After walking for almost 3 hrs on a bummed Achilles, coffee and chair was exactly what the doctor ordered. It was our last night in Mexico and we decided to meet my girlfriend for the grandma’s cheesecake. I was in love again and if I could would have brought her with me hidden in my suitcase. We bid our adieu to her amidst pouty faces, hugs and teary eyes. The way to true love is indeed through the stomach- at least for me!

Mexico City was beautiful to say the least. We did not know Spanish but at every corner we met people who were willing to help. Sure, we were tricked by the cab drivers, but we were safe. When in Mexico, try to take the tourist cabs if you don’t know Spanish and you are safe. Mexico City should be known for kidnaping its tourists into a beautiful and culturally rich world with palaces and forts. They call Paris the most romantic city in the world, but I thought Mexico was on par. People hugged and kissed each other, flaunting their love irrespective of their sexual orientation. Mexico City indeed kidnapped my heart and taste buds !monumento y museo de revolucio

Mexico City at night

The Serene Basilica of our lady of Guadelupe

The magnificent pyramid of the sun

The Million stairs we climbed

Pyramid of the Moon

Chapultepec Castle

Mexico City

The Square with All the Government buildings including the National Palace

MY LITTLE FIGHTER- KUTTIMA

I can never stand to see an animal die even in movies. I have cried through King Kong because they killed King Kong, and I could not comprehend how someone could put an animal down. I could never see myself make that decision and I really prayed I would never have to do it. But that day did arrive on Nov 19, 2014.

I have always been a dog lover, until 2001 when a cat walked into our apartment. She was hungry and we decided to feed her. Fast-forward to March 8, 2002 and my mom woke me up saying there were four healthy kittens in my room. The cat that walked in gave us four little kittens, a completely black cat I called Rapster, Smarto our little boy who was slow from day one, Ringo because she had rings in her body and Kuttima because she was small and Kutty in my language means small. We had to be innovative with names considering we had four of them to name.

Rapster got sick few weeks later, and was diagnosed with congenital heart problems. He would not move, and would sit in a place all day. I was studying in college then, and I would carry him all day I was home and did everything with him on my arms. He died at the hospital and the doctor suggested we bring the rest of them in to have them checked. Kuttima was really sick, Ringo had some problems and Smarto was healthy. They gave Kuttima six months to live, and she stayed with us until November 19, 2014. She was twelve years old.

She was the most gentle of the lot. Smarto and Ringo fought each other from day one, and she was their mediator. She was skinny, and her ears were always straight so I nicknamed her Stitch from Lilo and Stitch. She fought me during shower time and walked on walls to get away from the water. She had big eyes and was so delicate that when I carried her I thought I might break her. But she was a fighter and she fought to stay with us for twelve years. She had a big heart, a heart bigger that her body could take it.

IMG_2992

Kuttima

Last year her stomach bloated with liquid and we were told her condition was getting worse. We could put her to sleep but I refused. She was active, and did not look sick. In the past month, her stomach got bigger, and she was walking slow until Tuesday when I was carrying her. She hung on to me like a newborn kid, and it broke my heart. I knew something was not right and could not sleep all night long. I hoped and prayed she would make it. She seemed okay on Wednesday morning, but when I got back from work she would not walk and was crying. I knew if I took her to the hospital I would have to make the hardest decision of my life. Yet, I knew I had to do it.

I tried to hold my composure, but as the doctor explained the procedure I started crying. I got some time with my baby girl as I held her, and pampered her. She was ready to go and lay there still. I held her head in my hand as the doctor put the meds in her body that would stop her heart. I saw her drift away from me. I could not bear to see her lay there still.

It was the hardest day of my life. I cannot stop crying and every corner in my house reminds me of her. I have never seen one of my pets die in front of me and it has been the hardest thing I have had to deal with yet. I cannot get her face from my eyes as I said goodbye to her. I had a choice to not be there, but I knew I had to be with her holding her through her last moments.

Kuttima, my little fighter I love you and I miss you so much. My life has been enriched by your presence and we miss you so much.

AN ADOPTION JOURNEY

I sit here alone in the morning silence and wonder how much more I would have to wait to get my little girl. The silence is killing me. I want to know anything and something that would trigger my hope and keep this journey less paranoid and more exciting. On June 13th, we finally got matched to an orphanage in India and we learned that our little girl is coming from Kerala. It all seemed too perfect and movie like. We were on a trip to the Caribbean’s and right before turning off our cell phones and emails for the next nine days I checked my email on the flight one last time. “RIPA assigned” the email read and as we opened it in our first “first class” seats ever, I jumped with joy in the seat as my husband tried to make sense of the commotion. It all seemed too perfect- we got first class seats without paying for it and just as we were rejoicing the coincidence of our first “first class” ride, we know about the orphanage our daughter is at. And to top it all off, she lives in the same city my mom is originally from. It all seemed like destiny.

The orphanage match followed with the approval of the I-800A. I-800A is the clearance from the US immigration saying we were fit to be parents and to bring a child as our own to the United States. Our next hurdle was the dossier. For everyone who has never heard of a dossier like me, it is a collection of every document imaginable and pictures that are sent to the orphanage. It represents the both of us to the orphanage. After month and half of squandering through documents, and being picky about every word in the documents we were ready to send our dossier off to India.. I have never nagged anyone as much as I did in the month leading to the dossier submission. I refused to accept a delay in paperwork, and I made phone calls every few hours until they said “the docs are ready”. And then I apologized to clear my conscience. Being a non nagger, this journey has introduced a new talent I possess.

After months of commotion over the dossier, the silence is unnerving. The excitement has turned to paranoia as I wonder many things. We wanted a child as young as possible, and our orphanage told us it was unrealistic. Yet, we stuck to it. As I sit here alone with the morning silence I wonder if maybe I should have been more accommodating. We don’t have a child yet, and we want to be part of every diaper change and droll possible. I wonder if that is too much to ask for as parents.

This journey has been nothing short of amazing. I lost my dad to death almost 19 years back, and that episode changed the course of my life. I can picture the 12 year old me sitting in front of his body wondering a million questions and battling loneliness for the first time ever. I had a mother who loved me, yet his loss made my world turn upside down. I stood there clueless and in some ways cheated and orphaned of his love. Years later as a fourteen year old visiting an orphanage, I realized how lucky I had been. I had memories with my dad for a lifetime and could hold a conversation about him for days. There were children who never knew what a parent was. I connected with them in some ways, and yet I was chosen by God to have two parents for twelve long years- a lot more than all those children in that room had in their young lives. That moment followed with years of shutting the yearning to adopt until finally I realized I was meant to do this. My dad loved children, and maybe it was his voice triggering me to adopt a child. Here I am today waiting to see her face yet feeling love beyond anything I have ever felt. I never knew I could be so consumed with love for someone I did not see or know. As I sit here wondering a million what ifs, I just pray that God hears our plea and brings us something affirmative from the orphanage. A waiting list number would be great- somehow that will ease the anxiety I am feeling in my heart. And as you read this blog, I ask for prayers to help reach our plea to God.

EIGHT DAY IN NATURE’S ISLE- IN DOMINICA WITH CUCHO!

The gurgling river water, the twittering birds, the rustling tree leaves and the sparkling fireflies, waking up in Dominica for eight nights felt like paradise. There is probably no word in a dictionary to do justice to the solemn beauty of Dominica, and Roots Jungle Retreat in the middle of a jungle took me back to my childhood in India. Each day at Roots Jungle Retreat took me back down childhood lane in India where mosquito nets were perfect playing accessories to play dark room at night, the open windows put modern air conditioners to shame, and novels transported us to places televisions never could.

We arrived in Dominica on a warm Friday afternoon and were welcomed by a dimpled Lorena, whose effervescence instantly made you feel at home. She drove us to Roots through windy Margot streets. Having battled motion sickness since forever, I tried real hard to enjoy the ride but the best of windy roads were yet to come. We turned to a street that had roots sign, and it was bumpy to say the very least. I tried to stay focused on not throwing up for the next 15 minutes, all the while contemplating if Dramamine time had arrived. We finally parked the car after a 15-minute roller coaster road trip, and were welcomed by a tall Olaf and an eight-month bundle of energy named Cucho. Cucho took to us instantly, and was welcoming us like family who had returned home. His lovey-dovey eyes made a place in my heart instantly, and I knew at that very instant, Dominica and Roots would be more than just a vacation.

We were showed to our cabin, and then we hung out with Lorena, Olaf and Cucho in their cabin/restaurant. Instantly, we started planning our agenda for the next eight days. After spending a few hours together, my husband and I decided it was time to relax and get acquainted to our cabin. We did also plan to take a small hike around our surrounding. Little did we know the rain God’s had other plans for us; plans that included staying in our cabin for the night. We went to the restaurant for dinner and met another couple that was from Germany, and for the next few days we spent charting our agenda’s, and sharing experiences.

The next morning my husband and I decided we were going to rent a car. We had couple of decisions which included automatic or manual considering we would have to drive through the “roller coaster” road to Roots twice a day, a 4 wheel drive and of course pep talking ourselves into driving on the left on the road. Dominica is an island less explored, so most streets have no signs. As a co-pilot to my driver, I am the worst at directions with a GPS in tow telling us turn left. I am so bad with directions that I need to think which hand I use to write to know which is right. So here I was guiding my poor husband through the streets of Dominica, but we survived and barring the first day we did not get lost- thanks to Olaf’s great direction skills and in some occasions personally autographed hand drawn maps.

The first day we toured Rosseau, the capitol of Dominica to Soufriere volcano (or so we thought). We drove to Scott’s head, and since neither of us were water friendly, we looked at the beautiful Scott’s head from a distance, snorkeling in our heads. We thought we were hiking through Soufriere to the volcano but we hiked through Waitukubuli National Trail into a valley I call “crab valley” because I don’t know the name. We walked the valley through crabs walking all around us. It was eerie for a not so much of a crab lover like me. We hiked through an easy trail and reached a point where the trail seemed marked on rocks. Were we supposed to walk the rocks? Not sure but we decided not to. First day in Dominica was not so adventurous? Not really because we still had to find our way back to Roots. I was guiding my driver through Rosseau hoping to see Canesfield airport to turn into the road that would take us back home, but instead I never saw Canesfield and we were headed to Portsmouth. We stopped to ask directions and somehow got to a round four-way point and dilemma struck us again. As Robert Frost said, “which road should I take?” We did what the locals would do, picked up a firefighting hitchhiker who showed us the way to Roots. Hitchhiking firefighter- they only make them in Dominica!

I called our trip to Dominica a hike fest. I knew we were going to be hiking a lot. We started off by doing what the tourist’s did -Traffalgar Falls. Two falls called the Mama and Papa falls, one being hot water and the other being cold water. Your guess is as good as mine as to which one is which, but being a woman I am going to say Mama is the hot one. A quick hike to the falls down stairs and few rocks and we were soaking our feet in warm water from the falls. I have never seen a hot water fall before, and my feet loved it. It felt therapeutic to say the very least. We climbed rocks hoping to see where the foothills of the falls were, but since we were the water resistant couple, we decided it was not worth it. Instead, we decided to hike to Middleham falls. The guidebooks call it an intermediate hike, 4 miles that should take 4 hours. The signs at the falls were more realistic- 45 minutes to the falls it said. We started by climbing endless slippery stairs, crossed a stream of slippery rocks, used tree roots as stairs and we had not even reached the middle. We continued our hiking by climbing more big slippery rocks, all the while fighting fatigue and painful legs. What started off as sprinting became a slow walk with many rests. Finally we were at the falls, and the view made the pain worthwhile. Now, no one told us we would have to trek back the same way. We fatigued our way back, and after a day of intense hiking we were ready for Lorena and Olaf’s food.

The next day we decided to take it easy and visit Portsmouth. Portsmouth hosts the most American section of Dominica. Home to Ross Medical University, an American medical college the vibe of the city is very American. Restaurants sell expensive $25 burgers, but if you want to try local food, you could get it for less than $10. Our bodies were tired from Middleham hike, so hiking to the old Fort Shirley felt like hiking Mt Everest. We walked around Fort Shirley enjoying the view and the fort. They had some small hikes to various ruined buildings. We hiked couple of them and decided it was time for lunch. Near Ross Medical College, we ate at a restaurant that sold Creole chicken and I was in love. It was by far the best chicken I had tasted. Callibashe is a beach town in Dominica. If you love beaches, then I don’t think it gets better than this. We drove about 45 minutes from Portsmouth through trees and windy roads to get to Batibou beach. We parked the car on the street, and walked down a short trail to the beach. Pristine blue water welcomed us. This was my first experience on a beach that felt like ours. We were alone, and I recapped movies like Castaway as I walked Batibou with my Wilson. It was beautiful, calm and serene, and if I ever have to find my happy place during turmoil, I will be at Batibou in spirit and mind. I fell in love with Batibou, and I am not a beach bum! We went back to Portsmouth for dinner, and had the best spicy curry chicken ever. I am spice junkie, and when my palette felt the first rush of spice in almost three days, it was soup to my soul. I went back three times more for the crack curry chicken!

The next day we went to Callibashe to stroll the other beaches. We saw Londonberry beach, a black sand beach in the Pirates of the Caribbean. We drove by that beach to Callibashe. We visited Number one Beach, the site of Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3. I was where Johnny Depp was- not that it really mattered. A hike down a small trail took us to Number one beach. It was beautiful, but Batibou had changed beaches for us forever. We went back to Portsmouth for the crack curry chicken, and hiked Syndicate trail. Syndicate trail promised parrots and a waterfall. There were no parrots, and the fall barely existed. We climbed some rocks and tried to make our own trail to find the waterfall. But after a while, we accepted our defeat and walked back.

We began the next day with a visit to the Kallinga Territory. The Kallinga’s were the original inhabitants of Dominica. Olaf’s made a handmade map got us through the scenic less traveled route to the Territory. I was stoked to try the Cassava coconut bread from Daniel’s bakery. When we got there, the bakery was packed so we decided to return back. We went to the model village where we took an hour tour of the place, where our awesome tour guide told us about how they lived. We visited two churches, one that had roots and trees growing through it and the other church, which was a new one. We made our way to the L’ Escalier Tete Chien. While Dominica has several beautiful views, L’Escalier Tete Chien is by the far the best one. A walk to the viewpoint and you see the natural staircase from the Atlantic Ocean. It was tranquility at it’s best. You just want to soak the peaceful ambience, refresh your soul and capture the moment in your heart for a lifetime. Our next stop was another beautiful beach called Castle Bruce and we were on our way to Roseau to buy Gatorade for our big day tomorrow.

We were finally going to hike Boiling Lake, an eight-hour hike to the second largest boiling lake in the world. This was our second to last day and we were ready to hike the indomitable Boiling Lake through the Valley of Desolation. We woke up early, ate breakfast and were on our way to Boiling Lake. As we got near Boiling Lake, it started pouring. We got to the parking lot sign and sat there in the car waiting for the rain to subside. It was 11’o’ clock, and knowing we did not have 8 hours to hike, and the rain continued to pour down, we made our way back to Roots. The rain continued through the next day until 11 am and we knew our boiling lake plans were washed away. Boiling Lake is still on my agenda, and I am going back for it yet again. We visited Emerald Pool, another waterfall and the Spanny waterfall in the rain. It was beautiful to say the very least, and a perfect end to a very beautiful Dominica trip.

Cucho

Cucho watching us leave:-(

Roots and Dominica will forever be special. Lorena and Olaf treated us like family, tending to our every need. We spent eight days with them, sharing stories, laughing and in each of those moments feeling like we were home with family. Dominica became more special because of Cucho and his lovey doveyness. As we drove away from Roots to the airport, I saw Cucho run behind our car. I wanted to pet, hold him close, but all I could do was promise to be back again to see him. I have left every place I have visited with a heavy heart, not wanting to go back to reality. But in Dominica, I left a part of my heart with Cucho and as we made our way to the airport, I felt a knot in my heart and tears in my eyes knowing I will miss Cucho and his unfiltered love. He made Dominica special, and for me it will forever be Cucho’s Dominica.

Spanny Falls DSC05630 DSC05601 DSC05587 Serenity Middleham Falls hike our cabin at roots

ADOPTION AND LESSONS LEARNED

This adoption journey has taught me several things: I did not know I could love someone I had not seen or known as much as I already love this little girl. I don’t know who she is, what she looks like, yet she feels so much a part of me. We refer to her by her name and in less than a month she has gone from a thought in my head to an actual person. Secondly, this process is teaching me patience. I believed I was patient even before, but patience for the system and for something you want so much yet have no control over is a whole different ball game. There are anxious days when I re-read every blog I have already read on the topic, there are moments of uncertainty wondering what if but the next morning I am upbeat again about her.

 

There has been a few milestones since I last updated on our adoption journey. We successfully completed our homestudy amidst crazy cleaning and reorganizing to make our home child friendly. We got our homestudy report, proof read it a million times. We got registered with CARA India on May 1st. CARA is the adoption authority in India, and now we exist in their system. We are now trying to collect a million notarized documents for our dossier. Dossier, a fancy word for document collection is a mind numbingly strenuous process. The hardest of them being a physical with the doctor. I hate doctors and I try to not see them unless I absolutely need to. This little girl sure is making me see those people more than I like to.

 

I knew this journey would teach me a lot considering people say a child can change your whole world. But what I didn’t realize was how much I would learn before I even get her.  I have never had to deal with “are you dating someone?”, “when are you getting married” questions. Things happened when society deemed was the right time for me, so I was saved from that turmoil. With this adoption process, everyone seems to have an opinion about what I should and shouldn’t do. Here’s an example of the conversation I have with people:

Me: We are adopting a baby

Stranger: Oh, because you have problems and cannot have your own?

Me: No, because we want to. I don’t have any problems

Stranger: That is so nice of you. You are so generous.

 

This has been the drill irrespective of gender, and age. I initially felt obligated to justify that I could have my own child, but at some point I felt horrible about it. As a woman, I can only imagine the pain one feels in the endless battle of having a child, and I felt I was in some ways cheating on my gender by stating my fertility status. I decided I would not answer it. In reality I wanted to say “none of your business” which in polite language came out as silence. As a young woman, I was not prepared for these questions. I have heard these questions in India a million times, but in America where privacy is so valued, I was surprised at this intrusion.

I have even had someone tell me if I was adopting because of infertility then it is not noble, else I was noble to do it. I don’t want to be perceived noble. I just want to enjoy this process without being bombarded by questions. Irrespective of my fertility status, or the nobility pedestal people put me on, I am just a young woman trying to live the dream I had. If a pregnant woman is not asked why she decided to get pregnant, don’t ask me why I am adopting. It is none of your business!

ALONE AND ROCKING IN OREGON!

I felt my heart thumping as I walked through airport security. With my laptop bag on one shoulder and my tickets in my other hand, I tried to portray a picture of confidence. I had walked through these hallways many times before. They know me and I know them. Yet, I was feeling the jitters of a travel novice. There was a difference between the many travels I already did to the one I was on today. I was traveling alone!

 

While most people who see me refute that I am anywhere close to being shy, I know I am an introvert. Since becoming a professional, I go through a million drills in my head before I can converse with a stranger even if that is professional talk. Eating alone is another completely different ordeal. I never ate in front of my husband until we got married. I am terrified of eating in front of people who are not my family and my girl-friends. In college, my two close friends made sure they made me eat, because everyone close to me knew I would starve rather than eat in front of strangers or even eat alone. I am not exaggerating! Every time I was asked on a date, I refused to eat with the guy. I made excuses such as “I have food at home” or “my mom cooked for me”.

 

photoI was traveling alone on business to Oregon for three days. Suddenly, I felt the jitters I felt when I first traveled on business to Seattle without family. I still had few people from my work on that trip. An hour and 45 minutes of a flight ride later, we had landed in Portland. I got a cab and made my way to the outskirts of Oregon where the company was located.

 

Going to work was the easier part. The first night in Oregon, I decided to go to the mall across from my hotel and get something to eat. I decided to eat at the restaurants in the mall, but suddenly as I was walking from work to my hotel, I decided I was not going to eat at any chain restaurants and I was going to eat in a restaurant at least once on my trip. Knowing me, I knew I would chicken out of  the second one real easily. I yelped away to find a Korean Fusion place which in layman’s terms is Korean Chipotle with a twist. I walked to the mall, went to the store and ordered my rice bowl. I wanted to sit right there and eat, but I blamed it on the sprinkling rain and walked back to my hotel to eat my food. I went back to the mall again later and walked around the mall. I have never been alone at the mall before either and I am not much of a mall rat. I decided I need to have a victory today so I walked into every store, touched one of two things and walked out.

 

The next day I ate my breakfast alone at the breakfast area of my hotel. It didn’t feel as overwhelming, maybe because there were four other people besides me. After a full day at work, I decided I was going to go to visit few parks around here. The total distance between the parks, the hawaiian restaurant I wanted to visit and my hotel was close to 4 miles. I had my direction on my iphone, and made my way to the park. I felt adventurous, and courageous.

 

I have walked alone to parks before, but being anonymous in a different state felt different. I was welcomed with several hi’s and I responded as I walked through two parks. I am very sure they recognized the tourist in me. I had my google maps on my iphone, following every turn even if I had to jaywalk. I am so bad with directions that I did not want to risk it and complicate my trip further. There were green tall trees everywhere as the Tualatin river flowed in the middle. The sun rays against the water glittered everything. It was serene, and I felt my mind and soul being cleansed by the purity around. I no longer felt lonely. Nature was my companion and I felt serene and peaceful.


After walking through the trails, it was time to feed my belly. I made my way to the hawaiian restaurant by passing through the Tualatin community park. I went up the counter and ordered my Shu-yu chicken, and the dreaded question followed: for here or to go? I said to go and then changed my mind and said for here. I felt my heart beating fast. I got my food, my Sriracha sauce and took the seat right in the middle of the

MULTIRACIAL MASALA!

I had a prototype for a husband since the time I can remember. He was going to be tall, tan and handsome with the archetypical Indian hairstyle.  He was not going to be a lawyer, engineer or doctor for sure. So when I was at the US consulate to come to America, and the guy at the counter swore I was going to marry an American, I smirked. There was no way I was going to marry an American. I was going to come back to India and marry my prototype. Fast forward to 2008, and I was at the alter marrying a sort of tall, curly haired African American man who was an engineer. He was far from the Indian prototype.

I had known him for five years by then, and I knew what I was signing up for- or I believed I knew it. I met my mother-in-law when we were dating, and it went pretty good I thought. I was a nervous wreck and my boyfriend thought the perfect introduction would be when I was just done hiking the mountains with him. So here I was meeting my potential mother-in-law in shorts and t-shirt all sweaty. It went well I think, although I believe she expected an American girl and here I was a direct export from India. I never expected an American mother-in-law either in my defense. 

My first introduction to his extended family happened in July 4 2008, few months after our marriage. In India, this would have happened before our wedding. The aunts and uncles had to approve the girl before you married her.  Although I knew I did not need to impress them since I was already married and I was sort of sure he would not divorce me over their disapproval, the Indian girl in me really wanted to be approved. So I wore my best jeans and t-shirt and made my first American event- the BBQ. My husband is not the greatest introducer, in fact in more situations than not, he hardly introduces me. His aunt welcomed me home, who I did not know at that time was his aunty. She called me her niece so I assumed she must be some aunt. I sat in an available chair, and I was lost. In India, they would have been at my beck and call, catering to my need. Of course I was the daughter in law to the family. Here I was sitting with my husband and was expected to plate my own food. 

After being in the United States for over 7-8 years by then, you would assume I would have no culture shock-Wrong answer. I was shocked and baffled. I had never been to an American event before that and needless to say I was hoping they would feed me like we feed people back home. Plate your food and sit and watch you eat and feed you more as your plate emptied. So my husband plated food for us, and being shy I decided it was better to nibble his food. I also found out that peach cobbler was an acquired taste. I love sweets but peach cobbler is not my cup of tea.

I heard my husband tell his dad that his wife was Indian, and he had to specify it was India Indian and not Native American.  Meeting his dad was another adventure. We went to meet him and his family for his birthday. I remember the door opening and noise decibels increasing. I wanted to run for my life. I am Indian from India, and if noise level goes beyond a certain decibel you run for your life unless of course it includes music and dancing. There were at least ten women who were really excited to meet us and were talking at the same time. The smartest thing my husband did on that visit was to hold my hand the moment we got off the car. If not for his shackles on me, I would have run like a lunatic. They sure would have thought, she isn’t just India but she is a crazy Indian girl.

In India when the family gets together, you talk and you eat and you talk more. The men sit together and talk and the women do the same. Here in America, I have learned when you get together you either watch TV or you play games. For the last five years of being married to my husband, every time we went to his family events I saw them play Dominos and the noise increased with each game. They wonder why I don’t join them when I watch them so attentively each year. I don’t know how to tell them when the noise goes up, my brain shuts down along with the rest of my body. I am not about to be the Indian girl who lost in Dominos. I have to hold our flag up. 

Living in California I believed everyone who lived here has tried Indian food. After all, there is an Indian restaurant in every corner.  Having lived my entire life in India, I wasn’t going to not have Indian food at my wedding. I might wear a white dress, but three essential parts of my existence; Bollywood music, Indian food and Indian attire were part of my wedding in abundance. Boy was I surprised when they wondered what we ate, and how spicy it was. I could understand the older generation not knowing about my food, but when the younger lot asked me the same I was surprised.  I wonder why I was surprised, since my husband did not eat real Indian food until we started dating, and he had lived here his entire life.

It’s been five years since I have been married to my husband and it has been a fun ride. He introduces me to all things American and I train him on all things Indian. I say train because we have our quirks, and some of our doings make no sense unless you are of course Indian.  But we relish our differences and quirks, often teasing the other until the next quirk unfolds. It is a 24×7 sitcom in progress at our house. As for his family, they may not plate my food for me or feed me until I drop, but I know they love me just as much as my family does.