Separated they might be by cultures and customs, but these couples are brought together by the language of love.
Five years ago, when Madhavi Girish married her Australian classmate, her parents were happy and relieved. “They had given up on my getting married at all! Mine isn’t the first interracial marriage in my family. In fact it’s the fifth. So there was no eyebrow raising here,” she says
Indian. Australian. American. Russian. Peruvian. Is race and ethnicity still an overriding factor in marriage?
Apparently not. Race matters less these days, say researchers at Washington–based Pew Research Center, whose study found racial lines blurring as more people choose to marry outside their race. Support for interracial marriages is stronger now than in the past, especially among the Millennial Generation and is most common among Asians. Education and residency rather than race, is a common thread binding couples today.
As many such couples will vouch, love just happens. Cupid could strike just about anywhere: At a bus stop outside the World Bank group office in Washington DC, as in the case of Samir Stewart, an Indian, and his Peruvian ex-wife Tania Gomez. Former Miss India Shyla Lopez met her Russian prince charming, Vlad Vershinin, while holidaying in London. Or even across cyberspace as is the case of Angela Menon, a Malayalee, and her American husband Nick Beckwith.
Admittedly interracial marriages are not easy to sustain, given some obvious differences in the colour of one’s skin, language, distance from home ground, and other subtle anomalies in cultures, customs and ideologies.
While Samir and Tania divorced after four years of marriage due to “difference in cultures to some extent” and also differences in “goals and conceptualisation of future plans”, others like Shyla and Vlad have over the past seven years of their wedding stayed the course, “Committed to the big picture as a family. We chose to be with each other despite our differences. He’s open to eating Indian food and I’m learning Russian and getting accustomed to Moscow’s sub-zero temperatures. I never checked the weather when I fell in love!” Even their 6-year-old son Alexander is proud of his multicultural identity and adapts surprisingly well by being “Indian in India and Russian in Russia”.
You know what they say about taking an Indian out of India, but not being able to take India out of an Indian? Most Indians revere their ties with the motherland and try to initiate their significant foreign others to the same. But with consequences. Reminisces Angela, “We lived in India for some months and everything began to shock my husband — the power outages, the smoggy air, the crowds, the noise.” In the case of Madhavi, it was food, “We only really have one bone of contention, almost literally. I am vegetarian and he’s not. The other issue is language. My family tends to speak in Tamil primarily so he tends to feel left out. Then there is the lack of privacy. When we visit home in India, people just barge in to our room, for whatever reason, and he finds that hard.” When Shyla and Vlad honeymooned in Kerala, Vlad tried a panchakarma detox. “The poor fellow got so sick… what a bummer of a honeymoon,” she says.
Despite sometimes being lost in translation, all these couples marriages are based on, faith and more importantly gender equality. And of course love, love, love. It sure makes the world go ‘round!