When I first met my husband I was under the misassumption that I had a firm grasp on how the world worked. Things neatly fit into these boxes within my mind. After a very short time together he not only unpacked those misconceptions, but he completely burned my boxes to the ground (in a very loving, passive and Ankit sort of way). Ankit inadvertently taught me not only about his experience in this world, but about myself. Previous to being with him I had never truly considered the lives of immigrants from India. In fact, I had not met many prior to our first Tinder date. After being with him for years, meeting his friends, and the friends of his friends, I finally realize just how little I ever saw the world from his perspective. This blog is devoted to the things my husband taught me, from the silly to the hard reality of my own privileges. So strap on in, and get ready for a ride into the psyche of my marriage!
My husband showed me how to not only appreciate but love spicy food. Of course, part of it is because he is the primary chef in our residence. But also through other avenues as well. Biryani is probably the only Indian food we will order from an Indian restaurant. It is tongue numbingly spicy, but hot damn throw some mutton and yogurt in with that rice and it is to die for.
I am not considered “special” at an airport. My husband on the other hand is ALWAYS selected for “random” checks. I joke with him it is because he is so sexy and TSA is just building up the courage to ask him out for dinner, but we both know the truth. I am white, and he is brown. He is Punjabi. Tall. Dark. (totally handsome as fuck too by the way) But I am privileged in that regard, where he is targeted. He handles it with a grace and good nature that is born out of his acceptance. We have never flown together, but I have a feeling he would be the one to be mature about the situation, not me.
Bollywood movies are freaking amazing! Throw in some Punjabi movies too and your Netflix queue will be full of incredible options. To date my favorite Bollywood movie is Pink, but Kal Ho Naa Ho will always be the classic romance movie.
Speaking of Indian pop culture, Punjabi music is incredible. I cannot tell you how many times I have played J. Star’s “Na Na Na Na”. I have memorized the lyrics, and enjoy freaking out my husband by singing it to him in my free time. Obviously you cannot mention Punjabi music without talking about Diljit Dosanjh. Go to YouTube right now and type in “Do You Know- Diljit” and prepare to be amazed. When my husband went to India for a month I binge listened to this song on the ride home from dropping him off and ugly cried, with snot running down my face.
The immigration system is clogged, finicky, expensive and scary. Prior to being with him I had zero concept of what our immigration system was like besides what news headlines flashed my way. Within four months of being with one another he was up for his visa renewal. Waiting for it to come in the mail was nerve wrecking. Even though he had all of his proper documentation, was very educated, and way classier than me, they could have denied him if he was filing for a lottery system visa. I had no idea how much harder, and more expensive it would be once we got married. It took us months to actually get our interview date after we filed all of the appropriate paperwork. We spent six times the amount on our immigration process than on our actual wedding.
One of the most surprising things my husband taught me was the gift of empathy. Ankit seems like a typical software engineer who rarely opens up to people, but this has never stopped him from giving. On any of our celebrations (birthdays, holidays, etc) he will inevitably purchase food and hand it out to the local homeless community. None of our celebrations mean anything if we are not giving back.
Facial hair is not just facial hair on him. Ankit can grow the gnarliest, sexiest beard known to man. It will be thick, black and beautiful. But events can dictate whether or not he will have to shave it. To make others feel more comfortable on flights he always gets rid of the facial hair ahead of time. When we had our interview with immigration the beard was off in no time. People’s perceptions of facial hair on him is different than it would be for a man of a different race. Prior to being in a relationship with him I never considered how true this could be.
I questioned whether or not I should write this blog. I asked my husband if it was ethical considering I would be coming from a place of privilege that I could even bring this topic to a broader audience. Was I allowed to mention how kick ass I found the Punjabi music he introduced me to? Ankit paused. Then a small smile crossed his full lips and he told me that he loved that I wrote a blog on this topic. I still have moral qualms about whether or not I have a right to tell this piece of our story, but I do have one thing I have no issues with. The fact that I married an incredible man who opens my eyes every single day.
I have had many people ask me if it is difficult to be in an intercultural marriage, and my response is always the same- no. To me my husband will always be the guy I rant at, the one who knows how to calm me down and deals with my irrationality on a daily basis. His culture is something that I treasure and respect. It means there is always something new he can teach me. I am so blessed that I have a relationship that is filled with teaching moments, debates and differences.