I have no words…

I have some great news. My son is soon to be engaged! And while I am so very overjoyed and happy, I’ve heard lots of questions that sadly have reminded me of all the ignorance and frankly, just plain stupidity I had to face at the time of my own marriage.

In the 80’s when I was living in Minnesota, the world was a different place. I lived in a town where I was one of the very few Indians living there, so I could almost understand the puzzled and frowning faces as I responded to one racist comment after another about my marriage. But now I’m living in New Jersey, surrounded by people who come from a multitude of ethnic backgrounds and it’s 2018. I am amazed that more than 30 years later, I am still bombarded with the same—I’m sorry to say—idiotic, racist questions I faced back in 1986.

No everyone does everything the same way—and to put a finer point on it, the west does not have some sort of monopoly on what is the most exceptional way to find the person you will marry. There are many, many ways to meet a lifetime partner and no one way is somehow the right way.

So here’s a few of the questions I’ve been asked lately. (By the way—these questions came from people of ALL backgrounds—yes even Indians!) There were asked by people at my salon, colleagues at work, acquaintances and some friends of the family.  I have been asked these more than once, so this is not focused on a single person)

  1. “OMG! So, your sister-in-law introduced them? And your son is marrying someone that his aunt knew and thought to match them up? Is this one of those pre-arranged things? That’s so weird!”

Here I have to just scratch my head in amazement. So somehow it’s better to get on the internet, chat for a few weeks, meet for a weekend and if that goes well, date for a while and hope for the best.  Or just by chance randomly meet someone at work or school. And I think these work for people and can be a good way to meet.

But why is it “weird” to have someone who loves you and is interested in your lifelong happiness, to actively be interested and then introduce you to someone who they have thoughtfully spoken to and for whom you might be a good match?  

And by the way—there is no such thing as a “Pre-arranged” marriage. It’s arranged and no—it’s not what you think.  And while we are at it, just going off the subject for a minute; please stop asking for “Chai tea” or assuming that chicken tikka masala is Indian food.  The word “Chai” literally means tea, so basically this is like asking for Tea-Tea. And chicken tikka masala is a dish made up by the British. It is not Indian cuisine and I don’t know how to make it.

  1. “Is she more Indian or is she Americanized?”

Hmmmm, well let me say this, is there such a thing these days? We are constantly talking about this great thing we call the “Global Community” but in the end are we just reduced to the country we reside in?  No matter what—people who have a skin color that is other than white, will always be—Chinese, Indian, Mexican, African… Someone whose parents arrived from Lithuania 20 years ago is rarely ssked if they are more American or Lithuanian, solely because the color of their skin gives the impression that somehow they have magically become “Americanized.” And why being “Americanized” (whatever that means!) is somehow preferable, is a thinking I find objectionable. Who decided that westernization was superior?

  1. “Oh WOW! I didn’t know girls in India wore shorts!” (said by a group of women while looking at a picture of my son’s fiancée in which she was clad in jean shorts)

WHAT? Are you kidding? I was certain that this came from the idea that anyone with brown skin and dark hair (BTW—Indians are born with a variety of skin, eye and hair color—hair ranges from black to red hair and every eye color—not just brown) must be from a country in which all women are required to cover their head and body. Which, I think isn’t a bad idea, as long as the women chooses her own clothing and it is not forced on her. I wrote a post about it a long time ago. Here’s a link to it http://elishebahaqq.com/freedom-for-women-veiled-in-a-burkha-or-revealed-in-a-bikini/

Not every country in the continent of Asia or even in the Middle East require women to cover their heads or bodies. India is one country that does not. Yes, it’s a more conservative country, but America also has all sorts of variances on what is considered acceptable and unacceptable behavior. For instance, an outsider might mistakenly believe that all Americans carry guns. While this can be true, it is not a blanket statement that can or should be made about all Americans. Avoiding generalizations—that’s a good rule of thumb when making a statement about anything of which a person has little knowledge.

  1. “Your son is stationed in Japan? And he’s marrying an Indian girl? Oh! Now; is he serving in the Indian or Japanese navy?” (said by a family friend who has known us for our whole lives)

I have no words. I can barely even keep it together to write the rest of this post. How this question is even allowed to be spoken into the air is beyond me. I don’t think you need further elaboration on this, but since my son was born in Nashville, lived in America is whole life, went to college and law school in America—he would be probably be guilty of treason if he was to serve in the Japanese or Indian military.

There are so many more questions and I could fill pages with all of them, but these are the ones that at this moment seem to be the most outrageous. I am always open to answering questions, but first the person asking the question, should carefully review and explore their own presumptions and biased views.

I guess there is such a thing as asking a stupid question after all.

11 responses to “I have no words…”

  1. Hannah Jillella says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. People of little intelligence—please step outside of your comfort zones!!!

  2. kandy says:

    hahahah this had me laughing 🙂 congrats to your son!!!

  3. Joel says:

    Fantastically worded, I have heard many of these over my 49 years of living in this country….you put a smile on my face this morning as I was reading this…..well said.

  4. Premal says:

    Glad I got to read the post, after the initial glitch; thanks Elisheba for re-posting. Love your responses, particularly the “treason” one. Congratulations Philip and God Bless.

    • elishebahaqq says:

      Thanks Cuz for reading and we will miss you this weekend and look forward to seeing you very soon!

  5. Uma says:

    Enjoyed reading this 🙂

  6. Anita Patel Shah says:

    I enjoyed this piece. Loved how you used humor to soften misconceptions so often thought or said Outload.
    Congrats on gaining a future daughter into your family.

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