Category Archives: Family Stories

An Announcement…

Hopefully you will all forgive me for my slow posting schedule lately. We had lots of visitors recently and on top of that – we are expecting our first baby in January 2010! Needless to say I have been extremely tired and trying to rest as much as possible. We’re starting the second trimester shortly and I am looking forward to having more energy again (and to food tasting good again!).
I know this baby will most likely inspire many blog posts. I’m already getting hints of intercultural baby-raising excitement to come… lots of advice from relatives and friends both here and in India. (I listen to most of it – especially the day that my mother and his mother gave me the exact same advice within 10 minutes of each other!) I figure wives tales that have migrated to both sides of the ocean must be true or have some truth to them!
Boy or Girl…
We are also looking forward to finding out the sex of the baby – we might relocate to India one day and if we have more babies there, I know finding out won’t be a possibility (it is against the law for doctors to share the sex of the baby – due to female infanticide). My husband and I don’t really have a preference if it is a boy or a girl – my family all thinks it is a boy (first grandchild on my side). And his family would all like to have a girl (third grandchild on his side – and all boys!). We will see soon enough.
We’ve long-discussed names (since we got married almost 4 years ago). I think husband and I are in agreement that we will give all of our kids one Indian name and one Western name. We’ve always leaned towards the first name being Western and the middle name being Indian. However I like a couple of Indian names well enough to consider them as first names. Our main concern is that the names are pronounceable on both sides of the ocean! We’re always open to suggestions, so leave your favorite name ideas in the comments!
So stay tuned for updates – hopefully on a slightly more regular basis!
I’ll leave you with this super cute clip from a famous episode of “I Love Lucy.” Lucy and Desi were one of the first (maybe the first??) interracial couple to be shown on TV – and certainly the first to have a baby on TV. I love Lucy’s comment toward the end – “I bet she’ll speak with an accent like you!”

Name Double

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to find your “twin” or double? Well, about two years ago, I got a random email. It started out as a strange fluke, a mistake even, but turned into an amazing story.
The email said, “Hi, I thought that this was my email address – heather(Indian last name) However, I forgot my password and am not able to log in, but now I’m not sure, so I am writing to see if there is another Heather (Indian last name) who has this email account. If so please confirm so I don’t drive myself crazy trying to remember my password!”
Now I’ll admit, I thought this was some new kind of spam at first, and almost hit delete, but I was like, hey, why not see if this is true or not? So I wrote back. I mentioned in my email that our name isn’t so common and asked if she happened to be from India. I was quite surprised that she replied again and found out that she is American, married to an Indian guy as well.
It got even weirder when we found out we also share a middle name!
So not only do we have identical names, but we are also both married to Indian guys (who just share the same last name!). I remember telling her that this is the kind of thing they spin reality shows around!
We started a pen-pal relationship of sorts and still keep in touch occasionally to this day. I really enjoy hearing of her experiences, some similar to mine and some very different. We talked about our first visits to India, how we met our spouses, learning to cook Indian food, and exchanged stories of having Indian family members stay for extended visits.
I know not everyone will meet their “name double,” (to tell you the truth, it gets kind of confusing remembering who sent which email, when the names are the same! lol!) but hopefully IndianTies blog & forum (and other similar websites/blogs) help you to connect to others in similar situations who can offer support and advice. I love hearing stories about how people found each other, even when they grew up half-a-world apart!

Indian Husband Driving in Winter Weather

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! I’ve been out of commission for a few days! We’ve had many holiday parties to attend – one of which I hosted with a friend (which was tons of fun, but oh so much work!). And we are now visiting my family. Our family “Christmas” with the big meal and presents is taking place on Sunday – when all of the family finally arrives. But that’s OK – it makes it last a little longer!
So the past week at home (in the Pacific Northwest) we’ve had some of the worst winter weather ever! We ended up with about a foot of snow in our town – and that was before we left. I’ve heard from friends that it’s still snowing! That made for a long drive to the airport on Christmas Eve for us. So we flew into Dallas airport on Christmas day and it was about 60 degrees. Then we got to my hometown and it was 75 today! That totally made my day. I was so sick and tired of being COLD! So we ended up getting the best of both worlds – a white Christmas Eve and a sunny, beautiful ** almost tropical ** Christmas Day. I couldn’t ask for anything more!
My husband on the other hand is a “weird Indian” – he likes cold weather. He says that years of growing up in hot India made him appreciate a cooler climate. I guess he’s acclimated to weather in the Northwest better than I have.
We were driving home from a shopping trip and doctor’s appointment. The weather got really bad and what should have been a 30 minute drive ended up taking an hour and a half! Well, the funniest thing about it was we were leading a long line of cars on a two lane road. The snow got so bad that we could barley see one car length in front of us. It was the closest thing to a blizzard I’ve ever been in. So we would pull over to the shoulder once in a while either because we just couldn’t see the road anymore or to clean our wipers off because they were freezing with huge chunks of ice on them. The photo above is the view from our car. Every time we pulled over and put our hazard lights on, all the cars behind us would do the same! None of them wanted to take the lead. The best part is that we have southern, out-of-state license plates. I found it ironic that they were willing to put their trust in us, who were obviously not very familiar with winter driving! We had a good chuckle in the car, when I said, yeah, and just imagine if they knew the driver was from India! I told him he deserved an honorary winter weather driving badge (I’m sure they have such a thing in Boy Scouts?!). That is a far cry from how I was when we first got married. That year it snowed about an inch and I wouldn’t let my husband drive. I was convinced that he would crash the car because he’d never seen snow before, let alone drive in it!

Christmas Tree Indian Style

We finally got our Christmas tree! We were really excited this year, because we got to go and cut down our own tree. This was something new for both of us. Coming from Texas, I’ve always been used to artificial trees, and my husband, coming from India, was used to a very different variety of fir tree.

The first photo is a close up of our decorated tree, which is decorated with handmade paper mache ornaments from Kashmir and ribbon from India. The ornaments all have a gold, black and red color scheme and come in all different sizes. They are my absolute favorite & I am always excited to pull them out each year. It is nice to add some touches from India into our annual family traditions. Now I just need to decide if I should make curry for Christmas dinner…

Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

I’ve been thinking of ways to give back this holiday season & I found a couple of great ways to do just that!  There are lots of organizations that help people in India & Asia.  I found two that have a great “give back” programs.  
World Vision offers many ways to help. You can give a practical gift to a family in India (or another country): a sheep, two chickens, a goat, a cow, an education, or many other things.  You can find a gift for just about any price range & best of all, you can give the gift in someone else’s name.  Say you wanted to buy a goat for a family in India in lieu of getting your spouse a gift, you can request a special keepsake card so they can know and be reminded of the gift that you sent.  
With World Vision, you can also choose to sponsor a child in India (or another country) for approximately $30 USD a month.  The neat thing about this website is you can specify what age, gender, country and even birthday your child will have.  I plugged in my birthday, and a few kids in India popped up.  How compelling is it to give to a child who shares your birthday!?
Another organization which offers a gift catalog is Save the Children.  They have the same general idea as World Vision, but they offer a few different categories. They also offer the chance to buy a product (like a woven basket or a bangle) and the proceeds will go to the aid programs.  This would be another way to have a tangible reminder of the donation you’ve made.
Another bonus is that these donations are tax-deductible.   There are lots of organizations which offer these kinds of programs, I’ve just highlighted two prominent ones.  My husband and I are going to try and give something back this year, whether it is locally or through one of the above organizations.  Even though economic times are tough I think we still have a lot to be thankful for!
One more way I plan to “give back” is through the proceeds from a new calendar that I have for sale in the IndianTies shop.  The calendars feature photos that I’ve taken on my journeys through India & Nepal.  Click here to view the calendar. (Make sure you click on the link to “view all calendar pages.”)

Can you believe it’s already December?

Christmas is just around the corner! Of course this time of year we think about our families & loved ones. It is great to celebrate the holidays together. One of my favorite parts is picking out gifts for each person & trying to surprise them. Often times I’m unable to surprise my husband though. He is great at surprises and always seems to think of something wonderful to surprise me.
Last year, I thought that I’d turn the tables and surprise him with a new laptop computer. His old one had seen better days — especially when his hard drive crashed and he lost most of his thesis-in-progress — we knew it was time to replace it. So I waited until just 2 days before Christmas and went out shopping alone to the computer store. I picked out a shiny new laptop and brought it home, and hid it in our guest room upstairs (all wrapped up).
I was sure I’d pulled off the ultimate surprise. In fact, just to throw him off, I had told him I wasn’t getting him anything big for Christmas – and not to expect much. I got him a new wallet and a couple of odds-and-ends to put under the tree – but kept the laptop hidden upstairs. I was so excited I could hardly wait until Christmas morning!
So first thing the next morning, we got on our web cam with my family back home and his mom in India (we had a virtual Christmas with all the fam!) and opened our presents. He tried to act happy about the wallet, but I could tell he was disappointed with the slightly boring gift. So once we’d opened all the presents, I snuck upstairs while he was talking to our family online.
I came back with his laptop all wrapped up in a pretty package with a huge red bow. His eyes got wide and he started smiling his guilty smile. He opened it and acted so surprised. Until he started laughing…. I asked why he was laughing at and he finally admitted that he’d checked our bank account the day before and saw the large sum was missing and that it was spent the computer store. So he had a pretty good feeling what he was getting – and he’d played along the whole time! I was a little disappointed – until he told me the reason he’d checked the bank account is because he was going to buy ME a laptop! (Boy was I glad he’d checked or we’d have cleaned out our account!)
Anyway, the moral of the story is don’t try to outsmart your husband – and if you do try – do a better job at covering your tracks than I did! Don’t worry though – I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for this year! *wink*
P.S. The photo above is of our first REAL Christmas Tree – that’s one advantage of living in the Pacific Northwest – an abundance of evergreens! (We’re planning to go this weekend to cut our own.) I’ll try to get a close up of our ornaments – they’re hand-painted paper mache balls from Kashmir. At the right of the photo is a huge gingerbread house that I made.

Tandoori Turkey Success!

I just wanted to report back that the Thanksgiving Tandoori Turkey was a success! I was a bit nervous to make my first whole Turkey -and that with a recipe I’ve never tried before. The photo above was taken just before we dove in. We had a total of 8 people. Most of them were from various countries. We had 4 friends from India (including my husband), two from America (including myself), one from Holland and one from Malaysia.
We had a great time together. It was a different Thanksgiving for me and my husband – to be out on our own and not around any of our family, but I’m sure we made memories that we’ll talk about for along time. Who knows, maybe Tandoori Turkey will become our tradition! Isn’t that what an intercultural marriage is all about – taking the best of both worlds?!
By the way, I loved the Cranberry Chutney recipe also – the spices really added a special touch!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving today! This time last year, my husband and I were in India, for a 3 week visit. Since Turkeys are not readily available in India, we decided to be a bit unorthodox and celebrate Thanksgiving dinner at Subway – eating Turkey subs!
We took the whole family – parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunties, and even a few friends. I told the story of the origin of Thanksgiving and why we celebrate it. One auntie couldn’t understand why we had to eat Turkey – so she got an “Indian-ized” veggie sub. If you’ve never been to Subway in India, check out the photo above for some of the local flavors. Turkey or no turkey, we made some great memories that we still cherish and talk about today.
Well, back to the present – I better get my Tandoori Turkey into the oven – or we’ll be celebrating at Subway again this year!

Make it a Tandoori Thanksgiving

So if you live in the USA, you know that Thanksgiving is on Thursday! How is it already the end of November?
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but this year my husband and I are on our own for Thanksgiving. We get to go to visit my family for Christmas, but it is too far to make two trips so close together! So in the spirit of intercultural marriages, and bring both cultures to the “table” – so to speak – I am planning to make my first ever whole Turkey with an Indian twist!
Maybe some of you are fans of the American version of the Japanese show “Iron Chef.” If you tuned in for the Thanksgiving special, you saw one of the chefs prepare a Tandoori Turkey. What better inspiration could I ask for?
So I rounded up a few recipes, and if you’re still struggling to come up with something interesting this Thanksgiving, give one of these recipes a try. Better start thawing that turkey right now!
(whole turkey recipe)
(uses tandoori cutlets)

Blond, Brown and Black Hair

Trivia Question:
What is the most common hair color in the world?
Depending on where you come from, your first answer might have been brown, or blond, but if you think about it, the answer is black!
My hair is brown. My two best childhood friends had blond hair. I was always described as having “dark” hair. But while living in India, I had to get used to being described as having “light hair.” I guess it’s all relative. In fact, a few of my Indian friends would even go so far as to call my hair blond! Now I can get over the fact that I have “light hair” compared to their beautiful black hair, but come on, BLOND is a bit too far! I tried and tried to convince them my hair wasn’t blond, and finally they compromised by saying my hair was “half-blond.” sigh.
Most of my American friends get married and like to daydream about what color hair their future kids might have. One spouse might have reddish brown hair and the other spouse have blond hair. Will the kids have red hair, brown hair, or blond? Will it change colors as they get older? All perfectly appropriate questions. But it is funny, in India, no one ever questions what color hair their son or daughter will have.
Last week, I was out shopping with a friend. She has 3 young boys all under the age of 4. All of them have blond hair. My husband met us around lunch time, and since we were still trying to make a decision on what to purchase, he offered to take the boys to Wendy’s for lunch. Imagine the surprise that the onlookers had when an Indian man parades in with 3 small blond boys in tow. He managed to keep track of all of them and got them settled down to eat. When finally one woman’s curiosity got the better of her, she leaned over and smiled and said, “Now those can’t be your boys, can they?” I wonder what she would have done if he’d have said yes?!
Since my husband is Indian, I assume that our kids will have dark brown to black hair, but that remains yet to be determined. Genetics can be a funny thing I guess! If our children take after my husband (with a darker complexion and dark eyes), will I have the same reaction from onlookers when I take them places without him? That prospect doesn’t really bother me, I think I’ll be amused…