Meet Sharell (Australia) and Pradeep (India)
This is the first in our series of interviews with cross-cultural couples around the world. Hope you enjoy it! If you’d like to participate in a future interview send over your details.
Sharell: I’m Australian and Pradeep is Indian
Where did you meet?
In Kolkata, India, where we were both working at the time. (We’ve since settled in Mumbai).
What language do you speak at home?
We speak a combination of English and Hindi. In the beginning, we only spoke in English. However, the more my Hindi improves, the more of it we speak to each other. My parents in law don’t speak English, so I always speak in Hindi to them (to varying degrees of success!).
Do you try to cook food from each other’s countries?
I do cook a lot of Indian food because we both love it, and because the ingredients are readily available and inexpensive here in India. I also make typical Australian food like grilled meat and salads from time to time, but not very often. It becomes too bland! Other types of food I regularly cook are Italian (mainly pasta) and Chinese. Ingredients for Italian food are harder to come by though, and are often imported and costly.
Can you explain one part of your partner’s culture that you found surprising?
Having to bathe in the morning before eating breakfast. Traditional Hindus consider it to be unclean if they don’t bathe before eating in the morning. My husband isn’t very traditional, and we don’t practice this at home. Therefore, I was quite surprised when I stayed at my in-law’s place (who are traditional) and my mother in law was very reluctant to serve me breakfast. Instead, she kept asking me if I wanted to take a shower (obviously too polite to tell me that I was unclean and shouldn’t eat). Finally, I figured it out!
What’s the best thing about being in a cross-cultural relationship?
The richness that comes from discovering another culture. Being in a cross cultural relationship is a great way to learn and experience new things, and broaden your view of the world. I also love the spiritual aspect of India, and feel like it’s added a great perspective to my life.
What’s the hardest thing about being in a cross-cultural relationship?
The different ways of behaving, and trying to understand what is normal behaviour for the culture and not getting upset by it.
Indians prefer to ask for directions (which often turn out to be wrong!) rather than rely on maps, they aren’t very punctual, and can be quite intrusive. I’ve found the lack of privacy in India quite hard to deal with. Visitors turn up unannounced, and people commonly ask personal questions. However, I’ve had to recognise that this is the cultural norm and try to adapt. India has definitely required me to relax, open up, and become more accepting!
Do you have any advice for other cross-cultural couples?
Try to understand and appreciate each other’s cultures as much as possible. Also, adapt to fit into the culture where necessary. You’ll get more respect from people that way.