Where are you from?
Bose was Indian until recently and is now a US citizen; Anna is English and hopes to be a joint UK/US citizen soon.
Where did you meet?
We met in New York City (where we both live) at a dinner organized by a colleague of Anna who is married to a high school friend of Bose.
What language do you speak at home?
We speak English – neither of us speaks another language fluently. Bose speaks a little Malayalam (the language of Kerala, India) but is no longer fluent. His Spanish is probably better than his Malayalam.
Do you try to cook food from each other’s countries?
We both enjoy food from many countries and our cooking at home reflects that. Anna cooks some traditional English foods; Bose likes to learn how to cook these and other dishes from Anna. Neither of us have learned to prepare Keralan food so we do not cook that at home – but we enjoy it when visiting Bose’s parents or sister.
Can you explain one part of your partner’s culture that you found surprising?
Anna: I was surprised by the segregation of men and women at social gatherings in Kerala. This seems to stem in large part from the fact that women do not (or are expected not to) drink alcohol or smoke in Kerala, while the men drink like fish and often smoke. Therefore, the men tend to gather around the bar, standing in groups to talk while drinking and smoking while the ladies sit around tables drinking juice. At home, the same thing happens after dinner – the ladies retire to one room to chat while the men go to drink in another.
Bose: No real surprises although I was surprised at how much I liked English food after all the jokes one hears about English cooking.
What’s the best thing about being in a cross-cultural relationship?
Anna: Exposure to another culture! Of course, it is great to have the opportunity to learn about another culture from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, to travel to the country of your partner, to experience home life in that country and to broaden one’s horizons and make new acquaintances through that experience.
Bose: Discovering treacle tart.
What’s the hardest thing about being in a cross-cultural relationship?
Bose: The biggest challenges were more logistical than cultural. We have to do a lot of travelling to keep in touch with our families.
Anna: It is certainly a challenge to spend sufficient time with our families because they are so far from us and from each other, geographically, as well as culturally. We live in the USA, while Anna’s parents are in England and Bose’s parents are in India. We have an 18 month old son who cannot spend much time with his grandparents and of course it is expensive in terms of time and money to visit our parents each year. Our parents have never met each other. Of course some people may think distance from the in-laws is a benefit of a cross-cultural marriage!
Do you have any advice for other cross-cultural couples?
Anna: Be sure to discuss where you would like to live for the rest of your lives – this could be a tough discussion but you have to have it.
Bose: Reiterate Anna’s point that this should be resolved thoroughly before getting married (even more thoroughly than we did).
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About the authorLucy