After India


Just over two months ago I set off on a journey, that unbeknown to be, would potentially change everything.

I have loads to share with you about my trip to India, and I will in time, again the combination of intense work and lack of computer don’t exactly make blogging easy for me right now, but it will come.

But what it boils down to is that unfortunately staying in India is no longer an option for me. I found it tremendously difficult being there, until I went, I had been open to the idea, and even willing to make big sacrifices and adapt, but this was too far for me. In the two weeks I spent in Babu’s house I experienced complete isolation and lonelines, no a reflection of his family in any way but a reflection of circumstance.

As previously explained his mum doesn’t speak English, his elder sister was staying when I arrived, and having not practiced since leaving education she was unable to speak it either, they felt awkward about this and it wasn’t unusual for them to leave a room shortly after I enter. His dad spoke English but it was hard work for him, after a few days he pretty much gave up talking to me too. Babu of course spoke to me, but that was mainly in a one-to-one situation, as soon as a family/group situation arose (most of the time) the language reverted to Oriya and conversation moved so fast it was very rarely explained to me.

On top of this, in the two weeks I was there we left the house maybe 4 times in total, and upon asking about it, Babu told me him and his dad often would visit the market, his dad also attending a prayer group most nights, but it wouldn’t be unusual for his mum to not leave the house more than 1 or 2 times a month. This is partly though practicality – you really need to go places by car or bike as it’s too far to walk, but I feel also through culture -I was told it wouldn’t be safe – nor acceptable for a female to move around alone there, and neither necessary when the men can go instead. I never appreciated the fact I can just pop to the shops anytime I please, go out in my car, or go for a walk as I please, as much as I do now.

In short, being in India with his family would deprive me of my independence, but also leave me isolated and lonely, I honestly never believed it possible to feel so lonely in a house fill of people, but it is.

Where does that leave us? Well, being out there was difficult, it only took about 4 days before the above became clear to me. Babu had always said that should I not want to settle in India, he would have to marry someone else- something I now realise was a threat (for want of a better word) to persuade me in that direction. I became more and more miserable as the days passed – interspersed with occasional joy when we went out- but generally sadness as I knew what me not coming to india meant for us.

Eventually I broke down, I told him I can’t be there and that I understand that means he will break our relationship, I was surprised when he said the opposite, that there’s no way he wants to leave me and we will find a solution. For a few days after I think he believed (or hoped maybe) that I might change my mind, but after reiterating it several times he understood. This man clearly loves me as much as I love him.

So where does that leave us? Well the tables have turned and the decision is on his shoulders. It is now Babu’s heart being tugged in two directions. So here we are, in complete limbo, he doesn’t want to leave me, he doesn’t want to leave his parents, he dared to suggest marrying to keep his parents happy whilst keeping a relationship with me: the words of a desperate man trying to please everyone, the words that came to my lips being “over my dead body”.

There’s never going to be a solution to please everyone, choices need to be made, and honestly, I still feel I may be the one left heartbroken, but only time will tell. The only way this will ever work out for us is if he can overcome the guilt of leaving his parents to come to the UK: a guilt resulting from a lifetime of culture telling him he is the son, he has the responsibility to look after his parents, and no way is that a bad culture, just one that makes our situation much worse than it could be.

So things are hard right now. He has retuned to the ships in the last week, so he is closer by for the next few months, and like I did yesterday I will enjoy every moment we have together, even if it is only a few hours, and then just hope, maybe pray, that somehow it will work out for the best of us.

Hopefully I can take some time soon to share a few if my more positive experiences in India with you.

Ria x


12 responses to “After India

  • Mileska Rodriguez

    I’m glad you returned home safely. A bit heartbroken for you to see how things would be if you stayed in India. When I was with my Desi I thought that things could be different a mixture of his culture and my Puerto Rican culture. Closer to the end of our relationship I realized that this couldn’t be and his family who spoke English (his mother not so much) who live here in the states still wouldn’t accept me. I was willing to sacrifice much except my independence, my upbringing, and me my personality. They live here in the states but the women similar to Babu’s familiar stay home…all day! We live a mile from DC and public transportation is literally outside the door. If they are like this here then I can’t imagine how it is in India. I hope Babu really looks at your relationship with different eyes and takes your feelings into consideration. I understand his responsibilities and I hope he can find a way for you both to be happy in the UK and still uphold those expectations his family has. I think there’s more opportunity in the UK than in India and hope he finds something good outside the ships. I do wish good things for you but I want you to also be prepared for an alternative outcome too. I did as much as could for five years and saw no change or any indicator of one and sadly had to end it. It was difficult and still is but I think it was a good decision for me and him. I don’t want to get you down but I sympathize with your situation. Wishing you the best always and damn you got to go to India!!! I will go someday as well. Keep us posted. 🙂

    • ria

      Thanks Hun, Although I don’t want to, I am preparing myself for an unhappy outcome, it’s causing a lot of stress but I feel I need to be realistic. I hope and pray that doesn’t happen though, I feel we could make a good life here with plenty of time in India as well for holidays, and if his parents need support we could even pay for a live in maid for them – after all that’s basically what an indian daughter-in-law would be anyhow (controversial but quite often true) the only thing they wouldn’t have is babu there the whole time but that’s no different from now anyway.

      Was talking to my indian doctor about it today, he has been living away from India since college but even he worries now about his parents in old age, I guess if you make the decision to go away it’s not about removing the guilt, more learning to deal with it.

  • Nilay

    Hi Riya,

    It was nice to read you after long time….you should not worry there is way to take a choice in middle way you can stay both in India other city. in thay way you will not lose your freedom also babu will be near to his parents.


    • ria

      Nice idea but living in India we will be short on money and meaning I won’t be able to see my parents, I am an only child so that’s pretty harsh, whereas if we stayed here I’m sure we could afford visits to india 2-3 times a year….

  • gk84

    Why can’t he move to UK and then bring his parents over too? This way you’ll still have your freedom and the convenience of being UK as well as be with him and he can be with his family.

    Just a thought.. I am sure you know better about your situation though.

    • ria

      Id be happy with that but he has already said he is sure they would struggle with the climate, let alone that fact his mum doesn’t speak English and his dad struggles. Another indian guy I was chatting to said exactly the same about climate when I suggested that too 😦

      However, it might be a route to at least consider, if they choose not too it then becomes their choice as opposed to babus choice to leave them – it’s a bit backwards but I am slowly learning to get anywhere in this culture you have to take the scenic route!

  • Neena

    I am sorry if my comment hurts you but pls pls pls don’t make the mistake you were thinking of making when you came to India dear. I don’t know your name and reading a few posts here I understand that you are British, in love with an Indian man, and thinking of coming to India to live. I read the blog post you wrote on what your boyfriend told you of the things that you need to do if you marry him and live in India with his parents. Gosh, I can’t believe that you did not find it offensive and extremely sexist that this man expects you do do so many things just because you want to be his wife! Lady, I am an Indian girl and have been married for 4 years. My husband wouldn’t say the things your boyfriend told you! Yes, of course, you should respect his parents and family. But so should he (your family). He has responsibilities, but so do you (towards your family). Please don’t let him make you believe that this is the way every family in India works or what all men expect from their wives. That is so not true! And telling you that he won’t marry you if you wouldn’t settle in his country? Now that takes the cake! Don’t you see this is emotional blackmailing of the worst kind? He expects you to behave the way he and his parents want you to, without bothering that you have wants, needs, feelings too! Lady, you have a life to live, friends and family who love you, a career you spent most of your life preparing for.. why on earth would you want to spend your life with someone who takes the worst of Indian traditions and puts it on his girlfriend?! You have no idea what hell you will have to live with! Always, always, always, settle for love and equality. Equality in marriage is the only way to have a lasting one dear. DO NOT SETTLE FOR ANYTHING ELSE. Hope you see sense, dear.

    Love. 🙂

    • ria

      Hi Neena. Thanks for your comment. As you probably read, my visit to India changed a lot and I had the strength to make my choices, whatever the consequences may be.

      I can see that Babu was trying to take the easy way with his India or nothing threats, most likely to avoid the situation he has now found himself in where he has to choose between me and his family, a situation you’d probably agree no one ever wants to be in – a situation I suppose I was in myself until this trip. It’s not nice but it is what it is, he has to make that decision and I have told him we don’t have forever.

      Since India our relationship has grown from strength to strength, for me seeing his home environment has explained a few things and given me strength to stand for my beliefs (because frankly his parents treat him like a child and I’m having none of that even if he does try it on) and for him realising that that environment sucked out my soul, 2 weeks was a struggle he can see I wouldnt cope any more than that – we’ve already decided this year’s trip to India would be better spent sightseeing in Delhi and Agree and not in his home!

      The future? Well, the next year will tell a lot. Watch this space.

      But worry not, I believe in compromise, but there is a limit to sacrifice and I won’t sacrifice my own happiness.

      • Marisa Franklin

        good luck to your and Babu. I wish that it works out in your favor and he chooses happiness with you over the obedience of this parents. Wish my luck for my trip to India in June 2015. Any advice will be appreciated.

        • ria

          Me too…. it’s so hard, I just want some commitment and reassurance, and I’m at an age now where I want the future to start happening!

          Wow, 2015? That’s a long way off! I’ll drop you an email and we can chat…

  • Happily never after | me and India

    […] He asked his dad if he can marry me. His dad asked if I would live there, he replied no (see this post about why) and then he didn’t say much, in fact he got up and left Babu, and all he could say […]

  • Crystal (My Hindi Heart)

    Oh honey… I feel like I’m in this exact situation…

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