LOVE BEYOND THE DIFFERENCES
“I believe that two people are connected at the heart, and it doesn’t matter what you do, or who you are or where you live; there are no boundaries or barriers if two people are destined to be together.”
In his fourth novel 2 States, ChetanBhagat narrates a tale about two individuals from two different states who fall in love and want to get married. If you haven’t read the book, I am sure you have at least seen the movie by the same name that was released last year. I was rather young when I read that novel, and found the story very amusing. Back then in 2010, I hardly saw people being so liberal about cross cultural relationships and marriages. As a Goan, I had only attended regular Goan weddings. I knew people who were into inter religious relationships, but I never knew cross cultural relationships would be this much fun and challenging.
Over the years I met several people and realised that lately many people are very open and welcoming the idea of cross cultural relationships. Perhaps, people have begun travelling extensively for higher studies and work. And when they meet like-minded people in the new place they can’t help falling in love. Love is an unexplainable feeling. So you cannot really predict or decide whom you will fall for, date and eventually get married to. When you date someone from a different culture, it can be very interesting. You learn a lot about the other person’s lifestyle and beliefs. Take the Goan girl Christina Alyson David and her Bengali boyfriend SoumikGhosh. They met in Bangalore a couple of months ago and they have been dating ever since.”Our language, food, customs and rituals are all very different but we have learnt to adjust,” says 20-year-old Christina.
It’s fun to learn something new every day. Every day is a new day. “I feel it’s an amazing thing. When we have different customs, it also means that when we decide to get married and settle down, we get to have twice the fun. Two weddings!” she exclaims. The best part about cross cultural relationships is you get to explore diversity closely. “Diversity has always been intriguing. What better way than learning about it from your better half?” she further adds.
Cross cultural relationships are exciting. “When we’re together and we talk about something, we get to learn each others’ language. Every time I use a word in my mother tongue, she may tell me what it means in her language. We get to cook together. We try out restaurants where we get our authentic cuisine and see what we both like. Sometimes, we even cook together, by combining techniques used in both our cultures. She teaches me how Goans make their fish and I try to teach her how we like our fish,” says 28-year-old Soumik.
Riju Banerjee believes that dating, or marrying someone from another culture isn’t something that different from dating someone from your own culture. “If anything, it makes the experience more fascinating,” he says. “I had dated girls from Punjab, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune, etc. before falling for and getting married to a Lucknow-ite. Apart from the obvious things you get out of a relationship, both good and bad; you learn a lot. Getting a dip into the culinary styles of my better half is an educational, and delicious experience,” adds the 28-year-old.
When asked how they try to bridge their cultural differences, he says, “even though there are glaring cultural differences, we haven’t really experienced any per se. We are two people who aren’t very religious, so that gets scratched out. She loves shayaries and nazme, I like Bengali literature. We both like ghazals and even Bengali songs. We both head bang to heavy metal and love old rock melodies. Even though I can speak Hindi really well, she is still learning Bengali. I guess since we are like-minded, the cultural differences never really became very bold,” he concludes.
Being in a relationship is all about understanding and commitment. And when relationships are based on the strong bond of love and understanding, rest of the things feel secondary. SuruchiBarua from Assam met her boyfriend Azhar Khan from Uttar Pradesh in her college in Delhi. She says there are a lot of pros and cons of being in a cross cultural relationship. “Everything is different – food, music, language, beliefs. But the differences are more evident when it comes to language and food. We mostly never get along on the same kind of food. There is absolutely nothing that we enjoy eating together. There is also a language barrier which is prevalent sometimes. He doesn’t know my language at all. And I do not know Hindi really well. But we still manage to talk in Hindi.”
She says it is fun being with him since she gets to learn so much from him about his culture. “It is just that you need to love the person for who he is and not for where he is from. I guess the trick is to have an open mind and like the person at a basic genuine human level,” she confides.
You can never decide who you will fall in love with. It just happens. And where there is love, everything else ceases to matter. “Dating a Punjabi guy is really great. We have our usual cute fights over differences in our way of life, but we love each other. So nothing really matters. We try learning each other’s languages, a few words at a time. But most of the time we speak in Hindi. Even though we both love food, I am a pure vegetarian and he isn’t. He loves chicken, while even the sight of chicken disgusts me. We have a lot of arguments because of food, but we have learnt to adjust,” says Mrunali Shah, originally from Gujarat.