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#1 of 19 Old 12-04-2008, 06:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So after over 3 years of marriage, we are really making the trip to india. We have been trying to save up the money for years and now we are going. This will be the first time i meet il's and ds meeting dh's family. We will be gone most of january, staying w/mil and fil in new delhi. I am nervous as heck, but kind of glad ds is older, i couldn't imagine how i would have done taking him as an infant. I am a bit concerned about the flight, ds will be 2 1/2 years, but he has never flown before. We have been talking to him about the trip though.


On a side note, my family about had a coniption? sp fit at thanksgiving, saying i shouldn't go, that i should dye my hair an wear a burka? sp. I got pretty angry about that, and defensive. They were just acting paranoid/ignorant because of the recent attacks in bombay. I told them that burka's are a muslim tradition and dh and his family were hindu and that it doesn't matter what i do, i will stick out, as i am 5.8" have blue eyes and fair as the moon. Needless to say we left thanksgiving early and dh said he doesn't want to go to family parties anymore.

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#2 of 19 Old 12-04-2008, 07:20 PM
 
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Good luck on your trip, we just got back with DS who is 20 months old (he was 18 months for the trip). We were in New Delhi and had no problems at all. The flight can be tough though, DS slept maybe 4 hours on the way there and that's being generous, and was jet lagged for the first week we were there. Make sure to have lots of snacks and toys to help keep him entertained on the flight (we had a direct flight from JFK).

There are McDonalds and Pizza Huts over there, and while we never go to them while we are in the states, they were really helpful while we were over there, since it gave DS a chance for more Americanized food, and after a week of aloo gobi every night all 3 of us really needed that fix. The McDonalds also had a small play area which was really nice, since DH's aunt house was very small so not much room for DS to run around in.

Good luck, I'm sure you'll have a good time, but it can be tough at times.

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#3 of 19 Old 12-05-2008, 12:31 PM
 
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I hope you have a great time!! Just keep and open mind have have NO expectations. I'm sure you will be fine. What part of India will you be visiting?

As far as the comments from your family, Ugh! I'm sorry! My own mother refused to go to our Indian wedding (when we were still talking) because it was a "heathen, idol worshipping event." So I can kinda relate.

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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#4 of 19 Old 12-05-2008, 01:52 PM
 
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Drink lots of water on the airplane. And bring earplugs! You will need them.

I hope you all have a great time!

-sleeplessMommy
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#5 of 19 Old 12-05-2008, 03:08 PM
 
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We took DS to India, mostly in New Delhi, for a month at 18 months, partly for work and also stayed with my grandmother. It was a great trip. Most neighborhoods have parks. You'll be going at a good time of year, as well - dry and cool. Just don't drink the water (or anything washed in the water) and you'll be fine. I was amazed at the number of "ex-pats" living in Delhi. You won't stick out as much as you think - There are now shopping malls (with many of the same stores), fast food, honey nut cheerios, pop tarts and and most other things that you expect here in the US. Expect to pay US equivalent prices for those things, though. Another place to go if you feel like being a little less out of place is Lodhi Gardens - took Ethan there but I (being Indian) felt more out of place given the number of American/Europeans there. It's a change from when I went to delhi with my parents as a kid, but it was nice to have the conveniences.

have a wonderful trip

mildly crunchy mama to E (2006) and D (2011)
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#6 of 19 Old 12-05-2008, 08:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by USAmma View Post
I hope you have a great time!! Just keep and open mind have have NO expectations. I'm sure you will be fine.
:

I’m sorry your family isn’t being supportive, that must be making your first trip a lot more stressful than it has to be. I think all of us with a partner from a developing country get a lot of lack of understanding, paranoia, and racism somewhere down the line. If it isn’t your Ma or your brother, it’s a friend or co-worker. Americans who aren’t travelers have a heck of a time getting their heads around the diversity that exists outside the US.

My personal favorite, from an aunt who has a PhD in education no less (tho she is getting old, bless her heart) was “Oh yes, I read a very good book about the situation in Kabul. Now I really understand all about your DH’s country” I respectfully refrained from replying that I thought that was a great idea and would run right out and buy books about Guatemala so DH’s family could get a handle on American culture too.

I have to say, I think your DH deserves to feel insulted, and I think that getting a dialog going with your family and educating them about what your husband and son's home country and culture are and are not might be a heck of lot harder than your upcoming trip. That said, you will find that Indians have misconceptions about Americans too. The best we can do I think is to get everyone talking- and keep talking - toward the magical land of understanding, acceptance and respect. (although as your rather nasty mother proves, USAmma, not everyone will get there with us. Sorry about her )

I’m sure you’ve gone over all the travel advice about modest clothing, bottled water, mosquitoes and how to negotiate Indian-style toilets. It’s all true of course, and following it will ease your way considerably. I found the only way to avoid using my left hand during meals was to literally sit on. If you are unaccustomed to food with a lot of hot chilies in it take small portions and have a lot of rice or yogurt with each meal, it eases the burn.

New Delhi is a very, very intense experience the first time you see it. You’ll feel you’ve been dropped into a world so crowded and chaotic that it must be another planet. Just give yourself time to adjust and concentrate on appreciating the true beauty of India rather than get caught up in the things that are intimidating or sad. It will ease your nerves if you remember that you have your DH's whole family to look out for you, and you should let them do it. Ask someone to hold your hand when negotiating crowded areas, etc..

People will stare at you, but I found I got used to it pretty quick and started only noticing if it seemed threatening in some way. Many Indian men are not gentlemen, and “eve teasing”, sexual harassment of women on the streets is not uncommon. Your IL’s & DH will be watching to protect you from it, but If you are subject to it, go right ahead and yell and whack the guy who is trying to touch you or say disrespectful things. Don’t be shy; it’s what Indian women do.

Your IL's will be tickled pink with your son, a boy child is the apple of everyone's eye and they will love you for bringing him to see them. My technique with my Indian IL's is just to be mellow and kind, and they have always reciprocated. I Really think you are going to be just fine and have a wonderful experience.
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#7 of 19 Old 12-05-2008, 09:17 PM
 
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People will stare at you, but I found I got used to it pretty quick and started only noticing if it seemed threatening in some way. Many Indian men are not gentlemen, and “eve teasing”, sexual harassment of women on the streets is not uncommon. Your IL’s & DH will be watching to protect you from it, but If you are subject to it, go right ahead and yell and whack the guy who is trying to touch you or say disrespectful things. Don’t be shy; it’s what Indian women do.
Yep I saw another side of my SIL that I had never seen before.

Don't worry, you will be well taken care of. It's very common for men to hold hands with other men who are their good buddies, and same with women holding hands with women. What you don't want to do is probably hold hands or kiss your dh in public or in front of your IL's unless your dh initiates it.

Re: modest clothing-- I "went native" the first couple of visits and it was really nice to wear the beautiful clothing. Check out Fab India stores! Very eco friendly, cotton hand-vegetable dyed clothing. Anyway, this last time I just wore capris and tshirts most of the time because it was more comfortable for me in the hot summer.

Check out my travel blogs if you want.
http://www.darshani.com/

Here's my favorite passage that pretty much sums up my culture shock (both there and when I got back).

Quote:
I remember the summer I turned nine and made myself jump off the high-dive at the city pool. I climbed up the ladder knowing that something profound was about to happen. I had fantasized and dreamed and worried about this moment for years. When I got to the top, I let my toes peek over the edge of the board. It was a long way down. I closed my eyes and jumped, the feeling of fear and joy and ecstasy following me into the coolness of deep water. When I got out of the pool, I was surprised that things were still the same: moms were still sunbathing, kids were still splashing around, and cars were still driving by outside. And yet something had definitely changed.

I allow my thoughts to wander in the plane on the way back home from a month in India. I go down the streets of Chennai and blend into bullock carts hauling stacks of rugs or bags of rice, vendors calling out their wares, beggars sitting, lepers hobbling, rich people peering out from shiny car windows, less rich people riding motorcycles with flowers flying in their hair, women in bright saris leading toddlers with no pants on, mange-eaten dogs trotting along on the sidelines with teats swinging, and horns honking constantly just to let people know they are still there. And suddenly I am looking at the street from above as it bumps and churns like a giant river between buildings, parting to avoid slow-moving vehicles and coming back together again on the other side of them. I feel like I am looking at the blood of life flowing in the veins of Siva-dancing. I lose sight of myself, but I know I am still there, part of something bigger and older and greater than myself. It does not scare me; it just changes everything.

I drift back to a forgotten moment when I was a child of seven or eight on a hiking trip in northern Arizona. We went to a place that I thought was so beautiful I wanted a part of me to be there always. So as we were driving away I pulled a long, blonde hair from my head, put my arm out the car window as far as I could, and left my offering. I can still see the golden hair floating off my fingers as I let the rest of me be carried back to the city.

I find myself again in the family's puja room in India, praying for a safe journey, praying not to forget a single thing, praying for things that I cannot express with words, only pictures and feelings. I get up, take a pinch of pottu, and rub the red powder into the part of my hair as I leave for the airport.

And then we land in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. I step off the plane and people stare at me like a creature from another planet. It is because of my traditional Indian garments and the pottu that has managed to stay in my hair-part from India to Singapore, to Japan, to L.A. and finally, here. I walk towards the hall and enter the sea of T-shirts, jeans, business suits, and babies in plastic strollers with pink sunglasses going towards baggage claim. Let them stare if they want to.

They look different to me, too. It is an odd feeling. They seem foreign to me and yet I am supposed to be one of them. I begin to compare them to what I left behind in India. I think to myself that these people have no idea of what real hardship is. Then I realize it is all relative. They were each born to their own lives as I was born to mine. We all struggle. We all have dreams. We are all part of the Whole. I can see that now. I breathe.

I step into our house and smell the clean smell of . . .cleanness. The carpet tickles my feet after a month of walking on tile and marble floors. I think for a moment that I have entered the house of a rich person and then with a start I realize that this is my house, modest by American standards. I turn on the tap and am surprised when the hot water comes almost instantly. I take a shower and wash the grime off my body. It flows smoothly down the drain beneath the fiberglass floor that I stand on. I imagine it flowing beyond the city pipes into a river, and then to the ocean beyond. As I dry my hair in front of the big mirrors of our bathroom I notice that the turmeric in the pottu has left a yellow stain on my hair-part and I smile to myself. India cannot be washed off so easily.

The next day we go grocery shopping and begin to cross from the parking lot to the store. A man in a pickup truck sees me in my Indian clothes with my Indian husband beside me. He is dressed in a Western shirt and cowboy hat. He stares at me, bites his chapped lip, revs up his engine, and won't let us pass. He shakes his head as if I ought to be ashamed of myself.

I would like to see him walk past the beggars with leprosy-dissolved hands and matted hair. I would like to see him tear a begging child off his body and walk away, leaving behind hopeless poverty, a single coin, and the call of, "Mah, mah, mah" that will follow him for the rest of his life like the pattering of bare feet on concrete. I would like to see him squeeze into a rickshaw with two other people and realize that, as crude as it is, he is better off than the people who have to walk. And the ones who have to walk are better off than the ones who can't.

I wish he could go deep into a rural Indian temple at nightfall and hear the chanting of priests and the cries of bats echo off the walls and hit that part of him that yearns to sing back in a voice that is beyond language. He should see the moon rise over the gopuram of a temple, as it has done for one-thousand years without fail, and stand in the same spot as countless others before him to watch its silent beauty. He should see the same moon reflected in shimmering rice paddies outside the temple, and off thatch roofs of mud houses nearby, and off the backs of sleeping white bullocks. He should dip his feet into the warm waters of the Bay of Bengal some afternoon and feel his sense of self dissolve and be taken out to sea.

But the fact is he won't do any of this. Not even in his imagination. As he passes us with squealing tires, I look into his hard blue eyes but we don't connect. Maybe he doesn't want to see. Maybe it scares him. I turn to my husband and speak softly into his ear, "I want to go back to India." He nods and whispers back, "Me too."

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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#8 of 19 Old 12-06-2008, 06:08 AM
 
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Ilovemybabybird,

If you will PM, I can put you in touch with other families like yourself,
who have dealt with very similar issues.

I used to be married to an Indian, and I have three children. Just PM me!

Jyotsna

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#9 of 19 Old 12-06-2008, 09:21 AM
 
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USaMMA..that was beautiful.
Really a beautiful description, it made me very emotional.

Me and my wonderful husband serve God. Blessed with twin girls 2/11/11. <3

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#10 of 19 Old 12-06-2008, 02:22 PM
 
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have fun... it's going to be an amazing experience! It's one of the most fascinating places in the world.

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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#11 of 19 Old 12-06-2008, 08:11 PM
 
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Darshani,

That is one of my most favorite entries of all of your journal entries, since I have known you. I remember sitting at my computer years ago, reading that and just flat out having goose bumps all over me. I remember feeling the way you described (minus the pottu running down the drain in the shower) in India, and after coming home. It is reverse culture shock, something no one prepared me for.

It's incredible to go to India and allow yourself to be imbibed by the culture, to not go into overdrive by the human congestion, but move with it. There was a certain amount of "fighting" with the culture that I did when I first arrived there in 1997, and during a very exhausting time, after I had been bitten by a rat and didn't contract rabies (like I thought I would) I realized that for millions of years, people have been living simplistic lives, marked by the fact that people get sick, die and reincarnate, and no one bats an eye.

Here in America, health care is excessive for the regular common cold. Our stores are full of goods made in China, these things doen't really belong to us. We disrespect everything we own because we have too much. In India, most people don't have a garbage can! They use everything they have!

It's incredible to live in another culture even temporarily, and it helps you become aware of how blessed and lucky we are, and also how much we miss by not living the way people in India live.

Of course, there is nothing like home sweet home, even for those of us with simple homes, to have a sitting toilet, hot and cold running water and such.

I've visited with people from all backgrounds in India, stayed in their homes ect. What I find the nicest about visiting in India, is the most genuine approach to welcoming in the guest, and sharing whatever you have with them. We all have so much to learn from cultures like India.

Jyotsna

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#12 of 19 Old 12-11-2008, 12:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the support/info! It is really nice to have others viewpoints in similar situations as myself. Dh even came on and read through the posts.

So here's a question, for those of you who have visited your inlaws in india, what types of gifts do you suggest? Dh has not been back to visit since he came to the USA for college in 2001, so it has been a long time, and he knows they are probably expecting gifts. We are planning on getting digital cameras for his mom and dad and brothers/sisters and wifes/husbands and one sister/bil a laptop as dh promised his bil he would get him one as a marriage gift, i think he missed the wedding since he was here. We are not sure what to get his nephews/nieces mainly. There are 9 of them ranging in ages of 2-16, we would like to get them each a small gift, what do you all suggest?

Thanks

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#13 of 19 Old 12-16-2008, 12:05 AM
 
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I went to India the year after we were married to visit my ils. We didn't have any children yet but it was just as thrilling for me.

We didn't take a lot of presents but what we did take that was really appreciated was school supplies for the kids. We went out and bought back packs, pencils, pens with funny things on them to give to all the children. It was really humbling to see how excited even the adults got over what I had considered just some cheap pencils. We also bought stickers and things like that for the little ones.

What we also did was we took one of DH's cousins with us and bought each of the children an outfit. She helped us with sizes and what was practical and needed.

Btw - I'm not sure how you are getting there but we flew Qatar airlines from London (we just flew Air Canada to London) and I cannot say enough good things about Qatar airlines. Their service was fantastic and the food was delicious.
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#14 of 19 Old 12-16-2008, 12:06 AM
 
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You will absolutely love it in india! best wishes for your trip!

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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#15 of 19 Old 12-18-2008, 12:54 PM
 
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Quote:
So here's a question, for those of you who have visited your inlaws in india, what types of gifts do you suggest?
Lots of chocolates-- big bars for the close family, the small variety pack bars (like those mini hershey's, etc) for the extended family. We put the small bars into Ziplock bags to hand out.

Speaking of Ziplock, bring several boxes of the gallon sized freezer bags. My IL's love them. Chip bag clips, the ones like this. Good kitchen knives, Oreos, peanut butter for the kids to try, mac and cheese for the kids to try, nice shaving cream for the men and also good disposable razors, a CostCo sized pack of tooth brushes. If you know shoe sizes, a teenaged boy or young man would love a pair of Nike shoes. Jansport backpacks or similar good quality ones for the students, disposable mechanical pencils and the good kind of erasers. Nice hair clips for the girls and women. Bath and Body lotions and hand soaps.

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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#16 of 19 Old 12-20-2008, 12:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by USAmma View Post
Lots of chocolates-- big bars for the close family, the small variety pack bars (like those mini hershey's, etc) for the extended family. We put the small bars into Ziplock bags to hand out.

Speaking of Ziplock, bring several boxes of the gallon sized freezer bags. My IL's love them. Chip bag clips, the ones like this. Good kitchen knives, Oreos, peanut butter for the kids to try, mac and cheese for the kids to try, nice shaving cream for the men and also good disposable razors, a CostCo sized pack of tooth brushes. If you know shoe sizes, a teenaged boy or young man would love a pair of Nike shoes. Jansport backpacks or similar good quality ones for the students, disposable mechanical pencils and the good kind of erasers. Nice hair clips for the girls and women. Bath and Body lotions and hand soaps.
thanks so much for the tips!

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#17 of 19 Old 12-20-2008, 12:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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[QUOTE=Tra1978;12806501]I went to India the year after we were married to visit my ils. We didn't have any children yet but it was just as thrilling for me.

We didn't take a lot of presents but what we did take that was really appreciated was school supplies for the kids. We went out and bought back packs, pencils, pens with funny things on them to give to all the children. It was really humbling to see how excited even the adults got over what I had considered just some cheap pencils. We also bought stickers and things like that for the little ones.

QUOTE]

That's a good idea, I wonder if reusuable lunch boxes would be a good gift for kids too? I will talk to dh about the school supplies idea. That might be nice to give the kids, something small, maybe some pencil with my state/city or major league sports team for the boys, although there is not much to brag about in KC-lol, maybe the college teams nearby...

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#18 of 19 Old 12-20-2008, 02:10 AM
 
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That's a good idea, I wonder if reusuable lunch boxes would be a good gift for kids too?
I'm not sure . . . they have pretty awesome lunchboxes there, and kids eat different types of lunch than they do here. They use Tiffin Boxes, both the stainless ones and plastic insulated ones. But the other things like pencils, erasers, and other fun things would be really appreciated I'm sure.

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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#19 of 19 Old 12-22-2008, 11:39 AM
 
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I agree with USAmma. They have awesome lunch boxes there. They are metal and carry curries, etc in them and stack together. We actually brought some home with us.
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