- What religion is he?
- Does he wear a turban?
- Does he expect you to stay home and not work?
- Will he want you to move to India?
While it's important for the desi partner to be himself while in the presence of her family, there are a few behaviors that should be limited or refrained from, especially until you've gained the families acceptance.
Your Pardesi MIL and FIL
Most pardesi's are not used to feet/knee touching and many not favorably respond to it. Unless you're determined this is a commitment you must keep, I would recommend not doing it at all.
Don't call them mom, dad, uncle or aunty ji. Mom and Dad are terms reserved for children. Some parents don't want to be called mom and dad even by their own children. Discuss this with your pardesi spouse before you address her parents.
It's very likely that her dad will ask you difficult and potentially scary questions. It's okay, this is normal and you should try not to be too nervous. While your answers matter, they don't matter nearly as much as your reactions. The father uses these questions to determine whether or not you really love and care for his child. American dad's are a lot tougher than Indian dads and they don't accept you simply because you're married or if you have good parents.
Some typical American dad type questions might be about your job, your education, your plans for the marriage. Because you're Indian you may also be asked about your green card status and where you plan to live. It's also likely that he will ask if you intend to take his daughter to India. Try to be prepared for these questions ahead of time so you won't be nervous when he asks them. Your pardesi spouse will be able to give you an idea of what may be asked and how to answer.
Other Family Members
Siblings, uncles and aunts are typically called by their first names. Sometimes it's Uncle (insert name here) or Aunt (insert name here). We don't define them any differently so there is no distinction between the mother's eldest brother and the father's youngest sister. They are all uncles and aunts. Cousins are cousins, not sisters and brothers and siblings are known only by their name.
Use formal manners regardless of who you are meeting.
Wash your hands before every meal.
Say "please," "thank you," and "sorry" as they are needed.
In some communities in the US, you should say "sir" to men and "ma'am" to women. Appropriate use of the terms is determined by the setting you are in. For example, if her mom asks you do you want something to drink then you would say "yes ma'am."
It's not expected that you will turn down food and drinks when offered the first time. If you are thirsty or want to try some of the food or snacks, say yes the first time. Most Americans want you to be decisive. So when you're offered Sprite or sweet tea, pick one.
Honesty is critical when meeting your American in-laws. It is not acceptable to say what you think they want to hear or what will make them happy at the moment. Most Americans have good memories and if you say today that you have Masters' Degree in Engineering then next week you say that you are still in college they will remember that and won't respect you as much afterward. Yes, that is a small and seemingly insignificant lie but it will not be dismissed or forgiven easily. This will make you look bad to her parents. So make sure you speak accurately and honestly.
Be prepared to answer questions about your culture and heritage and family. Her family will be interested in finding out more about you. Meeting in-laws in the US is their way of getting to know you better. Answer them to the best of your ability and don't feel bad about saying "I don't know" when you don't have an answer. Ask your pardesi spouse to help you if you don't understand some of the questions.
Ask what kind of meat you're eating before you put it on your plate. There may be some kinds of meat in the foods you're not familiar with and don't want. It is not considered offensive to ask this and then decline based on your religious beliefs. If you don't eat cow or pig, it's okay to say so and make sure it's not in your food. You should not be expected to compromise your moral or religious values.
For those of you who have taken your desi spouse home to meet your family, what are some tips and experiences you would like to share?
Desi's who've met your in-laws, what worked for you? How did your in-laws receive you?