Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cultured vs. Non-Cultured Friends

For the purpose of this post, my "cultured" friends are the ones who are married to or in a serious relationship with desi's. My non-cultured friends are those who are in same-culture relationships. I know this narrows the scope of things but this is the clearest way for me to convey my point. I'm certain this same scenario could apply to other cultures and intercultural couples as well.

Now that I'm back home and hubby is here with me I am getting a fresh perspective on many things. I'm slowly understanding more and more of how my husband had to relate to me while I was in India and experiencing culture shock. One that stands out to me is how you just can't talk to your regular friends about your relationship. The understanding is just not there.

Your non-cultured friends don't have any experience with the nuances of your spouses culture. They don't realize the differences between when your spouse is being a jerk and when he's doing something that is common in the desi lifestyle. They also have no understanding of what it's like to be an expat or give up everything you know and move to another culture. They can't. I think the closest anyone in my life comes to understanding would be my mother because she's traveled the world. She hasn't lived outside of the US but she has a lot of experience with other cultures. Still, there are just some things you don't want to tell your mother.

This is where the online communities offer so much promise. You can meet and find other women in situations just like yours. You can ask them questions and get empathetic, real life examples and advice. It's truly great to find people to interact with and build new friendships in the community. The girls in the community can also lead you to those outside of the community.

I'm very fortunate in that I've met 6 other pardesi girls in person. I have many more living within driving distance and I've found a small group of women which I trust and can talk to when I need advice. The understand some of the unique challenges I face with bringing a Punjabi to America and building a strong, successful relationship. You can find some of the Facebook groups and other resources listed here.

What kind of things do you find it difficult to talk to your non-cultured friends about?
How has your experience with the Facebook groups or blog interactions been?
Have you met other pardesi's in your area?


  1. Hi,

    You faced so much confusion in a inter cultural relationship, imagine the plight of Indian women who get into inter community and inter caste relationships marraige in India.

    I recommend you read Chetan Bhagat's novel "Two States". Chetan Bhagat's another novel has been turned into movie "Three Idiots". In the novel "Two States", Bhagat describes delightfully the cultural clash when a Punjabi boy falls in love with a Tamil girl. Having an inter community marriage in India is equivalent of gori marrying a desi.

  2. Hope your husband is enjoying himself!

    Hmm...the whole cultured vs. non cultured thing can't really apply to me, but lemme go with Asian origin (like myself) vs. non-Asian origin friends. I would say talking about problems with non Asian origin friends is a bit difficult.

    In university, I got somewhat annoyed with the whole 'well, I worked three jobs and took on student loans while your parents paid for everything' attitude. I actually said 'good for you, so you want a cookie?' to one girl.

    I feel like most [North Americans of] South Asian origin get a lot of help from parents regarding education / living expenses/ weddings etc, and that doesn't always go well with people who don't have that kind of support.

  3. I can only imagine how hard intercaste or inter-community marriages are for Indians. I have read some of the stories and it seems they're almost as troublesome as adjusting to completely different cultures. We have a girl in our family (Punjabi) who married a Nepali. There was difficulty in getting her parents to agree and his mother is quite stern as if the girl needs training. You should have seen how this woman looked at me when we went to visit! I should mention, he's Nepali but spent a good part of his life in India. I'm not sure why his mother was surprised when he fell in love with an Indian girl.

  4. I do hear some of what you mention from my husband. He talks about other peoples parents and what they do or don't do for their kids. He uses it to determine if his life is going well or not (at least that's how I interpret it).

  5. Inte caste and inter cultural marriages in India means adjusting not only to different cultures, but different mentalities, food habits etc. Imagine a vegetarian girl marrying into a non vegetarian family. Communities in India look down upon each other. They place different emphasis on education, wealth, outward appearance etc. These are very real and practical issues, which make most families wary of such marriages since in India you do not marry and individual, you marry the family. As long as the couple are alone, things like religion and caste does not matter but as soon as they come in contact with their families, these issues come up.

  6. Keep looking, they are out there just not always so vocal and visible the way we tend to be on blogs.