Thank god. I personally found having a baby/family and going through the experience of pregnancy in Dublin, painful. I often wonder if my baby would have been born “healthier” if I were in a cleaner environment. One where the streets are not plagued with garbage, drunk vomit, and cigarette smokers at every step. Did I make a mistake by not moving back to Cali or to Belgium early on in my pregnancy? Would things have been different, better, had I been in a calmer and healthier environment. So many people have children in Dublin; people who are far less healthy than me and their children seem to be born without any health concerns. So, it’s probably wasn’t Dublin’s fault. So, that leaves me…what did I do “wrong”- if anything? I can ask this question for the rest of my life but really all I want and care about is that my baby can lead a normal childhood, a normal adulthood, that her speech will not be impaired, that she won’t be teased or bullied. Every parent hopes for the same even if their child is born with the best odds. I guess I worry a little more because her odds are hindered. My husband always says, “She has the same chances in life as anyone else.” I find comfort in this.
It’s been nearly 3 years since I added an entry in my diary. The last 3 years have been amazing, chaotic, eventful, simple, exciting, and never dull. The reason I first started writing a blog was to share my experiences marrying outside of my culture and religion- sharing my challenges. After a few months of marriage, all that didn’t seem to matter anymore. I guess it’s because I never felt that my husband and I were from different worlds…only my family did. In the last 3 years, we have traveled a large portion of western Europe and had our first baby. Just 3 weeks ago, we had a little baby girl. We are over the moon but it has been a challenge. Being new parents is challenging as it is, especially without the help and support of family. We have an additional challenge as our daughter was born with a cleft palate. My diary has always been a place I can come to write my thoughts, share my experiences, and keep myself sane. I guess now that I’m facing another challenge in life, writing feels like a good way to keep myself strong for my baby girl and for my husband…for my family really. I think i’ll be writing daily or at least every other day to get my thoughts out in writing. From the pregnancy, to the birth, to the first few weeks as a new mom…it’s really been traumatizing! I think it’s time to put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard and start clearing my mind.
After realizing that he was in love with me, I tried to convince myself that I didn’t feel the same. At first it was easy; I just began to distance myself from him. No more hanging around campus after class or meeting up for tea after school. I went straight home after school always with the excuse that I had things to do at home. I thought the longer I distanced myself the more he would stop feeling this way about me. But, I missed him. We had so much fun together. We laughed, we talked about things I never discussed with anyone…things like theories, making bets with God, playing games with people, but never about religion.
A week went by and finals were approaching, I texted him and said I needed to talk to him. I know I struck panic in him. After our final exam, We walked to a near by restaurant. I sat across from him, stared him in the eyes and didn’t say a word. He nudged me, “Say it.” So I did, I said, “Listen, I don’t think we’re on the same page here. I know you like me but I think I should give it another try with my fiancé.” I couldn’t come to the point, I couldn’t say the truth. I couldn’t say, “You’re white and not a Muslim, I can’t be with you.” I was such a coward. He looked at me with a sad smile and said only one thing, “Can I kiss you one last time.” He still remembers the song that was playing when he kissed me that day.
He walked me to the train station and I didn’t even hug him, I shyly waved and walked down the urine smelling steps and disappeared from his view. I sat on the train and the first thing I did was text him, “I adore you.”
I realized that moment that I was very much in love with this man. That I couldn’t walk away. That my heart was heavy with love for him. That climbing a pile of shit to pluck a rose only to realize that I had lost my sense of smell was not how I foresaw my future. That I would love him and be with him until I couldn’t anymore. I decided that I would love him and enjoy every second with him that I could not knowing where that journeys would take me. We still had a few weeks in San Francisco, months in Shanghai and graduation in London to look forward to. Let me be with him until this all has to end.
I write this post as I enjoy a poolside view of La Koutoubia in Marrakech on my honeymoon. It’s all a bit surreal to reflect back on the tumultuous journey that has brought me here to this paradise. I can’t believe that I have fallen in love and married a man with skin the color of this crepe, eyes the color of this pool, and language as foreign as this couscous. How did I get here? I remember the first time I realized he was in love with me. We were standing on top of a hill overlooking the bay bridge, it was his birthday. He was standing behind me with his arms wrapped around my shoulders. He joked and asked what my parents would say if I brought him home to them. I laughed a deep laugh. Deep because it was not even fathomable to me. I told him very directly as I continued to laugh, “No way, my dad would literally kill me, disown me…” He sighed and pretended to let out a small laugh as he said, “Yeah, my brothers pretty racist too especially towards Muslims…he would go crazy.” Silence sunk in as the sun set and the breeze picked up. We started to walk down towards the city and with a solemn voice he said, “I don’t want this to just become a memory.” My heart slowed to a deep drumming beat, my throat dried, I took a deep breath. I thought to myself, “Oh no, he’s in love with me.” I was scared. Scared not because I had just gotten out of a 3 year relationship and 1 year engagement. Scared because I was Muslim and he was not. Scared because he was white. Scared not only because my family would never accept him but also because I didn’t think I would ever accept. How am I now on a honeymoon with this very man? Read my next post to follow the story!
I grew up in a fairly strict and religious family. Although we spoke only English at home and my father was, and still is incredibly patriotic- the 5 daily prayers required by Muslims were never missed in our home. Thursdays were meditation days and every other weekend was an observance of a tradition at the local Mosque. No alcohol would ever touch my lips, nor the casual cigarette. No parties, except family oriented. My culture, Indian, and my religion, Islam, were not lost on me or my 3 younger siblings. As I have grown older, I am incredibly grateful for the way in which my parents raised my siblings and I. I pride myself on the values I carry. My cultural and religious upbringing, although admirable, would serve to be a challenge when I met husband in the summer of 2013 in the vibrant city of San Francisco. We met as young, enthusiastic business students. He, hailing from Belgium, and I a California native. We were as different as day and night (literally!) He was raised Christian, Dutch speaking, and a bit of a slone :]! I was raised Muslim, English speaking, and a complete nerd. I like to think we met because God made us meet. What were the odds that the man of my dreams would come all the way from Belgium to my doorstep in Cali? We were both placed in a team of 6 in our first semester of grad school. The first day we met was the first day of classes. After class, he asked the whole team if we wanted to get together over coffee to get to know each other better. The whole team had plans except for me. I agreed, and walked across the street to Starbucks where I ordered a green tea and he bought a yogurt. I remember my first impression of him as, “Ugh…prep.” He was your typical preppy, trust fund looking kid, the iPhone, the Macbook, the wingtip shoes, polo, and gelled to the side hair. We sat across from each other discussing why we chose an international business school, what our career goals were, who we were during our undergrad studies, etc. We talked for a few hours, I had to leave to catch a Bart train home. I said my goodbye’s and that I would see him tomorrow. He smiled and asked if he should walk me to station since it was starting to get dark. I politely declined and we walked in opposite directions. The 15 minute walk to the station was bizarre. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I disliked this guy. Who did he think he was, ” I’ll take a yogurt, I don’t drink caffeine.” Excuse me, but you suggested Starbucks! I called my then fiancé to let him know I was on my home. The whole train ride home I fumbled in my head about how irritated by this guy I was. I didn’t like him, at all. His energy irked me. He was a bit kiche, a bit arrogant, and European. Eww. How the hell did I meet him & hate him in September and fall in love with him by April? Read my next post to find out how I finally upgraded to a man that knew my worth 🙂
They say the 3rd time is a charm. Well, as I mentioned in my last post, I married my now husband 3 times and each time was a dream come true. I suppose the first time wasn’t a marriage but it felt like one- the marriage of two old souls <3.The first time, was in Yungshuo, China. Sounds crazy, I know. How did it happen? We were both grad students in business school studying International Business. We traveled to China for a semester and during a break from classes in Shanghai, we decided to take a weekend trip outside of the city. We backpacked our way to the top of a tea terrace in Yungshuo where there was a bamboo hotel with all glass walls. It was as beautiful as it sounds. At this point, we were only “dating” for about 6 months. Me, coming from very strict moral beliefs and being raised in a Muslim family, dating was not typical neither was traveling with a guy. Thankfully, my husband was very cautious and respectful of my beliefs. Ironically, after talking until the wee hours of the morning, we came to realize we had the same core values, the same moral understanding, and the same sense of humor. Brilliant! This was the first time we ever discussed marriage seriously. So serious that we found ourselves shopping for two silver wedding bands in the rural village of Yungshuo in order to seal our vow to one day marry each other no matter how difficult our journey may become. We managed to find 2 silver bands in a road side shack-like store. They were sold to us by an elderly Chinese man who smiled like a cheshire cat when we tried to explain to him with exaggerated hand gestures that we wanted to marry each other. We even managed to get the rings engraved with the date, our initials, with my husbands ring reading “Forever” and mine reading “Yours.” Making sure the rings were engraved correctly was a challenge on its own as the rings had to sawed open, hand engraved with a pick, then soldered shut. After watching the rings go through the transformation of a pair of rings to our rings, we looked at each other with a sad smirk as we placed the rings on each others fingers. We knew wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other, we just didn’t know how to make that happen. We knew that were perfect for each other, but we didn’t know how to illustrate that to our families. Being brought up in two different worlds, we had a huge mountain to climb ahead of us. Once our Shangahi semester was over, I would be moving to London to complete the last leg of grad school and he would be staying back in Shanghai to finish off his studies. How were we going to stay together? How would tell our families that we met someone from a different country, with a different language, and a different religious upbringing? Read my next posts to see how we cultivated our relationship from a distance and managed to get our families on board with our choice. :o)
15 days ago I married my best friend for the 2nd time. 8 days ago I married my best friend for the 3rd time. In the last 2 weeks, I have married, TWICE, packed up my 25 years of life in California and moved to Dublin, Ireland. I left behind a brand new car, a fabulous job at the Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, and of course my big fat Indian Family. This blog is a journal of my experiences as a shy girl from a strict Muslim family having met and fallen in love with my extroverted, Belgian, husband. Stick around to read about our first marriage ceremony in Yungshuo, China, how we broke the news to our families, our decision to move to Ireland, and about all our shenanigans as newlyweds!