All of a sudden I’m wanting Christmas decorations in my Hindu home. I have not been a practicing Christian for most of my adult life. Although I don’t consider myself a religious person, here in India being associated with one religion or another is sort of a must. There are more Christians here than in my experience in other places in India. Gopal is extremely well-educated and experienced as a Hindu holy man, so I am perfectly comfortable being Hindu, particularly since Hinduism includes Buddhism under its large, inclusive umbrella. So decorating for Christmas is probably hard to understand here. At first I thought of getting ornaments to hang on the shrubbery in the yard, but we ended up buying a tiny fake tree, 12 tiny ornaments, and two paper/plastic stars to put over hanging lights. I miss the holidays and spending them with my family much more this year.
It started immediately, in Delhi, trying to fit in, I think. I was so different, it felt good to do everything possible to fit in in other ways. I wore Indian clothes, bought and wore gold jewelry, and wore a bindi and tika powder on my forehead. I let my hair grow long and tied it back in a bun like all the older women. Now it’s long enough to braid, so I’m experimenting with that. I honestly don’t want to cut my hair and call more attention to myself. That’s a joke really, though. I stick out like a sore thumb wherever I go.
The way I dress these days is sort of schizophrenic. When I was living in Boys Company, a village, I always wore either a salwar kameez or a saree. Since I moved to Brooklands and now to Bedford, I wear a salwar when I’m dressing up; otherwise I wear jeans or sweatpants! That has been partly because of the storm and the muddy roads, etc. The last two days I’ve been wearing a long black skirt over leggings with a short salwar top. Now that it’s cold, I always wear a shawl as a scarf around my neck. I’ll undoubtedly wear salwar kameez again here more when it gets warmer.
I have children with whom I’m close here in India, yet don’t have much of a relationship any more with my only grandchild, Dexter, a heartbreaking reality. I’ve learned not to get attached to expectations. You never know what the future holds. Perhaps Dexter and I will be great friends one day. Maybe not.
Relationship with Gopal
Before I left for India, I was working at a labor union in Oakland. Two of the reps were Indian women. When one of them learned I was going to live in India with my Indian husband, she warned me that often these men turn into “Indian men.” Not Gopal, surely! I guess in that respect, Gopal and I are both a little schizophrenic. He is becoming more demanding and controlling; I am becoming less commanding and more acquiescent. My area is now the housekeeping, for example, which I accept readily. I am happy to report, however, that I am still bossy and controlling even so. And Gopal wants to make me happy, so things always work out, ya know? But, I am totally glad to allow him to be the guy in this culture. To tell you the truth, because I don’t know the language, etc., it is nice not to take any of that responsibility. Gopal gets stuck with everything pretty much.