A week after our wedding, we went to Bangalore to get my visa docs done. We stayed at my SIL’s house. I have not lived anywhere outside Kerala until then, except for the occasional visits to my sis at Hyderabad and aunt at Bangalore. I was yet to build a relation with SIL then. So it was almost like living at a stranger’s place.
I was a naive then. Everything at SIL’s place was new to me and I felt disoriented. Apart from having a cook, she had a maid to clean the house, an iron wala came to iron the clothes. The groceries were bought online and was promptly delivered at home. A guy home-deliver the drinking water. There was no work at home which I could help her with. There was no morning rush as seen in other houses of working couples. She had time to read the newspaper in the morning. She could SIT and drink her coffee hot. 😱 She had time to workout for 30 minutes in the morning. I then realized the perks of having multiple helpers at home.
Most of the conversations around the house was in Hindi. Hubby was the only one who spoke in Malayalam. I didn’t have anything to do there. I couldn’t follow any jokes that they cracked. I knew nothing much about the topics they discussed. I felt like a fool at dinner table not able to catch up with the rest. Hubby did his best to make me comfortable. Being a new bride, there was a constant struggle to fit in. They surely lead a lifestyle so different from mine. I experienced culture shock at her place more severe than the one I had after moving to US.
One day, co-brother asked me about my favorite cuisine. I haven’t had anything much outside Indian then. Did I even have? 🤔 Does the fried rice that amma makes and Dominos Pizza count as foreign? Or the shawarma? I don’t know. I didn’t know what to say. I sheepishly told him I like everything. He further asked me to share the most fav one. 😕 I was struggling to give a satisfying answer. My husband immediately took charge of the situation and saved me by telling that I like North Indian cuisine. He made it up because he knew my love for paneer. Honestly I haven’t had much of North Indian cuisine then. But his timely intervention was a relief for me!
A couple of days after that they took us out for a dinner at a posh restaurant in the city. Again that was the first time I visit such a restaurant. We were seated in a nice cozy corner. The waiter took the order. Three of them ordered drinks. That was also the first time I see a girl drink 😬 Nobody at my home drinks. Taking drinks along with meals was also new to me. I thought they were meant to be had with chicken drumsticks only. (Thanks to the movies 😬) I didn’t know that cocktails were a thing.
The food came in and three of them spread out the napkins. I followed my husband and spread out mine. Then they took out the knife and the fork. 😩 I had no clue on how to use them. I was not sure if I could use my hands. I felt so embarrassed. I leaned towards my husband and whispered if it is okay if I use my hands. He said why not, make yourself comfortable. He then dropped his cutlery and started eating with hands. I fell in love with him all over again.
One evening, SIL mentioned about her love for Death by Chocolate. ( I asked myself how could someone die by chocolate 😬) When asked about my fav dessert, I was afraid if it will be embarrassing if I say Amul cassata ice cream.
There were many such moments during our stay with them where I struggled not to show my naiveté. After moving to US, he was always there to push me out of the comfort zones and to know the unknown. I always lived under the fear of being judged. He taught me to live life in my own terms. Things have changed today. Now I know its okay to say I don’t know if I don’t. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have made it this far.