About Me

 About Sheryl Parbhoo and the Southern Life, Indian Wife website

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Hello and welcome to my little, mixed-up corner of the world!  Let me introduce myself.

My name is Sheryl.  I am a 24 hour a day wife and mother, and a writer every moment in between.  I live in the southern United States with my husband of 20 years and our children, and am surrounded by a house full of pets, friends, and extended family.  While trying to juggle meals, laundry and the occasional puppy accident, I freelance, chip away at my first novel, and now lead the way on this blog.

Born and bred in the South, I am as American as they come.  My shoulders burn after 30 seconds in the sun, I love fast food, and the only language my ancestors ever spoke was Southern.  I am also the wife of an Indian man, who is paradoxically as Indian and as American as they come.  His arms turn black after 30 seconds in the sun, he loves fast food and his mom’s food, and speaks or understands five languages, including “Redneck.”

It all started 24 years ago when, as teenagers, we locked eyes over ice cream cones on a muggy Memphis night, beginning a journey down a road that many others before us had been afraid to take.

Over years of discovery, that journey has led us to a place where home is filled with the chatter of many languages, English and Gujarati, baby babble and teen lingo.  To a place where jars of mango masala and samoosas share refrigerator space with barbecue sauce and chicken nuggets.  To a place where prayer sounds the same no matter the words, and where commitment and compromise create a rainbow of love in our lives.

This blog is a forum to share with you my experiences, through observation and through fiction, as a southern wife in an Indian family.  I invite you to read my stories, share your thoughts and opinions, and open your minds.

It is also a forum for you the readers to share your own experiences, your own backgrounds, and your own observations!

I welcome guest posts!  Contact me with your pitch for a post. I’d love to share your stories on the blog.  sheryl@sherylparbhoo.com

I hope you enjoy my writing and I look forward to reading yours!

Sheryl

 

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31 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hey !
    Just read your story on Sharrell’s blog which drew me here and all along, I’m wishing,”If only we were neighbours” !!! More so, since I live in white bread, Romney-Ryan suburbia. I’m dying to tell you a gazillion things. Have decided to plot them as points – text cud run into a book LOL! Lemme tell you, they won’t come out in any particular order 🙂
    1. LOOOOOVE the Kids – They Look SUPER DUPER COOOL !! Tell me their names please…… (maybe its in here somewhere and I’m yet to get there) The geometric progression of the number of hearts they’d all end up breaking is mind boggling – The perfect combination of Sharp, Dark Indian features and flawless white skin is the ideal recipe for it 🙂 And over and above the looks, the confidence they exude about being mixed is envious. God Bless them and please …..nazar utaar do (anti Evil eye protection)
    2. Yeah you’re right – All in or All out. Look at me, right here. Read your story, read your answers and have appointed myself your sister / friend/ guide/ mentor. Won’t blame my Indianness entirely for that – I’m kind of a mother Hen 😛 😛

    3. It is the sad truth that different cultures reside in the US, but they co-exist more often than integrate. What you said about white kids hanging around together is still the norm, in most places even today. Specially in Texas where I live. Parents are civil at best. Anything beyond, is a bonus.

    3. Here are a few observations about the parents thing going on –
    a. Many Indian men aren’t as closely bonded. Not only our age group but previous generations too. Its a combination of values, upbringing and living out of India, which also isolates the nuclear family ending up either splitting the family or makes them even more closely bonded to make up for lack of a support system.

    b. My situation is slightly different. I’m from the south and he is from the north. Practically like two diff. countries. Much as rest of India thinks they know quite a bit of another state via movies, news, etc. it really isn’t at a day-day living perspective which makes a huge difference. So I went through a huge culture shock and had a very tough time the first 8 years. Trying to tell you that the alienation and difference in standards you must’ve faced, happens to most brides with in laws from a different culture. Have a friend married to a Dutch guy. She’s faced a lot of humiliation. Some lucky exceptions exist and I know a bunch myself personally. A sad reminder that it could’ve been different 🙁 We’ve lived out of India for many years now, which has been a huge shield for me.

    c. Typically, Parents enjoy a very high status in Indian tradition. Mata, Pita, Guru, Deva is the defined Dharma. Mother, (mata) holds the supreme position in any individuals life, followed by Father (pita) followed by Guru (teacher) and finally God (deva). I could elaborate on the reasoning if you’re interested. Hence the significant influence and often, interference and many a time, involvement. Again all three in varying degrees depending upon each family’s individual circumstances.

    d. I don’t know what the specific issues are, that you face with your in-laws, but from a Hindu belief perspective, I can tell you that any individual that performs his / her duties towards parents, specially the Mother, is protected by Dharma. Regardless of the latters’ character. Her character is her individual Karma and does not impact the kids. She receives fruits of her Karma individually. Similarly a son standing support to his parents is his Dharma which bears fruit to his Karma. I sincerely respect D for doing that (with absolutely no disregard or non-chalance to your feelings) As an individual, as a Hindu I appreciate and respect him for it. If you would like to share the issues that bother you about this, I could try to lend you a perspective which I hope might help. I have worked it out about my in-laws. After years of conflict, I am now at peace. It is this peace that helps me believe, I might have something useful to say to you.

    Cheers !! And Goodluck with everything 🙂

    • Wow! Thanks for such a wonderful and insightful response! Thank you for your kind words about my kids. I think they’re beautiful, too! 🙂
      You and I definitely need to correspond more. I have never actually had someone offer, openly and honestly, to help me navigate this journey through the eyes of Hindu belief. I welcome it. As a westerner based in Christian values, even when I have researched Hinduism on my own, it is difficult for me to relate. Human connection is most important to understanding. Thank you!

      My biggest issue with my in-laws early in our marriage was not that we didn’t try to love each other, but we just didn’t know how to relate to each other. It was as if my mother-in-law and I were in a competition for my husband, and he was pulled apart. My upbringing was this: my parents married and moved away from all of their family to be independent. Everyone around me did the same thing. A married woman is the alpha female, and does her own thing. I did not like my mother-in-law telling me what to do, rearranging my kitchen, or cooking Indian food for us, when I’d just cooked dinner. We were not nice to each other.

      But, I think both of us have just accepted the other finally. People get tired of fighting. She respects boundaries that are important to me, and I in turn welcome them in my life, and don’t see them as an intrusion anymore. I welcome them as the wonderful, and loving parents and grandparents they are, and would give anything to them, just as I would my own mother.

      I’m finding that writing this blog is not only my way of reaching out to others who are like me, but I am receiving so much in return. I really want to explore Indian culture and Hinduism even more, because I know I can also retain my sense of self now. People like you are making that happen!

      • Hello, landed on your FB page through a comment to Shobhan Bhantwal. I am also in a cross cultural marriage my husband is East Indian, we live in Trinidad, I am from England, met my husband when he was studying Law in London. Have four kids. Living in Trinidad has it’s ups and downs but that’s just about everywhere! We have more than 50% people of E Indian here, so Indian culture and Arts is most prevalent . I love everything to do with that culture , more than my husband! I teach Kathak. Dance. Are you into this? There is a lot more to say . Good luck with your book. Jackie

        • Hello Jackie! Good to “meet” you! I love Shoban Bantwal’s books, love her FB page. I’ve not gotten into dance, because I was a classically trained ballet dancer and just couldn’t make the transition. 🙂 But, I think I love more things about Indian culture than my husband, too. It’s old news to them, but not us. I’m most interested in my hubby’s family tree. They are from South Africa and went through a lot as Indians during Apartheid, and participated in big historical events there.
          And of course, who doesn’t love the fashion, the music, the movies? Hope to hear more from you!

  2. I’m glad I landed on your blog Sheryl! I just reached my 1-year milestone in my own cross-cultural marriage, so you are an inspiration to me. 20 years! Wow-za!

    • I’m so happy for you! Enjoy each other. The years go by so fast! And always reach out to others who understand cross-cultural issues, too…it is sooo much cheaper than therapy!

  3. Got here after reading your story on Sharrell’s blog. (PM of Australia visited India recently, and I wanted to see if Sharrell had posted something about that on her blog).

    Your story is fascinating. I am a blogger myself, too. Enjoy writing a bit here and there. It is good fun. I plan to write a book in 2013 and more books later on.

    I wish you good luck with your writing career. Your family is adorable. I am myself looking to settle down, probably with a gal from my new homeland, Canada, not from my motherland, India.

    Hope your book is a smashing success! God bless you and family!

    Cheers,
    Gerry.
    Toronto, ON.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Gerry! I wish you lots of luck with your writing goals, as well. Best wishes for finding that right person to settle down with. It makes life so much more fulfilling to go through it with someone else. If you ever need advice on how to really relate to a western girl, drop me a line. I’m all ears!

  4. Wow, I love your blog! I can relate so much to your story. I’m a gujarati girl, born and raised in Australia to traditional Indian parents. My parents were hell bent on me having an arranged marriage and I went and feel in love with a Filipino. My now husband and I have 2 gorgeous kids, a house full of love, laughter, gujarati, tagalog, hinduism, catholic beliefs, budhism, music and dancing. My family resisted our marriage for a few years, but got to know my husband and love him more than me now!

    He has come to India with us for a holiday and loved it. We all joke that he is more Indian than we are. It’s tough to find people in my situation esp in Australia, so I look forward to reading more blog entries from someone in a similar situation!

    • What are great story you have! You are so blessed that everyone has come around and you and your husband can mix it all up and live the best parts of both cultures! It’s funny that everyone says he’s more Indian that you all are. How great is that? Please do keep in touch with my blog…I’d love to learn more about you as well!

  5. I’m very excited to find your blog. I also stumbled upon it through Sharrell’s blog. I am marrying a man from India this January in Mumbai and find your story to be very inspiring. This last year we have dealt with a lot of cultural differences between our families, but more surprisingly and more often the negativity came from outsiders, people who knew my fiancee briefly growing up and who have absolutely no connection with us as a couple. It has been a learning process for everyone, but I am blessed to have a wonderful fiancee and two families who truly love us and want the best for us.

    Thank you for sharing your life and your story.

    • Your welcome! I really see this blog as “group therapy” in a way. I’m glad to know that my story inspires you! When my husband and I got married, we were very alone. You are lucky that both families love you and want the best for you. I wish you the best, and hope to continue to be of support.

  6. Hi Sheryl,

    I just read your story on Sharrell’s blog and it was mentioned you lived in Georgia. I am from the southside of Atlanta-born and raised. I met my Kerala born husband there in 2002 and we married in 2008 and moved to India. Wish I had known more couples like ourselves back then as I would not have felt so lonely and ‘out of place’. I certainly feel that way here! I look forward to reading the rest of your posts. BTW-You have a very beautiful family!

    • Oh my gosh…a fellow Georgia girl! I know the southside very well! It’s really too bad we didn’t meet. Honestly, in the years before social networking (yes, I am old enough to remember those times), I wished for a way to find other couples like ourselves in the area. But, I never could find a way, short of placing an ad in the paper. I’m sorry you felt out of place in Georgia and in India. I’ve been there…keep your chin up! I am proof that you can live through it. 🙂 Keep in touch…even email if you need to “talk.”
      Thanks for your kind words about my family!

      • I am older than you (I got married at age 48) so all this social networking stuff is new to me and I didn’t use a computer for personal use until moving here. It’s the only way to keep up with everyone back home. Thanks for your encouraging words. Maybe we can meet up next time I am home 🙂

  7. Hi Sheryl,
    I’m learning some things about tolerance and respect from your blog (among others!) and I find them good lessons. I’m adding your blog to my bookmarks 🙂

    • Thanks! I appreciate you adding my blog to your bookmarks!
      I have read your blog and your story is fascinating! I look forward to reading more about your life in Italy!

  8. I am an american girl writing from India awaiting our Hindu Wedding ceremony next week. I have been with my husband for two years, we were married in Seattle this summer were we reside. Suffering from jetlag/aniexty I came across your blog while researching wedding jewelry this morning.This has not been an easy time for me and I feel very lonely. Not only do I feel different and like an outsider, I feel as if I am not being accepted or understood and that people (my mother in-law in particular) want to change me. I just keep telling myself it will get better and to trust in god it will work our as it supposed to…as I am sure you know, that can be really really really (bahut as they say in Hindi) HARD when you are feeling himiluated and hurt. Your story is inspring, your family’s picture is comforting and I happy I came across your blog this morning. Feeling not so alone anymore!

    • I am so glad to be able to help you feel less alone. I just talked to my husband about your comment and asked him what he would like to say to you. He said, “Focus your attention away from the negatives – the way others may treat you or make you feel. Pour your energies into the positives in your life – your love for your husband and for yourself. If the two of you are okay, the rest can be conquered.”
      I wish you a joyous and beautiful wedding next week.
      You are not alone. 🙂

  9. Love your blog. So beautifully written and a lovely family. I also live in GA . can easily admire everything you have written.
    So far only read a little here need to catch up with a lot 🙂

  10. Congrats for the 20 years, It’s beautiful how all yours kids look like both of you! my hubby and I have enjoyed 11 years now, I’m the Indian in our case. We have two girls and are settled in Europe. All marriages need hard work, love and a open mind ,interracial or otherwise. You guys are doing a great job. I wish your family the best. Keep writing.

  11. Hello there! There are many many more cross-cultural marriages out there than I previously thought. That is such a comfort when there are times I can’t seem to find refuge in familiarity. It can feel isolating and lonely at times, can’t it!? Where’s the manuscript?! Well, we are writing it ourselves. And that feels empowering and invigorating, too!

    I live in the midwest (might as well be the South in many instances) and I am – get this – a muslim woman married to an all-American, and i mean as all-American, as it gets. Neither one of us is particularily religious which helps with one of our two-pronged differences but it’s still an interesting journey. We have heightened sensitivities and awareness to things that wouldn’t normally exist if we married like-rooted people. At any rate, always nice to come across a forward looking story/blog depicting a successful and realstic experience. So, thank you!! (We have been married 4.5 years and have two under 3 🙂

    • Wow, 4.5 years married and 2 kids under 3…you brave and blessed soul! Cross-cultural marriage can be challenging, but don’t those little people in your life just make it worth it? I wish you all the best…it sounds like you have it all under control. 🙂

  12. Hi! Can’t quite remember how I got to your blog but am really happy to connect! Both my husband and I are Indians but he’s from the South and I am from the North; besides he’s from a higher caste than I was, so I’m sure you may already know the kinds of friction that causes! 😀 However, things got ironed out, we are married for 10 years with 2 lovely boys, and, from my perspective, the best thing that happened is that we stay outside the country and relatives!

    I look forward to knowing more about you through your posts!

    • Well, I’m glad you found it! Sounds like we have some things in common! Your blog is also quite interesting…I’ve already checked it out. 🙂 I hope not to disappoint with further posts. Summer is coming, kids will be home…let the games begin! Look forward to reading more about you as well!

  13. Okay, Sheryl. You are quite an interesting Southern lady. You and I share the love of writing and the love of Southern life. I like multi-culturalism. It’s so American .And how can you not admire a man who speaks several languages, including “Redneck.” That’s quite a task of accomplishments. Our country was built on mult-cultural ideations, though we don’t generally think of it that way.

    You are a real trooper of a wife who adores Southern life. So cool.

    As the author and creator of Enthusedtoimprove.com, Super Lives For Southerners, I found your website while searching for Southern culture. So I am an instant fan. Hope your writing ventures take off and you get all the blessings life has for you. Peace and love always. And keep on writing.

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