Romance in the Garden of Good and Evil: Intercultural Love in Savannah

A Guest Contributor’s Own Intercultural Love Experience in The Deep South.

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Georgia is truly the epitome of the Deep South in many ways, and can be an interesting back drop for people in intercultural relationships. My family and I have loved it here, but have certainly been through some unique experiences blending in with the Indian culture at home and the southern culture around us.  I thought it would be wonderful to hear another person’s perspective on intercultural life in Georgia, and invited Alexandra of Madh-Mama to share her story of meeting her husband in Savannah.  Take a look at her beautiful story.

Romance in the Garden of Good and Evil: Intercultural Love in Savannah 

Savannah, GA will always hold a special place in my heart. As a young Canadian girl, moving away from home for the first time into the Deep South, I had no idea what to expect. It was an 8 hour plane ride away from my family, which was both frightening and liberating. I certainly did not expect – that in this small, sleepy Southern town – under the dangling Spanish moss and giant Oak trees – that I would both find myself and find my trueNellis_301208_03love at the same time. That too, find true love with an Indian man who was even more far away from home than I was.

We went to college at SCAD, which filled the quaint Southern town with an international community of artists – us being some of them. We were neighbours, living on opposite sides of an ancient Civil War cemetery which was a main feature in every ghost tours. We picnicked in Forsyth Park, we walked hand in hand down the cobblestones, we visited plantations and Civil War monuments, just for fun…and the first time I realized I was in love with him was on a moonlit walk on Tybee beach.

I found out when I moved to Savannah that it was one of the most haunted cities in the USA. One time, the city was doing some road work in front of my apartment, and they uncovered an intact human skull in the pavement. It was on the front page of the newspaper and they said the bones were from the Civil War. I never had any frightening ghost experiences there, but I always had the feeling of being watched, even when there was nobody around…

It’s hard to imagine the place we fell in deep love, 300 years ago, being the epicentre of slavery and hate. Those beautiful squares we used to walk through and gaze lovingly at each other – were the same squares that they used to publicly hang African Americans. And us, being international students and not knowing US history, had no idea… I wonder if the ghosts of the slaves and slave owners were there in those squares, watching us silently, as our love bloomed. I wonder what they’d think of us, with our love replacing hate…with our love blooming, like a parallel in time, over hate. With our intercultural love replacing intercultural intolerance of the past.

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In those early months of our relationship, it was the heat from our new love that made the everyone disappear around us. As our partnership matured a little more, I began to realize that there were no other couples like us. Hell, there were hardly any other intercultural couples from other races, even! We were a bit of an anomaly. If you were lucky, you’d see a black and white couple – but never an Indian and white couple. I have to admit, we were a little famous!

As international students, we were much loved by both the black and white communities. They thought we were cool, they thought we made a cute couple. They admired how we assimilated our cultures, and how passionate we were for each other. They loved our love. What was surprising is that we did not get the same kind of support from the Indian community in Savannah. I thought of all people, fellow Indians would be rooting for us. (Boy, was I wrong!)

At that time, the Indian community was really small – it was made up of students, and some Indian business owners in Savannah. When our fellow Indian students found out we were dating, they gave us some major drishti (evil eye). It was apparently a scandalous affair, and nobody wanted anything to do with us. Some said that he was just “using me for a green card” (hello, even I didn’t even have a green card!), “trying out a foreign girl”, others said I “just wanted to try an Indian guy”…but mostly it was jealousy. Jealousy and disbelief that an Indian/white relationship would ever work out. Through many Indian eyes, we were doing something that had not been seen before, ever…

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The intolerance that we faced from the Indian community itself was really just the tip of the iceberg. It was just a taste of the many evil eyes that would come our way in upcoming years, just because we were from different cultures. Just because we were doing something that nobody had seen before, it made it somehow unbelievable. But in reality, it didn’t make a difference that he was brown and I was white. It was about our love. And our love was greater than that. Our love was our destiny. I just wished other people could see that too…

In the end, I have to thank those people who doubted us…because every struggle made our relationship stronger. Every bad word someone said about us made us comfort each other and fling ourselves into each others’ arms. It made us closer – because we were the only ones who could relate. We had nobody to talk to about it, and sometimes we still don’t…

Alas, people disapproving of our relationship is a part of our story, and it’s one of the things that makes our story beautiful because we learned to overcome it and stand united. When we left Savannah, we faced new life struggles, and with each new place came new disapproving faces… Going to live in Savannah GA was one of the best decisions that I ever made. I met my life partner there. I often wonder how it would be like if we visited there now – if there would be more couples like us. I can’t wait to take my daughter back there and show her where Mommy and Daddy fell in love.

unnamed (2)I always remember Savannah as being one of the most romantic places on Earth. So many people would get married there as a destination wedding, and we were fortunate to have it play the backdrop to our love story. It was a beautiful place to fall in love.

Maybe we’ll go there for our upcoming 10 year anniversary…

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