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Interview with Prasanth and Margaret, the Indo-American Couple and YouTube Vloggers

Love: Journey into a World of Adventure

Prasanth and Margaret, Interviewed by Ankush Bharti and Anu Lal





1. Can you tell us about your background and how you met? 

Prasanth was born and raised in Kerala, India. In 2006, he took a job working as a personal trainer at a U.S. military base in Kuwait. Margaret was born and raised in Mississippi, USA and in 2007, went to work in Kuwait as a nurse for the same company that Prasanth was working for. I (Margaret) was working as the occupational health nurse for the company and dealt with any work-related injuries or illnesses. Prasanth injured his ankle one day at work and his supervisor forced him to come see me to make a report. Part of the injury report was to ask about their job. So, when I found out he was a personal trainer, I asked if he would be able to train me. He said yes and told me to come to the gym one day and find him. He began to train me shortly after. 

2. How does your cultural background play a role in your relationship? 

Prasanth had to adjust his way of thinking in how he viewed the role of an American wife versus a traditional Indian wife. He had the mindset of the wife staying home, raising kids, and being a homemaker. The majority of American women are more independent and usually work outside the home. 

When we are visiting India, I am fully reliant on Prasanth. I have very little freedom or independence, which is a hard thing to cope with. I don’t speak the language and I am unable to drive anywhere, whereas, in America, I have complete freedom and the ability to do whatever I want. As Americans, we try to raise our children (boys and girls) to be independent. So, we try to raise Aleyka to be a strong and independent girl. 

3. Prashant, what were your parents' reactions when you decided to marry?

My mom was very against it. She did not want me to marry a foreign girl. She thought if we married that I would never return to India to visit them. She thought a foreign girl would take me away from my family. She also felt like Americans didn’t have much family bond or connection and thought Americans didn’t place much value in marriage or family. She thought our marriage would only end in divorce. My dad and sister are the ones that convinced her to let me choose who I would like to marry. 

4. What about Margaret’s family? How did they react? 

My mom’s first reaction was that he was only wanting to marry me to get a green card. Little did she know that he had NO desire to move to the U.S. She said he would leave once he had the green card. She was very against us dating and especially against us marrying. We had a big argument about it when I first told her. My dad didn’t really say much. He just kind of made a funny joke about it and we laughed and that was it. He is very easygoing. 

5. Can you tell us about any challenges you faced as an interracial couple?

In the beginning, we dealt with a few family members who were not very nice or accepting of our relationship. No matter how good or nice you are, there isn’t much you can do when someone is stuck in their ways.

6. How do you navigate any cultural differences in your relationship? How did you adapt to each other's culture? 

I think being able to visit and be immersed in the other’s culture helped a lot. When you actually get to see firsthand how the other was raised and live, you develop a whole new understanding. All the preconceived ideas you had kind of go out the window. Nothing is really how you thought it was. We both have been very open and willing to learn about the other’s culture. I attend Indian and Hindu events so I can learn and understand the culture and Prasanth does the same in the U.S. We both enjoy getting to participate in things that are different than the way we were raised. 

7. Can you tell us about your daughter Aleyka and how you are raising her with a blend of both of your cultures? 

Aleyka is almost 9 years old. She is a very smart and adventurous girl. She is very open and willing to learn. We try to visit family in India at least every 2 years. She does all the things that his family would normally do there. She gets to experience normal Indian life. While in the U.S. she obviously participates in U.S. traditions and holidays, but we also try to blend the Indian holidays, like Onam as well so she can enjoy these in America too. 

8. Now, after being parents yourselves, what are your views on your daughter’s marriage in the future? 

We have no preference for the person she may choose to marry. We just want them to be a good person and treat her well and love her and our family. We want her to always be happy. 

9. Were there any culture shocks for any of you when you started your life Together? 

As an Indian, I was not used to seeing guys and girls hugging, but in America when they see their friends or family, they always hug each other when greeting or saying goodbye. And just the opposite for me (Margaret), when in India, the guys in the family get all awkward when I try to hug them! I think we as Americans hug and tell each other we love each other more than they do in India. It comes very naturally to us. There were a lot of shocks when I first visited India. The amount of people, the driving, the honking. It all felt very chaotic and loud like a constant overstimulation of noise. I was also shocked at the lack of personal space and privacy. People stop by the house at any time of the day or night. In the U.S. we would typically let the person know beforehand that we plan to stop by. We don’t usually go to someone’s home unannounced. It’s just a common courtesy to do this. 

10. Can you tell us about any special traditions or customs you incorporate into your family life? 

Since we live in the U.S. we obviously celebrate all the U.S. holidays. We also try to find local Indian events that we can go to. Prasanth wasn’t used to celebrating birthdays in India, but it is a big celebration in America. His family always sends her (Aleyka) a dress from India for her birthday, so she likes to wear her Indian dress to her birthday party.

11. Have you faced any discrimination or prejudice as an interracial couple? 

Not directly. Nobody has ever come up to us and said anything regarding us being in an interracial relationship. We felt like we got a lot of stares initially when we lived in Mississippi. I think it was just something that people were not used to seeing. 

12. How do you plan to teach Aleyka about her multicultural heritage? 

Culture needs to be experienced, not just taught. We try to go to local Indian events here in the U.S. We celebrate Onam with another Indian family here in New York. We have also gone to Holi events. We try to do things that will be fun and exciting for her while letting her experience the culture in this way. 

13. Have you encountered any misunderstandings or stereotypes because of your interracial relationship? 

Yes. When I tell people we are going to India, people always ask me if I have to wear a cover (like a hijab). I’m always shocked at this question. Prasanth is Malayali, so he does eat beef. Americans assume he is vegetarian. They think that Indians aren’t allowed to eat meat of any kind. So, they are surprised to find out he is not vegetarian. 

Many also believe that I have to convert to Hinduism because I married him. When people find out my husband is Indian, they assume he is a doctor. Many Americans assume most Indians are either doctors or engineers. 

14. How do you deal with any cultural misunderstandings or disagreements in your relationship? 

Usually, things have to be explained very thoroughly to make sure the other person is understanding. Arguments have happened because of misunderstandings. We usually each explain our side and how we view things and how it feels to us. Sometimes, he is just being very direct, but to me, it sounds like he is being rude. So, he has had to learn to say things in a different, more kind way. 

15. Can you tell us about any unique experiences you’ve had as an interracial Couple? 

People have asked if Prasanth is my tour guide when we are out together in India. When meeting new people, most have the expectation that I am married to an Indian woman, so they are surprised when they find out I am married to a white girl. 

16. How has being in an interracial relationship changed or affected your perspective on the world? 

Growing up, I always believed that Americans didn’t really have a close family life. But, after living here, I see the reality is not what I once thought. My perception of American culture was completely wrong. 

It has really opened both of our eyes to not be so critical of others who are different from us. When you actually take the time to get to know someone, you realize that most of us are more alike than we are different.

17. What does your relationship with each other’s cultural communities look like? 

With Prasanth’s job, he gets a very personal view into people’s family life. He works as a physical therapist assistant and provides care to people in their homes. He gets to see how these families live and interact. 

When in India, we do the normal daily activities that Prasanth and his family would normally participate in. We go visit the neighbors and have tea, we hang out with his friends, we sit with his family in the evenings for chai. We are just a normal family. 

18. How do you incorporate your different cultural backgrounds into your daily life? 

We cook both American and Indian food. Prasanth has made me a chai lover, so we have our chai every morning. Prasanth speaks mostly Malayalam to Aleyka so she can learn. 

19. How do you feel about your interracial relationship in today’s society?

I think it is more common (especially here in the U.S.) to see interracial relationships, so most people do not think anything of it. This is not necessarily the case in India and even in some areas of the southern U.S. I think it is still somewhat taboo in India. 

20. How do you feel about diversity and representation in the media? 

We would like people to see beyond the color of someone’s skin. Every culture has something wonderful to offer. There is no culture or person that is better than the others. We would love for people to be open to accepting others outside their own culture. I think with social media, there are more and more interracial couples being seen, therefore more people are being exposed to this. 

21. How do you plan to educate your daughter about race and racism? 

Aleyka is an extremely smart kid. She is very open and welcoming to all races. She has always considered herself “brown.” lol. I have never heard her call anyone black. They learn about racism in school, so she asks questions when she comes home about why some people are mean and treat others badly. It’s hard to explain to her that some people just aren’t kind to people that are different from them. We usually tell her that maybe their parents didn’t teach them the proper way to treat others. 

22. How do you see your relationship and family evolving in the future? 

Our life revolves around Aleyka. Our goal is to make sure she experiences both cultures. It won’t be long before she is graduating high school and starting a career, then possibly starting her own family. 

23. Has content creation on YouTube affected your relationship? 

It was very stressful in the beginning. Sometimes, one person doesn’t agree with how the other is doing something in regards to the video. Or one wants to do something that the other doesn’t. We have to come to a compromise. We have agreed to never video if we are in a bad mood or have been arguing. We do not want to be fake when we are videoing. We are our true selves in our videos. 

24. Lastly, any relationship advice for our readers? 

Always communicate what is in your mind. Explain yourself and be accepting of what the other is saying. Be willing to experience the other’s culture. Be open to new experiences. Try new things. Don’t remain stuck in your old ways. You do not have to give up your own culture just because you are in a relationship with someone from a different culture. Blending two cultures makes it all the more fun!

 

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