“Do you have a love marriage?” In the US, this question from my Hindi tutor would have been somewhat strange and quite possibly rude, but, in India, people ask questions like this all the time. Do not ask me how we even got on the topic. I honestly can’t remember. I am sure it was a tangent from some term she was trying to explain, maybe gani. I told her, “Yes, we have a love marriage. In the US, most marriages are for love. They are not arranged.”
In India, having a love marriage is not taken for granted. Here, most marriages are still arranged by families, usually the parents. When that is the case, the bride and groom usually meet only a few times before the wedding. Love marriages are obviously different, and there seems to be a tendency among younger Indians to consider love marriages, but their parents often have different ideas. It was interesting listening to my tutor enumerate the advantages of love marriages: having something in common, knowing the other person well before committing, and obviously, having romantic feelings for the person. I could not bring myself to point out the 50% divorce rate in the US as a possible counter-argument to love marriage because I obviously still believe a love marriage works.
Saturday was our anniversary. We did not spend it celebrating; we spent it unpacking. But, even that was a form of celebration. We celebrated when Buster made it to India safely, and we celebrated when my wedding flowers did, too. It seemed appropriate to open my flowers on our anniversary. It was a reminder of the beauty of the commitment that we made so many years ago.
On Sunday, we continued unpacking, but we also celebrated. Brian gave me a “bangle,” flowers, and a cake. He looked far and wide for carrot cake, my favorite and our wedding cake, but it is hard to source here. So, we had a mango cake instead, which was fantastic and in season. Brian had literally just found our wedding topper and cutlery, so we decided to put the topper on the cake. The topper was a bit big (OK, really big) for the cake, but it was great nonetheless.
Brian remarked cutting the cake that night was just like on our wedding day—except with a lot less stress. We then had dinner at the Renaissance hotel in Powai. The food was good, but I had to convince the waiter that I had not ordered veal with spaghetti but prosciutto with black-eyed peas, which are not the same. It meant that Brian and I ate in shifts, but that was OK. We had a chance to chill. We needed it after all the unpacking.
Unpacking is like marriage. It can be a lot work, but, ultimately, discovering the treasures throughout the process is worth it. For every fish fillet cutting board that I find (which Brian has never used while we have been married), I find the Ganesh that he bought on his first trip to Mumbai. Good thing we unpacked Ganesh early. He has helped remove quite a few obstacles this week.