I’m kind of obsessed with the concept of arranged marriage in Indian culture. Are they more successful than modern love marriages? Within Indian culture, do couples expected to find romantic love through arranged marriage?
It’s a total enigma to me–my husband might have gone that route if I hadn’t bewitched him away (his words, not mine).
Today my old friend Salil Maniktahla joins me to discuss Indian marriage culture, how his first marriage fell apart despite after being arranged by his parents, scoring the true love of his life following his divorce, and becoming the father he is now.
Salil Maniktahla and I go way back. All the way back to high school in Memphis, Tennessee.
An Indian American from Delhi, Salil is now a married dad of twins who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. He’s not like any Indian guy – really like any guy– I’ve ever met. He’s super intelligent – intimidatingly so, I have to admit, insightful, and totally honest.
If the “F” word bothers you, you’ll have to plug your ears a few times.
But you need to hear him.
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I’m a lifelong Southerner married to an Indian man who grew up in South Africa during apartheid.
And I am fiercely proud of both If you don’t like that Well bless your heart. I’m Cheryl Parbhoo and this is southern life Indian wife.
I’m kind of obsessed with the concept of arranged marriage in Indian culture.
It is a total enigma to me. My husband probably would have had one if I hadn’t bewitched him away when we met. Which is what he says today. I get to talk with a man about what it was like being an Indian kid growing up in the south and dating and wading through his Indian arranged marriage culture scoring the true love of his life and finally becoming the man and the person that he’s supposed to be. Salil Maniktahla and I go way back all the way back to high school in Memphis Tennessee. He’s an Indian American from Delhi and married dad of twins who lives in the D.C. area now. He’s not like any Indian guy really any guy I’ve ever met. He’s super intelligent intimidating me so I have to admit he’s insightful and he’s totally honest. If the F word bothers you you’re gonna have to plug your ears quite a few times during this episode but you’re going to want to hear him. And so here he is. Salil Maniktahla .
I’m super excited to be here. This is a lot of fun.
One of the things that I wanted to talk about with you because we have kind of similar things that have happened in our lives is Indian culture in marriage. And that’s just such a broad loaded topic. But one of the reasons that I’ve been thinking about it so much is because first of all Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas are in my Instagram feed constantly. It’s like a royal wedding but you know what this young white boy in this older maternal Indian lady.
Is maternal I am all for maternal myth. Let’s say you’re not a mother of a 25 year old kid see that’s different I guess.
Yeah there’s is that mama bear thing. Yeah.
Yeah I mean but we’d put her firmly in MILF territory here. Yes definitely I’d totally see that I get it I get it.
And so you know their wedding came up and then I’m also thinking about my son who’s getting married and they’re planning their wedding and it’s kind of taken us back to all of the issues and things that my husband and I went through so I thought that was a great starting point for you and me.
So like from a wedding and marriage perspective. So I think that this I do have a kind of an interesting Oh now more typical than people thought but my background my wife and I are both divorced.
We both were previously married to other people. We both had arranged marriages. Mine lasted about a year or as I believe like several years three or four maybe. Ok
So she suffered through her is a little longer than I did get out of her thing. Yeah. You’re both Indian but you are a Punjabi and she is a different flavor.
She is Ismaili Muslim …for lack of a better word that’s right. She’s OK.
She’s Ismaili Muslim which is kind of like Gujarati . And or her family’s from hyderaba or from that area. But she also has family from Pune and kind of different parts of India. But it’s just community are very tight knit. They’re a sect of Shia Islam. I didn’t know very much about them until I married into this family. Mm hmm. Another thing that I think is really fascinating about India in general in that South Asian experience is that like there’s people tend to think it’s super monolithic right. It’s Apu on the Simpsons when in fact there are a dozen little countries that are sort of smashed together and they don’t have much in common language wise linguistically culturally. I mean even appearance ethnically like when you look at like their physiology and people look different from different parts of India. There’s some stereotyping that happens because of that there’s racism and class ism and but but so even you know me with my Indian background and being pretty comfortable at least with going to India and being Indian and North Indian Punjabi like I knew very little about Ismailis. And it’s been quite an eye opening experience. And honestly I feel like it’s made me a better person and a lot of ways I feel like yeah I’m jumping a head a lot though like I kind of want it like I’m talking about like all the arranged marriage stuff all the nuttiness that happen because I feel like it’s a fun story. Unfortunately you know with real human consequences I don’t want to make too too much light of it because there’s right stuff to say I guess about all of it. Sure.
Well why don’t you kind of go back and talk about well just the basics of Punjabi culture and why arranged marriage was even an expectation OK.
So I was actually dating someone very seriously and then we actually got engaged. This is someone else. So this is this is to an India I was in 2000 and 2001. I was dating an Indian girl and I will keep her anonymous for now although anyone who knows me probably does know her name and we actually see Punjabi oh she was nice.
Now she she also is from a slightly different background just from Maharashtra.
So Mah arashtrian and her family really didn’t like me or my family and they didn’t really let it out until we got engaged and they actually hosted a big engagement party for us and then that weekend it was like everything fell apart like we went from like having a really amazing engagement and like being super happy to the very next day having a huge falling out with their family and then trying to pick up the pieces and a lot of things happen afterwards. I’m not super proud of. ..Our standpoint and all this was that it kind of felt like we were ambushed and then Punjabis are very very well. I guess we’d like to fight pugilistic or pugilistic people.
I would think so if if somebody like a hot blooded Latin person we want to stereotype.
My joke is that we’re kind of like the Italians of India like we’re sorry.
We drink too much we eat too much and where we have our own mob and we like to fight .
Awesome, awesome…do you break kneecaps to? Maybe not recently. These days you only kneecaps I break are my own. Yeah that’s what happens when you turn 40 and beyond.
So. So all this. You know like we had this kind of like disintegrating relationship with my fiancee. And so then we broke up. And I was pretty devastated. I didn’t really know what to do with myself. And after kind of trying to like be a middle man between our two families and failing at it and trying to bring people to the table to reconcile and not really working out and then finally our relationship ended I was pretty exhausted at the end of all this. Sure I wasn’t a child I was about 30 I was either 29 or 30 I think. So I wasn’t a kid. But I also just I mean looking back I sort of think about like how how that age number has pushed back. Anyway I don’t want to get into that about how like you know being 30 doesn’t necessarily mean as much as it maybe did in my parents generation right.
Oh yeah I sort of think it’s a lot of childish behavior in there. So when we when we broke up my parents were the ones that were kind of like look you I mean. I mean I want to say it was pretty close to these exact words they were like you know we tried it your way. Now try it our way they try an arranged marriage because they’re magic somehow and they all automatically work out right.
That was the assumption was that arranged marriages just work right? Right. And my parents criteria for what they were looking for like they were pretty collaborative if I have to give them some credit and that they were they would sort of run girls by me this sounds so sexist and misogynist. But I mean seriously looking back I’m just like I keep putting my head in my hands every time I think about this because it’s kind of shameful but like my mom would said the way it was. Yeah. My mom would send me links to like on dating sites or there’s a wedding website called shaadee dot com which means that for anyone who doesn’t understand the wedding or wedding dot com right. Right. She would send me links to these girls profiles with their pictures me like “hey what do you think of her?” and then I’d be like oh she’s cute right or oh my gosh no right please no. And so trying to get her to kind of come around to where I was. I mean first of all looking at a girl with your mom she knows one of the most surreal experiences of any male can have. I could just never quite sit right. It’s still so. So you know. Never anything less than awkward. It always was always a little like you know there are times it’s like okay I think I’ve kind of communicated what I want and then I would find out.
No she actually just had her own criteria and really wasn’t paying any attention to my head anyway.
Yeah. But then. So how did these meetings like did you we never met. No no no.
This is the best part of all this is that I never met anybody we would have. I think I probably talked to three or four girls on the phone after my mom had already talked to their families and then it was just so weird right. Like you know. Hi how are you.
Right. Bye. I don’t know.
You told me a bit about you and so then we she found a girl I mean she probably found I don’t even I want to say like about four or five we actually got in touch and talk. So there were a few girls or I actually maybe I like if my memory is maybe not so great but I feel like there are one or two girls I was actually somewhat interested in them and of course they wanted nothing to do with me. And then my mom found this girl who her profile was cute like she had a cute picture and she seemed nice enough but she was in India and I didn’t like that like I was just like if I’m going to marry somebody who is in India and we’re gonna go through this arranged marriage thing I really don’t want to be going to India for this. And my parents are pretty adamant on the other hand that you know everyone is on the table. I basically I can have if no one from America is really going to respond then you got to go to India. But also this was super short. This was not like after two years of trying it was like I want to say my fiancee and I broke up in. I don’t want any more. But it was 2001 probably like around all and then by 2000 and two the search was on like there was no time for me to like regroup or recover from this break or you know like just get my head on straight. It was just like the equivalent of a rebound.
Yeah except there was a rebound marriage. Now did you date before all of this year and were your parents OK with that. Yes and no maybe we’re not OK with it.
So I was in college I was just a little cornball. I dated all over the place. I tried to get laid as often as I possibly could.
Like any 19 20 year old. Yeah I mean I had a series of relationships I was.
My my early 20s self I look back and I just kind of cringe because I was a die hard romantic. I mean like I was such a romantic and what I thought I wanted was like a relationship more than anything. And so I was basically evaluating every person I came across was like Are you the one. Are you the one you went out on a date with me are you the one who is way too much pressure or like just getting horrible and it really took me going through this divorce much much later like at the age of 30 to kind of burn that circuit out of me. The divorce itself was pretty terrible right. So we were not even really together.
I mean we’re technically married for I guess two years but we were not together for any chunk of that time.
And and so this is someone that you met through your mom’s efforts.
That’s right. And then she came here to the US and we didn’t even manage to get a place of our own. It was just such a it just went off the rails so quickly like there was no common ground to build any kind of foundation between us let alone we didn’t even like each other. Right. I guess that’s the thing like if you don’t if you aren’t even really attracted to the person you’re in front of and you don’t even necessarily like me. I couldn’t like her in a very abstract sense not like you know like you see somebody you meet somebody at like a mall or something like that seems like a nice person. Right now I imagine that some random person from the mall that you met just gets shoved into your life and is now like in your bathroom.
Yeah I can imagine it’s so weird.
I mean I was asking my husband about this very concept before we began this podcast because I wanted to understand his point of view. This is what your parents raised you to go back to though and well are you raised to expect that marriage is that love.
Romantic love is necessarily a part so they never really OK. So there’s a couple of things that we have to untangle here. The first is that Indian parents suck at communicating with their kids so they don’t really talk about this shit at all. It’s not like they’re like you know when you get married you might fall in love or when. Now they’re just like you’re going to get married when I say shut the fuck up. Yes. And also the Indian culture itself is so confused about romance and love and marriage. Like if you if you get Bollywood. Exactly. If you look at the society overall there’s not a lot of romance. And so therefore when you look at their entertainment like all that repressed desire for or some kind of human connection in their relationships is just poured into their filmmaking. It’s so soppy right. Like it’s super super goopy romantic gooey over the top and that is literally not what it is when you’re when when you talk to any married people from the previous generation I feel like things are kind of kind of getting more sane now in the late 2000s and 2010 onwards like you’re starting to say things kind of changed. But like before this things are messed up. There’s really not a sane society when it came to this stuff and it’s still not there yet. It’s getting better. I mean this is my opinion. I’m diagnosing an entire society that’s by air right.
That’s what we Americans do right. I’m pretty arrogant about this but you know like I went through it.
They put me through that sausage mill and I don’t like it.
Yeah and you can talk about it because you went through it and people don’t like it so much when I talk about it because I’m on the periphery of the culture.
But on the flip side it has affected my entire life it’s changed my entire life because I’ve been on the periphery and I feel like I can this something I feel like you and I hasn’t hard on me like sort of outsider perspective on on a mainstream phenomena that is like you know well Indian culture right which is now becoming pretty mainstream here even in the US. Right. But like how you can stand outside it and get a better view on what actually is happening. It doesn’t mean you necessarily get a voice right. You can just see it. But you know what.
Yeah there was a time when we were dating and first married of course I was in college when we were first marri
All we hung out with was this small community of good Gujarati college students because that’s all he really hung out with. And we will go to dinner with these kids all the time. And at one point a girl who I was really good friends with called me after we had been out for drinks and said I’m sorry. You know I hate to do this I have to tell you this but no one likes you and they don’t want to be your friend or be around now. And I was like no one what does that mean. And so she named off all of these young people our age that we go out with all the time and they said because you talk about Indian culture as if it’s your own you talk about Indian standard time and make jokes about things just like us and you are not one of us and you can’t do that and we’re offended. And I was like.
So I am not going to try to have any more friends in this crowd but that that was like the very first clue to me that oh I can’t talk about it I am not allowed to according to them.
So for me I buried it for years and years and years and that’s why I’m on this podcast now because it’s kind of out there like this is how how double standards kind of evolves right. Cause I know white people are perfectly allowed to say things like that about Indian standard time which for anybody who doesn’t know is this tendency that Indians have which is infuriating to always be not just a little late but a full hour or more late to every day like every thing. Yeah. And if they tell you that something starts at 7:00 nobody’s there at 7:00 everything starts at like 9:00. Like just.
Yeah if they tell you that a wedding starts at 10:00 in the morning expect the festivities to get going so I guess what the problem was like commentary on it right.
Let’s just We’ll just hone in on this one thing. Like I S T because I feel like this is a pretty fun and lighthearted way to do it. My understanding of the rules on commentary has also kind of changed over the years to you like I feel like I used to be one of those people who had police the rules and now I feel like is that if you just explain the rules they kind of make a lot more sense. And again I have no idea if this is really true or Universal or not. I would love to hear from someone else about whether they actually believe that my rules but the rules as I see them are OK. You have to suffer through it first then you have to notice it. And then you can’t comment on it in the way that everyone else does. It has to be like you ease into it. Like why is this thing happening even though you may already know. Right. And then only after it has been explained to you. Are you allowed to partake in that.
Yes it’s I agree with that. And I had experienced and suffered through all right.
There are times when you really die in a relationship with Indians has suffered through Indian standard time. But it’s like you know like you just were like I’ve been through this I Oh my God what’s wrong with you people then like they’re like you can’t talk about that.
Yeah. Yeah. And I think a huge part of it was for me it was the girls because it was mostly girls.
And girls can be mean no matter what culture they are. Girls can be mean girls and it is I think it’s a little bit of it. Yeah. So back to you. Where were we with you and your process. So you have to go through this arranged marriage and then divorce.
It was only after that that I kind of like realized how did eight learning I learned how to date very very late in life. And then I found out I was actually pretty good at it like I liked dating. And so I dated for a very long time I think like five or six years after that I just was like I’m dating and my parents are like even more infuriated because like they were further and further away from their grandkids and my time is running out. You’re getting older and I was like I don’t care.
Like not getting a Christian name. It’s just not going to get. I was adamant that it was not going to get pushed into another relationship. It never ever ever again. And so when I met Malika It was much more like traditional dating like we met got to know each other. I actually broke up because I didn’t take her seriously it was very like superficial kind of relationship at first. She used to Booty Call me drunk.
I’m going to I’m going to pay for this one but like her later a joke but it’s true.
I just did not take her seriously. And when we when we finally actually we got together after she she was kind of like you know I’ve been I’ve been thinking about you and I really feel like we should try again. And I was like OK. You know like I I’m I’m willing to give it a go because she made a pretty powerful case and I did. I was also if I’m honest I was also thinking about her too. And so I we started dating. Like for real for real. Oh my God there is so much friction though there is so much stuff we had to work out once we had to work out. I don’t really understand guys who want weak women like.
That. By the way is it so weird to me like dude what a turnoff. Like who wants what’s a slave or a servant or someone who doesn’t have thoughts of their own. Like why why would you want that. Right. So. Yeah. When when when I met her I mean these are the things that attracted me to her. You know she’s beautiful but she’s also tough and smart and and also my views on her evolved so much after we got married and after we started a business together my goodness.
But I’m different. So OK so how did you fall in love and decide to get married and what was your wedding like.
We we fell in love because you know after she after she kind of proposed us getting back together and then trying again we started really actually dating like really like trying to see each other regularly. And then she was flying all over the world so it was kind of this weird like long distance relationship across time zones is so weird. OK. So Skype was brand new like brand new like and then and internet service was still pretty crappy. So we would try and do video chats and it would be laggy and horrible and then like Oh my God I’ve got good Wi-Fi over here. Get on and talk and like OK you know it’s just switch over to voice only like constantly trying to talk to each other just all the time. And so then I decided like OK if we’re going to actually give this relationship a chance them we need to kind of settle down we need to pick a place and be together. Right. And so I was like I’ll go first. And so I’ve been working for I found a job in D.C. where I wasn’t I wasn’t commuting anymore. I knew it was a crap job. It was not a good job. But it paid well and I it gave me like I could I could go to my apartment at the end of my work right. I couldn’t go home and she had a harder time of letting go with this but also because her her independence and work was just harder won like her family when she got her divorce. She struck out on her own. And and a lot of her family was they condemned her. I mean she was not popular in her family or getting a divorce.
That is definitely a topic that I want to go back and touch on.
Yeah. And I really feel like if you talk to her you’ll get a really great conversation about that too because she is super brave. She is and she’s a trailblazer. Like in her own family and in her in her community and there are not many smileys who get divorces. I mean you know Indians in general just don’t marry often. And then as a subset of Indians like Ismailis just do it they will suffer through the worst effing marriages.
Just because you’re not supposed to go ahead and also and I don’t know if they’re if they are the same as good draw these people and I’m not making a generalization.
I’m just making the statement based on experiences that I’ve had with people who have been through divorce. So I don’t want anybody to common stock me and you know kill me from my observations who women are blamed regardless of the reason that the divorce occurred. If the husband was cheating it’s her fault for not pleasing him in the bedroom. And I’m not being mean I’m just I have heard that statement before.
So no you’re absolutely right. You are absolutely dead on and there was none. This is not even that melodrama.
Neither of our divorces were for anything quite so dramatic like it wasn’t that I I was not cheating on my wife and she wasn’t cheating on me. And Malika was not cheating on her husband and he wasn’t cheating on her. It really just was irreconcilable. I can’t really get along with this right. And so of course that is the worst for any Indian because. That’s not merely cut and dried enough. That means you could possibly work it out. Yes.
And so given that you’re like Well I mean if you’re not getting along Why don’t you just get along.
Right. Right. I mean who needs to have romance or you know anything like that. Well you know what.
The same could be said about just any old you know American or any other run of the mill love marriage you get to a point where it’s like do we really have to get along not just go in the other room. It doesn’t matter.
You know there are ebbs and flows.
I mean my views on romance have just changed a lot too. I don’t feel I feel an entirely different kind of romance with Malika than I do than I’ve ever felt with anyone else. It’s not the sappy like you know rose petals on the bed. You do really got time for that shit. I like it’s like I’ve got for years it was spit up on my shirt and the casseroles like. You just have to find your own ways of being romantic. Then right it’s all the little things. It’s just being trying to be considerate of the other person and just maybe give them a raise and they can be romantic and it’s done properly and and then also trying to find some time where you can be together and not have any real expectations of romance precisely but you know what I mean like let’s go get dinner let’s go get dinner together now. You know we’ve we’ve been married almost 10 years. I feel like our relationship is just so much stronger than when we first started out. Well that’s of course every time I say words like this out loud though it’s like a change like we’re going gonna go home and I mean I’ve a huge argument that I don’t think of it that way.
It’s an affirmation to the universe that’s just going to strengthen the vibes. Just think of it that way. Thanks Cheryl. That’s exactly what it is affirmation universe here.
Well so you found the love of your life and that’s amazing and your parents didn’t have anything to do with that and more amazing.
So I was talking to my husband about this earlier and we were arguing about arranged marriage and the the value of it and you know he grew up of course under the impression that arranged marriages always work because you know it’s not based on this fleeting romance it’s based on you know family contract and working together and that sort of thing. And I you know going into I was just the starry eyed little girl from the 80s listen and love songs all the time. I thought well it’s all about romance. That’s all that matters is the romance and whether you’re in love every day of the week. And of course now I know that that’s not so we were kind of having an argument. OK. Which is better or is one better because arranged marriages get divorced love marriages. You know people get divorced all the time so.
So I think doesn’t the first problem or what I would if I were to argue you know get into the argument which you know it’s your argument but I don’t want to but I’m going to give you ammo.
OK. OK. Yeah. You have to be on my side. I’m on your side everyone has to be on my side you’re on my show. It’s not his show. That’s right. You have a podcast. I’m giving you the ammo. OK. Here you go. Thank you.
The first thing is I disagree with the idea that the measure of success or marriages is the divorce rate. I really really disagree with that as a metric. I don’t think asked. Of course rate is actually an accurate way to measure marriage like it’s it’s not it’s a good way to measure failure but only partially. It doesn’t capture everything right. So there are so many kinds of marriages out there that are absolutely unhappy. And yet there are still two people married together. Right. Right and then they can be together for any number of reasons. Right to do. I mean I also hate this thinking that like you have to stay together for children. Right. My family my parents stayed together for children like my parents argued and fought like you adopted. They still do. My mom and dad just they are terrible and I believe my sister and I. I remember being like eleven and her being seven and saying things like I wish they would get a divorce which you can imagine being 11 years old or seven years old. And and honestly sincerely wishing your parents would get a divorce because it would be better than what they were putting us through the rest of the time right.
Yeah that’s intense.
So I you know I just they’re they haven’t gotten a divorce. I still think that they should have gotten a divorce like years and years ago and they probably still could. And. I don’t know. Again like it’s a whole other topic but I like way of measuring success and I really I would I would totally disagree with the whole divorce rate thing.
I would go on to say that like the way you actually measure of marriage a successful marriage is to ask the people who are actually married to each other whether they enjoy or believe that their marriage is a good marriage.
Right. And what is their definition of a good marriage and I think some of that is culturally defined as well even as long as both of them say yes it’s a good marriage.
Like if say rules say you know they’re free to say yes I think I have a good marriage and the other person says independently Yes I think I have a good marriage you’ve got a good marriage. Right. If if one person disagrees it’s not a good marriage.
And that’s the problem that we ran into because you know and I always attributed it to culture and I probably wrongfully attributed every one of his flaws to culture because I’m a woman and I’m going to attribute it to him but he always said you know we need to stay married because marriage is good and we don’t have to always be perfect. We don’t have to be in love and I would be happy to be married even if things are not good because marriage is the goal. And I was like Oh honey I was not raised that way if I’m unhappy I’m going to divorce you. And I did.
I did stay together with him for a long time for the kids because I thought that it was the right thing. But of course we know that that’s not true. Yeah. So I blamed it on the culture and I think part of it was that we had different definitions.
I think that’s where though. But I think that blaming it on the culture in some ways is fair because people are a product of their culture.
So you know when you and in it’s I mean man I know Dahresh is going to hear this so now. Don’t kill me right. But like Gujaratis these are extremely gosh the word I would use as clannish. They’re very very right. I mean I think even they would agree with that assessment they’re like they’re very very clannish and very proud of that.
They are. So yes not a bad thing. But that pressure to stay together at all costs also allows a lot of stuff to slide right. Like if if you’re if the end result is to stay married no matter what then no one has to deal with their personal issues. Right. That’s right. Anything you can just be like Oh you’re staying together no matter what. So fuck it.
I think personal issues are incidental to the situation.
And when in fact it’s really kind of the opposite that you should you’ve got to build your marriage on a foundation of trust. Right. Like you have to actually like trust each other first and foremost you have to actually like each other. And if you ever do that one first. I mean I also don’t believe that there’s such a thing as a perfectly equitable relationship like it’s not like you know one person does one thing and therefore another person does another thing. It’s like somedays one person is only doing a lot of work and some days the other person is not going to be doing a lot of work and then it’s going to flip and it’s gonna be like that for maybe three months then maybe it’s going to be the other way for like six. And it’s never going to be entirely fair and you shouldn’t ask it to write like because it’s just a human relationship right.
That’s true. And things change throughout your lifetime phases of your life everything changes and you become a different person and you either grow with it or you don’t. Yeah and yeah. So back to you and your marriage and you guys now have twins and so you and Malika from pretty different traditions somewhat different traditions so how are you as the father of two girls who is no longer a misogynist.
How are you going to handle this whole thing raising them what kind of values and how are you gonna teach them to be strong women.
Well first of all I mean. OK. So I am surrounded by women like literally like me and then women in my house I have two girl dogs two daughters boy wife and a nanny.
Because there’s no thing. And in some ways it’s an even match.
I was very arrogant again but no truthfully I like women. That’s first first and foremost. And then as far as like the the how do you teach them to be strong.
I think that’s actually it’s kind of backwards it’s like you don’t have to teach them to be strong you just have to not beat up on them and they want to be strong on their own.
Like I have a daughter. Yes. Both my daughters are super tough. Like they don’t take shit already and they’re three but one of them is like very much more like you know easygoing and calm and a lot of ways and social and even her like if you try and like you know like hey let’s go do this thing and she doesn’t want to do it. She’s like No no. My job is to then respect that. Like if she’s saying no I don’t go well yes you are no right or there be a good little girl and listen.
You don’t really don’t do that bullshit. That is not allowed in our house. So I don’t do it and like it doesn’t do it. We don’t infantilized them even though they’re infants we don’t say like don’t go into them.
We try to put things of their level in ways that they can understand if they can understand it and we go ahead and we act on their behalf but I’m not going to like spin things for them. Gaslight them try and convince them to believe things that they wouldn’t themselves come around to believing on their own like you know like I want them to. I want them to be who they are. And so you know like the way you know when you’re like How do you make them tough. Like I think they are tough. They’re gonna be tough. I think my my whole job is to just make sure no one else beats up on. Right. Like if they yes. If other people tear them down then they’re not gonna be tough.
And I and girls look for husbands or partners that are like their fathers.
And hopefully it’s the positive thing that they’re going to look for. And you know you’re raising them to you’re allowing them for for their strength to come out and they’re going to look for a man that you know they feel free to do that with too.
Hopefully they’re not gonna be attracted to somebody that you know pushes their thumb down on him and grinds them down. I think they would have no reason to.
I think that like their first encounter like you know you hear a lot about like men who are like you know the like. Have you seen the idiots who like pose on like social media on the lake with a gun and they’re from the lake. I better not touch my daughter and I’m like What the fuck is wrong with you like your job was before this and you clearly have failed at it. If you feel the right to carry a gun to protect your daughter when she’s about to graduate high school you’ve done it all fucking wrong.
Look I see it as like I don’t have to protect them from a lot of this I want them to be able to protect themselves.
My job is to teach them how to protect themselves how what to look out for how guys can be you know and they’re gonna figure it out on their own if they bounce off a couple of shitty guys in the process as long as they’re not getting hurt by it. I’m okay with it. You know like I’m going to have to.
I know that it’s easy to say that when they’re three I have to tell you from experience it does get a little bit more difficult when they’re like 15 and beautiful and wearing short shorts and yeah it’s like I’ve already been thinking about it.
I mean let’s.
My prep work to be a good dad has been like you know come to grips with them becoming sexual beings as quickly as possible because I don’t want to be like ambushed by this shit when it happens right. I’m not like right.
I like being a little bit ahead of. Because that’s only going to alienate them and go undercover and sneak around.
Up until now my entire I have approached fatherhood.
My view on fatherhood is that I want them to trust me. I want to trust them and I and I’m trying to build that foundation. That’s how I did it like with my relationship Malika. And she feels the same way too that like you know if we talk to them in ways where they know that they can trust us where they know that we’re not going to overreact or blow our top like my parents I couldn’t trust them I couldn’t talk to them because I would hide everything from them because I couldn’t trust the reactions if they it was something about my life that was making me miserable. It only ever boiled down to grades. So if I was making bad grades I was bad and if I was making good grades I was good and nothing else matter. All right.
And so that’s a whole can of worms.
But talk about a small lens to view your life through like TV or not. Yeah. So I I was miserable a lot of the time. And then I didn’t trust them with anything. So there were probably a lot of moments where they might have been able to steer me if I could have talked to them. And I feel sad looking back. Like they kind of built this relationship because it was very punitive and very very like hard and heavy handed. And I am trying to you know I feel like it’s so easy to to enjoy your children which you know don’t get me wrong. Like I’m not trying to be like oh it’s just all flowers and butterflies.
I mean like any parent of twins knows that is not okay.
It’s a shit ton of work but yeah but it is possible to enjoy their company like just sit on the couch and watch a silly YouTube video together.
Doesn’t have to all be on my terms right like if they’re watching something that’s like on their level I can enjoy it too. You know I can come down to where they are and just be silly with them and my parents never did that like that was a thing that was just like their dignity was beneath their dignity to enjoy the things I enjoy whatever it was.
Wow. I wonder if that was just the the era. You know regardless of culture because my parents didn’t I mean of course I knew they loved me and all of that but they didn’t get on my level with play or anything like that it was I’m on my own I go play with my friends I do my thing and they do their parent thing there wasn’t that sort of interaction I think that most of us have with our kids now and you know they were as white and redneck from Kentucky as you can get. So I think it may just be the I shouldn’t say that they weren’t redneck.
I just has an accent. But.
You know it was just different I think the expectations from parenting back then were different to it with you. It’s just a whole different level of different expectations. But the beauty like what have you have what you were saying of being able to relate to your kids on that level is when they grow up. You end up with these individuals that you enjoy being around as adults. And it’s so much more enjoyable when your kids are adults and you can talk to them on an adult level. It’s amazing
So you doing that now is really setting the stage for that.
Thanks. I am very… I’m so looking forward to that.
I mean that is one of the things that I like when that day where .
I mean you know it’s not like it’s just going to arrive all at once but I’m just also just looking forward to them being like five and we can have like more more communications than we have now. Like I feel like this is another thing that I really really enjoy about them. Some people like my my in-laws by my mother in law like she’s like You know you’re gonna really miss them when they’re like two and three and I’m like you know I think they’re sweet but I think it’s kind of getting better the better that they can communicate like it’s life gets easier for us when they can communicate better. And when I can communicate with them it’s better to write like just the it’s so much more enjoyable right. Like you can you can hear exactly what they want. I like. You can talk about the things that they’ve discovered or what they want to do right. Right. If I own it.
Yeah. I wanted clones or if I only wanted to do things I wanted to do why would I even have kids. What’s the point right. Yeah.
And you get to learn things things from them as they grow to which is awesome. You know it’s not just about us teaching them or raising them it’s about them what they give to us. He’s like my 11 year old introduced me to Post Malone.
So I like Post Malone. Oh hey it’s pretty cool.
So you know there’s definitely a given take but it’s hard earned with those kids because I can tell you right now my kids made me earn that friendship that I have with them now as adults. My daughter didn’t speak to me from the time she was about 11 till 20. Wow. It was a long time now.
You know she did speak to me sometimes when she needed stuff like that but now she’s 23 and living on her own in the big city and she’s the most wonderful person I could ever ask for and where does she live.
But yeah they may. She just moved to New York City. She lives in Manhattan. And on her own and she is there about five minutes from her brother who goes to college there. So I’m glad that they’re you know and they they were very close growing up too so that’s one of the benefits of having a big family. Young is that they are all close. They fought like cats and dogs. Now they’re now they had a That’s awesome that that makes me feel really good because I.
My biggest fear probably is that you know the twins don’t get along with each other when they’re older or that normally only just sort of Splendor ous somehow and I Oh my God that would be my worst nightmare. But you know I also know that this is a process and nothing happens at once and it can go in one direction or another direction later.
Oh yes. Life is all over the place and kids just it’s like a big splatter on the wall with kids. You just have to clean it up as you go.
But I mean it sounds like you guys have given them the best foundation that you could just because of how you and Malika started together and you didn’t have to. Sounds like you don’t have to wade through all of the negativity that you might have had in your life if you had gone on a different path.
So I congratulate you on that I’m giving you my stamp of approval.
I congratulate you on raising a family man. As in any anyone who has twins and other kids. My head is off to you in good job Sheryl.
Well that’s a whole other series of podcasts talking about that.
I was pretty crazy there for a while but yeah I came out of it. It’s all good.
This was an awesome analysis I think of relationships and culture and things like that because it’s there’s so many different things to think about it’s not just where you’re from or what you look like or who you marry or why you marry.
I mean it’s life. And I think it’s good to talk about it and get people’s understanding out there on the story.
Yeah definitely. Yeah. I’m one of the things I love most about it about this age we live in now. Right. Is it things like podcasts make conversations like this possible. I make it so that you can have a conversation and hopefully even a bit of an audience and then it just becomes stigma gets removed. People aren’t so self-conscious about this stuff. It just becomes a little bit easier right.
Yeah I agree because so much of the thing so many of the things that I talk about on the podcast I mean I held in my belly for 20 years because I didn’t have an opportunity an avenue for a voice because I felt like it was going to rock the boat.
It was going to hurt my family it would cause issues with his family whatever. And now I’m older and I really don’t care anymore. But I also have this avenue that I can put it out there but I have to say when I started my blog Southern life Indian wife years ago I was getting emails and text messages from people who thanked me for having my voice out there because it was really their voice and they weren’t in a position that they could express. I understand that. And it made them feel like OK someone out there understands me. Close to you.
You know people thought Oh well thank you and people can say what they want about the Internet good and bad that that is definitely one of the one of the benefits that we are giving our society with this online stuff.
But on the flip side I have to say Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra all the time on my Instagram feed this is I hope they’re not listening. See I love them. They’re wonderful if they’re listening. Let me interview you on my podcast. There’s just so much to unpack with them. I just I feel like my child I want to sit down and just count count on Nick all say Priyanka. How about that. Yeah. OK. You go in for the right.
Well thank you so much for being here to chat with me. This was an amazing conversation. Thank you Sheryl this was a ton of fun. It was good catching up with you as well.
If you like this podcast so far. Please continue following along by tapping the subscribe button wherever you listen to podcasts. If you really liked it go on be awesome and leave a rating and a review. Find me on all social media too by searching Sheryl with an S. Parbhoo . That’s p a r b h o Oh Thanks for listening to Southern life Indian Wife.