Believe it or not, there are hundreds of non Indian women married to Indians living in Mumbai. In fact there are something like 300 Russians alone! Now there are some foreigners married to Indians all over India and even more living outside India. But, being married to someone doesn’t make you “them.” Taking their last name (something I didn’t do, partly because my pronunciation of Sanskrit-based words is all out horrible and partially because I am who I am… name and all) doesn’t make you fully part of that culture either.
One can learn about a culture and live in it, enjoy it and embrace it but it doesn’t entirely mean you are “that” culture.
Cultures are always changing and when you mix two cultures things change. Like there is no one Indian culture there is no one way in which a foreigner and a local mix. You cannot step in the same river twice. Thus, we can’t expect two families to be the same.
When you marry you blend your backgrounds, your expectations, your lives. When you have children, you can’t teach them just “one” thing. In fact, what you grew up as, even if you still live in the same community and marry someone from the same community will never be exactly the same.
In the group of women “married to an Indian” there are a variety of sorts. None better or worse than the other… but they do different things, may or may not enjoy some traditional Indian culture. They may or may not reject some of their own culture.
Types of foreign women married to Indians
The I didn’t even know he was Indian and he also has no intention of living in India again. They tend to live life in their home culture and may have made a visit to India after the wedding happened and then may visit again…or maybe not.
The in-law pleasers who try to be an Indian daughter in law. Making perfect roti (or upma). Wearing Hindu marriage symbols or becoming putting their sister in law’s to shame all to show they can be the daughter in law they think their husband’s parents always wanted. They tend to try very hard to make things right even if they still keep some of their own culture alive while they live in India or interact a lot with their inlaws.
The accidental Indian wife. Often these are yoga and spiritual types who came to India to embrace Buddhism or Yoga and later became an Indian wife. These then tend to become high fi yogi families or blend cultures amd spirituality back in their country of origin. They tend to habe a fusion life. Spirituality of the East while keeping some more progressive thinking.
The I am more Indian than he is. These ones aren’t necessarily doing it for their in laws (though they may be) but they take it the next step. They don’t care about acceptance from inlaws but they really change first and last name and take on Hindu or Muslim cultural norms and then work to make their husbands more devout as well. They often believe their native culture has too many faults and glorify all that is India.
Of course there is a definite blend among all of them and people may cycle through them all. But what is important is that both partners are able to have free expression and are not suppressed from interacting with their own family. It is also important to note that Indians may not see a non Indian wife as “them” so saying something like “we know all about this” and speaking about Indians may seem offensive. You can learn a lot in a cross cultural marriage like this… but it doesn’t make you am expert on all things Indian.