Rimi Kochar says it like it is. She raised two daughters in Indonesia, the younger of whom has been ‘romantically connected’ with an Australian man for four years. She is Indian by origin, but bound by no borders.
Taken from fragments of our conversation are straightforward statements that could be the catalyst for reaching, or breaching, understanding of cross-cultural relationships.
Prejudice is exploitation
“For me it’s like, ‘Okay you want to go live in America and have the good life, but when it comes to marrying an American it’s a ‘no-no’. It’s almost like exploiting. You just go, take up somebody else’s job, but at the same time you don’t want to truly become part of that culture because you’re hanging on to your old beliefs. It’s just a very narrow way of looking at life. The world has changed so dramatically in the last 30 years or so that we really can’t hang on to false beliefs, and our whole system of looking at life and marriage and everything has to change.
Parents are enjoying all of the good stuff of the West and there are lots of good people…but it’s just that they’ve put their blinders on and they think that the only good people to be found for their kids are Indians, which is not true. They have to open their eyes and horizons a little bit.”
Parents need to grow up.
“Parents really need to grow up a little bit, and just become a bit open, because the whole world is becoming such a global village. It’s like if we’re stuck at nationalities and passports, it’s looking at life too narrowly.
The problem is that technology is very fast, but our minds and bodies and our cultural expectations and our deep-rooted beliefs, they don’t change so quickly. And that’s why the conflict happens, and parents really will have to start growing up with the children.”
Get to the core. Express it.
“I think parents are not expressing the fact that they want their kids to be happy. What they usually express is, ‘I don’t want you to marry anybody other than an Indian. The fact about feelings hardly ever comes up. And they’re completely missing the point.”
Rejection perpetuates failure.
“For the child they are taking a huge step into the unknown, committing to a lifetime relationship and hoping that it’ll work. But if the parents are not with them, then it really puts a huge pressure on the children to make it work without any effort, or any backing, in case things don’t work out perfectly.
Because see in an arranged family, the parents are always there for the backing, on both sides, because they have arranged it and so they’re responsible so they will make every effort to make it work. And in these cross-cultural ones, if parents are against it then they’re not going to support, so these young people are out on a limb, taking such a huge step, and no support system, which makes it really difficult.”