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Bridging The Barriers: Nimitta & Dan

February 3, 2014 , by Nimitta Tamrakar, Leave your thoughts
Bridging The Barriers: Nimitta & Dan » My Dreams Mag

There are perceptions that when you settle down with someone from a different country, you are giving up your own culture. But I think it’s taking a part of your culture and planting the root together, whoever you are with.

 

I was born and raised in a typical Newar family and Dan was born and raised in a typical American family. I couldn’t have imagined I would ever end up with someone so different from me. I grew up in Bhaktapur, with baji (chiura), chwayla, kachila, paun, chana-chatpat,and you name it. Dan grew up in a suburb of Chicago, with mac and cheese, steak, baked potatoes, brownies, and any American food that I only saw in TVs. Though our lifestyles and experiences in our lives were not the same, he got the same love from his parents as I got from mine. And so today, we feel the same love for each other. We like to believe in destiny because when we analyse our situation, we conclude that we were destined to be together.

I went to the U.S. for higher education without any intention of ending up with a ‘gorey’. Our story started off as simple as it can get. Dan and I met through a common friend, he asked me out, and eventually we fell in love. The hard part was to immerse ourselves in each other’s lifestyle, and to me, that was when our real story started. One of the most memorable moments to me was our first date with just the two of us. I got a text from Dan one day on my way to work, and it said “Have you ever been on a motorcycle?” Little did he know that my father owned one and I have travelled on a motorcycle almost all my life.

He took me to a lake just out of town. I had only known this guy for a few days, and my instinct told me that I should be cautious. Unlike the stereotypical American guy that I used to imagine, Dan was unique. He started talking about his family, his childhood, his interests and his friends. Before knowing him, I was under the impression that American guys don’t give priority to commitment and hardly commit to a long term relationship involving love. But Dan proved it all wrong. He fell in love with me, and made me feel comfortable around him. I was impressed with not just his actions and behaviour, but also his words and values.

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Raised in a collectivist type of society, we Nepalis tend to be more close to our loved ones, sharing every decision to be made. American society, on the other hand, is more individualistic. But I found that whether they are from the same culture or different, every couple has their differences.

It required a lot of conversation, understanding and commitment from both of us to bridge the distance between us. I shared my childhood stories to him, how I grew up, what I ate, what we valued and believed in life. I remember translating old sayings in Nepali, like “ama bau ko maya chhora chhori mathi, chhora chhori ko maya dhunga-mudha mathi” into English and explaining it to him, not that he liked this saying.

Nepali language has been a bit of a challenge for Dan. The trouble of learning it away from Nepali society is that he often does not know which information is important and which is not. Once he bought a book to learn Nepali. Among the Nepali vowels a aa e ee, the book also listed rhi. To anyone who heard him recite the alphabet, it was strange that he knew so few regular words but knew bits and pieces of academic information like the rhi, which is obsolete now! It makes me happy to see his attempt to learn.

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Once in a while he learns new words without me teaching him, which shows that he tries and I give him credit for that. Naturally, most of them are romantic, like “hat samau” or “yeta aau.” One time he wrote me a small note that ended with this: “… kripaya hunu sukhi, maha.” When I looked confused, he recited it as “… please be happy, honey.” We have realized that Nepali is difficult language to perfect. But he knew what he was signing up for.

Coming to Nepal together was also a huge step that we took last winter, and it has strengthened our relationship in many ways. Nothing makes you happier than to see your loved ones accepting and welcoming your better half in the family. I had told my parents about Dan not too long after we started dating. Like any parents, they had their concerns, but not after they met him in person.

When we went to Nepal, my parents had already talked to Dan through Skype. So fortunately, there were no awkward moments between them. Sometimes, my mom would randomly make conversations with Dan in Nepali and he would smile the whole time, not knowing how to respond. But they understood each other despite the barrier in language, and they got along just fine. When I finally got to show Dan around Nepal, I felt pride in our culture and natural beauty. My uncle was his tour guide and through him, Dan and I both learnt a lot about our architecture, art, and carvings.

IMG_1953True that we are from different parts of the world and are different, but we do have many things in common as well. Outdoor adventure is one of them. Travelling, hiking, camping and similar activities are on our list whenever we get free time. Dan loves Nepali food, so we cook together all the time. Some of our favourite dishes that we love cooking are momo, samosa, pakora, spicy curries, and so on. Like his sporadic knowledge of Nepali language, Dan’s knowledge of Nepali cooking is sporadic as well: he knows how to make elaborate dishes like samosas, but maybe not simple dal-bhat.

When we get a chance, we also love trying new food. These commonalities play a big part in how we get along. We learn from each other every single day, and I have felt myself become more mature and understanding. Being in an interracial relationship can get tough, but it teaches one values from different culture and gives one a great experience.

There is the perception that when you settle down with someone from a different country, you are giving up your own culture. But I think it’s taking a part of your culture and planting the root together, whoever you are with. It’s all about how you represent your country and keep your dignity.

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Nimitta Tamrakar and Daniel Griffin both recently graduated from Western Illinois University. Dan is a Manager trainee at a Sporting Goods store, and Nimitta works part-time as marketing coordinator for a tax services organization. They both currently live in Bend, Oregon, USA.

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Text & Images By: Nimitta Tamrakar

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