Marrying Someone From Abroad

which highlights precautions for parents to take before entering into a marriage with a non-resident Indian (NRI, that is, an Indian citizen who lives abroad). Further, the MOIA booklet, ‘Marriages to Overseas Indians’, apparently has useful information on safeguards, legal remedies and whom to approach in case of such problems

Dear Dadu,

You will be astonished to hear, but I hope pleasantly so, that my uncle has been approached by a family whose son is in the US, for a possible match for me.

I don’t know whether to be excited or nervous and don’t know whether to be happy or upset! On the one hand, it would be great to live abroad (though I don’t know much about life there beyond what one sees on TV and in movies). On the other hand, I don’t like the idea of being so far from everyone I know here. What do you think?

Love,
Anoushka

Dear Anoushka,

That is great news! Even if you and/or he don’t like each other, or there is some other reason for the matter not to be taken forward, I am pleased that at least such a proposal has come! You are right about the pros and cons of marrying someone abroad.

Yes, it could be exciting to live abroad – there is more freedom there as well as more opportunities. Generally speaking, there is a higher standard of living, a cleaner and less stressful environment, and a better context in which to bring up children – though one faces the challenge of how to keep the children in touch with our country and culture. Naturally, you may have a little more money and so be able to afford to travel back to visit friends and relatives, but there is more pressure on your time when you are in another country, because the pace of life is much faster.

Morever, after about 6 months, the excitement of discovery and learning about all the new things abroad gives way to a feeling of homesickness and one starts missing one’s friends and relatives. The novelty wears off, and one can start getting depressed. Fortunately, nowadays, telephone calls and Skype video conversations are inexpensive and easy, and that helps counter homesickness and depression. But those are no substitute for having local friends.

So if your parents and you do decide to go ahead with this proposal, it is essential that you prepare to make friends with the local people in the country to which you are going. That means improving your English, specially your conversational English, to a level where you can make friends with local people. I am assuming that you are likely to go to an Englishspeaking country, but if you are going to a country where the
native language is something other than English, then you will be well advised not only to improve your English but also to learn the local language. That is because you must know the local language to make friends with the local people but also in order to find your way about and deal with the local bureaucracy,
while English is the language of international life.

Unfortunately, I have seen too many Indians abroad stick only to other Indians. Of course, that is natural and necessarynto a certain extent, as people of other nationalities are lessacquainted with our customs and traditions, and cultural differences do make understanding more difficult. On the other hand, friendships with local people abroad are also exciting and enriching, and help one to utilise local opportunities to best advantage.

Most of the above applies whether one is going abroad as a spouse or is going abroad by oneself. If you are going as a spouse, you should be aware that you may not be allowed to work for some time unless you obtain permission to do so – therefore that possibility is unlikely to exist till you learn the local language and are able to get any necessary permissions. You should also be aware that, unfortunately, there are situations
where a wife is abandoned by her husband. In fact, this happens so often that our Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) has published booklets for guidance in such situations. I haven’t been able to discover how to get hold of these, but please make sure that your parents (and you!) get and read the MOIA pamphlet ‘Thinking of the marriage of your daughter with an NRI?’ which highlights precautions for parents to take before entering into a marriage with a non-resident Indian (NRI, that is, an Indian citizen who lives abroad). Further, the MOIA booklet, ‘Marriages to Overseas Indians’, apparently has useful information on safeguards, legal remedies and whom to approach in case of such problems. Again, I have not been able to discover how to get hold of these but please make enquiries at the Indian Embassy as well as through women’s support organisations if that becomes necessary.

I am sorry to raise such negative possibilities butbeing prepared for the worst is always a good basis for
hoping for the best.

In your case, I am going to do more than hope, I am going to pray that, whether you marry someone abroad
or in India, you will find marriage helping you to indeed fulfil your dreams and aspirations, as your name indicates.

Love,

Dadu

Published in the July 2014 issue of the Forward Press magazine


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