The Cubicle: An African American-Indian Love Story

Get to know our December’s How We Met couple, Nikita and Sachin Gupta. Authors, career nomads, entrepreneurs, they’ve been there, done that, and continue to do amazing things together. Nikita also runs a successful blog at GrowingUpGupta where, among other things, she shares her experiences raising her African American-Indian daughter.

Nikita has a Bachelors degree in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Spanish and an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Not one to really “stay” at home as a mom, in her tenure as a SAHM, she has published two books and written or continued to write for The Huffington Post, Multicultural Kids Blogs, the South Asian Bloggers Network, the Times of India, and BrownGirl Magazine. She has also been featured on podcasts and worked with multiracial and multicultural brands.

Nikita’s husband, Sachin, who is Indian, is an author and Sales Manager. He has a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Over to Nikita and Sachin.

Don’t forget to read what happened when Sachin told his Indian parents he was in love with Nikita and wanted to marry her, an African-American woman. 


 

 


  1. If​ ​your​ ​love​ ​story​ ​was​ ​to​ ​be​ ​made​ ​into​ ​a​ ​movie,​ ​what​ ​would​ ​you​ ​call​ ​it?

The​ ​Cubicle

[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” size=””]We​ ​talked​ ​for​ ​hours​ ​on​ ​end​ ​during​ ​that​ ​dinner.​ ​So much​ ​so​, ​that​ ​we​ ​didn’t​ ​want​ ​the​ ​date​ ​to​ ​end.[/perfectpullquote]

  1. How did​ ​you​ ​meet? Who made the first move? How?

We​ ​met​ ​at​ ​work​ ​at​ ​a​ ​mutual​ ​friend’s​ ​cubicle. Sachin​ ​made​ ​the​ ​first​ ​move. He​ ​asked​ ​me​ ​on​ ​a​ ​date​ ​and​ ​stated​ ​that​ ​he​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​treat​ ​me​ ​like​ ​a​ ​princess. ​I​ ​told​ ​him​ ​it​ ​would​ ​just​ ​be​ ​a​ ​friend​ ​date–two​ ​friends​ ​going​ ​out​ ​to​ ​dinner. However,​ ​he​ ​brought​ ​me​ ​flowers​ ​and​ ​opened​ ​my​ ​car​ ​door.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​completely chivalrous​ ​the​ ​entire​ ​evening​ ​and​ ​we​ ​talked​ ​for​ ​hours​ ​on​ ​end​ ​during​ ​that​ ​dinner.​ ​So much​ ​so​, ​that​ ​we​ ​didn’t​ ​want​ ​the​ ​date​ ​to​ ​end.

  1. What​ ​attracted​ ​you​ ​to​ ​each​ ​other?

We​ ​are​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​alike​ ​and​ ​our​ ​lives​ ​have​ ​mirrored​ ​each​ ​other’s​ ​in​ ​many​ ​ways.​ ​We complement​ ​each​ ​other​ ​in​ ​every​ ​way.​ ​And​ ​Sachin​ ​daily​ ​brought​ ​me​ ​flowers​ ​when​ ​we were​ ​dating.

  1. Tell​ ​us​ ​about​ ​you​r​ ​cultural​ ​backgrounds.

Nikita​ – I am​ African-American​ ​and​ ​was​ ​raised​ ​Christian.​ ​I ​was​ ​born​ ​in​ ​Chicago,​ ​but​ ​my parents​ ​eventually​ ​relocated​ ​to​ ​the​ ​North​ ​West​ ​suburbs​ ​of​ ​Chicago​ ​to​ ​give​ ​their​ ​children a​ ​better​ ​educational​ ​environment.​ ​My​ ​parents​ ​raised​ ​me​ ​to​ ​respect​ ​all​ ​people​ ​regardless of​ ​race,​ ​ethnicity,​ ​and​ ​religion.​ ​Many​ ​of​ ​my​ ​friends​ ​growing​ ​up​ ​were​ ​of​ ​an​ ​array​ ​of ethnic​ ​backgrounds.​ ​

Sachin​ ​is​ ​South​ ​Asian​ ​and​ ​he​ ​was​ ​raised​ ​Hindu.​ ​His​ ​parents​ ​raised him​ ​in​ ​a​ ​very​ ​traditional​ ​Indian​ ​home​ ​yet​ ​he​ ​also​ ​had​ ​friends​ ​that​ ​were​ ​from​ ​various cultural​ ​backgrounds​ ​growing​ ​up.

  1. Tell​ ​us​ ​about​ ​the​ ​dating​ ​challenges​ ​you​ ​may​ ​have​ ​faced.​ ​What were​ ​your parents’/family/relatives/friends’​ ​thoughts​ ​about​ ​you​ ​dating/being​ ​in​ ​a​ ​relationship?

Nikita – ​ ​My​ ​family​ ​loved​ ​Sachin​ ​upon​ ​meeting​ ​him.​ ​I​ ​went​ ​back​ ​home​ ​to​ ​Chicago​ ​and​ ​told my​ ​parents​ ​I​ ​had​ ​met​ ​a​ ​guy​ ​that​ ​I​ ​liked.​ ​My​ ​parents​ ​asked​ ​me​ ​his​ ​name.​ ​I​ ​told​ ​them, ‘Sachin​ ​Gupta’.​ ​My​ ​dad,​ ​immediately​ ​blurted​ ​out​, “Now​ ​what​ ​is​ ​a​ ​Gupta;​ ​Gupta​ ​what?​” ​It was​ ​then​ ​that​ ​I​ ​told​ ​them​ ​that​ ​he​ ​is​ ​Indian​ ​and​ ​that​ ​we​ ​met​ ​at​ ​work.​ ​My​ ​parents​ ​had then​ ​told​ ​me​ ​that​ ​they​ ​could​ ​tell​ ​from​ ​the​ ​smile​ ​on​ ​my​ ​face​ ​that​ ​I​ ​was​ ​happy​ ​and​ ​that they​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​meet​ ​him.​ ​I​ ​told​ ​Sachin​ ​how​ ​things​ ​went​ ​with​ ​my​ ​parents​ ​and​ ​we travelled​ ​to​ ​Chicago​ ​to​ ​have​ ​dinner​ ​with​ ​my​ ​parents.​ ​He​ ​brought​ ​my​ ​mom​ ​flowers​ ​and he​ ​instantaneously​ ​hit​ ​it​ ​off​ ​with​ ​my​ ​parents.​ ​They​ ​loved​ ​that​ ​he​ ​was​ ​a​ ​gentleman, funny, had​ ​a​ ​career,​ ​was​ ​goal​ ​oriented,​ ​and​ ​a​ ​visionary.​ ​

[bctt tweet=”My​ ​parents​ ​had then​ ​told​ ​me​ ​that​ ​they​ ​could​ ​tell​ ​from​ ​the​ ​smile​ ​on​ ​my​ ​face​ ​that​ ​I​ ​was​ ​happy​ ​and​ ​that they​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​meet​ ​him” username=”ParentVoiceMag”]

 

Sachin -​ ​My​ ​parents​ ​did​ ​not​ ​approve​ ​of​ ​our​ ​relationship​ ​because​ ​Nikita​ ​is African-American. ​ ​They​ ​had​ ​no​ ​desire​ ​to​ ​meet​ ​her. ​I​ ​was​ ​frustrated​ ​and​ ​broken because​ ​they​ ​raised​ ​me​ ​to​ ​have​ ​morals,​ ​and​ ​values,​ ​and​ ​to​ ​find​ ​someone​ ​that​ ​has​ ​these traits,​ ​along​ ​with​ ​being​ ​well​ ​educated​ ​and​ ​wanting​ ​something​ ​great​ ​out​ ​of​ ​her​ ​life.​ ​And​ ​I had​ ​found​ ​that​ ​someone​ ​in​ ​Nikita. I​ ​did​ ​try​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​with​ ​them continuously​ ​about​ ​Nikita​ ​but​ ​it​ ​fell​ ​on​ ​deaf​ ​ears​ ​because​ ​they​ ​could​ ​not​ ​see​ ​beyond​ ​her skin​ ​color.

Read more about Sachin’s side of the story here.

[bctt tweet=”My​ ​parents​ ​did​ ​not​ ​approve​ ​of​ ​our​ ​relationship​ ​because​ she ​is African-American. ​ ” username=”ParentVoiceMag”]

Both – We​ ​lost​ very​ ​few​ ​friends​ ​​that were​ ​not​ ​genuine​ ​friends​ ​in​ ​the​ ​first​ ​place.​ ​Most​ ​of​ ​our​ ​friends​ ​did​ ​support​ ​our relationship.

  1. What​ ​did​ ​you​ ​think​ ​about​ ​being​ ​part​ ​of​ ​an​ ​interracial/international​ ​couple?

It​ ​is​ ​beautiful​ ​but​ ​it​ ​takes​ ​a​ ​willingness​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​about:​ ​a​ ​different​ ​family​ ​dynamic, cultural​  structure​ ​inclusive​ ​of​ ​foods,​ ​dance,​ ​religion,​ ​customs​ ​etc!​ ​We​ ​both​ ​believe​ ​that it​ ​provides​ ​you​ ​with​ ​a​ ​greater​ ​richness​ ​and​ ​understanding​ ​of​ ​the​ ​world​ ​around​ ​you.

[bctt tweet=”An interracial relationship provides​ ​you​ ​with​ ​a​ ​greater​ ​richness​ ​and​ ​understanding​ ​of​ ​the​ ​world​ ​around​ ​you.” username=”ParentVoiceMag”]

  1. Did​ ​your​ ​families​ ​approve/not​ ​approve​ ​of​ ​each​ ​other​ and​ ​what​ ​you​ ​did/didn’t​ ​do​ ​about​ ​it?

Sachin’s​ ​parents​ ​did​ ​not​ ​approve​ ​nor​ ​did​ ​they​ ​want​ ​to​ ​meet​ ​me​ ​because​ I am African-American.​ ​They​ ​wanted​ ​him​ ​to​ ​marry​ ​a​ ​South​ ​Asian​ ​woman. ​ ​Sachin​ ​was disowned​ ​after​ ​telling​ ​his​ ​parents​ ​he​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​date​ ​me.

  1. How did​ ​you/your​ ​partner​ ​propose?

Sachin​ – I​ ​felt​ ​nervous​ ​and​ ​scared​ ​asking​ ​Nikita​ ​to​ ​be​ ​my​ ​wife​ ​knowing​ ​that​ ​I​ ​was going​ ​to​ ​make​ ​a​ ​life-long​ ​decision.​ ​The​ ​day​ ​was​ ​hectic​ ​given​ ​the​ ​number​ ​of​ ​stops​ ​I​ ​had to​ ​make.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​worried​ ​that​ ​Nikita​ ​wouldn’t​ ​get​ ​back​ ​from​ ​her​ ​business​ ​trip​ ​on​ ​time​ ​and that​ ​I​ ​wouldn’t​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​get​ ​everything​ ​executed​ ​perfectly.​ ​I​ ​had​ ​asked​ ​her​ ​sister, brother-in-law,​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​best​ ​friend’s,​ ​and​ ​a​ ​mutual​ ​work​ ​colleague​ ​to​ ​help​ ​me​ ​set​ ​up the​ ​scene.

During the day, I couldn’t stop calling Nikita to sing to her how much I love her. And of course, to check up on her, and to see where she was at, and when she would be coming home. When she got home I had to get her into a dress because I had plans for us all to go out.Yet she kept resisting me and asking why it was so important for her to change.​ ​She​ ​finally​ ​did​ ​change​ ​once​ ​I​ ​stressed​ ​how​ ​important​ ​it​ ​was​ ​to​ ​me.

While we were in the car driving I was getting nervous yet again. I told her we needed to walk to this new Mexican restaurant I had found to meet up with her sister and brother-in-law (she already knew they were coming to visit). And that I had let them decide where we were going to eat. They had chosen the location but things got awkward​ ​when​ ​Nikita​ ​spotted​ ​my​ ​friend’s​ ​car​ ​and​ ​I​ ​had​ ​to​ ​convince​ ​her​ ​she​ ​was​ ​wrong.

[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” size=””]I walked her down the lit path to a blanket overlooking the beach and sunset…[/perfectpullquote]

I was ecstatic as we continued walking and saw that everything was setup perfectly – a lavish candlelit walkway overlooking the beach and the pavilion. I walked her down the lit path to a blanket overlooking the beach and sunset. I opened up the bottle of Moet and chocolate covered strawberries and fed them to her. I felt my heart pounding as I got down on one knee and asked this woman that I knew was the one for me since the day I met her to be my wife and queen for life. And she answered, YES right before the park​ ​ranger​ ​told​ ​us​ ​the​ ​beach​ ​and​ ​park​ ​were​ ​closing.

[bctt tweet=”I felt my heart pounding as I got down on one knee and asked this woman that I knew was the one for me since the day I met her to be my wife and queen for life.” username=”ParentVoiceMag”]




  1. How is​ ​this​ ​similar​ ​to​ ​or​ ​different​ ​from​ ​your​ ​native​ ​culture?

Sachin​ ​-​ ​Arranged​ ​marriages​ ​are​ ​the​ ​traditional​ ​narrative​ ​with​ ​love​ ​marriages​ ​being​ ​on the​ ​rise.

  1. What were​ ​your​ ​ideas​ ​of​ ​an​ ​ideal​ ​mate​ ​before​ ​you met your​ ​significant​ ​other and how have​ ​these​ ​ideals​ ​evolved​ ​with​ ​your​ ​relationship?

Our​ ​ideas​ ​were​ ​of​ ​each​ ​other​ and​ ​they​ ​have​ ​stayed​ ​the​ ​same.

Nikita​ ​- I wanted a​ ​man​ ​who ​is​ ​handsome,​ ​caring,​ ​loving,​ ​funny,​ ​goal​ ​oriented,​ ​has​ ​morals,​ ​and values,​ ​family​ ​oriented,​ ​chivalrous,​ ​and​ ​ingenious.

Sachin​ ​- I wanted a​ ​woman​ ​who ​is​ ​gorgeous,​ ​has​ ​morals​ ​and​ ​values,​ ​goal​ ​oriented,​ ​witty,​ ​knows how​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​to​ ​anyone,​ ​loving,​ ​and​ ​brilliant.

  1. What​ ​have​ ​been​ ​the​ ​cultural​ ​challenges,​ ​if​ ​any,​ ​that​ ​you​ ​have​ ​faced​ ​in​ ​the​ ​course​ ​of your​ ​relationship?

Nikita​ ​- There​ ​are​ ​so​ ​many – particularly​ ​getting​ ​accustomed​ ​to​ ​all​ ​the​ ​customs/traditions, and​ ​differences​ ​in​ ​holidays​. Really​ ​understanding​ ​and​ ​learning​ ​about​ ​all​ ​the​ ​different customs​ ​and​ ​traditions​ ​from​ ​Holi​ ​to​ ​Diwali​, for example, ​and​ ​making​ ​sure​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​compromise​ ​my own​ ​faith/belief​ ​systems.​ ​

Sachin​ ​-​ ​None​ ​really.​ Except, I​ ​had​ ​never​ ​said​ ​grace​ ​before​ ​eating​, ​growing​ ​up​, ​and​ ​in​ ​Nikita’s​ ​family home​ ​that​ ​was​ ​something​ ​new​ ​for​ ​me.

[bctt tweet=”I​ ​had​ ​never​ ​said​ ​grace​ ​before​ ​eating, ​growing​ ​up​. That​ ​was​ ​something​ ​new​ ​for​ ​me.” username=”ParentVoiceMag”]

  1. How do​ ​you​ ​handle​ ​cultural​ ​conflicts/differences​ ​(when​ ​you​ ​dated,​ ​and​ ​after marriage)?

We​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​them​ ​openly.​

Can​ ​you​ ​give​ ​an​ ​example​ ​of​ ​how​ ​open​ ​conversation​ ​may have​ ​helped​ ​resolve​ ​a​ ​conflict?​

So​ ​much​ ​was​ ​unfamiliar​ ​when​ ​we were​ ​dating​ ​and​ ​so​ ​when I​ ​finally​ ​did​ ​meet​ ​Sachin’s​ ​parents​ ​he​ ​told​ ​me​ ​that​ ​I​ ​would​ ​have​ ​to​ ​touch​ ​their​ ​feet​ ​as​ ​a sign​ ​of​ ​respect.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​not​ ​something​ ​I​ ​did​ ​growing​ ​up​ ​nor​ ​did​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​do​ ​for​ ​his parents​ ​given​ ​how​ ​they​ ​treated​ ​me.​ ​However,​ ​when​ ​Sachin​ ​explained​ ​the​ ​reasoning behind​ ​it​ ​as​ ​a​ ​sign​ ​of​ ​respect​ ​for​ ​your​ ​elders​ ​that​ ​is​ ​something​ ​my​ ​parents​ ​instilled​ ​in​ ​me from​ ​a​ ​very​ ​early​ ​age,​ ​in​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​forgiveness.​ ​Hence​ ​when​ ​it​ ​came​ ​the​ ​time​ ​to​ ​meet his​ ​parents​, ​I​ ​did​ ​touch​ ​their​ ​feet​ ​in​ ​respect.

[bctt tweet=”I did not want to touch his parents’ feet given how they had treated me until I understood the reasoning behind it.” username=”ParentVoiceMag”]

Nikita Gupta

  1. What​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​a wedding​ ​did​ ​you​ ​have?

We​ ​had​ ​two​ ​weddings; a​ ​destination​ ​wedding​ ​and​ ​an​ ​Indian​ ​wedding​ ​after​ ​Sachin’s parents​ ​came​ ​around​ ​and​ ​finally​ ​approved​ ​of​ ​our​ ​relationship.

  1. What are your​ ​favorite​ ​memories​ ​that​ ​pertain​ ​to​ ​cultural​ ​integration​ ​(generally in your relationship​ ​and​ ​not​ ​just wedding​ ​related)?

Creating​ ​what​ ​we​ ​fondly​ ​call​ ​Masala​ holidays​ ​where​ ​we​ ​celebrate​ ​and​ ​enjoy​ ​the​ ​cuisines from​ ​both​ ​of​ ​our​ ​cultures​ ​during​ ​Thanksgiving​ ​and​ ​Christmas.​ ​Also​ ​creating​ ​new​ ​recipes that​ ​represent​ ​both​ ​our​ ​cultures.​

Would you share a recipe?​

Quick and Easy Brown Sugar and Cardamom infused Sweet Potato Casserole

  1. How do​ ​you (or​ ​don’t)​ ​try​ ​to​ ​integrate​ ​your​ ​different​ ​cultures/festivities/holidays/etc into​ ​your​ ​everyday​ ​life?

We​ ​eat​ ​and​ ​make​ ​Indian​ ​food​ ​but​ ​also​ ​Soul​ ​food​ ​and​ ​many​ ​other​ ​types​ ​of​ ​cuisines.​ ​We love​ ​watching​ ​Hindi​ ​movies​ ​and​ ​also​ ​American​ ​ones.​ ​Our​ ​3​ -year​-​old​ ​daughter​ ​is​ ​learning Hindi​ ​and​ ​English​ ​and​ ​is​ ​nagging​ ​us​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​Bollywood​ ​dancing.

[bctt tweet=”We​ ​eat​ ​and​ ​make​ ​Indian​ ​food​ ​but​ ​also​ ​Soul​ ​food​ ​and​ ​many​ ​other​ ​types​ ​of​ ​cuisines.” username=”ParentVoiceMag”]

  1. What​ ​have​ ​you​ ​learned​ ​as​ ​a​ ​multicultural​ ​couple,​ ​about​ ​each​ ​other/​ ​about​ ​society’s perception​ ​of​ ​you​ ​as​ ​an​ ​interracial​ ​couple?

Our​ ​relationship​ ​is​ ​still​ ​considered​ ​taboo​ ​in​ ​South​ ​Asian​ ​culture​ ​where​ ​colorism​ ​is​ ​king. When​ ​we​ ​travelled​ ​to​ ​India​ ​with​ ​my​ ​husband’s​ ​parents​ ​a​ ​couple​ ​of​ ​years​ ​ago​ ​I​ ​had numerous​ ​random​ ​strangers​ ​stare,​ ​stop,​ ​and​ ​take​ ​pictures​ ​of​ ​me​ ​because​ ​they​ ​had​ ​never seen​ ​a​ ​black​ ​person​ ​before,​ ​and​ ​charge​ ​me​ ​more​ ​for​ ​attractions​ ​(the​ ​foreigner​ ​rate​ ​vs. the​ ​national​ ​rate).​ [Editor’s Note: The practice of charging foreigners more than Indian nationals to visit the same attractions is common in India. This additional charge applies to all foreigners, irrespective of race, sex, or nationality.]

We​ ​have​ ​friends​ ​from​ ​many​ ​different​ ​cultural​ ​backgrounds​ ​and​ ​live​ ​in a​ ​diverse​ ​city​ ​in​ ​which​ ​interracial​ ​relationships​ ​are​ ​everywhere.​ ​In​ ​addition​, ​because​ ​we come​ ​from​ ​different​ ​cultural​ ​backgrounds​ ​communication​ ​is​ ​key​ ​to​ ​understanding​ ​each other’s​ ​points​ ​of​ ​view.

  1. What​ ​are​ ​some​ ​pieces​ ​of​ ​advice​ ​you​ ​may​ ​want​ ​to​ ​pass​ ​on​ ​to​ ​those​ ​dating​ ​outside​ ​their​ ​own race/culture/religion/etc.? 

Communication,​ ​compromise,​ ​patience.​ Be​ ​open​ ​to​ ​understand​ ​each​ ​other’s​ ​customs​ ​and culture. ​Love​ ​is​ ​key.​ ​

 

One Comment Add yours

  1. I love this.. such key points for any marriage, and so relatable to my own. I want to be friends with these obviously wonderful people!

    Like

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