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.
- If your love story was to be made into a movie, what would you call it?
[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]
- 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.
- 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.
- Tell us about your 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.
- 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.
- 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”]
- 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.
- 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”]
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”]
- 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”]
- 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.
- 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?
- 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”]
- 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.
- 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.