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A lawyer whose services I was seeking for a few marriage-related formalities started by giving me a sermon on running a background check on the man I wanted to marry because “you never know how these s are.” I didn’t call on her again.Probably every woman in India has one story about having been subject to lecherous looks as she has walked down the street. The male gaze turns more brazen by several orders of magnitude.Then there is patriarchy: Women who venture out of the nest to seek a mate must lack decency.And there’s the drive towards conformity: The ugly head that raises itself at the sight of anything that dares to deviate from the norm.One day when walking on a street in Pune, Neha’s hometown, a biker slowed down near the couple and almost hit her. She said she sensed a mix of repressed fury and lust in the man’s tone, when he hissed back: “I will f*** you.” To many Indians, the idea of a mixed-race couple is alien, repulsive even.Nicholas Chevaillier, my friend Aarya’s French-American husband, has been asked more than once in India where and how he “picked up” the woman he was with.Usually most Indian men I see either date Indian women or White women, well in NYC I was so surprised, most Indian men are see here are with Indian women but still I have seen a significant number of them with Asian women (Chinese, Japanese etc.) and Latinas.I am an Indian guy dating a Puerto Rican girl and when I was down south I felt like the odd one out for doing so, often other Indians would even make fun of me for it but wow I am shocked to see this.
“Being with my own husband would make me uncomfortable because men would pass lewd comments with even more alacrity than when I was alone,” said Aarya.
By the fourth day of our vacation on the islands, we had got used to being stared at.
But when curious glances turned to quizzical looks, we began to realise that we were considered an oddity: A brown woman with a white man. ” one of the two women asked me as soon as my husband left my side.
Ketki Pradhan, a French teacher in Pondicherry, told me about the time she was holding her German boyfriend’s hand when a group of men started making vulgar gestures.
“One of them grabbed my other hand and held it very tightly for a few seconds, and ran away,” Pradhan recalled.