So yes, I am still posting for Adoption April later today, but for now I want to do my inaugural post for the expat diaries link-up.
Now, I'm a lazy blogger a lot of time. (Okay, probably not so much lazy as easily distracted by new ideas.) So I've actually never told you guys the story of my move... at first I was just overwhelmed at arriving in India and not in a mood to blog, and then I was dealing with culture shock and then getting married and wanted to blog about that, not the past. Well today I am still not telling that story, because I want time to do it justice. But I'm making a commitment that next week I'll be doing that. This week I'll just give a general overview of why I moved to India, and how it's been since I got here.
|Ryan and I|
At first when we'd talk about a future, it was sort of assumed he'd move to America. But the truth was, it didn't really make sense. I was one of the one in five people in my age group that were unemployed (according to the 2010 census) and I couldn't sponsor him. I couldn't even get myself on my own two feet, living with my parents, how was I supposed to support him? Plus, we looked at the fiance visa process. It is so difficult to bring a foreigner into America, especially from India. (It's not that hard from say, European countries.)
|our garden here in India|
I'd never actually been out of the country. It sounded like a great adventure at first. We reached this conclusion in spring of 2011, I think, that when we tried to move together I'd move there. We were still hoping at that time that he'd come to visit me once before hand.
to me without a doubt that I was meant to go to India, and that He has plans for me over here. That was thrilling, and overwhelming. And that's about all I can say in a blog post, some things are private.
Ryan left his job that he was in at the end of summer 2011 because we wanted to get married and he wasn't making enough to support both me and him, since the biggest hurdle to the Indian process is that I can't legally work here until he and I have been married a year. So he knew he had to find a job that could support both of us. He was also living with his parents, though that's typical of unmarried people in India, so he'd not really bothered to be ambitious about his paycheck before. He prayed before leaving his job, and was confident he'd find something right away.
|view of homeless from back of autorickshaw|
And once he got that, the saving up for my move began!
Because of this six months where we were both unemployed (well really five months, I worked for a month in there as a cashier during the Christmas season and was able to save up for my passport) we had to drop the dream that we'd meet in person before the move. But God had been so faithful to prove to us that He intended us for each other that we didn't really need to meet in person.
I'd never been outside of the US. Ryan had lived in California from when he was 10 to when he was 16, so he was somewhat versed on America (though I am totally east coast so it's been funny when sometimes his idea of "American" is really west coast and so I shock him.)
My passport (which was ridiculously hard to get, they flagged me and I had to send in paperwork
|Ryan and I at India gate|
My family freaked out. I had told them about this the whole process, they had driven me to apply for my passport and visa, but still somehow they seemed to think it wasn't happening.
My mom forbade me to go... that didn't last. The last few weeks were a whirlwind while everyone close to me took me out to lunch or dinner, saying goodbye. I remember with love my last day at my church when they prayed over me to send me on my way.
|Indian mall at Christmas time: any excuse to sell stuff|
After arriving, I found Ryan to be exactly who I thought he was... except a half inch shorter. (We were supposed to be the same height, but I'm just a tad taller!) And there was indeed chemistry.
The first two weeks I was in happy vacationer mode.
Then the culture shock set in.
It hasn't gone away. It's changed though. I guess it's less of a shock and more of a slow, steady upset. It's frustrating.
Don't get me wrong, I don't really think my issue is with India so much as with Ryan's family's expectations on how I should react to India.
the week I arrived... Ryan said give it a few weeks. Then the holidays and culture shock rolled in (I arrived on November 29th) and we really didn't get to talk about it until late December, and even then we talked more about the actual paperwork.
Ryan had looked into the process. Here in India getting married by each religion requires a different "Marriage Act" and then there is the "Special Marriage Act" which is secular and basically getting married in court. That one was the recommended one for expats because of, well because the Indian government is strange and unpredictable.
|street in our neighborhood|
And then Ryan's mom had a heart attack. Yes. Within twenty four hours of the one time I lost my
temper with her. Yes. Seriously. She survived. She has very uncontrolled diabetes, and that had caused high blood pressure... which fighting with me made worse. But she's never followed a good diet (and still doesn't.) I'm pretty sure Ryan's dad has disliked me every since, and I'm not sure that will ever go away.
|Ryan and I in the back of an auto rickshaw|
It was awful, we fought for a week. Finally, we gave into them because we figured that we'd be happy anyway because we were getting married, but if they were unhappy because we had our way they'd put a damper on the occasion Plus, we were scared of his mom having another heart attack (which she is quick to remind us of every time we do something that she doesn't like. Which is daily, because she'll threaten a heart attack over shoes being in the wrong place or an unmade bed.)
|Ryan enjoying pizza at a food court|
We still haven't exchanged vows, that wasn't part of the court marriage. We did exchange rings,
and they prayed blessings over us, but that's all. There is still a wedding, hopefully, in the future.
But since then, relations with his family have gotten worse. They are very closed people, so they probably don't like that I'm blogging this now, and so I won't go into any detail. But we are all in agreement that Ryan and I should move out, the sooner the better, in order for us to have any relationship in the future.
|nearby high rises|
We received a few wedding gifts (notably dishes, salt and pepper shakers). We received some cash, but we got sick on our honeymoon and were too ill to travel, so that money had to go to buying another night at the hotel.
Ryan's parents have been generous in this, they are giving us some furniture and an appliance. And one of Ryan's friends has a spare stove we can have for a while. But we still don't have a water filter (the water here is unsafe directly from the tap) or a refrigerator.
But we can't move out until I get my entry visa. I came here on a tourist visa (which is the right one, there is no fiance visa for India) and now that we're married we have to convert it to an entry visa. On Wednesday we had to go to Delhi to drop off paperwork, and now it's a waiting game. We were told that we should hear something in 30 days... but we only have 19 days until my tourist visa expires!
|us dressed up for our wedding celebration|
In the midst of this, we still need to actually pay for our own apartment, and we haven't given up on the church wedding, but the relations with his parents are making that seem impossible. I don't mean to totally vilify them, they are his parents and they are being helpful. But everything I do they take the wrong way so that I feel like I'm walking through a minefield on a daily basis.. there may not be any explosion, but there's the potential for one at any moment. It's extraordinarily stressful.
I haven't done a lot of expat musings because I get kind of down, and normally I don't post this
|picture of me from Easter... enduring|
Ryan and I are clinging to God, so that's probably why this is happening. And God has been faithful to reveal to me some of His Will for me in the midst of it. But spiritually, I am malnourished compared to what I had in America. I am struggling to find true fellowship and "meat" not "milk." And our efforts to reach out on that front have not only been denied, but often in rude and unkind ways, so we've been praying about what to do on that front. I've been put places before by God to uplift other Christians, but always He's provided for me spiritually in another part of my life at the same time, so that I'm not withering. I feel sort of wither-y.
Sorry, I wish this was feel good. But I also wish my life was. I'm not saying it's awful. Ryan is wonderful, this is certainly an adventure, and I know I'm in God's plan for my life. But there is so much on us right now, not enough money, and the potential at any moment for it to explode. And it's really hard because I'm home alone pretty much all day, and my American friends are sleeping and the few Indian friends I've made are working. And I don't know enough Hindi to get out on my own.
Well I guess that's just my life right now as an expat! (And PS. I'm told by people who used to live with their in laws that this will all improve drastically as soon as we get out... I hope so!)