One Overseas Indian Woman's View

NALINI LUTHRA recently married and left India to join her husband in the United States, where he had been working for the past 10 years. The marriage was not arranged; they were introduced by the groom's cousin, who thought they had a lot in common. ``Our parents really did not have a say in the decision,'' says Ms. Luthra, a student at Emerson College.

But as an Indian, she says, her family's approval was important. ``I wouldn't choose a person just because my family liked him ... but he has to fit into that family,'' she says. Luthra echoes the feelings of most Indians that their cultural values must be preserved.

Of the Indian men who bring their wife to America (arranged marriage or not), expectations differ, she finds. ``Some would want them to dress in the Indian fashion and act as a traditional Indian woman. There are women who don't mind doing that,'' she says. Some want to have their wife at home and ``under no circumstances is she to work. ... It's an ego problem,'' Luthra says. ``Indian culture says that the male is a stronger person....''

But, for Luthra and her husband, ``traditions are not the way we interact with each other. Traditions are our values, religious beliefs, holidays,'' she says, adding that those are the things they want for their children.

``I want to be comfortable [in America], but I don't want to stand out in a crowd,'' she says. ``My husband agreed with that.''

Luthra speculates that arranged Indian marriages are on the wane. In previous generations, ``women did not have the chance to go into higher education - they couldn't meet anyone,'' says Luthra.

``Now if you work, go to school, there are more opportunities to meet people on your own, and a lot of parents respect their children's judgment.''

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