Interracial couple
Don Stevenson

White boyfriend, living together, not married: 'Times are changing'

Namitha has been living with her German boyfriend for over two years. “It's been hard, to say the least. And that's not because of our relationship, but because what other people have to say about our relationship!” she says.

Namitha is a 27-year-old Mumbai-based journalist

'Racist pricks' Our relationship has been difficult since day one. And that's because he's German and I am Indian. While we were falling in love, little did we know how being an inter-racial couple in India wasn't going to be easy.


I had to put up with horribly racist comments from “well-wishers” like, “How can you trust a white guy,” “Firangs aren't always loyal, so watch out,” “Why can't you find an Indian man?” yada yada yada. I had my defence mechanism – a polite response along the lines of: “Why don't you mind your own damn business, you racist prick?”


Selfish choice? The real hurdles began when we decided to live together. The decision was pretty logical and easy for us. It seemed like a waste of money to live separately in an expensive city like Mumbai. Why not stay together and save on rent? And if we aren't able to stand each other after a couple of months, we could always go back to living separately. It wasn't an irreversible choice after all.


But everyone around us freaked out. My parents were offended. “How could you even think of living with a guy without being married,” they demanded. My friends weren't entirely supportive either. One of them said, “You should think a bit about what your parents and others would feel if you went ahead with this.” Basically, I ended up feeling like a selfish bitch for having made this decision.


Legally not together Deep down I felt like I had to rise over the societal pressure and really stick to my guns. I had a mental kungfu over whether it was wrong to live with my lover, if I was failing morally for wanting to share my life and space with someone I loved, if I was being irresponsible with my choice. The honest answer to all these doubts was a resounding 'no'.


So we went ahead and looked for places to stay together. And that's when the real fun phase began. House owners, landlords, real estate brokers and potential neighbours disapproved of our legal status. Living together as an unmarried couple in India is hard and it gets harder for inter-racial couples, I learned. After two weeks of house-hunting, we finally found a landlord who didn't care if we were married on paper or not.


Husband & wife In the past few years, I've come across many raised eyebrows and disapproving glances. I have developed my own ways to deal with it. Most of the time, it's again the “Why don't you go and mind your own business, you conservative prick” approach packaged with a smile and loads of politeness.


But there are some moments that still catch me off-guard, and quite positively too. Like the other day when my cleaning lady asked me, “Tell me one thing honestly, are you husband and wife?” I nodded my head to say 'no'. She smiled at me and responded, “Yeah, nowadays it's all fine. You don't need to marry to be together, no? Times are changing.”


The couple featured in the picture is not Namitha and her boyfriend.

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