Since the kids have been on holiday this week, we’ve been treating most of the days as mini Fridays. But mini fake Fridays really just don’t compare to the real thing do they? Three cheers for real Friday today 🙂
I’m glad that you’re back to read the next installment in our series. If this is the first time you’re joining us – WELCOME, it’s good to have you. Here are the other features in case you want to catch up.
Here’s a little bit of background as to why I want to do this series and why I want YOU to read it and share it with your friends. I am one half of a mixed race marriage (if you want to read my story, check it out here) and we have had our fair share of adjusting to this new life that is often not accepted by everyone.
Besides the odd intentional racist, I feel like a lot of the hurtful comments floating around are actually just brought about through ignorance about how their words will affect other people. Thinking only of our own personal situations with little regard for others, because that’s all that we know. So in an effort to broaden what we know, I thought I would interview a wide range of South Africans that have a variety of different situations – from mixed race couples to single race couples that adopt cross racially to couples that share the same “race” but differ vastly in terms of culture. A bit of a mumble jumble of everything really.
So let’s get started!
If you would like to join in and be featured in this series or know of someone that would, please feel free to get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want this to be a safe space where we can share stories and encourage each other to be more accepting of our fellow South Africans of all races, cultures and situations. So while I want to encourage you to comment and open a discussion, I will not tolerate any abusive or troll like comments here.
Today we get to meet the lovely Cassarica that I happened to meet on Facebook a couple of weeks ago – as one does nowadays. I stalked her a bit, contacted her to be part of the series and the rest is history! I hope you enjoy reading her story as much as I did!
Tell us a little bit about yourself – what you do, what you like to spend your time on etc
My name is Cassarica, I am a 24 year old Indian female living in South Africa. I dabbled in law studies, media studies and I have a certificate in HR. I grew up in a predominantly Indian suburb, called Malabar in Port Elizabeth as an only child to two wonderful parents and an aunt (who I was very blessed to have up until she left us in 2012 to live in heaven) as mom number 2.
At age 23 I decided to leave home and move to Cape Town to take a job as a receptionist and be with my Superman, we were in a long distance relationship for a year and 9 months before this. Fast forward about 2 months later and we were moving to the concrete Jungle that is Johannesburg after he was given a great job offer.
Now living with my SO for over a year and being in JHB for 10 months as well as finding out that I have an eye disease called Keratoconus, it was only logical that I become a house wife (even though we aren’t married, yet!) My days are now spent keeping our lovely apartment in tip top shape, cooking, looking after our first pet together (a little chinchilla) and doing the things I love best like pouring my heart and soul into my new blog, painting and just being me!
Tell us a little bit about your partner – what they do, what they like to spend time on etc
Gareth is 4 years older than me, he has the kindest heart I have ever found in a human being, he always puts other needs before himself. He works as a Post Sales Technical Specialist at a communication and energy company. In his spare time he is the DM (Dungeon Master) for his online Dungeons and Dragons role playing game, he also spends tons of time looking after me and making sure I am alright and he is an amazing chinparent to our chinchilla, I get a sneak preview of what he will be like with our own kids one day.
How and when did you meet your partner?
We met online in the year 2011. Although we may have had our first connection online it never really defined our relationship. We met in a chatroom on Mxit (yes, I know Mxit!) Gareth was actually out looking for an Indian girl which is funny because I am not, as we jokingly say – “I am not the authentic Indian experience” and by the time he realized this it was too late. I was on holiday from University and found myself bored so I went online and that is were we discovered each other.
We became friends in a matter of days and chatted constantly until Gareth wanted to meet me in person, I was very nervous about this as I did not want to find out he was some sort of psycho killer. I eventually agreed to meet him and we took our friendship to the next level and I started visiting him often where we would watch movies and chill with his brother and other friends. I wasn’t looking for anything romantic as I was quite focused on studies at the time but of course Gareth knew me better. About 3 months after meeting each other in person, I was caught up in the stress of end year exams and had a bad case of the flu so I had decided to slow things down. I remember having a talk with Gareth trying to explain how I wanted things to be, he took this as an opportunity and decided to ask me to be his girlfriend. It took me a while to respond and I left this poor man hanging for so long that he blurted out “why don’t you commit a little and say, yes!” The word was already out of my mouth by the time I had realized I had said it, and that was it! We have been together ever since.
Give us a bit of insight into your racial/cultural backgrounds. What was your home life like while you were growing up?
I was brought up in a Christian home and was very sheltered as a child, teen and even as an adult. My mother is from PE where I grew up and my father and aunt (his sister) are from Durban. Growing up in PE I had very little cultural influences, I feel a lot more westernised in most aspects of my life from cuisine to the way I dress and speak. I don’t fit the usual sterotypes associated with being Indian one of them being, I can’t eat hot food.
Although I feel very westernised I was not allowed to embrace all things that most families from the western culture are okay with – I had very early curfews, was only allowed to go to very closes friends homes and if I was out I would constantly be checked on to make sure I was still ‘alive’ (although I hated it as a teen and young adult I can now see my parents had my best interests at heart). My dad is a pastor and I spent a lot of time in church and on the worship team while I lived in PE which gave me double the amount of protectiveness from my parents with their old school Indian values as well as bible principles.
There are a few things that I do hold dear from the Indian culture because my aunt was my biggest influence these include special Indian treats or songs that remind me of her.
Gareth on the other hand had it a lot easier, being from a Caucasian family and being a guy he had a lot morel leeway. His mum is British and his dad is South African. Though his parents gave him more freedom than I had they were still protective in a sense. They preferred their kids to stay home and would allow all their friends to come over on a daily basis so that they knew where their boys were. He grew up in a home that encouraged him to choose his own path in life. Gareth had an interest in the Indian culture from his friends and liking of Indian woman. He stopped eating beef and pork during his teen years and still continues to do so now. Our friends and I always joke about how Gareth is more Indian than I am.
Where do you live? Does how you are “accepted” change when you visit different places?
We live in Johannesburg, I think a lot of people are okay with our relationship and if they aren’t no one has said anything as yet. Though while out at shops I do get the odd look from elderly Indian woman or last week when we were buying ice cream, I noticed an Indian man in his 40’s look at me with the expression of disappointment, confusion and amazement that I was with Gareth. I can tell when someone isn’t really okay with us by the way they may look at me.
When we were in our home town and Gareth would pick me up from my parents house or a friends place, people would sometimes stare. One time someone spoke to my best friends mom about me, pointing out I had a white boyfriend trying to get her to comment on the situation.
Some very close friends have expressed the fact that they don’t feel interracial dating is a good thing, to which we have not been offended. We are still very close to these friends and their viewpoint is quite accurate. They believe that the different upbringing as well as religious and cultural values will eventually clash especially when we have kids someday.
With that said, we have not faced as much prejudice as other couples have, though I like having fun with it. I am very close to Gareths Grandmother and Mother and call them gran and mum respectively. When we are out at shops I like seeing the look on peoples faces because I basically am an Indian girl with a white granny and mum who calls for from across the aisle.
I know babies may not be on the cards right now, but do you have any fears/excitement about having “mixed race” babies in the future?
There are no real fears besides the normal ones that aren’t related to race. We don’t see in colour and believe that our kids won’t too and if they are judged for being mixed I would hope that we instil enough patience and understanding in them to know that not everyone is accepting and that is okay, because they should never for a second believe that there is anything wrong with them. I am excited to see how they come out, with Gareths pale white skin he can’t be in the sun for too long, so I am hoping my brown skin gives our kids a tanned look so they can enjoy the beach and the pool without having to worry about getting too sunburned.
What kind of role does race play in your relationship?
It doesn’t play any role at all, we are both just human beings in love. We do not see each others race but rather the good qualities of each other shine through stronger than the colour of our skin.
How have your families reacted to your relationship?
My family were okay with Gareth being Caucasian, my dad had a hard time with me starting to date as Gareth is my first boyfriend. Like any father he had an issue with Gareth being a guy more than anything.
Gareth’s family was very accepting of me, I am not the first Indian girlfriend he has had. They have become very close to me a I am basically their daughter and Gareth is the guy dating their daughter. Both the families get along with each other great.
Do you have any advice for those in a mixed race relationship that are facing judgement because of it?
I understand it can be difficult when people judge, but remember one thing. This is your life and your relationship do not let the insignificat opinions of people get to you because they are too ignorant to understand that love has no perception of creed, race, or culture.