I was watching Meet the Patels and every part of the film resonated with me. It’s about Ravi Patel, an American Gujarati guy, and his tale of finding a wife – the traditional way – to make his family happy. The film is documented by his sister Geeta Patel.
Leading a double life
He discusses the fact that he felt like he led a double life. At home he was a typical Gujarati boy, watched Bollywood films, ate Indian food and then outside of home he would feel like the average American. Playing sports, hanging out with friends, watching Hollywood films and speaking English. This struck a cord with me because I, along with millions of other Asians, felt exactly the same.
At school you were one person and at home you had to be the obedient Indian daughter. I grew up in a non-Asian town so the feeling of leading a double life was enhanced. My friends would go on holidays in the summer, have their own bedrooms, – in addition to having boyfriends. The b-word? That was an absolute no-go so that idea was shoved to the back of my mind.
Even now, at the age of 26, I still lead a double life and have done for many years.
Obviously it mainly comes down to interfaith dating which is where the double life really comes into play…
Interfaith dating – the guilt
In the film Ravi dated an American girl for 2 years and they adored one another. In the end he broke up with her because he knew his parents wanted him to find an ‘Indian’ girl. They didn’t know about his girlfriend, just that he was delaying getting married.
This is very familiar. Dating an English man knowing full well my parents wanted me to marry an Indian man. The guilt. The constant guilt. Being happy in a relationship but knowing everyday in the back of your mind – what are my parents going to think?
Watching this documentary made me go through so many emotions. I could see the stress and the pain in Ravi’s eyes. The dilemma of what to do? He gave up his happiness to try things his parents way. And he gave it a bloody good go, the amount of dates he went on to ‘find the one.’ It just wasn’t happening for him.
While he was trying things his parents way, he was back in touch with his ex American girlfriend. The sneaking around began and then he decided to tell his parents.
I kid you not.
That moment of telling your parents about your interfaith relationship is one of the scariest moments of your life
And in most cases – one parent reacts worse than the other one. His mum wasn’t having any of it. They even stopped talking and Ravi didn’t feel like her son anymore. Their relationship was dented. (The risk you take when telling your parents about your interfaith relationship).
Been through all of that too.
Time is a healer
You know what? Time really does heal. At the end of the film, you see his girlfriend learning about his Gujarati culture and making Indian food with his mum. His parents are even telling them to have kids. It just goes to show that some parents need time to digest the situation and in the end Ravi is doing what makes him happy. For those reading or watching the film – you might wonder why he didn’t do that from day one. In Asian culture, it’s not that simple. Although hopefully the next generation have it easier than us…
Have you seen Meet the Patels? What did you think of it?1