US-India Global Review

gle, American woman to live alone. She tried to start a small busi- ness but got scammed. Indian businessmen didn’t take her seriously. She couldn’t go out alone with- out being heckled and feeling unsafe. She decided to travel, visiting friends to buy time deciding what to do next. One Indian-American couple suggested she meet a young man they knew from college. But this being India, the meet- ing was loaded with expectations. “From the beginning it was like do you want to marry him or not,” recalls Renee. The Indian tradition of arranged marriages does not leave room for “dating” culture, particularly in rural India. Chittibabu Golla, who adopted the American name Aaron, is from just such a rural village. His village does not have running water or electricity. An arranged marriage is expected of him. Neither Golla nor Renee had ever dated - or been arranged with - someone else before. But when they were formally introduced -- there was a spark. “I just kept staring at him,” recalled Renee. Aaron is broad-shouldered, stocky and tall, unlike most small- er-framed southern Indians. “He spoke with a gentleness, a kindness… and he even helped with the dishes after dinner. Most Indian men do not do that… heck, most American men don’t do that.” Renee said. At the end of a week spending time with each other on and off, Renee left for Nepal to finish her travels. But Golla stayed on her mind. When she returned five weeks later, he was waiting for her with something to say: “For me, it is OK.” Renee knew that this was the quasi-arranged-Indian-marriage version of the Western-down-on- one-knee question: “Will you marry me?” Till Death Do Us Part She said yes. But then came the logistical questions, like where to sleep. Golla grew up sleeping on the ground. Renee grew up sleeping on a plush pillow-top mattress. Mattresses hurt his back, the ground hurt hers. There was a bigger question of which continent to sleep on – should they live in India or the United States? A harder mattress and India 38 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JANUARY-MARCH 2018 “From the beginning it was like do you want to marry him or not,” recalls Renee. “

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