I don't see divorce as an option.: Becoming Minnesotan

Deepak Nath, c.1999.
  • Name - Deepak Nath
  • Age at interview - 23
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - Second Generation American
  • Date of Interview - 03.20.1997
  • Bengali New Year Festival, Messiah Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, March 19, 1980.

    Asian Indian, Family, Gender Roles

    Essential Question

    Life in the Old Country: What makes a country a person’s homeland?

    Traditions & Values: What makes up “culture”?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    In India it is traditional for a young person to marry a spouse selected for them by their parents.  This is called an arranged marriage, and is still commonly practiced today.  Indian parents find and introduce suitable candidates to their son or daughter, who can then accept or reject each potential bride or groom.  Unlike “love marriages”, the type of marriage common in the Western world, the bride and groom in an arranged marriage usually do not know each other well and are married soon after they meet.  Sometimes, the arranged marriage is between an Indian person and an Indian-American.  If this is the case, then one partner will have to make the difficult move away from friends and family to be with his or her new partner on the other side of the world! 

    To learn more about Asian Indian history and culture, visit our Asian Indian Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Deepak Nath 1
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    Narrator: Deepak Nath (DN)

    DN:  My parents knew each other for approximately three hours and they were engaged. Now, by any standards, any sorts of means in this country, three hours is an incredibly short amount of time. My father actually went over to my mother's house on what I call the initial interview, and they call it the first meeting, but I saw it more as an interview.

    They met with the parents, and the parents discussed, before even my father or my mother at the time even knew who each other were, before they were introduced, the parents actually discussed whether or not this would be a suitable match. And then they had one hour to themselves, in a room by themselves, to get to know each other, and when they came out, they had to decide right there and then, "Is this the person you want to spend the rest of your life with?" and they decided to, thank God, or I wouldn't be here.

    Two weeks later, my mother was in America, 13,000 miles away from home, in a new country, newly married. It's quite an amazing story, considering that they're married almost thirty years now, and they met for three hours before they were married.  And that's 100 percent attributed to the cultural differences and views on marriage.

    It's depressing to see that today, in 1997, over 50 percent of marriages in America fail, and I think that's fairly cultural. It's because you go in with the mentality, "If this doesn't work out, I'll get a divorce, and it'll be over in a matter of minutes." And when you go in with that mindset, you're setting yourself up for failure, and I think that's the number one cause for that.

    More so in olden day India, and I'm sure it's still very much culturally in India, divorce is a major taboo. It's just seen as not an option. That was never an option for my mother. And of course everyone has their fights, but they never thought of it as an option, and that's something I'm blessed with. That that's part of the Indian culture that I've retained in my own sets of values that I don't see divorce as an option.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Adverb:  About, loosely, roughly, close to.


    Adjective:  Having divine aid, good fortune, or other blessing.


    Noun:  1. The source or reason of an event or action.  2. A goal, aim or principle, especially one which transcends purely selfish ends.


    Adjective:  Relating to the traditions and customs of a group or society.


    Noun:  The arts, customs, and habits that characterize a particular society or nation.


    Adjective:  Agreed to be married.


    Noun:  A way of thinking.


    Noun:  The general thinking patterns and ideas of a person.


    Verb:  Hold onto; keep practicing.  (retains, retaining, retained)


    Adjective:  Determined by society as improper or unacceptable.

    Noun:  An object or action that is determined by society as improper or unacceptable.


    Noun:  A collection of guiding, usually positive principles; what one deems to be correct and desirable in life, especially regarding personal conduct.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
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