Olivia, 23, New Delhi
What do you do for a living?
I'm a student at JNU. I'm really a U.S. student. A foreign researcher. I'm doing research on feminists in India.
How long have you lived in India for?
I've been here a year.
You mentioned that you're seeing someone. Is he Indian?
He is. We met about a year ago, when I first came to Delhi. He used to study in the U.S., and a mutual friend introduced us. He was the first friend I had in Delhi when I came. He showed me around. It was platonic for maybe a month or two, and then things kind of picked up and we started dating.
Had you dated Indian men before?
I had not, no. I've always liked them. But he's the first one.
What's it like? Are there cultural clashes?
His family is pretty progressive, I would say, so they don't have a huge problem with him dating a foreign girl. His sister studies in Singapore, so they're a really international family, and they just seem really cool with it. So no, it hasn't been too bad. He's a lawyer and all his friends are lawyers as well, so they're also very cool with it.
Any misunderstandings around the city? How does the Indian public perceive you with your boyfriend?
We definitely get dirty looks from aunties all the time. For a long time, early on, when we were dating, I wouldn't hold his hand in public. I'd feel bad because I was slightly taller than him. But then we just kind of grew into it — just kind of stopped caring what people think. I think the people in the neighborhood kind of know what we're about now, so they're not so freaked out.
So you live together?
How does your family in the States react to him?
They're great with it. There's a slight age difference, but they've been very open about it as well. My dad came from the U.S. to see India for the first time, and I introduced him to my boyfriend. My dad's a lawyer as well, so they really got along well.
How much is the age difference? Does it trouble you?
It's about eight years. But it doesn't trouble me. He's very young at heart, and I'm very serious for my age, so I think we balance each other well. He's going on another international fellowship next year and I'll be in Bangkok, so we're going to have to do the long-distance thing.
How do you feel about that?
I feel kind of worried about it because I've never really had a successful long-distance relationship.
Any good hookup stories?
Random hookups on the dance floor. Just regular bad decisions.
Anything good in India?
In India, kind of, yeah. I think foreigners, especially when they don't know Delhi very well, they run into this problem a lot... I don't know, there are a lot of rich Indian men in Delhi who prey on new foreign women who don't know what they're doing yet. So yes, I've definitely had run-ins with a few of that type, who own clubs and drive BMWs and you think oh my gosh, you're around really rich people and kind of freak out about it. But then they're kind of skeezy, making out with you, being really pushy about trying to sleep with you. I mean, it's fun hanging out with them, but you always know they're expecting something else, so you try to remove yourself. I've definitely had... that.