10 Mixed Race Indians Share Stories That Celebrate Cultural Diversity [Vol. IV]

10 Mixed Race Indians Share Stories That Celebrate Cultural Diversity [Vol. IV]

“What are you?” might just be the most commonplace question every Indian child learns to respond to, dodge, or deflect, depending on how they feel about the person who’s doing the asking. Ethnicity, race, and personal identity continue to forge an inexplicable link the world over—often highlighting our differences rather than bringing us together. The latter two, however, are aspects of the human experience we consider far too little in a country like India, which remains insulated by a particularly contextual bubble we have created around us. And despite further global interaction than ever before, it’s still a bubble that’s best understood from within.

Perhaps it’s the fact that cultural diversification from state to state is so immense—it often feels and looks like individuals might as well be from different races and ethnicities, despite belonging to one nationality. It would certainly explain why mixed-community marriages are still considered a huge break away from the majority mindset, or why minority groups still feel so targeted. Or perhaps it’s the fact that our instant labelling of people’s ancestry is usually based on tracing their last name over their appearance? It’s a method through which our parents, if not us, can easily gauge what caste, class, religion, and part of the country somebody is likely to be from. But what happens when we take an axe to these comforting boxes we put people in and split the wooden cage wide open?

Splinters, splinters, everywhere.

In 2013, National Geographic ran a wonderful and insightful feature on visualising race, identity, and change through the transforming face of America. Having never forgotten it, in a similar vein, we set out to uncover young (partially Indian) Indians whose ancestries serve as reminders of the blurring race/ethnicity lines we’ve been seeing over the years, more stratified and diverse than ever.

In the first two volumes, we covered their stories in an effort to understand how the multiple cultural influences played into how they see themselves. Many embrace their ‘DNA disco,’ revelling in their ability to move between cultures, enjoying the more convenient parts of their lineage too. Like a wider exposure to different cuisines, of course. Others admit to facing constant challenges in how they identify themselves, largely depending on where they are. Still, almost all of them appear to reject the notion of easy labels, and are opting, instead, for a far more fluid sense of identity.

If the current trends of globalisation are anything to go by, we can only hope these cultural cocktails become more commonplace. Because these 7 individuals prove that with more diversity, comes a greater acceptance of different kinds of people. Something we can all agree our country needs more of—let alone the world.

Scroll on to know them better.

[For those who missed the previous editions of this series, do read Vol. I ,Vol. II and Vol III.]

I. Damini Patel |Nepali-Indian

Where the unconventional union began

For Damini, the intermingling of races started with the marriage of her Nepali grandmother to her Gujarati grandfather. Her grandmother’s side of the family happen to be the Ranas of Nepal, her grandmother being a daughter of one of the seven wives. At that time, the ‘elites of Nepal,’ as she explains, would send their children to study at MS University in Gujarat. One of her grandmother’s cousins married a Gaekwad boy in Gujarat who she had met during her time at the University. “The family was impressed by the culture of Gujarat, my grandmother’s uncle also hoped to seek a Gujarati boy for my grandma. And at a shop, he bumped into my grandfather (at the time these things were word of mouth). My grandfather eager to see my grandma, packed his trunk to Nepal,” she muses.

“Being from a mixed background is a much-needed identity crisis to truly know yourself.”

The melting pot of cultural influences

Damini was born and brought up in Delhi, but because of her physical features, she always stood out. “Often people here and there would ask me if I was from Nepal, China or Japan. Many times at malls or other public spaces, random people would just stop to pull my cheeks and walk off. Though now that I look back it was a gesture of amusement, however back then it felt like constant, unnecessary attention,” she shares.

Since most of her childhood was spent with her grandmother, potato and butter, two important Nepali ingredients, have become a very integral part of her meals. “I do believe they are the solution to all kinds of recipes gone wrong,” she says.

“Since my mother’s family happened to be in Nepal, I hardly got to know my cousins and uncle-aunts until I grew up. Our relationship is a little formal considering I’ve hardly learnt the language,” says Damini. And in terms of culture, she feels she’s more enamoured by the Nepali culture than it being infused into her life.

II. Elena Pereira | German-Indian

Where the unconventional union began

Elena’s parents met while both were researching the DNA of plants in a laboratory in Germany, in 1985. Having moved there from Bombay in the 1980’s, her Indian father subsequently moved with his new family to the Netherlands four years later, where Elena and her newly born brother were raised. “Netherlands was new then to us all. We all had to understand the new Dutch culture and language. As my mum and dad spoke to each other in English and German we slowly infused our mixed language with Dutch. I remember right after my brother was born the municipal came to our house for an article in the news about the German-Indian family that shifted into the town named Ede. People were curious and intrigued with my mother’s long red hair and my dad’s Bombay accent. We just looked quite different than the other families in the neighborhood back then as immigration wasn’t to common,” she shares with Homegrown.

“Being from a mixed blood background is possibly the future narrative.”

The melting pot of cultural influences

Elena moved to India ten years ago, driven to India for her love of food. “I’ve always been accustomed to Indian and German cuisine. “My dad used to love to cook Vindaloo and my mum would make Bratwurst and stews. So as I turned 12 I decided to opt for a vegetarian diet due to the abundance of availability in meats at home and in Netherlands. I wanted to explore the vegetable world and making dals and cheeses. I would definitely say I moved to India for the love of food. Specifically the south Indian kitchen - the availability of pickles, curries and vegetables,” she says.

Elena came to Bangalore when the city was still developing into what it has now become. “One is always questioned about identity. Maybe I have always felt it everywhere I go. One of the first questions I’m continuously confronted with is regarding where I am from. What is reflected in my appearance raises questions to be answered by a country or region that I come from. But what if one in particular does not define my identity? Most of the time the misunderstanding happens when I refer to mixed or both and try to explain. It just gives room for more questions. Nowadays I believe I say - here only! No more ‘from everywhere’, which I used to say. I think an identity becomes rooted when you see one place as your home,” she muses.

“In the context of immigration I have integrated this search for nature’s cultivation/contrast in materials very much into my work. In my studio in Frazer town I work a lot with materials in my studio – like grass and flowers for a metaphors for space, borders and curtains for bordering the inside for the outside.”

III. India Woods | Indian-Irish

Where the unconventional union began

“My mother and father were the first mixed marriage in my family, from both sides, through all generations. They first met in London in 1989 at a restaurant called Two Brydges Place, at a mutual friend’s birthday celebration. Towards the end of the evening a friend of my mums introduced her to my father. They were married a year later in 1990, and their mutual friend is actually my god father,” shares India.

Being of mixed ethnicity was never really a challenge for her while in India. It was while growing up in London in the 1990s, being half Indian and half Irish and having the name India, she dealt with a fair share of racism, in school and outside. “They just didn’t really understand mixed race people. I feel as though the fact that I am mixed is much more appreciated here [in India]. Although, now London has changed a lot, but back then it was a lot to deal with. My parents did go through a little bit of a hard time from some family members at the beginning, no one from my dad’s side had ever married someone who wasn’t white and vice versa with my mum’s family. Slowly though everyone came around.”

“Being from a mixed blood background is awesome! I love my background and I am very proud of my mixed ethnicity. I have always felt a balanced connection between my Indian and Irish side even though both are extremely different. I can actually say that I have the best of both worlds.”

The melting pot of cultural influences

India says that the food, traditions, values and cultures of both her Indian and Irish side have been a big part of her life. Her chef mother would always cook Indian food which her father would balance with the English breakfast every morning. “My dad being a Irish Catholic he was always very traditional about celebrating Christmas, Easter and St Patrick’s day, my mum adjusted to this very well and would celebrate with us on all of the Catholic holidays as would my dad on Diwali. Diwali was always celebrated in our house, and in a very big way. Our lifestyle wasn’t particularly Indian or Irish, being born and raised in London it was more British, but my values are definitely Indian. Living here has definitely made me really appreciate my Indian side and I feel so connected to everything here now I can’t imagine living in London after living here. It’s quite ironic that my mother moved to London around the same age that I moved here.”

IV. Julian Manning | Italian American-Bengali

Where the unconventional union began

“Three of my grandparents met in the Philippines during their stint in the Peace Corps. Papa Nick and Grandma Jo (my Irish-Italian side) got a bit too frisky early on and had to cut their time in the Peace Corps short since my dad was ready to pop out,” shares Julian. They stayed in contact with his other would-be grandmother, Joyce, who wanted to find the furthest thing from a small town Mid-Western man for herself. The result of her search? Julian’s Bengali grandfather, Binoy Ghosh. “Grandma Jo is a little matchmaker and set up my folks in NYC.”

“Being from a mixed blood background is fun because you get to look at people’s dumbass/confused expressions when you explain your heritage.”

The melting pot of cultural influences

Julian says that there were no real problems when they lived in India, but when they got to Texas, that was a different story. “I had a hard time in third grade when my teacher made me take after school classes for my English, even though that was my first language and only language at the time. The only other kid that stayed after school was a Jordanian immigrant that was fresh of the boat. Safe to say I hated that teacher. Also, when I my sixth grade teacher found out I was part Indian he nicknamed me Elephant Boy. Honestly, at the time I thought it was kinda funny, but looking back I think the dude could have been a bit smoother.”

“I was a vegetarian for 11 years in Texas - In the land of barbecue you feel a bit alienated. I mean I had to bring my own Tofu Pups to Birthday parties since I couldn’t eat hot dogs, which was probably the furthest thing from cool as a little dude.”

V. Kirti Panchal | West Indian-Gujarati

Where the unconventional union began

The tale of how Kirti’s parents met is as heart-warming as it is unbelievable. The now 60-year-olds met in an unconventional manner that could be straight out of a film. Her father, born in Anand district in Gujarat, was brought up in a simple Hindu Gujarati family. Her mother, on the other hand, was born in Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean Islands, West Indies, and was brought up in a Christian family.

We’ll let Kirti tell the rest of the story: “Their story started from their college days when my father and his friend noticed an advertisement in the newspaper which had a pen-pal section and encouraged people to write to people from different countries of the world and make friends. With an interest to step-up his English vocabulary (in those days when speaking English was a big deal), my father thought that this was a good chance for him to make a friend in a foreign land. He wrote to my mother in 1975 and fortunately got a response from her. Their friendship blossomed and they corresponded for eight years over topics of their countries, thoughts, their cultures, and ideologies of the world, religion and much more.

In 1981, my mother was planning a trip to the UK wherein she felt it was a good idea to visit India, meet my dad and do a trip to see the country as she was already half way through the world (Trinidad and Tobago is all the way behind the globe). My maternal grand-parents were apprehensive, and thus, they wrote to my paternal grand-parents, if they were fine to host their daughter and if it would be safe to travel to India alone. My paternal side assured them that my mom would be taken care of and they will arrange for a trip with my dad and his brother to take her around the country. My mom and dad met each other for the first time in 1981 at Mumbai airport. They were extremely happy to have finally met in person after eight long years and my dad then took her around the country to visit Kashmir, Delhi, Goa, Jaipur, Udaipur & Gujarat. She stayed with him and his family and loved the whole vibe of the country, their people and warmth.

After she flew on to London, my dad started liking her and proposed the idea through letters and had an open discussion to understand if she felt the same way. Considering, she had met the family, seen where he came from and understood how the country is; she felt warmth, safety and a lot of love from everything. She instantly agreed and was happy to be in love with someone who is globes apart in distance but who loves her and whom she loves as a part of her.”

“Being from a mixed blood background is a mix bag which comes with the goods and bads, but surely makes you into a tough and level-headed individual. At a very a young age, I understood the privileges of being born into a mix breed family and I am glad that I never took advantage of that. I purely learnt the good, kept away from the bad, chose the positive and left the negative! Having married a Gujarati guy (love marriage, we met in London), I am proud that I bring ahead values of a mix-breed child and would proudly pass it on to my kid to follow similar independent footsteps in his/her life!”

The melting pot of cultural influences

Kirti explains that she, along with her two siblings, faced challenges due to their multi-ethnicities mostly when they were younger. Be it the language barrier they faced - having spent more time with their mother they were fluent in English and not so much in Gujarati - or standing out as the Indian kids on a Caribbean Island, they were many small things that, as kids, they’d feel bad about but they were also proud when, for example, they’d ace the English exam (after failing in Gujarati).

“As kids, we were instilled with values from both cultures and were taught to follow both or either one which we were pleased to. We were never forced to believe or follow only one specific religion though our papers mention Hindu as our religion due to my father being a Hindu. Neither of my parents are extremists in any particular ideology and thus we did not feel pressure of any kind (thanks to them). I am grateful that the mix culture in our home led us to having an access to open discussions at home, liberty in choosing our life-decisions, being instilled with family bonds which are very intact and close even today if we are married and don’t live at home anymore and most importantly strong individuals who have grown up to become independent and smart kids of today’s generation,” Kirti muses.

“A mixed aura of traditions has always been a part of my lifestyle. Being born and brought up in India had its own advantages of learning the Hindu culture, understanding cultures, enjoying festivals and being a part of holy processes. On the other hand, I have always visited the church with my parents where my mom prays and the temple where my dad prays and amidst both, I prayed to both Gods – never knowing the names and the history behind the religion but purely faith in the universe which I even follow today. In terms of food, I have always loved the local Trinidadian food like Dal-puri, Mango Chutney, Peas Dal, Doubles, Picarindo, Pumpsite Fruits and many more delicacies that I have relished as a child. On the other hand, I am also a true desi who loves her Gujju and Indian food as well and I eat it every day but always crave for some Caribbean food which, unfortunately, is not available in India.”

VI. Rhea Saldanha | Anglo Indian-Mangalorean

Where the unconventional union began

In Rhea’s own words, she comes from a family of varying ethnicities - her mother is Anglo Indian with Kannadiga, Tamil, Irish and Scottish Ancestry, and her father is a Mangalorean. They met in 1987 while working at the Taj West End in Bangalore, got married in 1991 and, “are the happiest couple I know,” chimes Rhea. “To be honest, I can tell you that over the last 26 years, my parents have faced a hardship of cultural rejection. Well, mostly my mother. And without the unconditional support of my father, things would not have been the same. Simply put, both sides of my family are large and with that, sizes their opinions.”

She recounts the countless times her mother would tell her of the days when Anglo Indians were seen are people with loose morals, wasters and firangis - her mother too has faced such prejudices. Other than being ‘dark, south Indian Anglo Indians,’ she would be ridiculed by her in-laws for the very same. Theirs was a marriage that never got familial support, even after 25 years when her parents renewed their vows. “If there is one thing that I have learned from being a child of mixed ethnicity parents, is that there is no difference in us despite our ethnicities. We take home the simple logic that we are one. Their steadfast love has been tested through and through, but they’re still going strong. After all, in the end, Love conquers all, don’t you think?” shares Rhea.

“Being from a mixed blood background is advantageous in its own way. I’m extremely proud to be multi-ethnicity-ed. I wouldn’t imagine my life any other way!”

The melting pot of cultural influences

“I have grown up embracing both cultures. While there is a constant pressure to be traditional in my dressing sense from my paternal side, versus that of my maternal, I have learned to accept and respect the traditions of both sides of my cultures. I’m a Catholic, so traditions are relatively same in the religious front. My favorite is planning for a wedding: a roce, a bachelorette/bachelor party , singing voveiyos, organising a vojem, a sado-saree ceremony, bridal march, you name it.

But the benefits of being multi-raced is the different food preparations that you get to try! Who wouldn’t be happy with that?”

VII. Ryan Dsouza | Filipino-Indian

Where the unconventional union began

Ryan’s parents met while working at the same company in Abu Dhabi, UAE. His mother, born and brought up in the Philippines, worked at the gift shop, and his Mumbai-born father was a maintenance technician. The air-conditioning at the gift shop wasn’t working, and here came Ryan’s father to fix the problem. “So it’s not like it was a ‘love at first sight’ kind of thing, but they did start getting acquainted from that day, and things took off from there,” explains Ryan.

“There are difficulties sometimes, being from a mixed blood background. but you do get the opportunity to use it to advantage and make the best of it!”

The melting pot of cultural influences

Ryan’s Filipino side is as good as nonexistent, he explains, not knowing the language or any more about the culture than the average Indian. His mother, however, still speaks the language with any Filipino friends she has around. While most of her cooking is Indian food - “really well too, may I add” - her Filipino side does come out every once in a while with a dash of fusion infused in the food and desserts. “Besides that, I’m all Indian,” says Ryan.

Although, he has grown up with several names - chini, Nepali, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, chinky kancha. Besides the pretty racist name calling, there are the ‘usual stares’ he gets from people, everywhere. “Depending on my mood, I get a bit uncomfortable, or I don’t react at all. Sometimes I literally look back and have a stare off with the person if they’ve been staring at me for a while, just to break the awkwardness - then they end up looking away.

There’s also the moment, which I’m used to now, while introducing myself to new people, and I get asked (very smoothly), ‘So where are you from?’ To which I reply, ‘I’m not from the North-east.. So the thing is, my mom’s a Filipino and my dad’s Indian...’

On the plus side, however, I do get looked up to with a little more respect or bhaao sometimes because people think I’m a foreigner.”

VIII. Sara Mohammed | Swedish-Gujarati

Where the unconventional union began

It was back in the 1970s that her Sara’s Swedish mother, a backpacker, started her travels across the Americas. Her Gujarati father, was a student at the time recently transplanted in North America. They both came from very different cultures, religions and languages. “Hot and cold, south and North; east meeting west - two worlds colliding on land historically known as the ‘meeting place’ by its First Nations communities; and Toronto, to its settlers,” writes Sara.

Her parents never intended to stay in Canada, yet it became the most comfortable fit with a blossoming multicultural environment best suited to nurture their unique union. Despite their superficial and cultural differences, their bond revealed basic tenets that unify the human condition: a desire for community, love, laughter, intellectual growth and delicious foods, cemented by their love of travel, nurturing a new world of miscegenation in culture and spirit. All the factors that brought them together, their own ancestral inheritances as merchants and explorers, farmers and healers, would eventually pass onto their children in the following decade connecting vast distances and lands.

“Identity was a tricky thing to navigate in the wake of the multicultural revolution in Canada in the 1970’s. Despite the nations desire to invite diverse cultures, there continued to be a resistance to understanding that cultures would blend and bleed into each other creating a new fabric of society thus allowing for the multiplicity of new identities embodying many cultures, religions, languages and world-views. As the offspring of this new multicultural national identity of the 1970’s, mixed identities were often contested and misunderstood, following the pre-determined notions of singular boxes to place people. As a child, being forced to check one box to determine which ‘race’ category I fit within was what made me understand that my identity would never be socially embraced, but always framed by and severed by wrong notions that supposedly categorize humanity,” she shares.

“Being from a mixed blood background has cultivated a deeper understanding to see things outside of the box and to have empathy and consideration for all people and communities. Being mixed-race I have inherited the strength of diverse peoples and lands, foods and traditions, ceremonies and world-views.”

The melting pot of cultural influences

For Sara, finding a community within these multiple communities wasn’t an easy task. As a light-skinned Desi, dark-skinned Swede living in Canada, no place really quite felt like home. “We spoke English and broken Swedish, so the connection to our South Asian Community was often cultivated like a tourist visa, temporary and welcome when invited.”

Despite the social barrier of being a ‘semi-outsider’ in either of the communities, Sara explains that she grew to understand that her multicultural identity granted her a unique insight into multiple cultures; “we felt especially at home within our chosen geographical home and family of other mixed-race families.”

“Food has been central to how I invite people into knowing my family and multiple places of origin: ‘My dad makes the BEST biryani and chai, would you like to try?’ or, ‘Have you ever tried homemade saffron buns and Swedish chocolate?’ Food has been the gateway to how I both relate to my culture and share it with friends in a society that develops appreciation of immigrants through their stomachs first. Despite the delicious palate that I was blessed with, my strength and resilience as a mixed-race woman were inherited through cultural traditions that gave me meaning and grounding through diverse stories and ceremonies.

My parents intentionally raised us to know both sides of our ancestry through stories and traditions but to equally value and respect all religious and cultural traditions. We were raised to be comfortable and respectful in all places of worship, whether ashram or Vatican, home or temple, all are equally important because our common humanity is what binds us. For that reason, both have been strong determinants of my identity formation because both were naturally there nourishing me day-to-day.”

IX. Stefan Boyer | Anglo Indian-Eurasian-Indian

Where the unconventional union began

Stefan’s British-French father, Howard Charles Boyer and his south Indian mother, Susan George eloped in 1987 within a month of knowing each other. A mixing of races and ethnicities went back a few generations in his family, as he explains, “My father is Anglo-Indian (more French and British) / Eurasian married a completely Indian woman. This was the first marriage in my family to a pure Indian. There was already a mixing of race in my family all the way back to my great great grandfather (dad’s mother’s side).

My grandmother (my father’s mother) used to tell me about, her grandfather, who was french, Mr. William Desméré, residing in Pondicherry, and it was told to her that at the time, the East India Company would offer Rs.15 (quite a big sum in the 1800s) to any European man to marry an Indian woman. He had married a Christian Indian named Ms. Cecilia Christie, (Not entirely sure if she was pure Indian). They had a daughter, Lily Desméré who married Mr. Arthur Charles Peters (Pure British) and then my grandmother came.

My great grandfather, Mr Eustace Boyer who was French, married a completely British woman Ms. Mary Wells. Their son Mr. Henry Boyer married my grandmother Ms. Theresa Peters. Now their son, my dad, Howard Charles Boyer, married, my mum, Susan George, who happens to be an Indian Christian from the south.”

“Being from a mixed blood background in India, is a very good feeling as you feel deep roots to not just one, but three cultures in my case (Indian, British and French) and it gives me an extremely unique identity in a vast country of over 1.3 billion people.”

The melting pot of cultural influences

“With regards to my life, due to my ethnicity I don’t face many problems, people in India sometimes do wonder if I’m foreign because of my name and the fluent English I speak, but I wouldn’t really call it a challenge. In terms of lifestyle, due to being an Anglo and a Christian and English being my first language, my command over Hindi is a bit poor, which is something that i do find challenging especially in the north of India. My name and language capabilities have helped me be accepted more openly abroad despite looking Indian, which could be looked at as a positive, but then again, that kind of racism shouldn’t be existing in the first place.”

“The influence of my ethnicity isn’t very evident in my lifestyle as many generations of my family have lived in India so culturally we are very much Indian (Christian), church-going et al, but nothing different from any other Christians in India or the world, language as i said, my Hindi is poor, but English is fluent. I would think something that is a tradition in my family is going for the races that is the horse races which take place at Mahalaxmi, every year, that is subjective as it was the British who introduced the sport to the country, which may have been carried down the generations in my family as a tradition. (Many pure Indians would do this too, for the entertainment).”

X. Sumiran A M Kashyap | Punjabi-British

Where the unconventional union began

Ethnicities blended in Sumiran’s family starting with her maternal grandfather and grandmother. Her grandfather is a Punjabi from Jalandhar, and grandmother was English, from Catterick, in Yorkshire. They met in Bangalore, where her great grandfather settled down after a life-long service in Queen Victoria’s army.

Her grandfather travelled to Bangalore for work and happened to take up accommodation in the same residential area. He ran into her grandmother, and as Sumiran explains, it was love at first sight. “If the story’s to be believed, then my grandfather apparently went up to my great-grandmother and politely informed her that he’d be marrying her daughter. It wasn’t a request, it was a statement. They got married in 1960, and my mother, their only child was born a year later,” she shares.

“In terms of challenges, I think my grandparents faced the initial, ‘obvious’ resistance that one could expect back in those times. It wasn’t that my great-grandmother didn’t understand the love/attraction, she was just worried about how life might play out for my grandparents.

My own parents faced similar reactions of controlled concerns. History had repeated itself, when my father was sent to Bangalore for occupational training as part of initiation into the family business. He met my mother when she was working a part-time summer job in a music store; and it was a classic whirlwind romance.”

“Being from a mixed blood background is a matter of pride, because I’m a walking-talking manifestation of kaleidoscopic history, and cross-cultural nuances on so many dimensions. You’d assert that a non-mixed blood background person could say the same, so what’s new? That’s exactly my point. We’re unique, but certain sections of India’s population need to understand that we aren’t mutants!”

The melting pot of cultural influences

“As a child I knew bangers and mash before I knew parathas and pooris. I get my tea-drinking obsession from my mother. Afternoon tea at 4.30 pm was late, by her standards. Growing up, attending weekend Church services and Midnight Mass was an absolute must, too. Christmas and Easter lunches were, and are sacraments, an interesting mix of East-Indian coastal savoury food, and British desserts. My fashion sensibilities are also unconsciously branded by classic English sartorialism on one hand, and old-world delicacy on the other. Pencil dresses and a sundress over jeans any day,” she says.

Like a lot of mixed race kids, Sumiran did find herself at the butt of many stereotypical jokes and judgements. “I’ve been called ‘Bobby’ (after Dimple Kapadia’s character in the movie by the same name), Julie, Polly Perreira, and so on. . I’m asked if I celebrate Independence Day, with a ‘just kidding.’ Things like this aren’t amusing after a point. My reactions to them are usually deadpan. Friends in India, and peers and colleagues in London thought I use the name ‘Annamaria’ just to be cool. People still don’t believe that’s my baptismal name.”

When she moved to London for higher studies and work she didn’t have much of a problem adjusting with some of the value systems that people in New Delhi, according to her, would find ‘strange’ - “being on time for occasions, checking the diary before committing to even a coffee with the girls, being particular about people being all up in my face, and personal space. Those who call it English snobbery, can. I call it respect and class in lifestyle choices.”