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A lawyer whose services I was seeking for a few marriage-related formalities started by giving me a sermon on running a background check on the man I wanted to marry because “you never know how these s are.” I didn’t call on her again.

Probably every woman in India has one story about having been subject to lecherous looks as she has walked down the street. The male gaze turns more brazen by several orders of magnitude.

“I was so angry that I shrieked, and we ran after them. Then seeing that I was not going to go, he apologised.” Another time, a group of men sneered as they passed by the young couple: “? )” My friend Neha Belvalkar’s first visit to India after two years in a film school in the US was “appalling,” in her words.Chris, her American boyfriend, had accompanied her.One day when walking on a street in Pune, Neha’s hometown, a biker slowed down near the couple and almost hit her. She said she sensed a mix of repressed fury and lust in the man’s tone, when he hissed back: “I will f*** you.” To many Indians, the idea of a mixed-race couple is alien, repulsive even.Elephant Beach on India’s Andaman Islands was not where I thought I would have to justify my life choices.Yet, there I was, feet dipped in clear water, staring into the horizon, trying to convince two middle-aged women whom I did not know that the man I was with was indeed my husband.

By the fourth day of our vacation on the islands, we had got used to being stared at.But when curious glances turned to quizzical looks, we began to realise that we were considered an oddity: A brown woman with a white man. ” one of the two women asked me as soon as my husband left my side.“My husband,” I replied after a while, snapping out of savouring my first-ever snorkelling session.She then asked me questions about our wedding and everything that had led to it. I later kicked myself for having misunderstood their questions as friendly banter.Then the other woman, who had remained silent until then, asked me for proof. When many Indians see one of their women with a man of a different race, they make assumptions, and offer unsolicited advice.An Indian woman who has got a white man must be enlightened, even by complete strangers.