At BHAV, we believe in empowering women to find unique ways to embrace their cultural heritage. We started 'The Culture Connection' to explore the impact (both good and bad) of heritage on a variety of incredible women, and understand how it continues to play an influential role in their lives. We invite you to join us on this journey, with the hope that you find value in these conversations.
Charis is an Equestrian Vaulter competing on a team in the Bay Area in California. She hopes to achieve her first medal at the canter level next year. She also is an artist and paints and draws in many different mediums. Charis has always been an an avid sports lover, mainly competing in equestrian sports but also has played soccer, lacrosse and rugby through college. She also enjoys documenting her multicultural journey with her husband on their YouTube channel. Read on to learn about Charis's heritage and motivation for documenting her Indian-American fusion journey (@i_am_naidu_007) and YouTube ('I am Naidu').
On Her European Heritage & Multicultural Marriage:
What's your background?
I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, now living on the West Coast in California. My father's side of the family came to America from Germany and Holland in the 1700's, while my mother's side is from Sweden coming to states in the early 1900's. As you can see my family is mostly descended from Europe.
Can you speak on your experience being in a multicultural relationship? What have been some of the challenges, and what have you been pleasantly surprised with or learned about yourself, your husband, and/or your family?
It’s rather interesting really, we are always learning something new from each other from words or phrases we say or how we go about doing some things in our day to day life. To be honest, we both are pretty good at adapting to new situations. I think we were both fortunate that both our families were pretty accepting of our relationship and marriage. Communication has been the biggest thing for us in understanding each other and our differences. It can be a bit of a challenge to try and follow some of the social norms that are set in each country sometimes.
I was pleasantly surprised how accepting his family was for having me into their family. As for learning about our families, I was surprised how many of them followed the same religion as my family does. What I have learned about myself through our relationship is I didn’t know how much I actually enjoyed cooking! I’m a vegetarian but yet I have been able to cook chicken and lamb for my husband very well.
What made you decide to start sharing your journey of being in a multicultural relationship on social media, and how do you hope to help others by documenting it? Has it also helped you navigate through any challenges you've faced?
We originally started a YouTube ('I am Naidu') and Instagram channel called “Time 4 Food” back in December 2017. It was started that to help others have easy access to Indian recipes. This channel was slow going but was building to our current channel. My husband at the same time was blogging about our travels and his journey in college and onto the cricket fields (he made it to the US combines). After our first few blogs and the few cooking videos, we thought about how many photos and videos we had taken and how we could use that content to create videos that I would edit myself.
One thing led to another and instead of posting our first travel videos, we started posting a bit about the sports we were involved in and also made our own wedding video. From there, we saw more people interested in our cultural content. What started out as a way to keep both of our families informed of what we were up to and educating them about our cultures, turned into connecting with new friends through the online communities. We’ve even met a few in person and have formed strong friendships. If our videos or blog posts can help just one person, our work is paying off in helping others.
You recently traveled to India for the first time - where did you visit, and what were the most memorable aspects of your trip? Do you plan on going back anytime soon and what other parts of India would you like to see?
Our first trip to India was actually for our wedding. We took about a month off with our holiday breaks and had a 5 day traditional wedding. We had all the main traditional festivities for the wedding which included the mehndi (henna party), haldi (turmeric ceremony), the baraat (groom's procession), the sangeet (song and dance party), and the religious Hindu wedding ceremony followed by the reception. Being in the center of it all and coming in a week before the wedding itself was quite overwhelming but moments like racing all around the streets of Pune on our bikes, the many shops we had to run to, and receiving my best friend at the airport to join in on our wedding were all memorable!
After the wedding, we flew to Jaipur exploring the sights, hanging out with some very fine elephants which were on a protected land by the government. Some other memorable parts of the trip were probably the Taj Mahal and the many sights throughout Jaipur. I'd love to explore more of Bangalore since we have family there as well.
What do you love most about South Asian fashion?
Hands down, sarees are my favorite! They are always in fashion and you can do so much styling with them.
What's your favorite thing in your closet right now, or the piece that gives you the most confidence?
When it comes to my clothing I would say my heavy blue silk saree makes me feel so confident.
What's your go-to cocktail, spirit or drink?
I enjoy sweet wines and drinks. Though I will say, my husband and I after a tour at Jack Daniel’s distillery learned that we like the fire whiskey.
What are you currently watching?
“Bob’s Burgers” is an old favorite of mine and working on the anime “Black Clover." DC comics and Marvel series movies are a favorite as well.
Name of the best book you've read in a while?
“The Henna Artist” and “A Dog named Beautiful”.
Morning person or night owl?
I can be a major night owl when I get started on an editing project or engrossed in a good book.
What's 1 small thing you couldn't give up (daily ritual, accessory/personal item, etc.)?
I wouldn’t be able to give up any aspect of horses in my life! Whether it is from owning them, being on a sports team or just helping out. Horses are a big part of my life. My puppy Loki has become a bit of the center of our universe since he came along these days.