New to the Parish: ‘It was very difficult giving birth here’

A series on the lives of recent arrivals to Ireland: A 33-year-old woman was sifting through potential suitors in India when an offer of an arranged marriage came through from Ireland

33-year-old Arundeep Marjara was sifting through potential suitors in India when an offer of an arranged marriage came through from Ireland. Video: Kathleen Harris, music: "Clean Soul" by Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com).

 

Arundeep Marjara only met her husband for two hours before they were married. Her father had placed a matrimonial advertisement in a newspaper and was already sifting through potential suitors when an Irish offer came through.

Rajesh Marjara’s parents had moved to Ireland in the 1970s and were now looking for an Indian bride for their son.

Arundeep remembers how her father wrote a 500-word description of his daughter for the advertisement.

“It said, ‘We have a girl of height 5ft with a fair complexion who has a good education and has been working for the last four years. Looking for a groom who matches with her qualifications and settled enough to support her’.

“Usually the important thing with a marriage is that you belong to the same caste, but that was not so important for us,” says Arundeep. “What really mattered was he needed to be a vegetarian.”

The 33-year-old from Amritsar in northern India was brought up in the Radha Soami community, which follows a vegetarian diet and abstains from cigarettes and alcohol. Although her husband’s family is Hindu – her own family is Sikh – both families adhered to the beliefs of the Radha Soami movement.

Arundeep’s first thought when she met her husband was, “he’s gorgeous”. The couple met three times, spending two hours together, before they held a small commitment ceremony in February 2011.

“I’d met a few men already but they were very boastful. My husband was polite and genuine. He was very down-to-earth, and I could feel the difference. This was the guy I could spend my life with.”

The couple were married in November 2011. In February 2012, Arundeep set off for a small green island on the western fringe of Europe.

“I’d never been to Ireland before. I had seen PS I Love You and knew it was a beautiful country, but I never thought: I’m going to settle in Ireland.”

Searching for a job

The newlyweds found a home in the same housing estate as Rajesh’s parents in Lucan, and Arundeep, who had master’s degrees in technology and computer science, began searching for a job.

After a month and half of job hunting, she found employment with technology company Fujitsu.

It was frustrating moving from her senior position at an Indian company to start from the bottom in Ireland. She still struggles to understand her Irish colleagues’ sense of humour. “Sometimes I laugh without knowing what’s going on. ‘Everyone is laughing so I think I should laugh too.’ They talk very fast and when they are drunk they speak freely.”

One of Arundeep’s favourite things about living in Ireland is the weather. “I know people here are always giving out about rain and dampness, but for me it’s gorgeous. Today was 45 degrees at home: it’s deep summer over there.”

In October 2013 the couple welcomed their son, Rohan, into the world. Arundeep has embraced motherhood; it has made her more responsible and has changed her life for the better.

However, she says the experience of giving birth in an Irish hospital was far from ideal. “I went for a consultant because I was having issues with my uterus. I said, ‘I need someone who knows my condition.’ The baby was born two weeks early and my doctor was not in town.

“I was not happy at all. I stayed four nights in hospital after the birth and they were a nightmare. I had just had a C- section and the nurses were asking me to stand up on my own to change the nappy.

“My sister was treated like a princess in hospital in India. It was very difficult giving birth here.”

Arundeep says she often feels nervous leaving the house, and prefers to accompany her husband.

“I hate driving here,” she says. “In India any type of driving is allowed, and you can park anywhere. Here the parking is so tight; everyone is parked so closely to each other.”

After more than three years in Ireland, Arundeep still “madly misses home”. She calls her mother every day. She tries to visit Amritsar once a year and is planning a trip in November for Diwali, a celebration she calls “Indian Christmas”.

“My husband is here and we’ve got the house. I don’t think I’d prefer to go back to India. Maybe we’ll go after retirement and spend half the year there and half the year here.”

We would like to hear from people who have moved to Ireland in the past five years. To get involved, email newtotheparish@irishtimes.com

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