India (heart) Indiana
Well, I have now really sat in this ‘global living room’ about which I so often write. I attended a wedding that was an act of East meets West and our own Ruby Rooksby was center stage. That is right, Ruby Rooksby, the smiling face in the front office of The Corydon Democrat newspaper. Let me right off set the record straight: Ruby did not get married.
The wedding invitation simply said: Sandhya weds Tyler; Saturday, the first of March 2008. That was the only noncomplex element in the whole event in which Ruby Rooksby’s grandson became the husband of a beautiful girl of Asian Indian descent.
Years ago, I used to catch a glimpse of another beautiful girl named Diana Grant as she dated a neighbor boy on Woodland Avenue in Corydon, Ind. Diana is Ruby’s daughter and now the mother of groom Tyler. I didn’t really know Tyler very well until his grandmother called me and asked what one should do if they wanted to become an intern with state government. She told me that perhaps she was a bit prejudice, because she was indeed Tyler’s grandmother, but she thought he was ‘a fine young man.’ It didn’t take me long to agree once he moved into my office on a rotation from the Governor’s Fellows Program. He is what all mothers and bosses want in a young man. Tyler is smart, eager, humble, pleasant and caring.
I wasn’t the only one who noticed that he was a rare person. Sandhya and Tyler were both working in state government when they met and the rest is now history. History of our time and opportunities in this global economy. Sandhya’s father is Dr. Omkar Markand, a neurologist. A bright and adventurous couple from India, the Markands were recruited by The Indiana University School of Medicine in the early 1970s. In 2007, Dr. Markand was the recipient of Voted the Best Doctor in America 2007-2008.
When the Markands came to Indianapolis, few other folks had emigrated here from India. Finding it a good place to live with plentiful opportunities and little discrimination, they encouraged others from India to make Indiana their home. Their children were born and raised in Indianapolis. Today, a full 25 percent of our total population growth in Indiana since 1990 is due to what is called ‘immigration stock.’ People are from all over the globe, living regular lives full of typical activities and doing it peacefully here in Indiana.
An outgrowth of this alliance was the wedding ceremony itself. This truly was an East meets West event. A Christian ceremony was held at Broadway United Methodist Church where the minister spoke of the forming of a new partnership between man and wife with their new families and their community. Then everyone scampered down to the historic Union Station to share in fellowship with new friends and old. There were guests in beautiful silk saris and others in conservative Mid-west business attire. There was food for each cultural pallet.
A Hindu wedding ceremony followed with the bride wearing the most elegant deep red, flowing sari and our own Southern Indiana raised groom in head-to-toe authentic Hindu turban and sherwanis. It is a good thing that they handed out a pamphlet with a thorough translation of the Hindu ‘smaskaaras’ (sacraments) service. The setting looked a lot different than a protestant church, but the commitments made and the vows taken were the very same.
After the service, during the dinner, folks took turns sharing sentiments as young friends, mothers and fathers tend to do at life-changing times like a wedding. There were tears, smiles, jokes, congratulations and a lot of hugs exchanged. And there, in center stage, was our dear friend Ruby speaking as a loving grandmother to a whole new extended family. I don’t suppose Ruby would have ever imagined she would be part of such an international family.
Truly when we work in offices together, go to school together and see each other in the supermarkets of today, we take notice of what we see and, like Tyler and Sandhya, we enjoy what we see. It is a relatively easy flight, on a fairly comfortable airplane, from Indiana to India. No longer is it a strange and foreign place to our businessmen and students. Just competing with the neighboring community for jobs and academic scholarships or spouses is a thing of the past. The whole world is our competition and, also in turn, our family. And I would surmise if it is anything like the wedding of Tyler and Sandhya, everyone will soon be smiling once we get to know each other.