Feature on Tie The Thali

HOW THEY MET Raghav and I come from different backgrounds as I am Half Black/Half Filipina Catholic and Raghav being a South Indian Hindu. Our paths eventually crossed when I moved to San Francisco after college and was hired to work the night shift at a manufacturing site. Raghav was already working the same shift…

via Francesca and Raghav — Tie The Thali


Visa Woes – The final Chapter (Green Card!)

Hi everyone, I’m keeping good on my promise to update my blog at least once a month.  If possible, I would appreciate if my readers could subscribe to my blog (Right hand column of website).  I’m still shy about sharing my post updates with friends, family, social media channels so I need all the help I can get.  

I’ve talked A LOT about Nelli’s visa woes on the blog herehere,  here, and here.  Most of the posts are lamenting the time Nelli had to go back to India until his visa was renewed and one post was about me taking my first trip to India to get Nelli’s visa on his passport.  I thought that was the end of our visa woes but I was wrong.  I’m happy to announce that after 5 months on February 10th, 2018 – Nelli became a permanent resident aka received the GREEN CARD. 


This post will detail the 5 months that led up to this since Nelli wanted to keep the process relatively mum to not jinx anything.  We officially submitted all the paperwork on October 11, 2017 – I remember that day because it was my 30th birthday.  The main application is I-130 – which allows an immigrant who is married to a U.S. citizen to apply for permanent residency and ultimately become a citizen themselves.   We officially married on October 28, 2016 to jumpstart this application because Nelli wanted more flexibility in job prospects.  Nelli came to the United States on a Student (F1) visa in 2004 to attend Grad school in Minnesota. He subsequently got an H1B visa in 2007 which means his immigrant status is tied to his employer.  Our official marriage date is a little hard to remember because we consider our anniversary, the day of our wedding – June 24th, 2017.  A lot of dates to keep track of which sort of tripped me up later in the interview process. 

Continue reading “Visa Woes – The final Chapter (Green Card!)”

2017 in Review – Practicing Gratitude

2017 was SUCH a game changer in my life…there were so many milestones reached, growth opportunities fulfilled and SO many adventures executed – Here are my top 10 moments of the year!  I would definitely say 2017 has been my best year yet however I have no expectations for the future.

I want to say that 2018 will be better but I’m just going to live each day to the fullest and face whatever is in front of me.  This past January, I got a little angsty….I wanted each weekend activity packed and I was constantly searching/planning for our next international getaway.  I’m learning that you can be happy anywhere doing anything – Happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a state of being 🙂

10.  Turning 30 in Las Vegas with my crew – In October, I said goodbye to my twenties!  I could write a whole novel summarizing my tumultuous decade but I’m grateful to have experienced some of my highest highs and lowest lows.  This decade was such an energetic rollercoaster, full of late night partying (early 20s..haha),  and many lessons learned.  If I had to anything differently was I would tell myself to have more confidence 🙂

Partying at the Cosmo

9.  Visiting National Parks – Pinnacles, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Channel Island  – When I travel to a new country, I tend to gravitate towards nature/culture so I wanted to mimic my preferences when exploring the USA.  Even though the USA political/social landscape is an absolute joke, nobody can deny the natural beauty of America so we wanted to take advantage through hiking.  Our experiences during our park visits have been unique and special – when we went to Pinnacles it was a 8 mile hike in 100 degree weather and Channel Island we got the chance to see whales during a boat ride!  So much diversity in the US of A.

Joshua Tree

8.  Getting a promotion at work – I am super proud to say that I was promoted again after 2 years and 9 months.  This job move was super challenging for me because I didn’t know where I wanted to be.  Each job transition since I’ve graduated college has been smooth and apparent but I was definitely at a crossroads this time.  After much consultation with my friends, my hubby, and talking with different people across my organization, I decided to take a position as a Quality Receiving Inspection Supervisor.  I currently manage over 20 people!  Nelli also got promoted and is working at a different site, I like to think that we motivate each other to be the best in our industry.  #powercouple

Work xmas party

7.  Enrolling at Crossfit and eating clean – I have been going to yoga pretty frequently but hiking national parks made me realize that I needed cardio/strength training in my life.  I also wanted to eat healthier because my total cholesterol was over 200 so I started meal prepping, eating leafy greens, all organic food (no processed), and no bad carbs i.e. white rice.   The first couple months were hard but finishing each workout was such an accomplishment –  I’m happy to say I’m the fittest I’ve ever been.

Farmers Market Haul

6.  Exploring the west coast with my hubby – Portland, Santa Barbara, LA, Palm Springs –  It has been about 6 months since the whirlwind of planning a wedding and honeymoon.  We are fortunate to have paid for our wedding ourselves and to not have gone into debt but our savings is not where I would like it to be….I am a hawk when it comes to monitoring our money!  We made the decision to keep our travel light for the rest of 2017 to prepare for the next year and it’s really given us the opportunity to see America once again in a different light.  This year we are planning to go to Seattle, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.

Portland Japanese Garden

5.  Spending 2 weeks with my family in NorCal – During the wedding, my whole family was able to spend time with me and Nelli in Northern California.  For my sister and brother, it was their first time in the area so I wanted to make it special.  I don’t think there was a town we didn’t touch: Napa, Oakland, Palo Alto, Mountain View, San Jose, San Francisco, Monterrey, Santa Cruz, Carmel/Big Sur, and Half Moon Bay…whew!  It got a little stressful for me trying to ensure they had fun, balancing work, and putting the finishing touches on the wedding but everybody had a great time.

Family Dinner in Monterrey

4.  Going to Trinidad for Carnival – You can read more about our adventure to Trinidad here….simply a trip that is once in a lifetime and we will never forget it.  We are blessed and fortunate to have a supportive, diverse group of friends that let us tag along in their home country ❤

Carnival Day 2 in Trinidad

3.  Going to San Diego for my bachelorette – I’m glad that I have such a supportive GIRL FRANDS.  I don’t want to be a married person that only hangs out with her husband (nothing wrong with it tho).  We partied in the Gaslamp District, brunched it up, ate too many tacos, and even had a smores night on the beach.  My friend Hannah planned an amazing weekend – she did so well that she’s planning another bachelorette for another one of her friends!

Brunch at Coronado Beach (San Diego)

2.  Going to Bali for our Honeymoon – You can read more about our trip to Bali here….we spared no expense for our honeymoon and it was worth every penny!  2 weeks, 3 hotels, 3 spas, 2 islands later…we didn’t leave any Bali adventure out.  It’s going to be tough to beat this trip 🙂

Prambanan in Java, Indonesia

1. Getting Married – Hands down the best decision I ever made was to ask Nelli out…putting myself out there changed the course of my life forever.  Read more about it here, here and here HAHA…cheers to 2017!

Sangeet 🙂

Being Feminists in a Patriarchal Culture

Hi everyone, we are coming up on 6 months of married life and so far so good!  Sometimes, I feel like we have have been married for longer and when people ask how married life has been I think to myself…the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Today I wanted to talk about a special topic that I have been made acutely aware of since joining Nelli’s family and the interracial community…I’ve always known I was different because of my race(s) and religion but since being married; the values and practices that me and Nelli followed since the beginning of our relationship became more apparent.

I had originally written the title as “Being A Feminist in a Patriarchal Culture” but the more I wrote about my experiences, the more I realized that both me and Nelli are feminists.  Nelli is the type of person that says “Hey, I’m going to this women’s march, wanna come with me?” or “Let’s go to this Black Lives Matter Vigil.” Our ideals start at home but we make every effort to not let them stop there.  I am truly lucky to be married to such a progressive loving husband 🙂

Continue reading “Being Feminists in a Patriarchal Culture”

Features + Wedding Video

Happy Sunday everyone!

I just wanted to quickly share our wedding video that we received a couple weeks ago…I absolutely love it!  Looking back, it was definitely funny when me and Nelli were working with Fusion Moments on the video.  We really struggled to choose a song that represented US – we both wanted something unique but he wanted something Indian inspired and I wanted something representing my African American culture.  Not only did we deal with that difference of opinion but we could only choose from a limited song bank our videographers provided.  In the end, after much tribulation (not really…hehe) we decided on two songs (thanks to our gracious vendor).  Me and my Dad actually danced to the first song and for those who might not know, Nelli is a big Deepika Padukone fanboy…hence the second song!  I was kind of sad that none of our Sangeet footage made it in but we have an entirely separate video of that night.  Hope you guys enjoy…let me know what you think 🙂

I am also including two website links that featured our wedding and they have some fabulous photos thanks to Nathalie Cheng.  One is Seventh Heaven Vintage which is a vendor that we used for our specialty furniture and the other is 100 layer cake.  100 layer cake is a top 5 wedding website so it was such an honor for them to share the beautiful work completed by my  wedding planner (Jessica) and wonderful vendors.  Please enjoy and have a great rest of your weekend!





Black + Indian Ceremony Script

Hi everyone, a couple of people have asked me how I blended both cultures into one ceremony. A lot of fusion weddings have two different ceremonies on different days or the same day but as I touched on with previous posts, we decided to have one ceremony with our immediate family as the officiants.  Since we didn’t have the expertise of religious officiants to give us the scripts we made our own ceremony which made it even extra special.  We researched a lot of things on the internet and took SOME (keyword) advice from our close friends/family.  Thank you Google for allowing us to get married haha! And now to pay it forward for other engaged couples, we are happily giving you our ceremony online for you to hopefully enjoy along with some explanations, thought processes, challenges etc.

  • Wedding Registry – From all the Indian weddings I’ve been to, I’ve never seen a wedding registry which is usually the case for the American weddings.  Who doesn’t love getting gifts?  *looks around* NO ONE!  I wanted a wedding registry but Nelli didn’t.  He said I could have one but it would specifically be for me which I didn’t think was appropriate.  We ended up not having a registry in the end but we did get some very nice generous cards/gifts anyway!  I wish I had something like ZOLA.  Zola is a great website that combines a lot of wedding registry functions into one convenient place.  I didn’t even know they offered free wedding websites, they are truly a 1 stop shop.  You can combine registries from different brands and they have the option to provide cash as a gift (which is what a lot of Indians tend to do).  If your friends want to pool their money which some of my friends did, you have that option on Zola as well.  Also, it may be Indian weddings traditionally don’t have registries because of internet/department store access.  Things are quickly changing as India is becoming one of the fastest growing markets in the world.  I love that friends and family abroad can use their international credit cards and billing addresses with no extra fee on Zola.  Lastly, Zola makes it really easy to send thank you notes!  We lost track of who gave us what and if we had Zola they would have a list of people who bought us gifts.
  • Prayer to Lord Ganesh – I didn’t really want us praying to our respective Gods because I wanted to keep the ceremony non-religious.  Yes, I did have a bible reading but we weren’t asking for blessings from any higher being. We decided as a couple to include the Lord Ganesh prayer because it was really important to Nelli.
  • Mangalsutura – I like to think the mangalsutra necklace is the equivalent of  wedding rings, it’s that important in a Hindu ceremony.  The more I read about what the mangalsutra represents, the less I wanted to incorporate it though.  The necklace is suppose to have 3 knots which represents obedience to husband, parents, and God.  Seriously?! Obedience!?  HAH!  In addition, the saying that is supposed to be chanted says “May your husband live for 100 years”.  What about me?!  In the end, Nelli wrote his own chant in a way that spoke to both of us because he is fluent in Sanskrit (YAY!).  He put the necklace on me without the craziness of the parents/aunties crowding around me trying to tie knots.
  • Declaration of Marriage intention – This is a Catholic wedding tradition that is pretty straightforward.  I think one of the original questions is somewhere along the lines of “Will you promise to raise your children under the Catholic Church”.  Nelli was like “wait WHAT?! I can’t promise that!”  I thought my aunt was going to have a heart attack but she was willing to work with us and suggested that we say something that can be applicable to both religions like “Will you accept children lovingly from God?”  We ended up going with that….Thanks Dede!
  • Walking down the aisle – My parents were so confused as to why the whole wedding party/immediate family was walking down the aisle.  Traditionally, in American weddings the groom waits at the alter and there are ushers (not family members) walking the mothers to their seats.  In the end, I decided not to change anything and have everyone walk down the aisle because it was my way of honoring them.
  • Lessons Learned
    • Triple check to make sure you have all your props at the ceremony location!  Garlands, Broom, Necklace, Sacred Fire!  Our garlands were in the fridge when we were ready to exchange them! OOPS!
    • Be clear on expectations!  I told Nelli our vows should be 1-3 minutes long.  His was 1 minute and mine was 3 minutes!  *Face palm*  I should have said 2 minutes for the each of us so my vows didn’t look so long!  Everybody loved mine though and was laughing/crying all at the same time!  Should I post my vows to the blog?
    • Jumping the broom – I had to pick up my train prior to jumping but Nelli thought I was jumping already so our jumps are a little off…haha no big deal!
    • You may kiss the bride – This is not traditionally done in hindu ceremonies because SCANDALOUS!  We did a quick kiss but I wish we would have just taken our time and enjoyed the moment
    • Family expectations – My in-laws didn’t really have anything to say about the ceremony…probably because it was so far away from what they were used to.  Traditionally, hindu weddings are 3 hours long, ours was 30 minutes!  Some practices or lack thereof our family questioned like everyone walking down the aisle, Me or Nelli not having red powder on our forehead, and Nelli giving me the mangalsutra.  We took their feedback into consideration but we ultimately did it OUR way and they didn’t put up a big fight.  The most feedback I received was from my side of the family which I found surprising!  They thought the script was more Hindu than Catholic but I found it to be numerically even (not that it mattered).  I wouldn’t change our script for anything!
    • Research!  Make sure that every word in your wedding script is something you believe in!  There are a lot of things in a Hindu wedding ceremony that incorporate caste traditions and identify a bride as being married (toe rings, bangles, sindoor, bindi, mangalsutra) – most of these things we cut out of our script.  In these cultures, they place too much importance on a woman being married and even when she’s married – the sole concern is that of her husband.  Our wedding script is just our little way of fighting the patriarchy, discrimination, and making sure our actions match our words.  Set the tone for the rest of your life!
    • SMILE!
  • Helpful Links
    • I really like this ETSY STORE for buying wedding brooms.  I plan to use my broom as a heirloom and pass it down to my brother/sister/kids when they get married.  I started a new tradition and for each person that gets married, they will carve their name in the wood. This broom is handmade out of all natural materials.  Check it out!
    • Here is a YOUTUBE LINK for the music that was played during the mangalsutra tradition.  Nelli wanted this to be playing in the background because it is quintessntial South Indian and he is very proud of his culture and LOVES the Carnatic style of Classical Indian music .

For a full script please see link below ❤

Continue reading “Black + Indian Ceremony Script”

Ballin’ in Bali – Honeymoon time!

Top 5 things to do in Munduk and Ubud

  •  Munduk
    1. Brahmavihara Buddhist temple
    2. Stay in Munduk Moding Plantation (Villas, Spa, Coffee Plantation tour, Village bikeride)
    3. Waterfalls (Git Git and Munduk)
    4. Hindu temples (Lake Tamblingan, Ulun Danu Bratan)
    5. Lembuyang rice fields
  • Ubud
    1. Mt. Batur volcano hike
    2. Cultural Dances (Kechak at Uluwatu temple and Legong)
    3. Hindu Temples (Tanah Lot, Pura Lempuyang, Tirtha Empul Temple, Besakih Temple)
    4. Monkey Forest Temple
    5. Downtown Restaurants (Clear Cafe and Kaffe)
  • If you have time go to Java and see Borobudor Buddhist Temple!

Out of all our travels so far, going to Bali with Nelli is my absolute favorite….it was fitting that it was also for our honeymoon!  Nelli really went out of his way to ensure it was an enjoyable experience and that each of us got what we wanted out of Bali.  The above list only represents a FRACTION of what we did the two weeks we were there. We visited so many more places, temples and waterfalls but I chose my favorites above.  As you can see, we were quite busy but there was also plenty of time for relaxation (we had 3 spa sessions and stayed at the BEST hotels) which is important for me (read: spoiled).  We also got sick (as usual) so that really slowed down our days and it was nice to lounge around our villa recovering from our coughs!  Please bring A LOT of cough medicine when you travel internationally – I still haven’t learned my lesson and didn’t bring enough!  Here are some tips and tricks related to our favorite activities in Bali.

Continue reading “Ballin’ in Bali – Honeymoon time!”