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“My husband,” I replied after a while, snapping out of savouring my first-ever snorkelling session.

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I wondered whether she would have felt as much concern over my being so far away from my mother had I married an Indian.

Or whether a policeman from a Mumbai police station would have muttered under his breath when Aarya went for a no-objection certificate required for her American visa: “What else would you expect from the daughter of divorced parents?

When I decided to marry a Frenchman, my family’s concern was the normal one that parents have about whether their children have made the right decision; my partner’s nationality played only a minor role.

So when a neighbour took it upon herself to tell my mother that I was being an irresponsible daughter by marrying outside my “caste” and moving abroad, it upset me at many levels.

“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.

Nicholas Chevaillier, my friend Aarya’s French-American husband, has been asked more than once in India where and how he “picked up” the woman he was with.

Elephant Beach on India’s Andaman Islands was not where I thought I would have to justify my life choices.

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