When Meher Ahmad first saw the movie “Bend It Like Beckham” as a young girl, she was transfixed. Watching the main character, an Indian woman who looked like her, kiss her white soccer coach, she saw a vision of her own romantic future. While she felt pressure from her family and her culture to be with a Pakistani boy, the movie opened up her lanes of attraction — from white boys to, eventually, “anything but brown men.”
As Meher grew older, though, her thinking started to shift. Today, we share her story about how she found “the one.” Then, our host, Anna Martin, discusses a trend that is all over TikTok: romantic manifestation. She speaks with Laura Pitcher, a contributing writer for The New York Times, about how people are manifesting their ideal partners — and why the spiritual practice is so appealing to Gen Z.
Hey, Modern Love listeners: What’s the most unusual place you have ever gone on a date? Maybe you crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a cargo ship, or you wound up at a restaurant after hours. We want to hear your story. Visit nytimes.com/datestory for submission details.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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hmm now into the foreign laws that are stronger than anything and they learn the most from the new york times. I'm Anna Martin, this
is modern love,
my mom is chinese. My dad is white
hearing stories about how, when he first started dating my mom, my dad tried to learn mandarin to win
over my grandparents. Eventually he gave up and they accepted him anyway,
I also grew up watching my mom going.
To my dad's family reunions should stop
at the dorm take a moment before
walking into a house full of people love her, but
never really understand. Her
This week's essay is about a woman who believes she'll have to navigate that distance between her culture and her partners.
It's written by may hair Ahmad and read by soon you'll an uncanny.
when I saw the movie bend it like beckham on a girl scouts overnight it
my romantic preferences for years to come
in an indian garland. Football didn't even know how to girls team me. I was the sole
see. Member of our suburban indiana troop, and I watched the movie in a state of bliss relieved,
finally see someone who looked like me on screen
good. What family will want a daughter,
Who can run around kicking football all day, but can't make round about these when chess, the main character kisses Joe? The white soccer coach,
pitch in her sorry, no less
eyes, swooned and the final seem joe, please cricket with Jesse's punjabi father that film sequence was like a portal
into an alternate universe where a brown girl could date a white guy, and
still be at peace with her family.
in our circle of pakistani immigrants. The few couples with a white spouse were treated as oddities
I had only begun to imagine myself as someone interested in men boys really
I knew that I was expected to be with another pakistani a movie
with a brown woman in a relationship with a white man who was accepted by her community represented the best of both worlds.
After seeing the movie, I became enthralled with white boys
The gangly runners on my cross country team, the stars of the disney movies, the members of good charlotte,
my college. I was brave enough to date them or
Whatever one calls the booze filled holiness of university life, it didn't hurt that I was at the universe
city of wisconsin madison, which is what some would call a
rich environment for white boys.
Join the pakistani student association out of some misplaced guilt for the fact that I had
a single brown friend I cringed. If any of the guys in the group tried to befriend me, let alone flirt
It was clear to them. I was simply tolerating their company, so they,
faded away too.
By the time I reach new york city. My taste had evolved beyond white boys to anything but brown men, not that I ever thought of that biased consciously
and I embraced my brownness as a kind of cultural curiosity,
Explaining where I came from and how my mother hid, my many skirts from me in high school became a part of my personality, a funny flirtatious bits I deployed. I did
one, pakistani guy, who, like me, had grown up abroad? He was a colleague and the excessive praise we received forget
together. Alarmed me, you guys are so
good together, people would exclaim. We weren't, though,
and soon we broke up affirming my suspicion
that I wasn't meant to be with brown men.
Then I did something drastic. I moved back to pakistan. I say
back, because I was born there, but that hardly counts. As I left when I was five.
Since emigrating my family didn't visit all that much as an adult. I began to go exclusive
leave for my work in journalism, filming the bleakest parts of the country staying.
Hotel, surrounded by security barriers and leaving
before I ever started to question my relationship to the people outside those walls. I spoke them
wage well enough and obviously
like everyone there, but I felt distinctly american. I took a leap in moving to pakistan
I thought it would be a bankable career move to work as a stringer for american media outlets, and it was
I hadn't considered that being there would change my convictions about love,
let alone my type. I just
I did that dating in pakistan. Wasn't going to be a thing because the
the men the ten.
of millions of brown. Men in the country didn't even register as possibilities
Then I met ali on linkedin. He was attempting to network, he had cofounded pocket
funny youth media company.
Remarked about our sharing in alma mater? A fellow badger after we chatted and polish karachi
office shop, I told my roommate how handsome he was, but I didn't think much else of the encounter
even so. I met up with him again this time,
I told my roommate afterward that he reminded me of my brother
feeling I had about brown men, my age over the next several months.
Ali and I became friends despite or perhaps because of the fao
that I didn't see him as having romantic potential. We would mark pakistani rich kid culture,
then commiserate about the country's lack of kombucha. He was kind attentive, quietly, confident
I brought him to a friend's birthday party where someone mistook us for a couple weeks,
after it off. But I caught him
not me, as he did later
He offered me a ride home and I fully expected him to ask to come inside when he didn't. I huffed off
texting. My friends in new york, guys out here
even ass girls out properly
moments later? He texted I'm so
if this is weird, but I'd like to
ask you out on a date how about tomorrow
I couldn't put my finger on what finally attracted me to him.
For starters and my imagined, by racial relationship, there had been all this culture signalling that
isn't necessary anymore, because we were both brown
gradually. I realized that meant. I didn't have to do my exhausting race, conscious performance, the self.
getting jokes. I would mutter about terrorism.
Save ironic shield. I felt I needed when I was the one
pakistani in the crowd. He understood.
without me having to say anything after months of dating, I saw how much space that performance,
taken up in my previous relationships. Without it I was vulnerable and prone with the weight of constant posturing, suddenly lift
Did I felt an intimacy, I could never achieve with the not brown guys.
Ali and I are married now and it's the most comfortable, I have ever felt with another human being. What's
He is that in telling the story I realize I have written the exact type of prop
immigrant mothers pedal to keep their daughters in the culture before Ali. My
Her was fond of telling me stories of some distant friend or relative, who married a white man and then divorced only to find happiness. One
they re married, a daisy. This isn't that, but it's not not that either. I'm not attracted to my husband, because he's brown
but I also know we wouldn't have the relationship we have if he weren't from the right
each point of my most committed relationship. I can
He how my interior tussle with my identity, carried into how I saw the men around me,
my husband and I joke about what it would have been like. If we had met in college, it turns out our paths had crossed back then without meeting at the
pakistani student association, but instead we met in the country of my birth
in a cafe, surrounded by other brown. People were,
and, finally, you stop seeing them as brown people
but as men, just as well
play to be my husband, as the next guy
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sing, offer net sweet dot, com, slash and mighty modern love listeners. We ve got a question for you. What's the most unusual place, you ve ever been on a date. We want to hear about what brought you there, who you were way,
and what made it so memorable tell us about your unexpected deed spot
visiting nytimes, dot, com, deep story, four
the submission details. Again, that's
Y times dot com, slash diet story. We can't wait to hear from you in today's essay may have finally found Ali.
After years of looking for the one, it's a challenge to find love
and there are many ways to tackle that challenge. You can swipe on the apps. Org
parties or ask your friends to set you up or you can drop your butt
in a crowded hallway and a handsome stranger might help you pick them up.
They now want only happens in rom coms,
more and more people are trying to find love these days through something called manifest
talk about how can attraction- probably you
is all over my social media feeds and its also
My social life recently have had
and tell me how they manifested a new apartment or a text from their crush. The basic idea
with manifestation is, if you think, very intentionally about something you want, and you believe deeply that it will come to pass. The universe will respond and that thing will happen. You love manifested it so remit
manifestation is picturing your perfect partner, whatever that means to you and putting your love life in the hands of the universe I made. This list
and the list is so eight dollars. I wrote everything that I wanted and my husband always
I wrote down a bunch of the qualities that I wanted in someone.
I need loyal, trustworthy. I also
it was like. I want someone who snowboards someone who'd skateboard, and if you want to try romantic manifestation, there's plenty of advice, online wow. I want to watch and click on your phone.
and go to the name of the person that you want to manifest the text message from how do you feel when you see this person's name and honestly
not really interested in whether manifestation works, like that's for the universe, to decide,
I am interested in spirituality and what happens when we infuse it into our romantic lives, and I want to know why romantic manifestation is such a thing. So I called a bloor pitcher she's, a contributing writer to the times
reports on dating and social media and popular culture, laura pitcher, hello, hi. How did romantic manifestation
sort of become more mainstream recently. I think there was a trend recently on Tik tok, no matter what he is doing,
matter who he were. People were repeating, no matter what he is doing, no matter who he is with. He is always thinking about me, always thinking about me and what is that attempting to to man?
fest his attention his thoughts, yeah and interests from a person who you want to want you. I know a lot of people posted it saying that's how they're going to manifest their ex back, but that is one of the first times I came across love man
station and then is also a few videos, like symbol, luminal manifestation videos on manifesting being hot, how to be wildly
active a magnetic to
I had to manifest this step
is see yourself as a desirable person
see yourself as someone
who is desired? Who is wanted? Who is attractive beautiful
see yourself in that essence. In that light stuff, you know,
several of these videos and I feel, like the people making them are all sort of. In the same.
he drains younger, and I would assume that target demographic are.
folks of a similar age. Why do you think manifest
patient appeals, so much to gen z. So I do feel like having these things that people can recite or methods that you can use to intention set really gives people a sense of control.
that they don't otherwise find in dating nowadays right, and I also think it's really just going alongside this, like rising
interest in spirituality in general.
you're into doing things like opening up your third eye, then I have a technique for you.
I at a meditation retreat in time. I think that young people are really interested in new age, spirituality and different techniques and they're really opening up to a lot of different things that are spiritual, but not necessarily
josie. You are part of the greater whole connected to all the energy around you, and so I think manifestation adds disk.
element of spirituality, which really takes away from it being so transactional, yeah, say
about that. How does it? What element? Does it add? Because it's divine you know it's a divine connection. I think
that, for so many years we were really pushed to have rising rise grind and people are really
I'd of grinding at this point. You finish work. Can you go on a dating app and you're
putting in all these hours, swiping and swiping, but you really
our feeling, like you're, meeting, anyone that it's all very if full, and so I think that a lot of
dialogue at the moment is about softer living. People are
rejecting the gym and going for just walks
it's not going on dates that you don't want to go on and its
waiting for that person and believing that they are going to come to you at the right time at the time that you're ready for them laura. Thank you so much for talking to me today about manifestation in the universe
in destiny. I I so enjoyed our conversation thanks. So much me too
Next, on modern love, a woman gets a call from her ex husband he's running out of time, and he has required
That's our season finale! Next week, modern love.
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Transcript generated on 2022-07-29.