Cultural differences

The battle of taste

12:20 PM

Every couple had them, these moments of intense discussion in the middle of a furniture store deciding which table will look better, and inevitably what one likes, the other will dislike if not truly hate. This in turn ensure more trips to various stores, vetoes issued against one style or another, and more discussion, until you find the right compromise between the two pole opposite of what the perfect piece of furniture should look like.
No one in a relationship will ever escape it, and when the intercultural trump card comes in, the matter becomes even less avoidable, DH and I did have these moments quite often, from the time we got enough cash wedding gifts in 2006 to finally graduate to real furniture versus the plastic horrors we had, fault put on having different priorities and not enough money to really care much about style (though I must admit the interior decorator in me was cringing silently).

I grew up in a country where a certain Swedish Democratic design mega store pretty much reign supreme with it’s affordable home solutions, clean minimalistic design, with of course a preference for the light wood version of each models due to the fact that Switzerland is a country that has mroe gloomy days than bright sunny ones and you definitely need light and warmth in your home.
DH grew up in a country where the houses of his parents generation were big, and big heavy dark wooden intricately carved pieces were looking stunning, and were to last a lifetime. A style that has prevailed in today’s India despite city dwellings being decisively tiny, rendering the style of yore bulky, what’s more because the cost of a hardwood cabinet  is a significant expense, many cheap laminated MDF versions have sprouted on the market, be it your neighbourhood carpenter, to the wholesale furniture market, you will find no shortage of cheap, tacky and poor quality boxy looking sofas, armchairs and cabinets all mimicking the taste of yesteryear, with more or less success, far more less than more I might add.

When we first decided to buy ourselves furniture in 2006, we immediately where the disagreement would come: I wanted light and minimalistic, and DH wanted dark and ornate or at the most imposing enough. in a spirit of compromise, I agreed to do the bedroom in dark, but the living room in light, and DH agreed that considering our old flat was 600 sq ft going for compact minimalistic style was definitely better. We fell in the trap of buying cheap laminated and plastic bookshelves that fell apart 2 years later putting us back to square one as to what to get to replace them and because we never quite agreed on a specific design left the topic until I got pregnant and the study really needed to get it’s act together as I wrote about it here. The one thing we postponed for what it seems like forever is finding bedside tables, I recently wrote about bedrooms so you can see pictures of what our temporary solution looked like: old cane stools with a bedside table lamp perched on top of each. To be fair not much else would fit in our old Bangalore home, and each time we looked around we or could not agree on something, or it was too big, or it was expensive, then we shifted to Navi Mumbai, where we never got around to look and decide as we had other furniture priorities, then we had money issue, and finally a month back I got some Christmas gift money from my family to put to good use, so off we went tackling the bedside table issue, and things haven’t changed much, DH still like ornate and bulky and I still like minimalistic and light, but over the years spent in India I’ve been converted for good to dark wood, not just in the bedroom, but everywhere else. Lightwood isn’t practical in India, dust is a big issue in cities, and with a toddler, stains are less apparent on dark anyway, not to mention that on most days it is bright and sunny, and dark wood offer a nice contrast. But I’ll never get converted to ornate, unless by a miraculous twist of fate we end up being able to afford a giant penthouse or a huge villa with room to spare, ornate dwarfs a tiny space like nothing else.
After much deliberations and the fact we didn’t want to go the laminate anything route again, we found this:


A good compromise between imposing and minimalistic, with still enough storage space, and no dwarfing the room. We even upgraded the table lamp, which again are a compromise between what DH likes and what I like, DH is all for vintage looking frilly lamps, and I’m more of a masculine type.

Now if we could ever agree on a dinner service, that has been a contentious bone for as long as I can remember. DH thinks we should get a ornate bone china set with gold paint and vintage patterns that we use ONLY on special occasion using crappy melamine plates and glass everyday, I think we should get a nice clean minimalistic ceramic set in which broken plates can easily be replaced, or a corelle set in a modern pattern again in an effort to stick to a brand where you can get replacement of broken plates and use that daily, getting rid of the old melamine and glass sets we have around. Over the year the melamine set we got at our wedding got so damaged that the 2-3 loose ends we had we gave it to our maid during the great move of July 2010, and the maid in Mumbai finished decimating the glass set we had, we now have only 4 chipped regular plates left from it along with two quarter plates, 2 bowls and one salad bowl, it was a 6 person set initially. We make do with melamine plates I inherited from friends, but since 2009 two got cracked and trashed due to heat and old age (they don’t have a long life span and are actually quite breakable).
So the debate will probably loom to the horizon pretty soon again on what to get, I can see that DH might agree on a more everyday type of set, but then the question of the pattern is still to be discussed. Each time I think about plates in our relationship I am reminded of that particular Friends episode where Chandler insists they use the fancy wedding gift china for Thanksgiving only to realise the pattern he choose is not what is in the box as Monica found his taste too girly and changed the register behind his back. Now of course I would never do things behind DH’s back, but I indeed admit I find his tastes a bit too girly for me.

So much for the whole pink is for girls and blue is for boys thing huh?


  1. As we are grown up with Metal Plate, we are more comfortable with it. We are still having a Silver glass, which my granny gifted me when i was 3 years old, and i still use it daily!

  2. We had metal plates, but we don't like them much, to me that felt like camping gear, as I grew up in a culture where we eat with the eyes as much as we eat with the mouth, and DH while not hating them finds that the glass or melamine ones we recieved as wedding gifts look much nicer. We have a silver glass somewhere, but we never use it, it oxidized countless time and it now looks dull and not very appetizing to consume liquids from.


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