In a perfect world, says Neil Gaiman, “You could (make love to) people without giving them a piece of your heart. And every glittering kiss and every touch of flesh is another shard of heart you’ll never see again.” The world indeed is a strange place to live in. Tucked away snugly between the blankets of Victorian morality, many of us are cheerfully ignorant of the amazing array of romances blooming in full swing within our very own world, not much differently from Gaiman’s Utopia.
Fluctuating between generations that grew up misty-eyed reading about happily ever-afters, to one that has given up on love, we millennials have brought upon ourselves a deeply ill fitted jumble. The eternal existential dilemma of to be or not to be, seems to have been overridden by ‘to love or not to love’. We are the thinkers, we are the doers, we are the fighters, but we are not the lovers. Our entire way of dating and relating to each other has undergone a paradigm shift and we have still not been able to come to terms with this transition. Instead of making meaningful connections, we sing along the blues of a series of bad flings and hook-ups. We mess up, we grow out of each other, we pass on the blame – the cycle continues. And yet, we still date for the sake of dating.
So this Valentines’, in the hope a better tomorrow, we bring to you a bunch of warm love tales from the Indian milieu to keep all you singles from giving up on togetherness.
Meet Kunal and Guy. They are a same-sex couple, who met eleven years ago at a gay bar on Sydney’s Oxford Street. Their chemistry was immediately apparent to both of them, and so they decided to catch up again for coffee that weekend. While they had plenty of things in common, it was their differences that made their time together enjoyable. Kunal was interested in art and filmmaking, while Guy was an entrepreneur with an online start-up. They moved in together after a few years of dating, and today share a comfortable life in a cosy apartment near the city.
In Skype, We Trust
We did not meet at a family function or at a pub or college, for the matter – Preethi and I met at an International Science Conference in 2009; fell in love; lived together; married; migrated to two countries and are now parenting a cheeky two-year old Aditya. I was a researcher at Siemens, Chennai, and Preethi was completing her Engineering degree in Trichy. There was a worldwide call for researchers to present papers at the first Indian Youth Science Congress and instead of replying to the sender, I accidentally opted for a “reply all” and my response ended up in a hundred other inboxes, including Preethi’s! But, that’s not all – she actually happened to be the only one to get back. We met at the conference, assisted with each other’s presentations and in a matter of moments, I was taken aback by her outgoing personality. We became good friends soon and after suffering in the “Friendzone” for a while, I proposed to her via Skype. A year later, we finally met in Singapore to pursue our Master’s together. Soon after, we moved in – only to tie the knot two years later. Now, after having travelled across 20 countries, we are here in Australia since 2015 – in what we call our “forever home”.
– Arvind Ramana, Lead Engineer, Satellite Embedded Systems at UNSW
Love In Seven Days
I first spoke to Debabrata (thanks to a common friend) in March, last year. And until July, there was no way of knowing if his eyes were actually brown! And when I finally had the chance to delve into the depths of him, I had only seven days in hand – having travelled from Sydney to India on a tight schedule. But those seven days, more than made up for the chats, video calls – not to mention our approaching marriage, which our parents had already given the nod to. I am still amazed at how he managed to make a bull-headed girl like me fall for him in just seven days. We laughed, we cried and we shared our darkest fears while getting to know the best and worst of each other. We finally exchanged vows this January.
– Swagatika Mahapatra, Software Engineer
Jab Chile Met Punjab
My now husband (Punjabi and Sikh) and I (Chilean and Catholic) met online in 2011. We chatted for about six months before deciding to meet up in person. Three months after that, we got married. Lucky for me, his parents were very open-minded and accepted me whole-heartedly into their family. We have been married for six years now, with a beautiful baby boy. Our son is observing both the Sikh and Catholic faiths.
– Leyla Singh, Owner of two hairdressing salons
Two States With A Twist
I grew up watching Bollywood movies, where opposites always attract! In real life too, I saw my parents, belonging to two extremely different cultures – dad, a Jat from Haryana while mom’s a Marathi – with completely opposite personalities, balancing each other beautifully. So, when my turn came to get married, I knew exactly what I wanted! But here comes the twist – I met Birju (my husband) through a typical arranged marriage set up. He was a South Indian and I was a true-blue North Indian. The first time we met, we disliked each other instantly. We met a couple of more times informally, only to realise how much we actually liked each other! Now that I look back, after six years of marriage, I feel it was one of the best decisions of my life. We are very different – I’m talkative, straightforward, and emotional; he is shy and introvert with a badass sense of humour – yet we perfectly balance each other. He completes me in every possible way. He is my source of peace, stability, security and warmth. He is the confidante I had been looking for in my life and I got everything I could’ve ever asked for.
– Shraddha Sahrawat, Teacher from India, now working with Blacktown City Council
An Old Monk Tale
She is from Delhi (Agarwal; Baniya), I, a simple Bengali from Kolkata. It was during my session break in Kolkata (I was doing my bachelors from Pune then) that we first met. Her step mom happened to be my mom’s friend and like a good Bengali boy I was asked by my mother to keep my guest (she was visiting us from Australia, mind you!) entertained while she was around. She even gave me some money and bought us tickets for a movie at the New Empire (an iconic theatre in Kolkata). To think of it, we didn’t really like each other back then… in my mind, the situation read: “Meh! The things I do for money.” In her’s, it must have been, “Why is this guy eating up all the food without offering any?” Also, she had a boyfriend living in Melbourne. The following day, I was supposed to take her to band practice with me but stood her up! To make up for it, I finally took her to one of the gigs I was performing in, but kept the interaction to minimum. She went back to Melbourne and it was only then that we started regular interactions over Yahoo Messenger – but that too was mostly when she wanted me to help her parents with their computer, printer, etc! Then she visited Kolkata again… and Cupid struck. She had broken up with her boyfriend and I was more than willing to be the shoulder she could cry on. “I might not be able to give you diamonds or fetch you the moon, but if you ever need someone, I’ll be there!” It was definitely the Old Monk talking, but it did the trick. Our love blossomed over the days and across time zones (long distance wasn’t easy though). Her father was way opposed to our relationship but I am glad she chose to stick to me. We lived in for a while in Hyderabad before getting married and moving to Australia. Her family still doesn’t approve of us, but hey… here we are celebrating 10 years of marriage this February!
– Siddhartha Mukherjee, Product Manager, Video Games Industry
Hail Bharat Matrimony!
We met through a matrimonial site – quite unusual in today’s world isn’t it? Originally from West Bengal, we were both working in different countries – me in Dubai, and my husband, in Australia. Initially, I wasn’t keen on speaking to him. To be honest, I was tired of all the men my mom was picking up from Bharat matrimony! But then, on my mom’s repeated insistence, I decided to chat with him over Facebook. Things changed and how! Within a few hours of chatting, he had made up his mind about marrying me. The following month, he flew down to Dubai to spend a week with my family and me and a year later, we got engaged! I moved to Sydney and lived in with him for a while before exchanging vows last February. We have been married for a year now but not every part of it was a joyride. We have had our ups and downs, family tiffs, and differences but we have fought those odds and stood strong by each other during trying times.
– Swarnali Sikder, Employment Consultant
Roshogolla v/s Sai Bhaji
My love story started in 2000, when I went to stay with my mum’s side of the family in Mumbai. I met my Sindhi husband Shailesh, while I was working part time for a company – back then, he was “the IT guy with the naughtiest smile”. The first week went by over vada pavs, and then the roaring affair started, which eventually led to an elaborate proposal complete with a bunch of roses in typical Bollywood style. But back home, things were not so rosy. My parents found out about their Bengali daughter’s affair with a Sindhi and what followed was a never-ending string of emotional threats and blackmails! However, my knight in shining armour managed to win over my father with his charms and honesty once they met and we finally got married in November 2013, but not without a bucket-full of cross-cultural tensions, rigidity and well, customs.
– Surabhi Nariani, Businesswoman, Owner of Surabhi’s Kitchen
When In Rome
I am from Kolkata and wife is from Rome. We met in Kuwait seven years ago while working in the hospitality sector. We got married two years ago. But, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. There were instances, when my mother was entirely against it. You see, we were not just from different countries; our religions were different as were our cultural backgrounds. Eventually, I requested my mom to meet her at least once before judging her so harshly (don’t blame her though, being judgmental comes with being Bengali!). She agreed, but little did I expect Martina (my wife) to win her over at the very first meeting! Yet, that’s exactly what happened. Today my mom treats Martina as she would have treated her own daughter.