From ‘Hello’ to ‘I do’
Harsha Raj Subrahmanian, speaks about his wife, Yogita Uchill
Winding back the clock to Bombay of 23 years ago — I was working as a software manager and was looking for a recruitment contract. I was put in touch with Yogita, who was running an HR company, by an acquaintance. Within the first few times of talking to her over the phone, I was impressed. Most of our conversations were about work, but there were quick informal exchanges about where we were from — she is from Mangalore and I am from Kerala.
Though the languages were different, there were few similarities and we bonded over it. A couple of months had gone by, and we still hadn’t met. One day, I decided to do something to “impress” her. She curated several cultural activities for her community, and I managed to find the location of the dance hall where she was rehearsing. I got the landline number of a shop that was located near the hall. I called and requested them to walk to the venue, and inform Yogita that there was a call for her. She was impressed (I think) and that was the turning point.
Three months and several calls later, we decided to meet for the first time at Shoppers Stop in Andheri. I vividly remember — she had short hair, was wearing a rustic colour salwar kameez and had a handbag. I bought two bars of milk chocolate for her — that’s all I could afford! It was extremely memorable. After that, we met quite often. I knew she was the one — no official proposals were made or ‘I love yous’ told, but, we got along really well...there was an untold understanding between us, and our families were aware of it too.
We used to meet each other at our respective offices, take a stroll till the train station, eat pani puri, and then head home. After two years of courtship, we finally got married in 1998. Married life has been how I imagined it to be — it’s not just about being there for each other, but also for our extended families. We traversed through responsibilities, good times and of course, had arguments and fights. But, we have ensured to sort out our differences. We never shy away from apologising to each other. Both of us love to travel and we take at least two vacations a year. She’s an ardent food blogger and I accompany her to take food photographs.
Their son, Tatva, shares
My parents never narrated their entire love saga to me. I just knew that the first time they met was at a mall. I admire how they have been with and for each other. They started from scratch and earned a name for themselves. My father keeps telling me: “Your mother was with me when I didn’t have anything. Now, she deserves to have everything when she’s with me.” They indulge in PDA — I think it’s really sweet, it’s a gesture of love and it’s their life!
Lean on me
Shankar Krishnan, speaks about his wife, Kavitha
Our love story began back in 1988 when we were pursuing our Bachelor’s degree in Commerce at Madras Christian College. For the first six months of college, we never spoke to each other. She hung out with the girls and I had my own friends, but cupid did his job by putting us in the same team for an English assignment. Your handwriting is really good, she said. That has to be the first and last compliment she ever gave me (chuckles).
We began talking slowly, but those were the days when talking to girls in class was a big thing, and we would be bullied by our seniors for it. So, I would meet her outside college every day and chat for seven minutes before her dad would arrive to pick her up. After three months, while we were talking outside the college, I did what has to be the bravest task of my life — gave her a love letter and green stone earrings. To my surprise, she immediately said yes! For two and a half years, we were blinded by love, told our respective homes, and after a little hesitation, they accepted us. They wanted us to get married within two years.
In 1991, when I was walking back home from Tambaram after a function at college at around 11:30 pm, a speeding lorry hit me. I lost my left leg and this was the turning point of my life. I was going through a tough time. Kavitha and I had big fights and her parents disapproved our marriage. I managed to resolve our fights, bag a job as an accountant in a small firm, but couldn’t convince her parents. It took us five whole years of tears, trust, hope, and love to get through tough times and finally convince our parents. We were married in 1996 and she wore the green stone earrings for the reception.
Their daughter, Keerthana shares
Whenever we have a family gathering, my mom and dad share so many memories of their college days with us and each time, they have something new to say. Though I act uninterested in the conversation at the family events, I love narrating their love story to my friends at school and sports class. Not only because it is interesting, but also because it is so uplifting and inspiring. In this age, when the meaning of love and dating among millennials has changed, love stories like these keep reminding us of how pure love can actually be, and the sacrifices one has to go through in order to achieve that.
Tale like Titanic
Sriram Sampathkumar, speaks
about his wife Neelima
In a crowd of hundreds of people, her glittering eyes caught my attention. Dressed in a dark blue lehenga, she had short, straight hair. I saw Neelima for the first time in 1989 at an Indian Association in Ukraine. We had gathered for Diwali celebrations. There was dance, drama and sumptuous food. The whole place was bustling with entertainment. Something in her attracted me to her, and we spoke for the first time at the event. It was a casual interaction with friends.
Things escalated quickly and we ended up seeing each other frequently. Both of us were students. I was pursuing civil aviation and she was pursuing international relations. Our colleges were far apart. I would take a cab to visit her every day after classes with flowers. She remembers it till date. It was a phase when both of us were going through changes and adjustments, considering we were staying away from families.
We were in a relationship for six years. One day, our connection was solidified when we were on vacation on the Fedor Shalyapin cruise ship that was travelling from Limassol, Cyprus to Odessa, Ukraine (on the way back from our visit to Greece and Cyprus). We were both searching for jobs at the time. All the money we had with us from our part-time jobs had been spent. We had no money to afford a room. Neelima and I spent two nights on the deck, with no roof, staring at the stars. We survived on bread loaves, coffee, and sardines.
It was moments like these that brought us together and made us believe that we could pull it off together. Eventually, both of us got jobs. I am from a Brahmin family and she’s a Punjabi. We got married in 1996 at Dasaprakash in Chennai. It’s been a wonderful journey so far.
Their son, Aditya, shares
Breaking norms helps us discover our identity. Being open helps us break past the danger of conformity. This is the lesson from my parent’s love story. Initially, when they shared a few instances from their journey, it sort of sounded like a movie. Knowing my parents, it was very unexpected too. Unlike most Indian families, I’m grateful to hear life lessons from my parents through their personal story which is no less than an adventure. They’ve always let me explore life and never set any boundaries.