Neel and Dhara
How We Met
Our story is different than the typical “we met, became friends and fell in love.” Neel and I met 10 years ago during an Indian festival called Navratri – we locked eyes and our story began. I actually didn’t like him when we first met!! I think everyone can agree with me here that Neel from 10 years ago was the guy your parents told you to stay from (lol). Despite knowing this, I liked having him as a friend. He reminded me of my father: a self-made man, hardworking, honest, someone who cared deeply for his family. I cared for him and in my teens, I thought, “this must be love”. However, life happened and we soon lost touch.
Fate didn’t let our story end there. We were always reconnecting somehow, someway. Neel re-entered my life when I went off to study at Rutgers University. He was always visiting his best friend that went to the same college as me (shoutout to his bestie, Samarth!!). I became a part of those visits and he became a part of me as he helped me grow during the most crucial time of my life. God sent him to me when I needed him the most…funny how that works! The boy that parents told you to stay from turned into the man of every girl’s dream. Our time to be together had finally come. It’s amazing to have known someone for a decade, but it’s even greater to know each other’s flaws/pasts and love anyway. We celebrated 5 years of dating this year!!
“Since the day we first met, I knew that there was something special about you. Even though we were only in our teens, I knew there was something. Now, that ‘something special’ has turned into everything and I couldn’t be happier.” – Neel
How He Asked
GREECE! Earlier this year we booked a vacation to go to Greece. Neel mentioned going on this trip would be a graduation gift, as I would be graduating nursing school shortly upon our return back. We began to book our 11-day trip to Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini. As I started to plan all the little details for our trip, Neel was secretly busy planning our future.
OF COURSE, I had hoped to get engaged in Santorini – the most romantic place on earth!! But the odds of that happening were very slim because Neel and I had talked about taking the next step but only after I finished nursing school. My parents were also on the same page so that I could put all my focus on my last semester. Still, I had hope! The detective that I am, I looked for any kind of hint at all but failed every time. He definitely hadn’t asked my parents for permission, none of my girlfriends had tricked me into getting my nails done and no one even knew my ring size! As if this trip as a graduation gift wasn’t enough, Neel had given me an option to pick the best restaurant with the best views for a night in Santorini for my birthday. I picked a perfect spot overlooking the water and a dress that my best friend mailed me as an “early birthday gift” (knowing that the dinner plan was a hoax).
Fast forward to the day of my “birthday dinner” – we get in a car that “the restaurant” sent to pick us up in. About 15 minutes in, Neel dropped another surprise for me. He told me that he secretly set up a photoshoot while I was taking “an hour and a half to get ready” (it was only 30 mins). I thought it was the sweetest gift because I wanted to get the photoshoot package at the last hotel we were at in Mykonos but we didn’t have time. We arrive at the spot and Neel tells me the photographer requested him to put a blindfold on me because they wanted to capture the look on my face when I first see the breathtaking views of Santorini and the beautiful sunset. I didn’t have time to process that this would be anything but a photo shoot. I was too worried whether or not we’d make it to dinner on time!
He guided me down the stairs of cobblestone in my heels! Getting a little frustrated now as to why I was the only one with the blindfold on! Slowly giving up and asking if I can take it off now, Neel assured me that we were almost there. Finally down the stairs and time to get into the heart-shaped candle spot. Neel: “Leap over this, as if you are stepping over something.” Me: *Knocking a few candles over and finally in the place Neel had asked me to stand* There was a pause and I was definitely getting suspicious now. Que music: “I found a love for me…” (Perfect, by Ed Sheeran). Blindfold still on, my heart beat out of my chest as I heard him get down on one knee. I wanted to take the blindfold off ever since I had it put on but at this very moment, I wanted to keep it on because I knew that the second I took it off I would start crying!!
I opened my eyes to see the man of my dreams on one knee, “Will you marry me?” I was filled with all types of emotions. I stood in front of my future, my better half, my home and in between my ugly cry I managed to let out “YESSS!” I will never forget that euphoric feeling!! We hugged for what seemed like forever at the most perfect spot surrounded by candles overlooking the Aegean Sea. I felt like I was in a dream, just Neel and I and our fierce love for each other.
To the man of my dreams: thanks for giving me the proposal of a lifetime. 5.1.18
P.S. My parents knew all along!! Neel put together a beautiful video with our family members that I got to see after the proposal. And fortunate for him, that my best friend and I are the same ring size!