I’m British but have always had a interest in India, in the UK India is often portrayed wrongly – they only seem to highlight the negative’s towards the country. When I got the chance at 18 to work in Chennai with a NGO I jumped at the chance to be able to experience the country for myself and experience the real India unlike what’s portrayed in the media. It’s there I met my fellow volunteer, Gyana from Odisha. He was on a training course with me for 3 weeks and we had a instant connect as good friends, we spent hours talking throughout the day.. learning from one another in regards to culture, lifestyle, food, religion..
On the last day we went for dinner and stayed up all night talking thinking we would not see each other again. I generally felt heartbroken saying good bye because it’s around the same time I realised I was falling in love.
After we went our separate ways, Gyana got hold of my number and again we were off! Talking at any free moment, I asked for leave for a couple of days and travelled by train up to Odisha to meet him again.
It’s during these five days we realised that we loved each other, and that we wanted to share our lives together, but we also understood the complicates that would follow.
After I returned to the UK we kept in touch through Skype and facebook (thank god for social media websites!). We both worked hard to save money for me to come again to India, we spent more than a year apart which was one of the most challenging things to deal with.
This time when I arrived we spent three months mainly in Odisha, but also North India, Rajasthan and Delhi. We applied to marry in Puri but due to complications it took time, it was granted on 4th March 2014.
After leaving this time, we decided a LDR was not working, we vowed it would be the last time apart. After a short few months we educated ourselves on visas and our rights as a international couple. Immigration in the UK is extremely frustrating in the sense that we don’t hold much rights compared to a typical British relationship
We decided to move to Dublin. Gyana’s Irish visa was granted in 2014 so we moved there together. We had a fantastic set up, it was amazing to finally be living together! After a few months we sorted out visas for the UK and moved there.
We are lucky enough to visit India often, we brought my parents last year for our tradition Hindu marriage ceremony in our home town. It was a joyous occasion.
We are currently in Odisha for five more weeks. But live in the UK, we plan after starting a family to move back home, to Odisha. We try to maintain a Indian lifestyle in the UK as there are a couple of large Indian communities in the UK with all our home comforts.
We dream of owning a small homestay and hosting tourists showing them what Odisha has to offer. I genuinely count myself as the luckiest person to have met my husband in the situations that we did as it means we respect and appreciate the time we have so much! We really struggled at points due to lack of support from others, but after nearly five years we have grown from a friendship to marriage.