It certainly had been a roller coaster ride. There was excitement, there was fear, element of surprise, risk, scream, laughter, relief, anxiety and the whole plethora of emotions one can imagine. The main difference being the fact that this roller coaster was not found in any theme park but in the very centre stage of life itself when we decided to embark on the union of marriage to partner with each other through every thick and thin and through every up and down.
We celebrated the 7th anniversary of our marriage this March. Albeit late to bring to you the glimpse and glamour of how we celebrated the occasion, better late than never. Looking back at the seven years of marriage and the 8 years of courtship before that – the 15 years of growing and glowing together had been the best experience of our lives. A significant amount of time early on, we stayed away from each other in two different countries to pursue professional objectives. Ironically in the absence of social media, fondness still grew and remained intact. Contrary to now days when relations become a status only in our Facebook account, and the human touch keeps craving for attention away from the technology.
Odds were against, in terms of being born in families following certain faiths. When we realised that faiths on God and the similarity therein are not sufficient to forge a family but it is the desire to have full faith on human values and feelings that can triumph in the end. Staying away from the society we grew up in, away from family and friends – we set course on a path to pave way for love. Given it was not a movie being shot in a set of Universal Studios, cracks did appear and the climax faded unknowingly way before the movie could mature. There were lows of the roller coaster ride which would have nearly touched the bottoms of the seabed while the highs were so beyond the cloud nine that the world appeared tiny from up and above.
Along with the love bug, the other bug that brought us together was the voyage bug, the deep desire to explore the new, experience the unknown destinations – all hand in hand – side by side. We realised that travelling was the best means to confirm our compatibility with each other, reassuring us that in spite of the bumps and turns, we can travel well together in the journey called life.
To celebrate our union, this year we made the longest voyage from our homebase (London) to the blue oceans of the Pacific – in the Hawaii islands, USA. To make merry by marking the anniversary, we decided to do something new, fun and our way. Conceptualised, organised and styled by Tanusree, we shot a tropical beach anniversary lookbook in three attires keeping three themes in mind– the western church theme, the desi look and in a local Hula outfit – to do the ‘shaka’ with the Aloha spirit of Hawaii. Our friend Molly, assisted by another friend Gurudarshan did the honour to capture our moments in magic behind their lenses along the shores of the Hapuna Beach, while the luscious Pacific waves kept on kissing our feet. Just like our reflection on the Pacific waves, we wanted to reflect on the sailing experience of our relationship from shore to shore, the ebb and flow. We asked ourselves some questions to see through the prism of love to find out if we could see the seven colours of the rainbow of our marriage. As they say “it is not about giving the right answers, but it is about asking the right questions…..”, so these questions are the compass of our navire de l’amour, the morning star in the east after a long dark stormy night to get us from shore to shore. We invite you to embark on the journey with us.
Partnership of 15 years
1. What makes love last for 15 years?
Shehzaad: Trust, respect, friendship and empathy towards each other. Also there is an element of distance and hardship which make hearts grow fonder towards each other. Not that we wish for that, but when it does happen and when a pair pulls through those phases, the love becomes timeless and rust proof.
Tanusree: When you fall in love with someone, everything about that person tends to become beautiful. Then reality bites! In a long-term relationship, that of an unconventional one like ours, friendship, like-mindedness, sharing similar interests, ability to look beyond ‘what others think’, and if I’m allowed to choose one unseemly element- that is, the way he looks, and maintains himself to stay fit and fine. Judge me on this, to keep the flame alive for longer, it is important for me to have a life partner who looks presentable.
2. What qualities does your partner possess that are important to you and why?
Shehzaad: She is honest, loyal, righteous, caring with genuine qualities of a human being. Certainly I want some qualities in my partner which are missing in my own personality repertoire. I really want those to be present in abundance in my partner and She surely fills that up. Other than qualities of character, it goes without saying that a beauty certainly lightens up the flame inside and I very much agree. No wonder that the translation of Her name is “body beautiful” and it is a literal translation since she is pretty, always rightly-dressed, has beautiful eyes and long hair. Tanusree actually walked in to my life…the chemicals were released as per request and my soul has been content.
Tanusree: He doesn’t conform to traditionalism. He wants every woman to be financially independent, in short, he is a gender-equalist like me. I work hard, I pay my bills, I maintain myself as I’m independent which He always appreciated and wished for. Also, we share our own beliefs about women changing surnames after marriage. While we don’t judge others choices to name change or not – it is something I never approve of. Also, if we ever become parents in future, our children will not have a lastname borrowed from either my father or his father and grand fathers or both. When the time will come, you’ll love the uniqueness of the idea I’ve in my mind. We are on the same page on these choices and decisions of life.
3. How are household chores divided among you and your partner? Has it changed over the years?
Shehzaad: I am in charge of dish cleaning, house cleaning, waste disposal, food and grocery shopping, occasional survival cooking. While Tanusree is in charge of planning what we need to buy for the household, interior decoration, laundry, cooking for any kind of occasion, shopping for both of our wardrobes, deciding on our next holiday destinations and all things we do for entertainment. The portfolio of responsibilities has certainly witnessed an evolution. Tanusree taught me patiently the basics of cooking and cleanliness. After a lot of toil and turmoil, I have finally started to make good progress in these departments.
Tanusree: For the initial couple of years, I did all the cooking (I LOVE cooking), cleaning and grocery as he had two jobs and I was a full time post-graduate research student with no paid job. Now we both work full time on our respective day jobs and I also work full time for the blog. He started contributing to the blog since last year which has become his third job now, the second being free-lance language translator (part-time, from the comfort of our living room couch). In spite of this, he manages to contribute 80% of the household chores now including basic cooking (weekend special for the blogpost and festival cooking are still my department) and being my masseur;) on demand. He pampers me to the fullest, you see. From this month, we have appointed a part-time domestic aid who helps us to find extra time to blog more often.
4. How do you feel about your partner now compared with when you first got together?
Shehzaad: Now I feel that I have been fortunate enough that I have her in my life. I still feel I have fallen short in so many places to make her feel happier. Now, I feel a deeper sense of love, respect and attraction compared to what I used to feel before. This was made possible because I had to learn at the expense of Her tireless patience that love will have to be unconditional and you have to put your loved one’s happiness before yours.
Tanusree: Shehzaad was the BEST boyfriend a woman can possibly think of having in life! Post 13th March, 2008, he has evolved as a person, as a partner. Responsibilities, both on the work and family front have made him more strategic. I bring out the humane side in him, I reckon. I wish he had practised his natural talents and had exercised his creative side more the way he used to do earlier e.g. playing guitar, singing more often, writing editorials for leading English dailies, hosting cultural shows etc. His day job is so demanding that he is losing out on his creative repertoire. Although his thirst for language learning is unimaginable, he is now on number 7, equally proficient in all.
5. What are some qualities you admire about your partner?
Shehzaad: She is a better human being and a perfectionist. She is beautiful and not only look-wise, but in everything she does, what she wears, what she cooks, how she presents something, what she does to help people and overall how she carries and conducts herself. There are certain things which I can explain why I like in her, there are certain qualities which I admire which are hard to explain, since it is deeply engrained in my DNA maybe.
Tanusree: He is multi-talented and his devotion to learning a new language is beyond anyone’s understanding. I admire people who can do a thing or two beyond their day job, who has a passion for ‘living’ and who never use ‘age’ as an excuse to try new things. Shehzaad is that man. During our undergrad days, he used to be a student who would probably be out all day with friends and girlfriend (me) but still sit to study at least for couple of hours when he returned to his hostel room, every single day of 365 days a year. He is disciplined, inspiring and I’m wholly swoon by his ability to organise everything on a spreadsheet.
Life after 13th March 2008 (Our D day)
6. What has been the hardest and the easiest elements of staying married for 7 years?
Shehzaad: Hardest element of staying married for 7 years is ‘communication’, it sounds easy but it takes a while to realise that ‘communication’ is not what you want to say, but how your partner actually hears it. Times have become harder than before, and there are so many external sources of stress we struggle with every day which risked our marriage so often. The easiest element was the fact that we are both extroverts having shared interest towards travelling, good food, fashion, new culture, language and meeting new people. Some shared principles and values of life is what makes the elements look easier.
Tanusree: Shehzaad had been my best friend, so the easiest element was actually to get married to my best friend. He knew me in and out, dealt with my mood swings and tantrums and loves me often the way I wanted. Naturally it was easy to convert the friendship to the next level. The hardest element is the ‘selflessness’. The fact that you will have to consider your life partner while making decisions about life, career, even during what to cook for dinner. The constant consideration of your partner’s preferences has been certainly the hardest element of staying married.
7. What are two or three of the most critical things you wish you had known when you got married?
Shehzaad: The fact that love is the essential ingredient for a marriage but money is like fire without which you cannot cook anything. So understanding that money, and a significant amount of it for a life in which you can do things in your bucket list, would have been better – is something I wish I had known before. The second thing is ‘maturity’ – not that it means I got married as an immature man but having the next level of maturity to realise and be prepared for the fact that “marriage will not be easy, but its rewarding in the end” would have certainly helped.
Tanusree: I wish I had known the importance of financial solvency this much I know now. That’s something I realise with time, married or not. So, I could have waited little longer before biting the dust. In my ideal world, no one should get married before they turn 30. I will reason why I said that. Both of us are on our own, financially. We didn’t have any benevolent source, no Aladin’s lamp to support or pay for anything we consume in life. The other factor which I wish I could have known better is the interference by external onlookers (read – relatives of family members) who may be unknowingly pose questions and poke nose which are not always helpful. Another critical element I wish I should have known was the wisdom that the tug of war between individuality and duality will continue and most importantly – both can co-exist in marriage – One doesn’t need to let go one to get another.
8. What subjects cause the most disagreements and whether you have topics you refuse to discuss because you will never agree?
Shehzaad: There are many such subjects causing a lot disagreements but it seems we never refuse to discuss them any ways. During the early days of marriage, usual topics such as certain family members, relatives or how day to day finances are being spent – did cause disagreements. Over time, I have learnt to comprehend Her point of view, oversee the underlying intentions and look for a solution to prioritise our relationship over everything.
Tanusree: Although our individual personality traits are different, our basic mantra of life is similar. For example, Shehzaad is very diplomatic but I speak my mind out. I haven’t seen Shehzaad shedding his diplomatic shell so I wonder how he would have reacted if we had a major disagreement. However when we are back from work, the 9 to 11pm in the evenings is our ‘happy hour’. No we don’t buy one drink to get one free, rather we use this time everyday to reconnect, recommence or rekindle our conversations about our blog, our upcoming holidays, booking tickets, current affairs, I fill him up with latests on socio-politics, the book I’m reading currently, world sports, Bollywood gossips – pretty much everything under the sun. Shehzaad is always keen to learn new information and I love to share what I know as I have an opinion about everything. So we agree to disagree, but agree to keep discussing nevertheless.
Regrets, Do Overs and plans for 2016
9. If you had it all to do over again, what would you like to change most?
Shehzaad: May be I could have saved some more money before taking the plunge.
Both of us share a view of shunning hefty spendings in big fat weddings. The concept of so many rituals, gifts (no gold/diamond jewelleries or cars or plush apartments please) and food just for the few days of the wedding miss the point that the actual journey starts from that day onwards where a couple may need a lot of fuel which otherwise gets wasted in those days of the rituals. While I am happy that we could organise our ceremonies as per our choices, I still think we could have made them even closer to our philosophies of marriage and life (I still regret of having a reception party
wasting feeding 300 odd strangers guests!).
10. Any bucket list items for year 8?
Shehzaad: I really want to spend more time together. I want to work on my shortcomings which had created unwanted gaps. I want to look at the big picture ahead and how our love can help us draw that picture. I want to keep travelling together in new destinations as this is the best method to keep your compatibility fresh and renewed under new lights.
Tanusree: My top priority is to spend quality time together through travelling more, farther and longer, take this blog to a level that reflects our true spirit, complements our relationship, reflects our thoughts. I wish us to make more memories, gain new experiences and have more stories to tell rather than showing off materialistic investments and earthly achievements.
What Were We Wearing?
We loved this shoot to the moon. We would share all the pictures, if we could. To see a few more, we have created a gallery for you.