iconimg Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sona Sethi
Chandigarh, February 13, 2014
Note to self: Make reservations for Valentine's dinner so there's no repeat of last year. Last year, our romantic dinner was actually quite traumatic. My husband and I went from restaurant to restaurant with no luck. Every place was full. Finally, we ended up in a hole in the wall place that sold dosas. There is nothing that kills the romance like loud family chatter and wailing babies!

Actually come to think of it whether I was in Chandigarh, where I grew up, or in California, where I now live, some of my Valentine's Days have been rather jinxed. When I was 16, my mother came across my Valentine cards and that didn't end up too well for me. As I got older, I sent red roses to my fiancé for Valentine's only to find out days later that they had been delivered to the house next door. Then there was the year when my flowers didn't get delivered at all because the flower company had run out of flowers. And the time when we drove 45 minutes to a fancy French restaurant only to find that the restaurant had accidentally cancelled our reservations.

Despite all the glitches, I still look forward to Valentine's Day. The cute cards, the chocolates, the hearts and the flowers take me back to my school days in Chandigarh, when we made our own cards for the object of our affections. Being too shy to sign them with our names, we would sign them "From your Valentine".

Gradually, Valentine's Day started growing in Chandigarh. The local card shops started carrying Valentine's cards and small gifts.

By the time I graduated college, Valentine's Day was the biggest block party in town. Every college student was out on the 'Gehri Route'. Girls took it as an opportunity to be seen and boys took it as an opportunity to approach girls that they never would have had the guts to do so otherwise. Cards, flowers, chocolates and stuffed toys could be seen everywhere. Gift shops like Dewsuns would be flooded with lovers and people hoping to find someone special.

Sadly, there have been times when the crowd has gotten unruly and some have taken it as an opportunity to misbehave. But Valentine celebrations have continued to grow as Chandigarh's infatuation with the day continues.

On February 14, 269 AD, a young priest wrote a letter to a girl that he had fallen in love with, while he awaited death in prison. The letter was signed "From your Valentine." Little did he know that centuries later on that day, the entire world would honour him by celebrating love and many a card would be signed "From your Valentine."