On its crowded seafronts, on its even-more-crowded trains; amid the chaos of its markets and in the calm of its malls –– Mumbai may not have the most romantic settings, but it's been the backdrop for several love stories. Ahead of Valentine’s Day (February 14), three couples share their own stories. What’s common to them is the role the city played in getting them together.
Dolly and Vijay Bhatter
How Dolly met Vijay Bhatter:
"I grew up in the US. In 2007, I came to work in Mumbai. After two weeks, I got bored and quit the job. I decided to appear for GMAT in Mumbai. The class was in Bandra. Everybody in the class used to interact with each other. But I would only talk to Vijay, during breaks and even after going home, on the phone. After a month of talking, we went out on our first date. It was in a bookstore. Just after that, a nervous Vijay confessed that he was in love with me. He later told me that he thought this moment would surely be the start of a relationship. The class lasted for four-and-a-half months. A month before leaving for the US, I told my parents that I was seeing someone. And, in spite of me being a Sindhi, and he a Marwari, my family accepted my choice on the condition that we don’t meet before marriage. It was a difficult two-and-a-half years. But everything has its pros and cons; the time we stayed apart made our bond stronger. We next met during our Roka (ceremony to make a relationship official). We got married two months later, on May 21, 2010. We are still madly in love."
Ahmed Khan and Gazala
How Ahmed Khan met Gazala:
"In 2005, I was at Bandra station, waiting for a train to Santacruz. I saw a woman looking somewhat distressed. I asked if she needed any help. She said she needed to contact a friend, but didn’t have a phone. She and her friend were going for a wedding. I gave her my phone. Once she was done, I took my phone back, and boarded the train. Within seconds, the friend called back. She wanted to speak to the woman at the station. But I told her that I’d already left Bandra. About an hour later, out of concern, I messaged this woman to check if she’d managed to meet her friend. She said they were already at the wedding. We exchanged names. Later, in the evening, I texted her again to find out how the wedding was. One text led to another. Soon, we were chatting over the phone. With time, we got close and fell in love.
After talking on the phone for three months we met at Marine Drive. Later, I proposed to her. My parents were against a love marriage, while Gazala –– whose parents had passed away –– wanted to get married soon. It took me two years to convince my parents. We got married on November 12, 2007, and have two children. My love story is like a Bollywood plot... except, mine is real."
Rohit Khadilkar and Anuja
How Rohit Khadilkar met Anuja:
"In 2003, I was in Mumbai for a function. My family went back to Pune before me. I stayed back to attend an exhibition at the Nehru Centre. Next day, I went to Dadar to take a bus to Pune. A girl was standing before me in the ticket queue. The bus was full, but due to some cancellations, this girl and I got two seats –– numbers 1 and 2. I don’t know why, but after we sat down, an elderly man requested her to exchange her seat with him. But the girl declined. I wanted to start a conversation with her, so I started with the usual, "Where are you going?" For me, though, I think it was actually love at first sight. For the next three hours, we talked about our favourite colour, food, and our families. We exchanged numbers after reaching Pune, and promised to catch up again. She told me that it was the first time that she (Anuja) had shared her number with a stranger. However, after that day, I couldn’t muster the courage to call her. But I kept talking to my friends about her. Finally, after 25 days, I called her. To my surprise, she agreed to meet me on the same day. We started meeting up frequently thereafter. After dating for more than a month, it was she who proposed to me. It came with a warning: "Either we speak to our parents about us, or we stop meeting completely". After a few ifs and buts, we got married on February 18, 2005. We are now proud parents of a daughter."