A few days later we went on our second date, which was to see the movie The Hundred Foot Journey at the mall. We shopped a bit beforehand, holding hands and keeping an eye out for anyone we might know. Though we never said it out loud, things were still fresh between us and we wanted to keep things under wraps until we really knew what was going on. Plus there’s something about the allure of a secret romance, isn’t there?
The movie was fantastic, and happened to be perfect for our situation – Indian guy meets non-Indian (French) girl and *SPOILER ALERT* they fall in love. There’s also lots of food involved, but that’s not the part I was focusing on 🙂 About a quarter of the way through, Vikram shyly grabbed my hand, and by the end of the movie we were cuddled up next to each other with my head on his shoulder.
As the credits rolled, I heard this song by A.R. Rahman that remains one of my favorites to this day, because of the beats and the memories it evokes:
I drove Vikram home, and we sat outside his apartment talking for hours. We began texting again as soon as I reached home, our communications punctuated only by sleep, quickly picking up again the next morning. This became our rhythm.
A few days later, Vikram and I planned to meet up at a local waterfall for a walk. While I still felt butterflies about our first few dates, I was also coming down from the emotional high of the Fringe Festival (and Varsity Party…), and being a big-time introvert, I was feeling the need for some serious “me time” to recharge my batteries.
We met up at the falls and went for a really nice walk through the woods nearby. He told me about the beautiful places in India he would take me to someday, and we ended up soaking our feet in the chilly waters downstream from the falls. He gave me a rose and held my hand tighter than usual, maybe because he could feel my exhaustion and hoped he wasn’t losing me already. I drove him home, and once again we sat in my car talking for hours.
I texted him the next day, saying that I needed to spend a weekend off the grid for some much need R&R. I also felt like I needed to pump the brakes a bit and think things through. This is all happening really fast. We just started hanging out. What’s going on? Is this crazy?
I spent the entire weekend cleaning my apartment, laying on the couch/in my bed, watching TV and movies, reading magazines, and just vegging out. It was the best. I emerged from the weekend feeling relaxed, refreshed, and excited to pick things back up with Vikram.
I quickly found out that Vikram had had the most stressful weekend, thanks to my announced-yet-mysterious absence. I explained that I just needed some time to myself, which seemed to quell his fears. We soon fell back into our normal swing, but he still brings it up from time to time and I feel a little guilty.
The next weekend, we went to the Minnesota State Fair with my friend from the play. While there, we met up with more people from our group to teach a short dance lesson at a small Fair stage. It was our first time being “couple-y” around people we knew, and it was a little nerve-wracking. It took a while for us to even hold hands, but it wasn’t long before we were hugging and sharing food like it was no big deal.
After the Fair, our conversations in my car got a little more serious. We started talking about our past flames, and I brought up the elephant in the room: arranged marriage.
So…are you planning to have an arranged marriage?
No, my parents are okay with me having a love marriage. But I want to make sure my parents approve of the person I choose, otherwise I wouldn’t marry them. Family is the most important thing, so they have the final say.
Slightly reassuring, but not completely. But I soon forgot about that because we had our first kiss!
By this time, we were getting close to the much awaited Fringefare Awards, which was the black tie wrap-up party for our play. Vikram asked me to be his date, which I obviously accepted. I got an amazing dress, and was careful not to let Vikram see it until the big night. He, on the other hand, sent me pictures of the suits he was considering and tricked me into thinking he was going to “mix and match” his Theory suits. (He didn’t.)
On the big day, I got my hair blown out straight (it looked terrible and I hated it, don’t judge me, I’ve already judged myself enough), did my makeup all dark and sexy, and slipped into my dress at a friend’s before picking Vikram up. I was so excited and nervous – I really wanted him to think I looked beautiful.
I can only compare our meeting that night to prom night, or a couple’s first look at their wedding. He hopped into my car and we kind of stared at each other, taking each other in. When we finally parked at the venue and I got out of the car, he complimented everything from my dress to my hair to my nails – I even did “the spin” so he could see my dress twirl.
The rest of the night was full of dancing, drinking, and selfie-ing. Did Vikram surprise me with a cake, since my birthday was only a few days later? Yes. Did our friend accidentally catch us kissing by the elevator, to which I responded by awkwardly running away and leaving Vikram in my dust? Maybe. Overall, it was a fun night.
Three days later, it was the day before my birthday. All day, Vikram was telling me that I had to stay awake until midnight, because he wanted to call me right at 12:00 and be the first one to wish me happy birthday. I planned to stay awake until midnight, but as the clock turned 11:30 I felt myself getting pretty sleepy.
Luckily, I didn’t have to wait until midnight. At 11:50, I got a call from Vikram. From the front door of my building. He tried to disguise his voice, but there was no denying who it was. (Side note: if you ever talk to Vikram, ask him to do his “American” accent. You won’t be disappointed.)
I buzzed him in, waited a few seconds, and peeped my head out the door. Vikram was hustling down the hall with balloons, flowers, and I didn’t even know what else. He burst into my apartment, and instead of saying hi or kissing me, he ordered me to go into my room, close the door, and not come out until he said it was okay. Happy birthday to me?
Well it did turn out to be happy birthday, because when the clock hit 12:00, he told me to come out.
The apartment was dark, and there were candles all around. My coffee table was covered with birthday items.
He got me so much. Don’t believe me?
- A fruit tart cake
- Two cards
- A hand-painted t-shirt (it was Merida from Brave 🙂 )
- Two pairs of harem pants
- A video with an extremely romantic poem
Needless to say, it was the most special I’ve ever felt on my birthday.
We continued talking in my car after dates, but Vikram started to spend a lot more time at my place after my birthday.
We talked more about his family, and started to consider ourselves a couple. We talked about dating in India, and how that doesn’t really happen like it does in the U.S.
We talked about what he missed about India, and what he was most excited for when he visited in December. It was all sweet and fun to hear about.
And then, the other shoe finally dropped.
When he visited home in December, we had to either decide we were getting married, or he would be engaged to someone else by the time he came back.
Are you kidding?! Stay tuned for Our Bollywood Love Story – Part 5!