As part of our community series, we’re hoping to connect you with all-around badasses in the South Asian community. This time we're doing a couple spotlight. We've interviewed Chanda, who is here to share the story about how she met her fiance Loi.
At LUKH, diversity of thought, culture and identity is what inspires us everyday. We hope to share inspiring stories and helpful resources to continue fostering this inclusion in our community.
How did you two meet? When did you start dating?
We met in 2016 at a dawat (get together) that our mutual friends were hosting at their home. It turned out that my childhood best friend's brother was a college friend of Loi's, and they both invited us. At the dawat, we talked a little and enjoyed the gathering. Later that evening, when I got home, Loi was listed on my suggested friends on Facebook, so I decided to add him. After a few minutes, Loi accepted my friend request and he messaged me. We continued talking on Facebook and flirting a bit almost all night. We hung out a bit throughout the same week and went on our first date to get lunch at California Pizza Kitchen and to see the live-action version of The Jungle Book. About a week later on June 14, 2016, Loi asked me to be his girlfriend by spelling it out on a dozen Boston creme donuts and the rest is history.
What type of couple are you? What do you enjoy doing together?
Loi and I are an interracial couple; he is Vietnamese and I am Indian, but like any other couple, we really enjoy relaxing with some Netflix and yummy food. Recently we've enjoyed watching The Office and other classic comedies. In our 4+ years of being together, we have learned a lot about each other's cultures. I've always loved dance, especially Bollywood, and Loi has gotten really into listening to Bollywood and Punjabi music in the background while he drives or works out. He listens to more Indian music than I do! He's even done a couple of Bollywood dances.
How did you tell your family you two were dating?
This was tough because my family actually found out we were dating before I could tell them. My family is quite conservative so to find out I was dating someone not Indian was not easy for them. However, once they met Loi at my college's Diwali event, they loved him! My mom took him to the side and said that as long as we both love and respect each other, then she is happy. I met Loi's family somewhat early in our relationship because he needed a ride to his house after dropping his car off at a mechanic. He introduced me to his parents and they were very nice and open-minded. I, later, met his big, extended family at a get-together and everyone was really sweet.
Tell us about your proposal story.
Loi put a lot of thought into the way he proposed to me. This was actually his third attempt because of Covid and other reasons. To give some background, my friend, Hani Anis is a fashion designer and owner of Anis Collections. One of the services she offers is taking saris and remaking them into new outfits. My mom had a beautiful rose pink sari that she didn't wear anymore, so I got that sari remade from Hani into a lehenga a while ago. To make the proposal happen without me finding anything out, Hani told me she wanted to photograph the outfit so she took me to a nearby town for a photoshoot.
This was all to get me out of the house so that Loi's and my close friends and family could set up the proposal. When Hani and I came back to my house, my sister-in-law asked me for some help in the backyard. I stepped onto the deck and I saw everyone waiting for me in a decorated backyard. I walked down the stairs and my niece was waiting for me with a bouquet of flowers. She led me further to the backyard patio that had flower petals and tea lights encircling it. As I stood in that circle, Loi walked up from behind me to a song we both love called Meherbaan.
Knowing how much I love dance, he walked past me and all of a sudden my three friends popped up for a Bollywood flash mob with Loi to the song Sauda Kara. Then Loi did a solo dance to Tu Meri. I couldn’t believe how much they had prepared for me to make this moment special. After the performances, Loi walked up to me and we danced in the circle of lights and petals to Perfect by Ed Sheeran. He joked and asked me if I knew what was about to happen. When the song was over, he got down on one knee and asked me in both Hindi and English, “Chanda, mujhse shaadi karogi? Will you marry me?” I of course said yes and we went on to take pictures with everyone and eat lunch.
How are you two handling wedding planning this year?
Wedding planning has definitely been interesting with COVID. We've started with making small decisions about what the fusion of Indian and Vietnamese ceremonies and rituals will be, figuring out a rough guest count, narrowing down venues, and other preliminary tasks that we can do from home. We have a lot of ideas for making our wedding fun for all, ourselves included, but we are also making sure that we are mentally prepared in case we do have to change our date.
Are there any words of wisdom you'd like to offer to other couples in a similar situation as you?
Something we both would say is important is to always communicate with each other while planning. It is important that if one person is feeling too overwhelmed when it comes to financials or details, that the other person hears them out. You don't want to start off planning your wedding, a happy occasion in your life, with disagreements and concerns.
We would also like to advise young interracial couples that are struggling to tell their parents about their relationship that it'll be really tough at first, but we think having your parents meet your significant other is important. When they meet your partner, they will get to know them as a person and not just a name that they have formed opinions about. They'll be able to understand their personality and see why you love them. We hope that after getting to know your partner, they will begin to change how they feel. If you feel strongly about your partner and don't want to give them up, then keep trying with your parents. Things can get bad, but eventually, this will be a lifelong decision, you should have a say in it. It is important to always be open-minded!