Lauren & Abhiram Mokasdar
Meeting online on a vegetarian forum, a boy from Nagpur and a girl from Bath thought they had a connection from a previous life: within one week they had decided to marry. Today Lauren runs a blog that gives valuable advice to expat wives in India
Lauren learned to love yellow – a colour she usually ran away from – after learning that it was an auspicious colour
Ibecame a member of a vegetarian forum in December 2012 and within a few minutes of browsing the site, a user started a conversation with me. Usually I would completely ignore this, but for some reason, I replied.”
What happened to pharmacy student Lauren next is the stuff of romcoms. She felt an instant connection to the faceless person at the other end. They kept chatting. “‘This must be a past life connection!’ I thought, and just as it crossed my mind, the words ‘We must have known each other in previous lives’ popped up on my screen”. Call it love at first ping, if you will. “I hadn’t even seen how gorgeous he was!”
There was just one problem. Lauren was in Bath, England. The person at the other end – Abhiram Mokasdar was working in New Jersey USA, and hailed all the way from Nagpur.
The connection was too strong to ignore. Lauren and Abhiram kept chatting and within a week, they’d decided to marry. Abhiram quit his job and booked a flight to India to break the news to his parents. He had a 10-hour stopover in London – where they first met. Lauren then finished her degree and in June 2013 boarded a oneway flight to India. They married a week later. “I love living in India but, as you can imagine, it is not always lotus flowers and marigolds,” she write son her blog English Wife Indian Life. Lauren and Abhiram first had a secret temple wedding and then a traditional Indian one – sari, pheras, mangalsutra and hundreds of guests – in April 2014. “The wedding was so intense compared to a British wedding,” she says. “It’s really not about the bride and the groom.”
And it’s certainly not the kind of wedding she’d have imagined for herself as a young girl in Bath. “I’m Anglican Christian and not that religious, but I’d always expected to have a church wedding,” she says. “Until I met Abhiram, it was always a white dress even though there was no man in mind.”
In India, she switched to looking at (and making dream sketches of) heavy lehengas and saris, picked out a mangalsutra instead of a wedding ring, began shortlisting sample wedding invitations from a bag of 50 and took a 14-hour sleeper bus to Pune to shop for the wedding. Nothing went as planned. “The lehengas we saw were beautiful,” one blog post says. “I loved them so much but they didn’t love me. I had a slight problem, I am 5ft 8in and those skirts were unfortunately not made with my height in mind.”
As Lauren adjusted to life in India, the lehengas were altered to fit. She learned to love yellow (“A colour I usually run away from”) after learning that it was an auspicious colour for the wedding puja and wore a Paithani sari to one of the events.
Eighteen months on, Lauren’s site has had plenty of posts on living in India: henna tips, spirituality, finding love online, other love stories from across the world. The advice section, Agony Bhabhi, offers hope to others trying to adjust to life in India.