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Tej Singh Weds Kivneet Kaur
"It Was Meant To Be"

by ELLEN McCARTHY

 

The dancing began before 9 on a Friday morning in the asphalt lot of a Fairfax office park. It carried on past 2 a.m. the following Sunday in the lushly lit ballroom of a downtown D.C. hotel, capping off a week-long celebration of Tej Singh Sujlana's marriage to a woman from India - one he'd met just three times before deciding to propose.

The 28-year-old did not think it would happen this way.

Not for him. Tej Singh was born in Fairfax Hospital and spent his whole life in the States, graduating from a public high school and college, and traveling to India - the country his parents left three decades ago - on only a handful of occasions.

"My friends were shocked," recalls the consultant, who loves poker, cocktails and movie nights. "They were like, 'You? Marrying a girl from India?' "

It wasn't any less surprising for his bride, Kivneet Kaur, 26, and those who knew how closely tied she was to her friends and family in Delhi.

When an acquaintance first suggested introducing her to a guy from the United States, she replied, "America? Noooooo. That's like 14,000 miles away. I can't go there."

But the acquaintance, who grew up with Tej and met Kivneet while visiting Delhi with his family, managed to coax an e-mail address out of Kivneet and passed it along to Tej.

Back in the States, Tej's older brother convinced him there was no harm in writing a quick note. "Then one fine morning I went to work and I saw an e-mail," remembers Kivneet, who was working as an investment adviser for CitiBank in a suburb of Delhi. "I was like, 'Um, okay.' "

Soon the April 2008 correspondences were almost daily as they traded photos and discovered similarities: Both had obtained MBAs, took their careers seriously and fell to the liberal side of their Sikh faith. More uncannily, Kivneet's first-ever trip to the United States was planned for the following month and included visits to people Tej knew in Maryland and Miami.

"It's a small world - and it was a little creepy, too, at first," Tej concedes. "But it was like, 'Maybe this is meant to be.' "

They arranged to meet at a Starbucks in Tysons Corner and talked for hours - with Kivneet's sister-in-law, who was acting as a stand-in guardian, calling multiple times to check on them. The next day they met again by the banks of the Potomac in Great Falls.

"We had so much to talk about," remembers Kivneet, who has a quick wit and luminous light brown eyes.

"Honestly, we ran out of time," Tej adds. "It's funny because we're from opposite sides of the world, yet we were still able to meet halfway and talk about so many things."

Kivneet persuaded her sister-in-law to rearrange their 18-day trip so they could return to Washington at the end of their stay and have dinner with Tej's family - something that normally wouldn't happen in their culture until a couple was well on their way to betrothal.

"In this case it was, 'Let's meet in case things do work out,' " Tej explains.

The dinner was a success, but the next day Kivneet returned to India and soon the pressure was on. The pair continued to e-mail and speak on the phone - when the 12-hour time difference allowed - but both knew the clock was ticking.

"It's not normal for it to be public that a girl is talking to a guy for so long," Tej says. "Her parents were worried for her sake - for her reputation. And so were my parents."

By the end of the summer, Kivneet knew she was ready to take the leap; Tej was not so sure. He worried they didn't know each other well enough, that she would be homesick in the United States and have a hard time because of her accented English. Worst of all: The self-proclaimed perfectionist couldn't be certain this was perfect.

"My thing was, 'It's not always perfect,' " recalls Tej's brother Rup, who with his wife, Dukhbhanjan, spent many nights counseling Tej through his decision. "Everybody has to go through hard times. We explained that, 'You know what -- if you think she might be the right one, that's a sacrifice you have to make.' "

On Sept. 1, 2008, Tej called Kivneet in India to propose. A month later her family flew to the States to meet her intended and it was then that he first said, "I love you!"

"She was like, 'Uh-huh, where has it been?' " he laughs now. "But it had to build."

What built was his conviction that she'd be a salubrious force in his life. That she'd temper his aggressiveness, be patient with his antics and care for his family as much as for him. That last part was key because, once married, she would be living not just with him, but also with his parents and his brother and sister-in-law. "I knew she could fit in," he says.

At the July 18, 2009 wedding reception for 500 family members and friends, a bank of televisions played video from rituals and ceremonies held earlier in the week - when her hands were painted with henna, when his wedding turban was tied the day of the ceremony.

A little after 9 p.m., Tej's father, Balwinder Singh, took the microphone and turned to the lavish stage where his son and new daughter-in-law were seated to warn Kivneet he was "going to expect a lot from you - lots and lots of love."

An hour later Rup Singh said he had a surprise for the couple and introduced Manak-E, a famed Punjabi singer who kept the boisterous party going well past midnight. Kivneet was among the most exuberant revellers, glittering on the packed dance floor in a silk and crystal sari.

A week before the wedding, hours after stepping off the plane from India, she was more reflective.

"Obviously I'm excited but at the same time, moving here - I know it's going to be difficult," she said, seated next to Tej and looking into her lap. "But I hope he'll make it comfortable."

"I will," he promised.

 

[Courtesy: The Washington Post]

August 2, 2009

Conversation about this article

1: P. Kaur (India), August 07, 2009, 12:11 AM.

Sweet :)

2: Manjeet Kaur (Gurdaspur, Punjab), August 07, 2009, 5:28 AM.

It was really interesting to read it. Wish you guys the best of luck in your life ahead. Cheers.

3: Jaskaran (Canada), August 07, 2009, 8:30 PM.

I wish you both a long, happy married life.

4: Amritpal Singh (Chandigarh, Punjab), August 08, 2009, 4:37 AM.

Connections are made in heaven! Wish you guys the best of luck in your life ahead.

5: Simar (India), August 21, 2009, 10:45 AM.

May God bless both of you ... Best of luck.

6: Dilpreet Singh (New Delhi, India), September 24, 2009, 12:47 PM.

Best wishes to you both. Remember, there are few things in life as important as love, and nothing as important as trust. Make trust the foundation of your marriage, the cornerstones faith, love, humour and forgiveness, and the life you build will be solid and strong. All my love and best wishes for happiness to both of you.

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"It Was Meant To Be""









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