How We Met
Balraj: It was the end of my junior year of college with one thing on my mind…golf. I was playing in local professional golf events while studying for my bachelor’s degree in marketing at the University of South Florida. I always dreamt of meeting my perfect girl and I knew that once I left university there wouldn’t be many opportunities for me to meet “the one” at men’s golf tournaments. At the end of April in 2014, I was hanging out with one of my friends (shoutout Sneha) as she was scrolling through Instagram. All of a sudden she said “OMG, she’s so freaking pretty.” I asked to who she was talking about and who I saw was the most captivating and beautiful girl. I didn’t want to make a big deal of how I felt so I played it off to my friend and nonchalantly said, “Oh yeah, she is pretty, but it must just be a good angle.” My friend scrolled through more of this girl’s photos and I was completely mesmerized. Two days went by and I told my friend that I really wanted to meet this girl. May 25th, 2014 is a day I’ll never forget. My friend that told me Sarika and a few other people were going to be at a beach bar that night. Everyone was casually hanging out, but I had crazy butterflies in my stomach. When she arrived, I was the first to stand up to introduce myself and made sure to make her feel as welcome as I possibly could. The night was over and it went too fast. Sarika made such a strong impression on me as an incredibly sweet, well-grounded and genuine girl. Two weeks went by and I told my friend, “from this point forward, I’m on a mission. I can’t tell you what it is, but I pray somehow it will work out.”
Seven long months passed and all I did so far was friend request Sarika on Facebook. My mission wasn’t going as planned. Then on December 12th, 2014, it was my same friend’s 21st birthday and Sarika was invited once again! The nervousness began when she arrived and all I could think of was how to never let her get away. I thank God everyday that she saw something in me and my mission was complete. We began dating only three weeks later and everything in my life changed. Golf was no longer a priority; making Sarika happy forever was/is the biggest goal I have ever set for myself. Our meeting may not have been the most fairytale like occasion, but to me it was the most grand. Seeing the woman of my dreams walk over to me and deliver a perfect smile was uplifting to say the least. Each day I can envision that moment when we first met and it gives me so much joy no matter what else is going on around me. That’s how I knew then, and will know forever, that Sarika is the only one for me.
Sarika: I always dreamt of that moment when you meet someone and you just know that they’re yours. I never expected it to happen so early in my life, but luckily it did. I was a few days away from my high school graduation when a friend (shoutout Sneha) asked if I wanted to come meet some of her friends from the University of South Florida since I’d be starting there in the fall. I’ve never been a big on going out, but my best friend (shoutout Monique) convinced me to be more open-minded and that it would be fun. I got to the beach bar type place here in Tampa, a city I’ve known my entire life, expecting a normal group of friends. What I stumbled upon was the greatest gem I’d ever find. One of the guys in the group stood up when I got there and made sure I didn’t feel out of the group all night. He was tall, he was handsome, he was (kinda) British and he was…21. After I got home, I texted Monique and told her I had a good time and met a cute guy but since he was a few years older than me, he probably wasn’t going to be interested in a freshman. I traveled that summer before starting undergrad and then when the semester did start, I was always busy when Sneha invited me to hangout with those friends of hers again. Finally in December, right after finals, Sneha invited me to a karaoke place for her 21st birthday. From the Facebook invite, I knew that Balraj would be there (and be the only person I knew there) so that sold me on going. The entire night we talked and laughed and realized we have the same taste in music.
That night I knew this guy was something else. Balraj captivated me completely and effortlessly. The next night, the same group of friends went to the beach to see a meteor shower. After that night of “shooting stars” and more laughs, he asked me to hangout again over winter break and so we did, again and again. And we fell in love. And we fall deeper each day. Balraj told me a month into dating that he’d marry me, and the greatest part of that moment was that I was thinking the same thing.
how they asked
The first long period of time Balraj and I spent apart from each other since we started dating was July of 2016. I went to India with my parents and brother for almost a full month but right before we left (without my knowledge), Balraj asked my parents for their blessing. My mom and dad were shocked, but in the best way. He told them it wouldn’t be until the following year and asked them if he could take me on a trip for the proposal. When I got home from India, we started thinking of places we could go on our first trip together. We decided on Seattle, booked an Airbnb (Tipsy the Tiny House!) and made an itinerary full of all things we love from art exhibits to matcha lattes. Our trip was booked for July 26th, 2017.
Bal’s surprises are my favorite. They are one of the many reasons I fell in love with him. Throughout the course of our relationship, he set up dates that start with a list of instructions or an outfit picked by him laying out on my bed. I have no hints to these dates but usually manage to figure out what they’re leading to. While planning our trip, Balraj had only one request. He wanted to be in control of one full day; all the activities, all the food, all the outfits, etc. When we arrived in Seattle, he carried his backpack everywhere we went. When I questioned why he couldn’t leave it behind when we went to dinner, he said he had a few surprises in store for me for this trip and having the bag at all times ensured the element of surprise would always be present. He said he wanted July 27th and he really did plan out the perfect day. We woke up early, went to a popular bakery for breakfast, waited in line for the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors Exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, experienced Pike Place Market and then went back to the tiny house to change for a nice dinner. He picked my outfit down to the shoes for that dinner, which wasn’t out of character for him. While I was getting ready, he told me not to come outside to the porch area of the tiny house until he said to because the first surprise was in the works.
I finished getting ready a little earlier than he expected and Balraj told me to wait inside while he prepared the last details of his surprise outside. All I was expecting was a bouquet from Pike Place or a new pair of shoes. He came into the tiny house to get me and said I had to keep my eyes closed and keep my hands out in front of me (wide enough to hold a puppy!) He led me down the first two steps of the tiny house porch and told me to put my hands out in front of me while my eyes were still closed. He placed a book in my hands and told me open my eyes. What I saw was a picture of the two of us from a few months prior and a caption: “Sarika and Balraj. Pre-proposal. 01/04/2015 — 07/27/2017.” At first I didn’t comprehend what I read so I read it again, and by that point he was already on one knee smiling up at me. Balraj has a way with words from the poems he writes me to the long letters and text messages I get about his dreams and about us. But the Balraj on one knee was nervous and so he stumbled on his words in the cutest way. He didn’t say much (I later heard the entire lovey-dovey spiel he had planned) but I was so happy and so shocked that I said “YES!” without hesitation; I knew I’d never have to second guess that answer with my soulmate.
The book he gave me was an album of photos from when we started dating until that trip. The steps of the tiny house had roses laid out on them (courtesy of the amazing Tipsy the Tiny House creators) and the wonderful photographers Balraj hired were on the roof and balcony of the neighboring house (talk about dedication to good angles and happy clients). I’m truly the luckiest person in the universe to be able to spend forever with my Bally.