Valentines share memories of ’setup,’ long-distance romance

Ann Cousineau

Valentines share memories of ’setup,’ long-distance romanceThough the first introductions for Healthy and Nirzari Desai could be called a “setup,” their wedding would probably not be considered a classica “arranged marriage.”

The couple met online just before Valentine’s Day, February 2005. Unlike many modern ro-mances that spark in social networks, the Desais’ arranged meeting was actually set up by their parents.

At the time, Nirzari was 23 and living in Australia. She was studying her way to an MBA when she met Healthy. “I had left India in 1999 to study. I fell in love with the country of Australia and eventually became a citizen there,” she said.

Meanwhile, Healthy was 26, living in India and doing a residency there when he met Nirzari. In 2004 he had completed preliminary medical studies including a fellowship at New York University in the United States, he said.

Once introduced, the couple “saw each other” at least twice a day via webcam, and they “Skype” chatted for nearly three months. Nirzari then traveled to India in May 2005 for their first “real” encounter.

“I flew back to India at the end of April 2005 to meet Healthy,” Nirzari said. “We met at my uncle’s place and spent time together. A few days later, during a walk on the beach, he proposed.”

At the time her parents were not there, and they needed to be informed of the pending engagement. “My mother had been in an accident with broken bones. She was at home in bed. We went to see her and told her the news. She was so excited she tried to jump out of bed,” Nirzari said. “I was in India for three weeks, and the day just before I flew back to Australia where our formal engagement photo was taken.”

More months of web dates followed as the couple enjoyed their long-distance romance. In Septem-ber, Healthy flew to Australia for a vacation visiting Nirzari. Then the long-distance romance continued as they waited for their tradition Indian wedding in April 2006.

“By Indian standards, we had a small wedding; it went on for only three days. My sister’s wedding was five days,” Nirzari said. “We invited 1,600 people and nearly 2,000 came.” The wedding was held in Navsari, in the state of Gujarat, India.

Asked to sum up their wedding, Healthy laughed and said, “Organ-ized chaos!”

“The formal wedding ceremony was four to five hours, but each day included a morning ceremony, lunch, afternoon nap, a short eve-ning ceremony and mostly dancing,” Nirzari explained.

After they were married, Healthy and Nirzari lived in Australia, where they both finished studies. Later, moving to the U.S., Healthy worked at hospitals in various states, completing a fellowship and residencies at NYU, Dallas and Long Beach before coming to Ridgecrest in December 2012.

These days Healthy is an orthopedic surgeron with Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, while Nirzari is marketing director for the hospital. They’ve been married for nearly seven years, but they still enjoy celebrating Valentine’s Day together.

“I never let an occasion go by without celebrating,” she said. “We have an unwritten rule that we will always be together to celebrate important occasions like wedding anniversaries, birthdays and of course Valentine’s Day.”

So far, they followed through on the commitment, and have celebrated anniversaries in different places, including their first on a yacht, next at a secluded farm, one in New York City, and another in San Antonio.

“The year that I turned 29, I was in Africa visiting an ill relative. At the same time, Healthy had to go India, but he cut his visit there to one day so he could come to Africa to celebrate my birthday,” she said.

What are they doing this Valentine’s Day?

“We bought a new home in Ridgecrest so we’re planning to have a dinner cooked by Healthy near the fireside in our first ‘owned’ home,” said Nirzari.

Story First Published: 2013-02-13