Photos: Garima Aneja
‘So, you all know that I’ve taken a few days off work to go on a vacation with my friends,’ I told my very conservative family over dinner. ‘And we’ve been planning this for months now.’
The family looked at me expectantly. I continued: ‘Well, within the past few days, my friends have backed out one by one. We’re meant to make our departure in three days and we’re down to just me and another person.’My father raised an eyebrow. ‘Where are you going with this?’
‘I still would like to go on this trip with Siddhartha, because he’s going to be flying into Delhi all the way from Houston, and it just wouldn’t be fair to him if we didn’t go through with the plan.’
‘Who is this Siddhartha?’ my father demanded, realising that this other person was, in fact, a man.
‘You know his dad from the Air Force! You know his whole family,’ I said, without missing a beat.
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I come from a military family. My father was assigned to a different air base in India every few years, so my childhood was spent moving from town to town. We never stayed long enough for me to make good friends at school, so I sought out other military kids who understood our unique circumstances. These kids became my closest friends.
Siddhartha was also a military kid. We’d known each other as children, but lost touch. Years later, in 2006, when I was a college student in New Delhi, we ran into each other at a party. We had a fun chat but didn’t exchange numbers.
Garima and Siddhartha on their wedding day.
I would not see Siddhartha again until seven years later, in November 2013. My best friend was about to get married, and Siddhartha, now based in the US, was flying in for the wedding.
‘You have to keep him company,’ the bride ordered. I accepted readily. At the wedding, we drank, danced, and realised we really got along. After my friend slipped him my number, we began texting each other. The time difference between New Delhi and Houston was a pain, but we grew closer, progressing to video calls. Around this time, our mutual friends began planning a trip to Dharamkot in the north of India – a beautiful village in the hills. Siddhartha and I agreed to tag along.