Kanika and Rochak Puri: Best friends for ever
My husband and I were neighbours and best friends in the quaint town of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. It may sound like the story of a romcom, but we proposed to each other on February 14, 1995. We were fairly young but we knew we were meant for each other. So Valentine’s Day is always special for us. It always remind us of our love anniversary and commitment we made during our younger days. Our first Valentine’s was in the train while we were travelling together for my sister’s marriage.
Every year, part of our Valentine’s Day celebrations include a trip to relive the memories of our love in different cities. To that end, we have visited Norway, Paris, London, Austria and many more lovely places. This year, however, we planning to celebrate at home and maybe plan a bigger and better destination for next year when travel restrictions are lifted.
Camilla and Roche Van Der Merwe: Desert getaway
We have been "living in love" now for 15 years and our first Valentine’s together was spent on the back of a motorbike, exploring the Ceres mountains in the Cape (Johannesburg). Since living in Abu Dhabi, we prefer the desert as a special night out on Valentine’s Day. It is quiet and cool and gives us time to reflect on the previous year together. I normally pack a picnic basket and a couple of candles, not forgetting our tent.
This year will really be no different. Desert love for us again which will be perfect for the times of Corona. We will hit the dunes of Liwa reminiscing our early years, with fire, marshmallows, distance and space.
Swati and Atul Bhargava: Double celebrations
We got married in October 1994 and at the time I wasn’t too familiar with the concept of Valentine’s Day. My birthday falls on February 12th. Atul was posted in Chandigarh back then and I was in Delhi. He drove more than five hours just so that we could to spend the double celebration together.
Since then, Valentine’s week itself is very special for us. Usually, it is an elaborate affair with roses (I like black roses and Atul makes sure he gets them for me) a special red velvet cake, outings including dinners, yacht parties or even visiting countries. February is also the month when we usually plan our travels. Once we went for a Safari at South Luangawa (Africa). We have also visited Norway, Paris and Amsterdam during Valentine’s.
This year, with the travel restriction, we are planning a staycation in RAK. It will be cautious and safe and definitely cosy.
Sonal and Sumit Kapur: Spending time together
Our very first Valentine’s Day was a quiet romantic dinner at a cosy restaurant in Sharjah. Sumit gifted me a very pretty heart pendant with floating diamonds, which I still have and wear often. I gifted him a formal shirt.
We had an arranged marriage and we were a shy couple in those days, hence don’t have many pictures of those wonderful days. Over the years, we started celebrating this day of love with greater enthusiasm and more fervor.
Sumit always makes it a point to start the day by giving roses to the three women in his life; his mother (who lives with us), me and our daughter.
Our previous celebrations have been a surprise dinner at a hotel with a one-month-old, family dinners, group dinners with close friends, music evenings, staycations in Liwa hotel, a themed Valentine party organised most recently by my friend in 2020. But the most memorable one was the one where Sumit and I won an award for the couple who danced the best.
This year, we have booked a night stay on 13th February in a beach chalet at a beautiful resort in Ruwais.
A long drive on 14th February morning to explore the beauty of Shuweihat island and then back to the family in Abu Dhabi, followed by a family dinner.
Erin and Jordan Eaton: Cooking up some love
Our first Valentine’s was awkward as we had just got together two days before the day; so we ignored it. The first real Valentine’s was a year later, so I made him dinner and a cheesecake. Since I don’t cook much, I was trying desperately to impress Jordan, who is a chef. I tried to make the cheesecake plating super artsy because I’m an artist... but it all just tasted so gross. He was very polite about it though.
We have been restaurant workers previously, so we usually steer clear of the Valentine’s [at restaurants] that happens on the 14th – too much drama for us!
Jordan makes a nice filet mignon with bleu cheese, green beans, some potato something – and a killer dessert. It’s all very chilled, cosy and complemented with a box of chocolates.
This year will look very much the same as other years, spending time with our eight-year-old daughter Eva and two dogs. Picture perfect.
Gina Dillon and Dr. Howard Podolsky: Online love
Valentine’s Day actually played a big role in how we met. In 2000, I was sitting at home alone (in the US) and feeling sorry for myself. While reading Newsweek magazine, I came across an article about finding love online. So, I got up and went to the computer and signed up [on a dating site]. I met Howard via the site a month later. I still have the dress I wore on our first date. Obviously it doesn’t fit anymore but it is tucked away in my closet. We met at a cafe for lunch. A quaint little place with mismatched everything; plates, furniture, silverware... nothing matched. That was the charm of the place. Maybe it was some sort of sign that we are opposites and mismatched.
How are we planning to celebrate this Valentine’s Day? This may come as a shock but I usually accept jewellery, roses and chocolates any time of the year; especially during a pandemic. A yearlong pandemic with my husband working from home, I may actually double down this Valentine’s Day and make elaborate plans.
As told to Zenifer Khaleel