Finding Common Ground in the South, San Francisco and South India
It was ultimately a dating app that featured Sree Arimilli and Sandheep Surendran from San Francisco. But more traditional and spiritual elements, as well as a bit of self-help, also played a role.
Ms. Arimilli had been out for dinner with a friend in New York City in late 2016. When the conversation turned to their love life, Ms. Arimilli, a self-proclaimed intuitive type, shared a hunch she had, that she felt her intention was. was near. After returning home, she said the same thing to another friend. This friend suggested Ms. Arimilli sign up for a dating app, which she did, on Bumble.
Less than two weeks later, she was texting Mr Surendran, who, at least geographically speaking, had been “nearby” for years. In fact, they lived about a mile apart but had never crossed paths.
While she usually didn’t commit to dinner on a first date – too many difficult nights had taught her – she did this time.
In the bathroom after dinner, she remembered thinking, “I don’t want this night to end.
“It was unusual compared to other first dates or other relationships, it was more earthy,” Ms. Arimilli said. “It wasn’t like fireworks, there was more to it something that drew me to it. It was so different, and I knew I had to live with it.
Mr. Surendran was of the same state of mind. On the sidewalk outside, he asked, “Shall we continue?” And they did, over a drink.
The two had so much in common.
Ms. Arimilli, 55, was born in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, India. The youngest of Madhava and Vasundhara Arimilli’s three children, she immigrated with her family to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when she was 3 years old. His father was a geologist, and in the United States worked as a chemist, while his mother was an accountant. Ms. Arimilli is a graduate of Louisiana State University, and after an early career as an accountant, she is now the founder and president of Arimilli Consulting, a San Francisco-based boutique firm providing executive search services.
Mr. Surendran, 43, is the younger of Chiyyarat V’s two children. and Shyamala Surendran, who immigrated from Kerala, India’s most southerly state, to Lubbock, Texas, where Mr. Surendran grew up. Her father was a structural engineer, while her mother was a cardiac monitor technician. Mr. Surendran is a graduate of Rice University and is the founder and director of San Francisco-based Surya Design, which deals with product development and engineering.
There were many differences in their personalities, but they had both lived in Houston for four years, had spent most of their adult lives in San Francisco, and had opened their own small businesses. And they were both raised in southern Indian immigrant families in small towns in the southern United States.
They also spoke of their dedication to their families.
Of course, the age difference appeared. Mr. Surendran used to go out with older women; his desire not to have children was a deciding factor for most of the Indian women he met.
“We’re pretty much in the same place in our lives,” he said.
Ms. Arimilli felt that she should be as open as possible to any context from which her future husband might come.
They shared their first kiss at the bar. While they had planned this Friday evening to see each other on Tuesday, the next day, they decided to meet on Sunday instead. On Tuesday, they disabled their dating apps.
Ms. Arimilli had been married once in her twenties. She felt the pressure to marry young, even though she said her choice of an inappropriate partner was entirely up to herself. She had done a lot of internal work on herself since then, and now felt ready.
For Mr. Surendran, getting ready was a bit of a family affair. During a trip to India in 2015, his parents consulted an astrologer about their unmarried son. He needed the light of a sapphire to pass through his skin to remove anything that was preventing him from meeting the right woman, prophesied the astrologer. If he wore one, he would meet her in a year.
As his family caste is a goldsmith, his uncle made him a sapphire ring. Although Mr. Surendran does not normally wear jewelry, and he does not believe in such things, the fact that he liked the ring surprised him. He started wearing it in 2016. He met Ms. Arimilli a week and a half before the end of the year.
In addition, Mr. Surendran joined four friends to do the exercises in the book “The Call to ‘One: 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life” by Katherine Woodward Thomas.
“I think that’s a terrible misnomer for a title, it should be called ‘Gather your things before you are worthy of someone,'” he said, using a stronger word than ” stuff “.
One of the last exercises is to set an intention for when that person manifests. His best friend’s college wedding took place in Cancun, Mexico in May, and Mr Surendran was hoping to bring a girlfriend he could look to the future with. He invited Ms. Arimilli.
As they moved quickly, it felt organic, as if something was pulling them. “At no time did either of us feel like it was too much, or that the other wanted to run away,” Surendran said.
The two say that while their partnership has important elements like laughter and tenderness, it was also a somewhat pragmatic decision. The couple have drafted a mission statement for their marriage counseling relationship, which they will revisit and revise each year.
“I describe it as a house,” Mr. Surendran said. “It’s not a brand new house with fancy appliances, but a house with a rock solid foundation that is a great house and needs a little maintenance every now and then. And we have a giant toolbox in the garage to fix whatever happens. We have been able to solve our problems in such a healthy way that it gives me the confidence that we can overcome it. “
“Having someone love you in this way just allows you to show yourself to the world with greater fullness,” Ms. Arimilli said, noting that she “has adjusted her aspirational relationship GPS” to indicate the type of man embodied by Mr. Surendran. “We’re each other’s greatest cheerleaders. You can really fly in life when you have this.
Ms. Arimilli’s sister-in-law, Shenal Arimilli, observed that since they were together, their families have overcome more than their fair share of health crises.
“Very early on, Sandheep was called in to help her take care of her family,” said Shenal Arimilli. “Not only does he adore her, but I saw how he embraced his whole family in such a powerful way, and she did the same when his father passed away.
“There are people who fall in love, but age or culture is a barrier,” she added. “They’re creating a paradigm shift in how you can love and relate. This is what humanity needs to break the norms. “
In July 2018, Mr. Surendran sent himself an email saying, “Plan the thing. “
Mr. Surendran chose a model of ring and asked his goldsmith uncle in India to make it. In December 2018, at the Fairmont San Francisco, he proposed after a holiday dinner with friends, the adjacent Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar.
Shenal Arimilli, ordained by the Universal Life Church, married the couple at Blame Her Ranch in Ribera, NM on August 28, with Mr. Surendran’s aunt Viju Sreenivasan attending the ceremony. They’ve planned a weekend of events in Santa Fe, an hour from the ranch.
A flowery arch with hanging flower sprigs made a stark contrast to the edge of a mesa in the southwest desert. There was a light drizzle during the ceremony, with thunder and lightning appearing next, then a rainbow. Hummingbirds surrounded during the procession and ceremony.
As they exchanged garlands of flowers, they omitted some of the more traditional Hindu customs and read their own vows, offering a ceremony that looked like them: a hybrid of East and West.
Shenal Arimilli observed, “Sree and Sandheep have patiently waited for the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. They really let the twists and turns of life bring them together.
On this day
Ceremony Shenal Arimilli led the nearly 100 guests, most of them vaccinated, in a guided meditation that brought in the ancestors and asked the guests to imagine the bride and groom living a life of joy together. She also pointed out that everyone there played an important role in shaping the bride or groom, or as a couple.
The officiant Sree Arimilli met Shenal Arimilli at a party almost 30 years ago. After talking to her for 10 minutes, Sree asked her if she could introduce Shenal to her brother, who is now her husband. Since then, she hopes to reciprocate, said Shenal Arimilli. She was “amazed” to be invited to officiate, as this is not done in Indian weddings.
The clothe The groom’s father died last April; a robin had made frequent visits to her window. The bird became a wedding motif and was embroidered close to his heart in the lining of Mr. Surendran’s royal blue jacket, which had golden cashmere embroidery on the lapels and cuffs. Rather than a traditional red and gold outfit, Ms. Arimilli’s dress was gold embroidery on gold. The couple worked with Swati Couture, whose designer designs clothes at her studio in Palo Alto, California. They are sewn and embroidered in India.