How many of us recall the viral love story of New York photographer Jeremy Cohen and Tori Cignarella? Cohen spotted Cignarella dancing her heart out on the rooftop of a building, and he just knew he had to meet her. What followed was the most romantic meet cute that, in the grip of a global pandemic, gave the world some much-needed hope. After all, if two strangers can meet and fall in love, surely there is a way to make existing relationships work, even from a distance.
We reached out to a few couples to share their stories:
Quarantine ZoneFor newly-married Zoya Merchant* and Hashim Faridi*, a Delhi-based couple who run a digital marketing agency, the pandemic proved to be a difficult time—physically, emotionally, and financially. While work was suffering given the markets, what made matters worse for the newlyweds was that Merchant tested positive for the virus and had to quarantine away from her husband. “It was difficult since we work together and most of our work means collaborating and brainstorming while in the same room,” says Merchant. But it was Faridi who stepped up and proved that love does indeed conquer all. “Since she was confined to one room, our collaboration meant video calls. But we were so used to eating all our meals together, things just weren’t the same.”
Fortunately, his quick thinking helped give this couple a semblance of normalcy, even with quarantine and distance. “It was difficult because we were living in the same house and couldn’t be with each other. But Hashim made sure we ate all our meals together. We have a sliding glass door to a balcony that fortunately connects to the living room as well. He’d leave my meals at the bedroom door, and then make his way to the small table he’d set up in the balcony, and we’d sit on opposite sides of the glass for every meal,” she recalls, fondly.
After she made a full recovery, the couple have managed to grow their venture, just in time for their first wedding anniversary.
Going The DistanceJust before the lockdown began, Bangalore-based entrepreneur Aditya Arora*, made his way back to his hometown of Lucknow when his dadi fell ill. Little did he know, he’d be away from his fiancée Roshni Mehra*, for the better part of the year. “My dadi has been a very big part of my life. She practically raised me because my parents were working in Dubai, and I’d get to visit only during vacations. So when the doctors said it was only a matter of time before she’d leave us, I had to go and say my goodbyes.”
Arora lost his grandmother in July of this year, and was absolutely inconsolable. What’s worse, Mehra was in Bangalore and couldn’t travel to be with her fiancé, given the lockdown restrictions and policies in force. “To be there for him, I’d video call and message him at least two to three times a day. Since most of our nights during the lockdown were dinners and a movies, we kept that tradition up, even while he was back home and I was in Bangalore. But, things changed when Adi refused to leave his room or eat. He even stopped taking my calls. It was only after all restrictions eased up in August that I packed my bags and ran to be by his side. I couldn’t stand another minute being away from him,” admits Mehra. Now, the couple is back in Bangalore working remotely. While Arora is still on the mend, getting back to routine has helped keep him stay focussed. “And of course, he has me to pick him up if he stumbles,” Mehra chimes in.
Destination Date NightTwenty-five year-old, Noelle Simmons* was on a work assignment in New York when all international flights were cancelled. This meant, her two-month-long trip had now turned into an indefinite staycation, given that there was no way for her to make her way back home. “I was stuck with two other co-workers. And while I’m definitely not complaining since being stuck in New York isn’t such a bad thing, being stuck away from loved ones especially during a pandemic was difficult. Also, I had just started dating my boyfriend. It was supposed to be the honeymoon phase of our relationship, and I wasn’t only stuck in a different continent, but a different time zone, too!”
Her relationship did prove tough to handle given that she’d be asleep when he’d be at work. However, over time, they did cull out hours—especially on weekends—to spend some socially-distanced quality time with each other. “But when I found out that international flights were soon going to be operational, particularly for those of us stuck in international destinations, we decided to see how we could take a detour and spend time away together. It wasn’t easy but I managed to get on a flight that had a stopover in Goa, while he booked a flight for the same date. He took the earliest one he could get on so that we’d land in Goa around the same time. It was definitely a reunion we’d be talking about for years,” Simmons admits, sheepishly.
Now, these couples made a whole lot of sacrifices, and put in the work to make their relationships last. And if you find yourself in a similar situation, here are some ways in which you can keep the romance alive, even from a distance:
• Commit to small gestures of love regularly. Even if it’s shooting them endearing messages to expresses your feelings, sending them their favourite meal or dessert, a little can go a long way.• Check in with your partner regularly. Make sure you have meaningful conversations and know exactly what’s going on with them, if things are bothering them, or if they are under the weather. Asking them what they need can make all the difference.• Taking a walk down memory lane can serve to reignite that spark and remind one another why you fell for each other in the first place.• Plan regular date nights. This means, no matter what’s going on during the day, your date night—virtual, of course—can serve as a great way to spend quality time together, even if you cannot share any physical intimacy. Committing to a virtual date night with Netflix and pizza, or even a romantic candle lit dinner, is a great way to keep the love alive.
*Names have been changed on request