I Met My Soulmate, Online

It was a very cold December in 2012 when my life changed forever, I had just started to recover from a deep depression which had left me unhealthy, exhausted and completely depleted. I felt there was something was missing, I was suffering from a deficiency of some kind, I couldn’t work out what.

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was about fifteen years old. One evening, I felt so weak I needed to take action. I picked up my phone bought chicken from the local chicken shop, thinking it might be animal protein I needed to fill the dull emptiness.

I woke up the next day feeling awful. I looked at the box of chicken bones and let out deep sobs into my pillow, not for the remains of the bird, for what little remained of me. I took the box and, still in my pyjamas, I walked the short distance to the sea. Dawn had just broken, a heavy salty mist hung over the pebbles. I threw the box of bones into the sea and watched it float back and forth in waves for a while. I saw the misty outline of someone walking in my direction along the shore, so I left the beach and slept until the evening.

When I woke up, I tidied my bedroom, made a large cup of tea and brushed my hair. I decided it wasn’t meat I needed, it was self care, patience and time. I considered I might be lacking in protein too, I wanted to do vegetarianism better. I opened my laptop and became a member of a vegetarian forum, eager to learn more about getting the right nutrition on a vegetarian diet. Minutes after signing up, I received a message.

I wasn’t the person who spoke to strangers online, it was something I found odd and unnecessary. Usually I would completely ignore any messages from unknown senders, but for some unknown reason, I replied.

My heart started to beat faster as in no time we were discussing everything about our lives in uncensored detail. It was unbelievable how intense the conversation became with this faceless person within minutes. Trying to come with an explaination, I wondered whether we had a past life connection. As this thought crossed my mind the words, “we must have known each other in previous lives” popped up onto my screen.

These moments of synchronicity continued, it was as if we could read each other’s minds. I couldn’t believe it. Within hours we started to imagine our a life together. Had I gone mad? I realised I loved him, but, how could this be? We hadn’t met, we hadn’t even seen each other.
He was in New Jersey and I was in England. He had gone to America from India to gain his masters degree and stayed there for work. After just a week of instant messaging, he had asked me to marry him. One week after that, he had quit his job and booked a flight back to India so he could tell his family that he had met the woman he wanted to marry. The flight was via London with a long layover.

I stood as still as stone, my gaze fixed on the arrivals board. The moment came and when I saw him I was filled with joy, I can still see him coming through those double doors. We had ten beautiful hours together before he had to catch his connecting flight to Mumbai.

We took the underground to central London and walked around the street lamp lit city under soft rain, we saw the sights and talked all night. We seemed to be the only people in London. Those hours past in a heartbeat and soon it was time for us to separate. I cried hysterically when it was time for him to leave. I could feel my heart telling me to never let go of him.

Life was hard during the months after London, but he kept me going throughout. I completed my masters degree, and now it was my turn to catch that flight to Mumbai.

In June 2013, I arrived in India for the first time, only six months after our first online conversation. We had a secret marriage ceremony in a temple, just the two of us, one week later. I had found what I had been looking for.

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The nightmare & fairytale of Mumbai airport

Flying over Mumbai I saw all the lights of the city twinkle, all I could think was ‘he’s somewhere down there waiting for me’. The day I move to India had finally arrived! Whilst looking out of the window I saw something I had never seen before; the moon had fallen over. There was a thin crescent moon lying on its back, the moon looking like the grin of the Cheshire cat. Alice in Wonderland. Lauren in India. My Western norms become Eastern nonsense and vice versa, something that makes India a wonderland for a foreigner.

The queue for passport control was huge, a sea of people winding around the maze of drawstring barriers. I started to worry we would miss our connecting flight. I wasn’t wearing a watch so I looked at the information board to see how much time I had left: 14:35 26 February 2006. Did I take a plane back in time? After the confusion, shouting and checking of thousands passport, I collected my luggage and made my way to the luggage x-ray machines.

The stereotypical British attitude. the sacred art of queuing, abandoned me. Mumbai airport a queue is more as vague general direction. As time ticked by I saw more and more passengers simply disregard the queue and head straight to the front. The check-in desk for the flight to Nagpur was nearly closing. Time was running out, unless the information board was correct, which gave me at least 7 years grace.

A lovely Indian couple in front of me could see my distress and asked if I was okay, I explained to them how my flight was leaving soon and they told me if I go to the front they will process my bag faster. So I took their advice and sped to the front, only to be told I had to wait like everyone else sent to the back of queue.

This was when I decided to leave my British urges completely behind, I feel ashamed to admit it but… I slowly jumped several places in the queue. I apologised profusely to everyone I passed and tried to give everyone a small explanation of my reasons. ‘I am really really sorry, I do not normally do this, it is against my morals to do this but my husband is waiting and I am going to miss my flight’. I finally got to the front of this queue and the airport official said ‘don’t worry Madam, you can go straight passed the X-ray machine’. This act of kindness was nice and everything but after the distress of getting to the front of the luggage X-ray queue, please someone at least X-ray my luggage. Oh my gosh.

From the x-rays I had to get on a bus to the domestic airport where my husband was waiting. I still had enough time to make check in. An elderly lady who was on the same flight from London had gotten stuck whilst getting on the bus, the crowd of people waiting to get on the bus slowly grew in number and grew more irate. After ten to fifteen minutes the lady managed to get to a seat. One short bus ride and I arrived at the domestic airport and finally in my husbands arms once again.

The relief of being back with him was overwhelming! Finally after all this time!! We had missed our flight to Nagpur but it didn’t matter so much because we were together at last. The next flight available to Nagpur was not for a while… so after a 9 hour flight, a 2 hour struggle to the domestic airport we had to wait another 14 hours to go home. We sat in departures, watching thousands of people check in. My poor husband had already been waiting 9 hours for me to arrive.

Hours later, it was time to get on our plane. Going through to departures meant the usual Indian security questions such as ‘are you married?, where is your husband?, how many siblings do you have? four sisters… no brothers? I’m sorry’.

Finally we were together again, back in Nagpur. Our ‘long distance marriage’ is now simply ‘our marriage‘.

Wishing everyone a prosperous and happy New Year