For all the cynics out there, love does happen! Meeting Chetan and Priyanka Acharya leaves you with the after-effects of a good romantic movie or novel. They may be your quintessential boy meets girl, boy and girl court, boy and girl fall in love story, but this couple proves there is more to love than just a whirlwind romance.
For the lovely Priyanka Palani moving to India from the United States was the furthest thing from her mind. And it took a ‘dashing’ Chetan Acharya to prove otherwise. Cut to their story and their first encounter lies at a party where Chetan met Priyanka. “My friends told me that there was a new ‘hot’ girl in town. And when I saw Priyanka all I could think of was, Wow!” says Chetan, “She definitely lived up to the hype.”
It took them only three weeks of dating to know they had met ‘the one’. “I was disillusioned with the idea of love. Like any other South Indian boy, I was on the marriage market and was probably headed for an arranged one. I thought marriage would have to be a compromise – maybe with the looks or interests, but I have it all,” says a gleaming Chetan.
Recalling their first meeting Priyanka says, “I still make fun of the way Chetan tried to engage me in a conversation.” To which a rather coy Chetan replies, “I was so taken up by her that I just kept blabbering.” “But I really did appreciate that he made an effort to talk to me at a party where I did not know many people,” she adds. “I also did find Chetan extremely charming and good-looking,” Priyanka smiles.
Time is important, and unfortunately or not it comes in short supply. “For me it was love at first sight. I knew that I would not find anyone better. Priyanka was slated to head back to the US and I just couldn’t let her go. I asked my friend to make a ring for me on rush,” says Chetan. “ I had taken sick just before I was supposed to leave and Chetan asked me to come home for a parting gift, which was ‘supposedly’ a phone,” laughs Priyanka. “I had hidden a Blackberry Bold in Priyanka’s bag just as she stepped out of the room and as she came back I called the number,” Chetan adds.
“To me it was like an ‘Oh, surprise you have a new phone’ moment! But then Chetan asked me to check out the phone’s accessories and inside the phone box was a smaller ring box,” says Priyanka with a tinge of emotion even after these years.
Five weeks into their meeting, families met and the Acharya couple got their thumbs-up.
Seven years since, the two continue to be very much in love. Donning the mantle of parenthood, the couple may not get to spend quality alone time but the stolen glances, the laughter and the gentle nudges reveal a bond not easily broken. “As you grow together, you come to have a deeper sense of comfort and respect,” says Priyanka.
Fitness enthusiasts and gym buddies, Priyanka and Chetan also love a good bottle of wine and their food. “We have opened each other to our different worlds,” Chetan says.
So what makes a relationship work? Chetan answers in just a word, “Kindness. Don’t belittle your spouse and the things they like. That is the key to any lasting relationship.”
Responding to a question on pet peeves, Priyanka calls Chetan a flip-flopper. “He is a Gemini and constantly changes his mind. One minute he says he’s swamped with work and can’t go out for a party. A day later he asks me why we aren’t going out,” chuckles Priyanka. “She is so full of energy that she cuts me off while I’m talking. Priyanka gets over-excited when we go out, especially since we’ve had the kids,” says Chetan.
The couple have two sons. Jaidev is two and Raghav, named after Chetan’s grandfather, is seven months old.
Chetan, Managing Partner at Nippon Enterprises South, looks forward to growing old in a beach house away from the city with Priyanka. “I just want a simple life of gardening and a place where Chetan can nurture his hobbies,” she adds.
On a parting note Priyanka leaves with a word of advice, “Be open to any possibility. Don’t weigh yourself down with specifications and requirements. I never thought I’d marry an Indian, but here I am.” Maybe fate isn’t a cruel mistress after all.