FAISAL & AFREEN - A LOVE ACROSS CONTINENTS AMIDST A PANDEMIC
Updated: Oct 7
Our story would probably be non-existent if not for the internet. When I first spoke to Afreen back in 2020, the telephone was meant to be a mode of communication for a few weeks until we met in Goa. In March, my family and I packed to leave the UK on a vacation that I was convinced would change my life. That starry-eyed vacation never happened.
Picture Credits - Flashback Photography
The day before we were meant to leave, all flights to India were suspended. COVID-19 had officially arrived. What a downer! Still, the internet was around and our families kept in touch since Afreen and I were eager to have both sides closely involved in our lives.
By September 2020, Afreen and I began talking more often and realised we gelled very well. I caught up with many friends online through the pandemic, but with her the conversation was just different. I guess when you know, you know.
FaceTime was our go-to platform, just like many other ‘COVID couples’. Our dates were full on. It wasn’t simply setting time aside to talk. No way! We would both get dressed, I would send her a meal and drinks via Zomato, lean my phone against a bottle and we would have our date. I would tell her how amazing she looked and we would talk endlessly, hoping to meet and do the same in reality soon.
This was how we spent every significant celebration as well - New Year’s, Valentine’s Day. The days - and months - went by, and loads of cakes and flowers later, I decided I had to get to India somehow. In May 2021, the embassy was still only issuing emergency visas. I struggled and after much negotiation, they granted me permission.
I had taken just one dose of the vaccine and it was the middle of the second wave in India. Everyone told me I was crazy to fly to India, but I was determined. Three COVID tests later, I landed in India and spent 14 hours in Delhi airport before heading to Goa.
The airport here was an experience in itself. There were windows everywhere and we all waited to collect our luggage. With my hoodie and snapback on, without a glance at the queues behind me, I grabbed my luggage and walked out to meet my queen for the first time ever.
She shouted ‘Bubba’ as she ran to meet me, and I lifted her up in the tightest hug I could muster and we just stayed there for a while. It was a bit awkward since her brother was right behind us recording our meeting, but at that moment, nothing else mattered.
We spent two weeks in Goa in lockdown, so if we had to tire of each other or realise we were incompatible, it would have happened then. With nothing to do and nowhere to go, we were home all day, getting to know each other better and getting closer as a couple.
When I arrived in England, I went straight into a 10-day quarantine, literally shut off from the world in the four walls of a hotel room. It was Afreen who kept me from going bonkers.
The real stuff began when we started planning our wedding. Setting the date in such an uncertain time was the hardest thing ever. We were in limbo - there was no way to know if visas would be granted for friends and family to travel to India.
Afreen scrolled through innumerable Instagram pages and wedding planning websites and also came up with many creative ideas on her own. There were many disagreements but far more agreements, and details that sounded impossible to finalise were confirmed.
My family and I flew to India on September 14, and Afreen and I were married on September 25, 2021 at the DoubleTree by Hilton overlooking the Mandovi River. My gorgeous wife even surprised me with an amazing dance where she looked like an absolute queen.
We are incredibly grateful to everyone who came together to pull it off, particularly our caterers for the delicious food, our photographers for beautifully capturing our most memorable day ever and for the wedding planners who brought it all together. My bride looked absolutely stunning thanks to Karishma Hyderabad and Kiswas, while I pulled through - quite smartly if I may say so myself - thanks to Fabeha Fashion and The Luxe Label.
We are now spending some time in and around Goa before starting our lives together in the UK. It’s been one heck of a ride, but I couldn’t imagine it any other way!