By Shireen Jamooji
Casual dating never seemed appealing to Harsimran, and after a run of unsuccessful dates, she was finding it hard to hold on to her belief in true love. The graphic designer and social media marketer was also starting to feel pressure from her parents, who were eager to see her settle down and beginning to drop not-so-subtle hints about arranging a match for her. Harsimran didn’t feel close to ready for that kind of commitment, so instead she decided to move from Jalandar, India to Birmingham in the U.K. to pursue a master’s degree.
While Harsimran was adjusting to the challenges of living alone for the first time and looking to make connections in a new city, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Then, in July 2021, she came down with COVID. Isolated and frustrated with quarantining, she downloaded Bumble, hoping for some interesting conversations and a distraction from her situation. It was then that she came across Jaibir and read a line that she says changed her life forever. The bio in his profile read: “I have a superpower: I know what you want for dinner.” She texted him asking what she wanted for dinner, and he guessed pizza. “He was right,” says Harsimran.
Jaibir, a medical student, had just moved to Birmingham. His position as a doctor in training kept him extremely busy, so he found that Bumble was an easy way to meet new people and explore fun spots in the city. It was his very first day in Birmingham that he matched with Harsimran. After guessing her dinner cravings correctly, they struck up a conversation about food. They talked about where to find the best sushi in the city and the things that they missed about India. Jaibir had moved earlier that year from Ludhiana, a city in the North Indian state of the Punjab, to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. A week later, once Harsimran recovered from COVID, they had their first date.
When Jaibir arrived at the cafe and saw her for the first time, he thought that Harsimran was one of the prettiest girls he’d ever seen. After chatting over coffee, they took a walk around the canal before deciding to go play a round of pool. “Everything was so effortless,” says Harsimran. “Being around him was easy.” As Jaibir was dropping her off at home, they ran into a famous Bollywood actor. “I took it as a sign that the night was a success,” laughs Harsimran.
They met up again a few days later, and the chemistry was just as strong. “It felt like I’d known him forever.” says Harsimran. By their third date, Jaibir was certain this was the match he’d been seeking. That night he confessed that he thought she was the one. “I just burst into tears and hugged him tightly,” says Harsimran. “No one had ever been so sure of me and it felt really special.”
By October that year they were officially a couple, and learning more about each other every day. “He’d always make these small gestures,” says Harsimran, “He’ll get me flowers on random days, or bring me ice cream for no reason. And when I’m sad, he knows exactly what bad jokes will make me laugh.” Their relationship was going smoothly, but when both of their parents happened to visit around the same time, they realised that it might be time to open up about their relationship. Jaibir decided to confess to his parents that he was dating someone, but when Harsimran’s parents arrived a week later, she was a little more reluctant to mention Jaibir. “I knew if I told them they’d get excited and start asking about getting married.” says Harsimran, “I wasn’t ready for that. The idea of marriage had always scared me.”
However, it turned out that their parents weren’t the only ones with marriage on their minds—Jaibir actually had some plans of his own in the works. On Boxing Day, Jaibir orchestrated a special evening out in London and tried not to let his nerves get the better of him. Walking to dinner, Jaibir stopped right across the river from the London Eye. He’d booked a photographer, telling them exactly where to be and at what time. “Harsimran thought he was some random guy asking to take our photo, and was really confused about why I agreed to let him do it,” he laughs. The photographer asked her to pose looking in the other direction, and that’s when Jaibir got on one knee and took out the ring. “He was so nervous all evening,” laughs Harsimran. “It was cold out and he was sweating. When I turned around I finally realised why. It was perfect!”
Things moved quickly after that when their families back in India excitedly started making plans. “We wanted an intimate wedding, a court marriage ideally, but our parents wouldn’t hear of it,” says Harsimran. Instead, they had a temple ceremony with friends and family in her hometown of Jalandhar in Punjab. They had to plan the celebration in a month so that they could get married before the weather got too hot. The wedding was on April 1, a date chosen by Jaibir that has extra special meaning for them. “We’re fools for each other,” he says, “so now every year instead of wishing each other a happy anniversary we can just wish each other happy April Fools’ Day.”
Today, they’re back in Birmingham and settling into life as a married couple as they learn and grow together. Their relationship has been built on a friendship and connection that’s growing stronger every day. “He makes my life easy and since we met, life—and our relationship—has been so smooth,” says Harsimran. “It’s like living with my best friend.” Jaibir is still stunned by how quickly everything fell into place but very thankful for it nonetheless, “It happened really fast,” he says, “but like they say, everything happens for a reason.”