By Shireen Jamooji
In 2021, Namrta, an HR and marketing professional in Mumbai, was starting over in the dating world. She’d been through a divorce and a painful breakup after that, but still wanted to believe in love—not just for herself, but for her son. As a naturally positive person, she tried to heal and work through her fears that she would never find the perfect match. “It was actually my ex-husband who suggested I try joining some dating apps,” she laughs. “I thought, why not?” The fact that she was in control and had to make the first move on Bumble was a comfort to Namrta, as she didn’t want to feel overwhelmed by messages and requests.
Her past and the fact that she was a single parent made her hesitant to put herself out there. But Vinay’s Bumble profile stopped her in her tracks. “It was this black and white photo of him with messy hair,” she says. “It was such a natural, joyful picture. And in the corner of the picture, I could see a small elbow, which turned out to be his daughter.” For Namrta, finding someone who also had a child seemed ideal as they would be able to understand her life and that her son was her first priority.
When Vinay, who is in finance, first saw that they’d matched, his instinct was that this time was going to be different—even though all that Namrta had on her profile was one photo. Still, “her smile was radiant,” says Vinay. “She came across as very open, honest and genuine, and that’s what really attracted me to her.” He usually wouldn’t swipe on profiles that were only photos—and only one photo for that matter—but for Namrta, he made an exception.
They started chatting and found common interests in photography and tattoos. As they got to know each other better, they realised that their priorities—like putting their kids first and making the most of life—aligned as well. The first time they spoke, they talked all night, opening up about serious matters like their romantic histories and what they were looking for in a partner.
Since they were both working from home at the time, they decided to keep their first date simple, and met for coffee a week after connecting. It turned out to be as much of a work date as a romantic one however, since they both had busy days and a stream of calls to take. But even though their first date had turned into a coworking situation, they didn’t see it as a turnoff; instead, they treated it as a learning experience. “I got to see her work ethic which gave me a sense of her as a person,” says Vinay. Namrta too enjoyed the chance to see him in this light, but what really stuck with her was his intuitive nature. “Usually at the end of the date people will try to hug you or give you a peck on the cheek, but I think he sensed that I wasn’t ok being touched when I don’t know the person well,” she says. “We just shook hands and that made me very comfortable.” By the end of the date, they both knew there was going to be another.
For their next date, they took the plunge and decided to bring their kids along, but since they weren’t officially together yet, they just introduced each other as friends. “Getting along with her son and seeing how Namrta looked out for my daughters put me at ease,” says Vinay. For Namrta, Vinay’s interactions with her son were everything she’d hoped. “Even though it was all of us together, he still paid attention to my son,” she says. “It wasn’t a situation of ‘I’ll take care of my kids, you take care of yours.’” For Namrta, that was a huge green flag.
The biggest hurdle had been cleared, and on Vinay’s part, he felt like he knew everything he needed to. On the 9th of October, just 10 days after they had first met, he proposed. They were at a mall and he asked her to pick out a ring. “It wasn’t a grand gesture, it was more like a promise,” says Vinay. By that point, they’d already had disagreements about things like their parenting style, but were able to bounce back. Being able to have a conflict and still come to a productive resolution was a quality Vinay knew he wanted in a long-term partner, and knowing that he and Namrta could work through issues gave him the confidence to propose. “We had already discussed having a serious relationship with marriage as the ultimate goal,” says Vinay, “so I decided to lock it down.” He even sent her a calendar invite for their wedding (dated 10 years in the future) just to be sure she knew he meant it.
For Namrta, this gesture was a turning point, not just in the relationship but within herself. “When you have a lot of bad relationships, you start to wonder if you’re doing something wrong and you end up with a lot of self-doubt,” she says. “But when Vinay gave me that ring, I thought that I must have done something right. It wasn’t just two people in love, it was two adults who had found a way forward in life. I was so touched.” She had found safety and trust in a partner who was committed to growing with her and making space for her past. It was the kind of love she had been looking for all along.
The next stage was making their plans public, but they were surprised to find that most people already knew. When Vinay first told his elder daughter about the engagement plans, she simply replied, “Tell me something new.” And when Vinay pulled up to drop off Namrta’s son at his grandparents’ house, they realised that if Namrta trusted someone to take care of her son, it had to be serious. Though their friends and family expressed some concerns over how quickly their relationship had progressed, by the time they got married in a simple court wedding in May 2022, it was clear to most people that this match was meant to be.
Today they’re working as a team to care for their kids, travel together, and become better partners. They’re slowly collecting matching tattoos, starting with a bumblebee in honour of how they first met. They add one each time they visit a new city together. For Namrta and Vinay, the foundation of love is trusting that they’ll be able to depend on each other. “We take everything one day at a time,” says Namrta. “O.D.A.A.T. is our motto.” They’ve added this motto to their matching tattoo collection to remind them that by having the faith and strength to start over, they found each other.