OnLove: The Wedding of Tej Sujlana and Kivneet Kaur

Raised on opposite sides of the world, Tej Sujlana and Kivneet Kaur didn't let distance stop them from falling in love.
By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 2, 2009

The dancing began before 9 on a Friday morning in the asphalt lot of a Fairfax office park. It carried on past 2 a.m. the following Sunday in the lushly lit ballroom of a downtown D.C. hotel, capping off a week-long celebration of Tej Sujlana's marriage to a woman from India -- one he'd met just three times before deciding to propose.

The 28-year-old did not think it would happen this way.

Not for him. Sujlana was born in Fairfax Hospital and spent his whole life in the States, graduating from a public high school and college, and traveling to India -- the country his parents left three decades ago -- on only a handful of occasions.

"My friends were shocked," recalls the consultant, who loves poker, cocktails and movie nights. "They were like, 'You? Marrying a girl from India?' "

It wasn't any less surprising for his bride, Kivneet Kaur, 26, and those who knew how closely tied she was to her friends and family in Delhi.

When an acquaintance first suggested introducing her to a guy from the United States, she replied, "America? Noooooo. That's like 14,000 miles away. I can't go there."

But the acquaintance, who grew up with Sujlana and met Kaur while visiting Delhi with his family, managed to coax an e-mail address out of Kaur and passed it along to Sujlana.

Back in the States, Sujlana's older brother convinced him there was no harm in writing a quick note. "Then one fine morning I went to work and I saw an e-mail," remembers Kaur, who was working as an investment adviser for CitiBank in a suburb of Delhi. "I was like, 'Um, okay.' "

Soon the April 2008 correspondences were almost daily as they traded photos and discovered similarities: Both had obtained MBAs, took their careers seriously and fell to the liberal side of their Sikh faith. More uncannily, Kaur's first-ever trip to the United States was planned for the following month and included visits to people Sujlana knew in Maryland and Miami.

"It's a small world -- and it was a little creepy, too, at first," Sujlana concedes. "But it was like, 'Maybe this is meant to be.' "

They arranged to meet at a Starbucks in Tysons Corner and talked for hours -- with Kaur's sister-in-law, who was acting as a stand-in guardian, calling multiple times to check on them. The next day they met again by the banks of the Potomac in Great Falls.

"We had so much to talk about," remembers Kaur, who has a quick wit and luminous light brown eyes.


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