It All Started With a Bottle of Shalimar

Shortly after matching on the dating app Bumble, followed by a 90-minute “screening” phone call in June 2022, Christie Lynn Houlihan and Rahul Dev Chatterjee had their first date in Houston.

Ms. Houlihan, 40 and never married, told Mr. Chatterjee, 48, who was divorced for about a year at the time, that she had recently relocated to Dallas from New York City for work. She grew up in Bronxville, N.Y., in a family that valued music and the arts.

And so Mr. Chatterjee, born and raised in India and living in Texas since 2000 to study at Texas A&M University, arranged for them to meet in the bar area of Truluck’s, a steakhouse with a piano player. Ms. Houlihan was visiting Houston on business as a consultant for EY Private, advising clients on wealth planning and business management.

“Our first date was fantastic,” said Ms. Houlihan, who has a law degree from Fordham. She also has a bachelor’s degree in social policy from Northwestern. “We talked about what we wanted in a life partner, our love for travel and music,” she said, “and with my being Irish and Rahul Indian, we agreed family is important.”

Mr. Chatterjee, an independent consultant specializing in inventory planning and supply chain, said he “thought she was beautiful, and in the light from the menu she looked like an angel.” He has a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Texas A&M, and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Motilal Nehru Institute of Technology in Prayagraj, India.

When Ms. Houlihan mentioned she had prearranged an Uber to fetch her at 9 p.m., Mr. Chatterjee slid a small box across the table. After opening it, she froze with goose bumps and started to cry. Inside was a bottle of Shalimar perfume by Guerlain.

“My late grandmother, who was very important to me, wore Shalimar daily, and had given me bottles when I was young,” she said. “Rahul had no way of knowing my deep emotional connection to this perfume.”

When she was notified on her phone that her Uber had arrived, Mr. Chatterjee was disappointed. “I feared the whole date was a disaster when she ran off like Cinderella,” he said.

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But Ms. Houlihan had previously said that she would be making regular business trips to Houston, and so they met up the next week. They strolled around Rice University and dined at a neighborhood restaurant. The two bonded over their love for golden retrievers, their regular interaction with nieces and nephews, and the dream that someday they would have a family of their own.

“Our first kiss was magical,” Mr. Chatterjee said. “We truly had a transformative evening where we each opened up emotionally.”

The couple dated nearly every weekday she was in Houston, and on weekends met up in Dallas or Houston. They took several vacations together, including trips to Japan and Morocco.

But what sealed the deal for Ms. Houlihan was Mr. Chatterjee’s offer to take care of her after she had knee cartilage surgery in October 2022. “He gave me a solid, secure and safe relationship which I never thought possible,” she said.

In December 2022, they flew to India so Ms. Houlihan could meet Mr. Chatterjee’s family. His mother greeted them at the airport in Kolkata, West Bengal, with flowers, tears and hugs. “The love and passion I feel for Christie I have never known in a romantic relationship,” Mr. Chatterjee said. “I am consumed with gratitude to have found a person who genuinely cares about others and shares my belief in open communication.”

On New Year’s Day, at the Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, Mr. Chatterjee dropped to one knee and asked her to be his “life partner.”

“I said ‘I love you’ before answering ‘yes,’” she said.

The couple married Nov. 18 at the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Fla., the resort town where Ms. Houlihan had visited often her grandparents. Dale Walker, an elder at the Reformed Church of Bronxville, N.Y., who was ordained by the Universal Life Church, officiated in front of 165 guests.

The ceremony began with an Indian baraat, or groom’s procession. Mr. Chatterjee, wearing a white tuxedo jacket, rode to the museum on the back of a 1962 red Mercedes-Benz. He was followed by an Irish bagpiper. And as a prelude, the Irish violinist Gregory Harrington, accompanied by two cellists, performed a medley of songs.

Ms. Houlihan, wore a Elie Saab off-white tulle ball gown and had paisley and floral henna designs applied on her hands. Under the mandap, or altar, she participated in the sindoor daan, where the groom placed a dash of vermilion powder on her hair partition, signifying the beginning of a new life.

“My heart felt solace after finding you,” Ms. Houlihan said, reciting a portion of her vow in Bengali. She continued in English, “The only regret I will ever have about our relationship is that I wish I had met you sooner so I could have loved you longer.”

In his vows, Mr. Chatterjee promised “faithfulness and patience, many memorable experiences, my sincere efforts to understand you better, and a lifetime of learning.”

Sumber: www.nytimes.com