Leaving behind a life of comfort and luxury isn’t easy. But love can make the most difficult task seem easy. Ask 43-year-old Adriana Peral, who took the leap of faith in love when she traveled all the way from California to India to marry a man half her age, whom she met via Facebook.
A cross-country love affair
The love story began when Mukesh, 29, a resident of Popran village of Karnal district, Haryana encountered Adriana’s profile and soon enough, he sent her a friend request.
“After chatting for nine days, my eagerness to speak to her grew beyond imagination. We exchanged our mobile numbers and I called her on the 10th day and said ‘I love you’ to her, ” Mukesh told Daily Mail.
The communication barrier was writ large over this cross-country romance as Mukesh wasn’t fluent in English. “Then we used to speak on phone every day but the communication did not last more than two to three minutes as my English was weak,” Mukesh recalled.
Adriana on her part confessed to having had many romantic liaisons in the US, but she hadn’t ever found true love—until she met Mukesh, who is 16 years her junior.
“Mukesh declared his love to me right there and then on the phone. I didn’t know how to react, and at first, just laughed it off. But after we talked some more, I realized he was serious and so I said if you win my heart, I will consider marrying you. We spoke for around three more weeks and it was during that time I decided I wanted to move to India to be with him,” she told Daily Mail.
Adriana took her time to consider Mukesh’s proposal but after realizing Mukesh was serious for her, she eventually fell for him and decided to shift bag and baggage to India to be with him.
The road to love wasn’t easy…
It was tough for Adriana to talk about her new-found love to her friends and family back home. Especially, with her young daughter and mother. Everyone who knew her had one primary apprehension in mind—the unpredictability that lay ahead of her and the political situation between India and Pakistan at that time.
The toughest moment for Adriana was to leave her 28-year-old daughter Lucy Cortez who was anxious about her mother’s safety in India.
Adriana, who had moved to the US from Mexico, said: “When I walked in and told everyone I had decided to leave and move to India, they were in complete shock. My daughter was crying, she was in floods of tears. She was worried something bad would happen to me. She said India was unsafe for women. I had to turn to her and reassure her everything would be alright.”
But Adriana did not let the anxiety take a toll on intentions and decided to fly to India in August 2013. And what awaited her in India was beyond anything she had imagined.
“We met for the first time in reality… She was welcomed by the whole village. My mother cooked halwa and kheer (sweet dishes from India made from semolina and rice respectively) for her. She loves halwa now,” Mukesh recollected.
“Some people thought Mukesh was a fake, an online scam and that he didn’t really exist. I can’t describe the moment I finally saw him at the arrivals gate at Indira Gandhi airport – it was a big relief to finally see him in person,” Adriana explained.
But she admitted that nothing had prepared her for the culture shock she experienced.
A world unlike America
Falling in love is easy. Commitment is hard. Committing to love for a lifetime? Even harder.
After marrying Mukesh in a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony in November 2013, Adriana’s life took a 180° turn, unlike anything she had ever lived before.
The culture shock hit her hard and it began the moment she had landed in India. She recollected: “When I first stepped off the plane it was a complete culture shock. It is stricter here—women have to cover up more. In Haryana, many people live off the land, there are few basic amenities. We cook on a stove which is outside, and my living room doubles as the place where we store the cows at night.”
The lack of amenities was the hardest challenge to get around. With a communal toilet and bucket to fill water and shower, the lack of amenities wasn’t easy getting around.
“We sometimes use the bull and cart to ride around, and the toilet is a communal one. The shower is just a bucket in a closet-sized room with a hole in the floor, ” she stated.
From using standard fuel in California, she was now making her own source of fuel by drying out cow feces and making patty cakes out of use for using it as cooking gas. Even her new home was a humble farmhouse in Popran, a large village 30 minutes away from the nearest town.
But that wasn’t all. “A big part of that was dressing like they do and trying to speak some Hindi. In the U.S. I loved wearing high heels and dressing up for a night out at a club with my friends, but here things are more low key. You can’t get any of the make-up I’m used to using and women generally don’t apply much of it anyway, it is an unnecessary cost,” Adriana conceded.
From a partying, outgoing high-heel donning lifestyle to a conservative, modest-apparel wearing, bull-cart driving life, Adriana’s journey of love resembled a roller-coaster ride that brought its own share of hurdles.
But Adriana took it in her stride and wouldn’t want to change any part of it. “If people back home could see where I am living they would think I am crazy. At first, it was a real struggle, but soon you realize you don’t need a fancy toilet or power shower to be happy,” she remarked.
Mukesh, on his part, couldn’t be any happier. “I am very happy to marry her. It is true love. Adriana is a good wife. She is always doing housework and if my mum is doing dishes she says, “No, I want to do. It’s is my job”.
We wish the two a happy married life.