One Saturday in June 2018, Vaibhavi Kamat, then a senior in the state of North Carolina, took a seat at a busy table at Darbar Indian Cuisine, a Manhattan restaurant. Soon she was talking to Jaideep Rao, then a rising senior at the University of Mississippi.
Ms. Kamat and Mr. Rao had each traveled to New York on their own to attend a Konkani youth convention. The event brings together young people whose ancestry dates back to the town of Mangalore, in southern India, with the sole purpose of making them known.
It seemed to work immediately for Ms. Kamat, now 25, and Mr. Rao, now 26, who quickly realized they had a lot in common, including growing up in the south. and share a favorite fast food chain, Cook Out. .
“She was beautiful and had less southern accent than I thought,” Mr. Rao said. “She was also very easy to talk to, which is probably due to the fact that we are part of the same South Indian subculture. “
Ms. Kamat said: “He seemed very genuine and kind. Our conversation was very natural and it didn’t seem like either of us was trying too hard.
They exchanged numbers that day, and Mr. Rao began to have visions of a distant romance with Ms. Kamat.
But then came Sunday.
“We left without seeing each other on Sunday,” Ms. Kamat said.
Mr. Rao was almost certain that Ms. Kamat would call as soon as she got home. But she didn’t, and when another week passed and she still hadn’t called him, her confidence started to fade.
When asked if he thought at the time that Ms. Kamat would never call, Mr. Rao laughed nervously and said in a voice just above a whisper, “a little”.
“I knew we had good chemistry,” he added.
The next week, however, Ms. Kamat finally called, and Mr. Rao sighed in relief.
“We spent the rest of the summer communicating primarily online as I was on a study trip abroad,” she said.
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In September 2018, Ms. Kamat boarded a plane to Mississippi and spent a weekend with Mr. Rao at her university campus in Oxford. She was curious to meet the friends he had spoken of often, which made Mr. Rao “very, very nervous,” he said.
But once she arrived and heard her friends say how great a guy he was, Mr. Rao’s nerves relaxed. And the fact that she even made the trip, he said, was an auspicious sign.
“Once she got on the plane from North Carolina to come see me, I knew she was hired,” Rao said.
By 2020, Mr. Rao and Ms. Kamat had graduated and had moved to Texas; him in Dallas, and her in Ridgewood Park. Mr. Rao, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, is an associate civil engineer for TRC, a construction consulting, engineering and management company in Arlington, Texas. Ms. Kamat graduated with a BS in Nutrition and is a first grade teacher at WA Martin Elementary School in Crandall, TX.
On April 17, 2021, Mr. Rao offered Fount a Dallas cafe. On September 11, 2021, the couple and their families participated in a formal engagement ceremony, which incorporated Hindu rituals and traditions, at the home of Ms. Kamat’s parents in Apex, North Carolina.
The couple married three months later, on December 11, 2021, at the DFW Hindu Temple in Irving, Texas. Umanath Bhat, a Hindu priest, led the ceremony in front of 20 vaccinated guests. The day after their wedding, the bride and groom had brunch with their families at Mughlai Fine Indian Cuisine in Southlake, Texas.
“Our families have become extremely close since we started dating,” the groom said. “It’s as if each of us now belongs to two families.
The newlyweds officially moved in together, at the groom’s apartment in Highland Park, Texas.