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Fri, Dec 13, 2013
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Love transcends all
by Ankita Pandey Vallikappen

Theirs seems a match made in heaven. For what else would bring Romil Singh, from Lucknow in India, and Rachel Ho, a Singaporean of Chinese descent, together. The two couldn't have been from more dissimilar cultural backgrounds.

Yet, love and mutual respect for each other's cultural and ethnic backgrounds, have been the strongest bonds in their three-year marriage. The couple have a 16-month-old daughter Tara, who they hope will imbibe all the positives from both cultures.

The couple met in 2008, when they were working for an investor relations and management consulting firm. Ms Ho, 28, remembers her husband as a problem solver and a charming man, who didn't hold back from voicing his opinions. She says: "He made an impression on me right from the start. He was very smart and very good at his work."

Mr Singh came to Singapore in late 2006 after obtaining his master's degree from Monash University in Australia. After a stint in an investment firm, he joined the company where the couple met and is now a director in the same firm. Ms Ho, a business graduate from the National University of Singapore, now works in another public relations firm.

Though the couple worked in different teams when they met, they often went out together with other colleagues for drinks or dinner. With these meetings and interaction, their intimacy grew, despite cultural barriers.

Mr Singh says he found Ms Ho "very down to earth", a breath of fresh air in a "society increasingly becoming more materialistic". "She was so easy to get along with," he adds.

As their relationship became more serious, both families were informed. And Ms Ho headed for her first visit to India in 2010 with Mr Singh. Ms Ho had prepared herself for the cultural shock but she was positively surprised by the reception she received from Mr Singh's family.

"They were all so welcoming. We were not yet engaged. Yet, they made me feel part of their family," she says.

The visit to India, Ms Ho says, cemented her affection and love for Mr Singh even more after seeing him among his family members, the close bonds he shared with them, how attentive he was to his parents and how members of his extended family looked up to him.

Soon enough Mr Singh proposed and later in 2010 the couple tied the knot in two grand Indian and Chinese wedding celebrations that stretched from India to Singapore and had guests flying in from around the world.

Ms Ho remembers feeling like an Indian princess during her "royal wedding". "The dresses, the mehendi, the singing and dancing and all the functions that were spread over a few days were so magnificent," says Ms Ho.

Mr Singh remembers the Chinese wedding celebrations with just as much awe. "Of course it was a lot less noisy and more sober than our Indian wedding. It was also so beautiful and elegant," he says. They followed the traditions of gate-crashing the bride's home, the official tea ceremony and other rituals associated with a traditional Chinese wedding.

Three years into their marriage and the couple have only grown closer. And celebrate not only their love but also their cultural differences.

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