updated 16 Dec 2013, 04:27
Login password
Fri, Dec 13, 2013
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
Sparks began in the lab
by Ankita Pandey Vallikappen

There is a lot more that can happen in scientific laboratories than chemical reactions and electronic wirings. As Ruchi Agarwal, 32, and Agam Prakash Vajpeyi, 37, found out.

The two, now married for more than six years, met almost 10 years ago when Mr Vajpeyi, a microelectronic engineer, was doing his PhD at the National University of Singapore (NUS), under the Singapore MIT alliance scholarship programme. Ms Agarwal was appointed as research staff under the Economic Development Board scholarship in the same lab after she completed her engineering degree, also in microelectronics, from Nanyang Technological University.

Their academic work allowed them to spend a lot of time with each other in the lab. Their day began with having breakfast together, followed by lunch and a leisurely tea late in the afternoon.

Soon enough, sparks flew.

Mr Vajpeyi says: "Her intelligence attracted me immensely and of course her sweet beautiful face."

For Ms Agarwal, who came to Singapore in 1999 on a Singapore Airlines-Neptune Orient Lines scholarship, it was her husband's caring nature and his cooking prowess that were attractive. "He makes the most delicious potato sandwiches and ginger-cardamom tea," Ms Agarwal says. Why should the saying "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" apply only to men? In the modern world, nothing is more attractive to a woman than a man who cooks. Mr Vajpeyi stands as proof.

The couple affectionately call each other PR (Pyari Ruchi) and PA (Pyare Agam). Pyari/pyare means lovable and despite six years of marriage and a four-year-old daughter, the Vajpeyis are still as much in love and as demonstrative as they were during their courtship.

Ms Agarwal says her husband pursued her with such intensity she had no choice but to fall for his charms. "I remember on one occasion when I refused to meet him, trying to put some distance between us, he refused to eat. It was only when I went to his place with his friends that he ate again," Ms Agarwal says.

Mr Vajpeyi comes from Agra in India, the city that is home to the Taj Mahal, one of the greatest monuments of love built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his loving wife Mumtaz Mahal. Perhaps that explains Mr Vajpeyi's intensity, for surely Shah Jahan's is a tough act to follow.

Ms Agarwal is from Chandigarh, the first planned city of post-Independence India. Can that explain her initial restraint?

But, of course, it is Singapore that holds a special place in the couple's hearts. For bringing them together. For giving them the time and space to enjoy their courtship. Which wouldn't have been easy had they been in India, where conservative traditions still prevent young love from flourishing. "Singapore is special for us. Especially the NUS lab and campus," the couple say, adding that six years of married life have been enjoyable and interesting.

"There is freedom, peace and harmony in our marriage," they say. It is something they associate with their time in Singapore.

Get a copy of tabla! for more stories.

<< Back >> Next
more: love
readers' comments

Copyright © 2013 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.