When Curry met Gumbo...

(as told by Ryan...)


    New Orleans…Mardi Gras…you can’t mention one without thinking about the other. Mardi Gras is the time of year when beads are flying, boobs are flashing, alcohol is flowing, and people are straight up crazy. This is the environment where curry and gumbo met, and from that point on their worlds would never be the same.


                                                         

     We went to a restaurant together with mutual friends the first night we met on the Thursday of Mardi Gras – I dare say she didn’t think much of me at that point. Being that we both work in the oilfield, we got plenty of free passes to go and hang out on the balconies of the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon St. When margaritas and crown royal mix, magical things happen...well, maybe not magical, but plenty of sparks did fly. By Mardi Gras day, after a few parades, some crawfish, and plenty of time spent on balconies, we both realized we were diggin’ each others vibes and we would have a blast together if we just hung out some more.

     After a day of recovering, Komi sent me an email, and the next day I worked up the courage to call her.  Now I'm not the smoothest talking guy around and I don't know how it happened or what I said, but for some strange reason she said she'd meet me for a quick dinner at Nacho Mama's that night before she had to go out with her friends.  I was pretty nervous, but she immediately put me at ease with her warm demeanor and sense of humor...and man was she SO beautiful!  All I could muster to say when she showed up was "your hair looks pretty". 


                                           

     Somehow I convinced her to come down the street to the Balcony Bar and shoot some pool with me.  Now here's where my "game" kicked in...I decided early on that I'd let her beat me in pool to get on her good side.  So I did and she kicked my butt up and down the pool table, and it worked!  She invited me to the Bridge Lounge to go and meet some of her friends.  We had a great time, and for some strange reason, she decided she liked me enough to call again to hang out some more...and the rest is history!

     So over the next few months we did not spend a day apart, literally spending all of our free time together.  We hung out, went to watch music, went out her favorite spot, the Hookah Cafe, and chilled with friends - LIFE WAS GOOD!  In the moments that I wasn't thinking about her (which were few and far between), I was thinking "how did I end up with such a beautiful, talented, funny, intelligent, hot, sweet, caring, not to mention BEAUTIFUL girl from halfway around the world, and why does she like me so much?" Needless to say I didn't figure it out then and I still haven't.


                                                          

     One of the things we both loved about the city, and a place that was very special to us very early on, was the river front area along the Mississippi River. So one day, I asked her on a date to Bella Luna [one of the city's finest restaurants with the most eccentric chefs in town, that has since closed - its a long tragic story for another day, that once again, involves Katrina ;\]. I got dressed up an looked somewhat presentable, but when she stepped out wearing this dress, it just took my breath away. At this point I was already head over heels in love with her, while still in disbelief that she wanted to be around me, but I hadn't worked up the courage to tell her yet. After a wonderful dinner and a fantastic time, we went for a stroll along the river, It was really cold and the wind was blowing, so we headed towards Decatur St. and started walking towards the famous Cafe Du Monde. She stopped across from Jackson Square (almost in direct line from where, little did we know then, that we'd be married) and looked at me in the eyes. That look she gave me, with those big, round, sweet, beautiful, black eyes made my heart skip a beat, and once again took my breath away! She said a few sweet things to me, but it was loud with all the cars and tourists passing by, and when she was done, I thought the last thing she said was, "I like you", to which I returned the same gesture, only that's NOT what she said! After she realized I hadn't comprehended the words, she repeated it to me... "I love you..." -- (1) goose bumps (2) disbelief (3) heart pounding (4) so happy (5) she took my breath away for the third time that night! So, after processing the words she said and the rush of emotions I was feeling, I quickly said the words I'd so badly been wanting to say -- "I love you too!"


                                                  


     After this, our love for each other kept growing every day - we still didn't spend a day apart and we did almost everything together. I finally brought her to meet my family in Larose and they immediately fell in love with her. My Dad even bought her a fishing pole and took us to the family camp in Bayou Lafourche to do some fishing and grilling! We had a great time, caught one fish and ate some fantastic food. It was great to see her and Dad get along so well, standing there over the grill, exchanging recipes for the foods they loved. that night, she cooked some of her famous chicken curry for my family and Dad was sold! After one weekend, she had etched a place in both my Mom and Dad's hearts.

     We had our first hurricane experience together -- Hurricane Dennis in 2005. We used the voluntary evacuation and time off work as an excuse to take a trip up to Memphis. We went to Graceland, ate plenty of barbeque, listened to a stoned dude named Dr.Feel-Good-Pots sing the blues off Beale St and had a great time all round. After a couple more hurricane scares that season, it looked like the real thing was headed our way. Being from South Louisiana and having lived here my whole life. I don't mess around when there's a hurricane in the Gulf -- especially when its coming straight for New Orleans. We evacuated to trusty ol' Houston to Komi's friends home in Pearland (a million thanks again to Loyd, Michelle and Alexis) the Saturday before the storm. Little did we know we'd be living in Houston for almost six months before we could go home to our hurricane ravaged city. Watching the events unfold on TV was very hard on us individually, and the uncertainty after the hurricane, with work and home, was tough on us as a couple. I Thank God that all of our family and friends were safe and relatively, everything was okay back home (our losses were nothing compared to what some others have had to endure... and still are). Both our companies (Shell and Chevron) ended up placing us in Houston, which meant that we wouldn't have to be apart.


                                                   


    Houston, as gracious hosts as they were to us, was not New Orleans. Too much traffic, too little to do, too much driving, and we were too far away from all our friends, who were scattered literally everywhere! Regardless of all of that one good thing came out of it. After twenty six years of asking, Komi finally got a puppy for her birthday. We picked Milo out when he was four months old, and he was a hell raiser like momma from the start! He has brought so much joy to both of our lives and has given Patch (my dog) a companion to play with. Besides Milo, we had several other things to keep ourselves occupied. We played together : salsa lessons at SSQQ Dance Studios, tennis lessons (Komi had only always played badminton), working out  at 24 hour fitness and went to a few Rockets basketball games. We also worshipped together on Sunday mornings at the uplifting St.John's United Methodist Church in downtown Houston, and Friday evenings at the magnificent Sri Meenakshi Devasthanam Hindu Temple in Pearland. Still none of that reached out and grabbed us like so many things in New Orleans did, but we tried to make the most of it and though it all, our love for each other continued to grow and our bond became stronger than ever.


                                           


    In December of 2005, we hopped on a plane to go to Malaysia so that I could finally meet Komi's family and spend time in the places that she grew up. I immediately fell in love with her family and her country. I also used it as an opportunity to ask her parents permission to have their daughter's hand in marriage. We had a wonderful Christmas together with her entire crazy family (who never celebrated Christmas before and had a blast opening presents on Christmas morning). Christmas night, the whole family (and I'm talking about 3 car loads!) went to Putrajaya (the country's new administrative capital) to see the new  architectural marvels that had recently been built. At the right moment, I snuck Komi off from the rest of the family to "take some pictures of the sights together". She noticed I  was acting a little nervous and skittish, but she continued to snap away with the camera. Finally I got down on one knee, and as I started to speak, my whole body started to shake. After  being on one knee for what felt like an hour, I finally popped the question -- and she said YES!!! A few minutes later, I was still on my knees, in a state of shock. We were married in Malaysia in June of 2006 and in New Orleans in July of 2006. Check out the rest of the website for more info and pictures of our multicultural unions.


                                                       


    I think its an amazing story and I'm still baffled at how I managed to land someone like Komi. She is such a wonderful person, so unique, has such a positive outlook on life, and is more talented in so many ways than anyone I've ever met. How someone as beautiful as she could love a simple 'vellakaran' (that's "white boy" in Tamil) from down the bayou is something I'll never fully grasp, but I'm so thankful that she does and I think God everyday for her. We're both so happy and our love for each other is so strong that I know we will be together for the rest of our lifetimes -- what a joyous lifetime it will be!


That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!