Newlywed Manbeena Anand talks about her relationship with her husband, Gagan, and her recent Anand Karaj in our Couple Love Series. Manbeena is a Punjaban, a Sikh, a 21st Century American woman, terms that both define and liberate her. Manbeena is someone who believes community truly shapes who we are, what we believe and how we act. Her partner and her mom are the two most precious people in her life. Her friends keep her sane and are her conscience. She enjoys cooking, crafting, roller coasters, karaoke, finding a double entendre in almost anything, and planning events — anything that uses the fun side of the brain. Her perfect day would include playing with her nieces and nephews, laughing immensely, and relishing every mundane/comical moment with her partner.
When you first met Gagan, what was it about him that captivated you? What does it feel like to be with Gagan?
Everything about Gagan is easy – the way we are with each other, the way we resolve conflict, and the way that we find amusement in…just about everything in life. As I wrote in my chapter, “Diving In”, when I found him, I flowed into him – mind, body, and soul.
Being with Gagan feels natural. Everything about our relationship feels natural and easy, almost as if he was in my life all along. Nothing about my personality, who I am, my values or my viewpoints, had to change as a result of being in a relationship with him. In fact, he only enhances those aspects of my personality, and through his support and encouragement, I’m able to become the kind of community member, woman, and Sikh that I want to be.
What was it about you that captivated Gagan? What does Gagan say it feels like to be with you?
Gagan: I think the main thing that captivated me about Manbeena is her amazing personality. She is able to liven up any room she is in and tries to make everyone happy. She has an infectious laugh and is incredibly easy to get along with. These were the first things that attracted me to her, and as time went on I also realized what a big heart she has and will do anything for those she loves. She lights up my life, and she is the perfect partner for me.
I feel that we make a great pair. We complement each other very well and it feels like I have known Manbeena all my life. We both try and make each other laugh which makes everything we do fun, even something as mundane as going shopping. We both bring new things to each other’s lives and share in new experiences.
How would each of you describe your recent Anand Karaj?
Manbeena: Beautiful. The day of our wedding was originally supposed to be overcast and raining, but the rain was swapped out for wind and we had bright blue skies. We were wed outside under the sky in a a gazebo surrounded by our family and close friends. The ceremony felt very intimate – two of my closest aunties read and sang the Lavaan and one of my best friends delivered the Sikhia, which was wedding advice and guidance rooted in Sikh history and philosophy (that was one of my favorite parts about the ceremony.) I remember giving Gagan a tight hug after the last Ardaas and feeling so thankful that he was finally my husband.
Gagan: Leading up to the Anand Karaj I felt very relaxed, which I thought seemed strange since most people tell you they felt nervous. I definitely felt excited to get married. During the actual Anand Karaj, everything else seemed like a blur except for Manbeena and me. I just kept looking at her, and it was only about her and me and me at this moment; nothing else registered to me, it was as if we were alone. Even now it is hard for me to remember everything that happened, but I do remember how stunning and happy Manbeena looked.
What is your favorite activity to do together as a couple?
Playing games — miniature golf, bowling, air hockey, board games, and arcade Fruit Ninja.
What is your favorite place to go together and why?
Vacation — traveling together. We love taking trips and exploring new places. We’ve been lucky enough to visit San Francisco, Cancun, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and England together. He and I share the same logic when it comes to exploring — do it until it starts feeling forced and then take a break for a few hours and grab a cupcake. Like I’ve said many times before, we can get a laugh out of pretty much everything in life. If not, Gagan will be quick to play one of his practical jokes or pretend to act socially awkward which always gets at least a giggle.
How are you going to keep the honeymoon going?
I don’t think we need to keep the honeymoon going so much as we need to keep each other honest (good communication) and active in ensuring our relationship stays healthy. The way to do that… I’m not sure, we’re still learning! But from what I’ve seen so far of married life (it’s only been 3 months) it’s 1) a lot of empathy, 2) being as honest as is healthy, and 3) making time for each other.
Let me break this down: 1) When I find myself getting upset about something, if I try to keep my temper at bay and think of why he said that or did what he did, it definitely helps me understand his perspective and also gives me more insight into how he thinks and makes decisions. 2) I’m a sharer – I love telling himeverything I’m feeling, thinking, wanting to do, wanting to buy, where to go on our next vacation, every time I miss my nephews and nieces, when he should or shouldn’t have dessert – I mean the list goes on and on. But sometimes, all this information isn’t necessarily what’s best for him to hear at that moment. Some things are best left unsaid or left for another time. Just because I want to share and get it out of my system doesn’t necessarily mean he needs to hear it. 3) Date nights are so important. That one special time during the week that you can check out from adult life and the “have to’s” and do all the “want to’s”. Playing miniature golf, checking out the new Friday night release or attending a grand opening for a local restaurant — it’s so important. It gives me a chance to slip on some heels (while I stash a pair of flats in the glove compartment), wear those new earrings and let my man take me on a date again. I plan so much in my personal and professional life that it’s nice when he takes the reins and picks out what we are doing for date night and surprises me.
How does Sikhi play a role in your connection, in your marriage?
We are definitely not the go-to-gurudwara-every-Sunday couple, and honestly, at this time in our relationship, we probably aren’t prioritizing Sikhi as much as we should. But I would say that we encourage each other to stay in Chardi Kala, we definitely inspire each other’s sense of activism, and we both share a passion to learn Gurmukhi well enough to read Gurbani ourselves.