04 August, 2022

Love in Lockdown

04 August, 2022

We mostly talk about innovation, pivoting, and change in business and work life. But everything is constantly changing, and we need the ability to reinvent and be ready for what comes. So agility and figuring out things are crucial in every part of life.

So, Today we share the story of Debie, today she is very strong part of weinvolve team coming to Switzerland from India following and overcoming pandemic obstacle a to be with her now husband. Read directly from her what it means to be inlove in the world of closed borders and restrictions and what it takes to be together.

I was co-owner of a Backpacking Hostel in Auroville, which is in India but very much not Indian. So the rules and regulations are very different there.

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The Dreamcatcher Hostel

I met my then business partner, Andreea, who was from Romania and travelled to India and its secluded areas. We shared a dorm in another hostel and discovered we also shared a passion for travelling and the dream of having our own backpacking hostel.

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Andreea & Debbie
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The chilling area at the hostel

We didn’t know each other’s languages. Still, Google Translate worked its magic. Even now, after two years, Google translate keeps things alive between us.

We chose the name The Dreamcatcher Hostel. A happy place amidst nature where tranquillity and serenity resided.

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On a hectic January morning, a man walked in with his suitcase. I barely looked at him as we were already busy with check-in and checkout.

He showed me his booking, and our eyes only met when he told me he would be staying for four days. What struck my super-occupied mind was that he would never make it to the area’s main attraction if he was not there already.

I explained this to him, and he gave a surprised smile. It was like warmth sliding over me. It was dangerous and comfortable, and I didn’t know what to do with those warring feelings, so I looked away. My policy was to never fall for guests.

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Mathias exploring the area in Auroville

I drove him to the Golden Globe, Matrimandir, on my little not-so-broken moped. We only spoke when I had to explain to him where to go and what to do. He went inside, and off I went away.

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The Matrimandir, Auroville

The next three days went by, just catching him gaze at me on little instances and sitting next to each other over bonfires and dinner.

When he asked me out for a lunch date, I said no.

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Mathias & Debbie in Auroville

Before he left, I gifted him a bag full of incense sticks, a little orange Dreamcatcher, and a goodbye at 3:00 am, feeling sure we would never meet again.

While we occasionally stayed in touch over WhatsApp, nothing really brewed. Until one day, sitting at a cafe sipping on a cortado, I had a little courage in me to call him.

The call turned into a video call and an online tour of his area in Zurich.

And then we spoke daily over video, calls and chats till 4:00 in the morning.

July came, and my friend walked me to a cafe. I was working on the laptop when he rang over WhatsApp video.

Then my fairytale surprise began. He was dressed in a suit and proposed to me as my friend slid the ring to me (pre-planned). Of course, we said yes to each other.

Then came the extreme lockdowns and travel restrictions, making it impossible for us to meet.

Long distance isn’t our forte because we are both emotional droolers.

Here comes the reinvention of LOVE. 

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I joined a group on Facebook called Love Is Not Tourism, where couples worldwide protested for them to see their loved ones. Unfortunately, only emergency visas were being given out. But being away from loved ones is a mental health compromise equally crucial as physical health.

What followed then was supporting each other in the groups, finding ways to reach out to embassies, and having hope.

This group on Facebook and Twitter forced embassies to act faster by introducing Bi-National Couple Visas.

Well, the application process wasn’t easy. It had its criteria (meeting once before lockdown, supporting pictures, WhatsApp chats, financial support)

Though we met the criteria, Switzerland refused my entry because I came from India, a high-risk country.

But we didn’t give in. So in September, he booked everything for Dubai as we could fly there from our respective countries. So we made it to Dubai for the first time as a couple, our first kiss and first date.

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We made it to Dubai

We returned to our countries with an extended meeting planned. In December, we met in the Maldives, another country generous enough to host us.

We bid goodbye again, knowing there would be no more goodbyes the next time we met.

And so, after applying thrice to the Swiss Embassy with all paperwork and our frustrations and depression, we made it. 

I arrived in Zurich, and we got married on this special visa with one extension.

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I made it to Zurich & Happily Married

We were lucky to have met up twice in other countries during the first year of the pandemic, thanks to Mathias for his unending emotional and financial support. Had it not been for him and the Love Is Not Tourism Group, we wouldn’t have known we could meet.

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