A Blenheim man stuck in India supporting his parents through surgery asked the question from a distance, with a little help from his friends and an empty cinema.
Anshul Gupta spontaneously booked a return flight in April to be with her parents for their operation; her mother was considering donating a kidney to her father, whose health suddenly deteriorated after a long illness.
But soon after arriving in his former hometown of New Delhi, the number of Covid-19 cases in India skyrocketed, overwhelming hospitals and morgues, and the operation had to be postponed and Gupta did not. was unable to return home as he was only a resident New Zealander and not a citizen.
Almost three months later, Covid rates in India have eased, Gupta’s parents are recovering from surgery, and he has booked plane tickets home and plans to marry his fiancee Shova Rawal. .
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Rawal was responsible for reservations at an Auckland hotel. They met at a friend’s wedding in Auckland about a year ago and have become very close, visiting each other almost every week, Gupta said.
With Gupta currently in India, Rawal’s family traveled the six-hour journey across the Nepalese border to meet him in June.
“In Indian culture, they want to see the guy, so I was lucky to be here.”
Rawal’s parents gave Gupta their blessing for him to propose, and he decided to take the plunge right away, despite being stuck in another country, he said.
Gupta enlisted the help of a few friends in Auckland to book a cinema to show a proposal video – it’s no small feat, finding one with free time on a weeknight after Rawal finished work, did he declare.
âBut a guy agreed to book the theater, just for 20 minutes. He was very nice.
“I said [Rawal] I had a surprise planned for her, make sure you are home at 6:45 pm and wait for my call.
A nervous Rawal was picked up by a limousine and delivered to Capitol Cinema Auckland, guided by Gupta’s friend, photographer Azriel Dsouza, who filmed the proposal.
In the empty cinema, Gupta appeared on the big screen, delivering a “love letter” in Rawal’s first language, Nepali, causing Rawal to cry.
âAnd she said yes,â Gupta said.
âI don’t speak Nepali, but I was at home doing nothing, so I learned a bit.
âI know just enough to read the love letter, it’s a very difficult language. Hindi and Nepali are both very difficult … So she was moved about it. And she was very impressed that I managed to organize everything.
And all this in the weeks before his parents had surgery. The vital kidney transplant was postponed two months ago as India was overwhelmed by the insidious new variant of the Delta.
Gupta’s father, Jai Prakash Gupta, underwent dialysis three times a week, to keep him alive until the operation. But in June, new cases were down, a severe lockdown was lifted and the operation was postponed until Wednesday last week.
Gupta’s parents were now recovering well, after the six-hour operation, Gupta said.
âThe doctor says everything is fine, the kidney operation was successful and the kidney is working inside my dad now,â Gupta said.
Gupta has now booked return flights. It will take a long vacation in Europe to bypass the âhigh-risk countryâ classification, as well as the usual negative Covid tests and quarantine.
Along with her impending nuptials, Gupta also wanted to resume her new career as a real estate salesperson in Marlborough.
“I just lived off savings … I had sold three or four houses last week in Blenheim, it helped me survive.”