How I Accidentally Got Engaged in India… (Part 1)

Two Margaritas and a Moment of Carelessness Almost Changed My Life

It must be said that most engagement stories don’t start with a no. But mine was not a typical engagement.

This is partly because I had met the man asking to marry me only 36 hours before. And partly because I didn’t actually realise that I was agreeing to marry him.

I know what you’re thinking. How the fuck does someone not realise that they are getting engaged? Sure, there are lots of things you can do by accident — pee when you laugh, go for “one drink” and stay out till 7am, even get pregnant — but, generally, agreeing to spend the rest of your life with someone is not one of them. In fact, engagements, by their very nature, require two things — a romantic and hopeful asker and a willing and excited accepter. At the very least, a question and some form of consent.

It started, of course, with a hot guy in a bar.

Or at least that’s what I’m told — to be honest with you, I don’t have any recollection of it. Not because I was blackout drunk (there’s a first time for everything) but because it was, for all accounts, a non-encounter. Not love at first sight — actually, not even lust at first sight. Just a small chance meeting that barely registered as noteworthy, never mind potentially life-changing.

I was travelling in India at the time — this much, at least, I can recall. It probably makes sense as I reckon that accidental engagements are more of a holiday thing — in London, it’s weird to speak to a stranger, let alone agree to marry them. Still, even with an exotic holiday, most only come back with a case of Delhi belly or, at worst, a need to pop to the STI clinic.

We met, not at a holy temple or on a mountainous trek, but at a Goan beach party — the kind of place people go to get out of their head on acid and dance wildly to trance. Although you may be surprised to learn, I was doing neither.

From what I have been told, it was a brief encounter — he hit on me, and I completely ignored him. Not exactly the stuff of great love stories I grant you, but hey not all engagements need to start with a grand romantic gesture and end in a smug basic bitch Facebook post.

And, as it tends to do, life went on.

But trouble, I’ve found, even if initially avoided, will eventually find me. Which is exactly what Ajay did — on the street, taking a little afternoon walk, a few days later.

Now, it is unusual for me to ignore a hot man once, there’s no way I’m doing it twice. So, despite the possibility that he might try to flog me a cheap Bob Marley T-shirt from the shop he was standing outside, I stopped and did the thing that comes least naturally to us Brits — made small talk with a stranger.

Before I knew it we’d been talking for over half an hour, in which time he had walked me back to the entrance of my hostel — like a snake leading its prey to…. well… somewhere it is more likely they’ll be able to have sex with it.

Faced with this possibility, I finally registered just how good looking the guy stood in front of me was. He was just a little shy of 6ft, olive skinned and had dark ominous eyes that sent alarm bells ringing deep in my unconscious and sirens screaming deep in my underwear. The result was a sensation equal parts nerves and excitement — the same one you get when you ingest a questionable party drug and you’re not sure whether you’re going to come up or throw up.

Ajay, apparently, had no such qualms, ask as he did to join me on my imminent trip to the beach. Despite the lingering queasiness, I agreed — even offering my number to make it easier to meet. He smiled, looking like some sort of Bollywood heartthrob while he did so, and informed me that he didn’t need it.

And somehow I got the idea that I was now the one doing the chasing. That things had changed. And that maybe this was just the beginning…

He turned up, as promised, an hour later and looking even more smouldering than I had remembered. And this is where my trip, which so far had had all the romance of a visit to the dentist, turned into something from a Jilly Cooper novel — with romance so sickly sweet that, in hindsight, I wonder how I didn’t throw up into his or my own mouth.

We walked to an achingly beautiful and secluded beach, stared into each other’s eye and kissed in the surf as the sun set. All the time talking about experiences far too personal for a normal first date. It was, quite frankly, fucking disgusting and even now, I judge myself for taking any part in it.

Of course, I should have left it there — a day of vomit-inducing sappiness to be remembered and regretted forever more. But if there is one thing you should know about me, it is that I am not one for moderation. I sensed adventure and bad decisions ahead and I wanted all of it.

And so the next day we continued in much the same vein — kissing and swapping saliva back and forth until our lips hurt. When we did finally came up for air, we were both starving (for food, you pervs). I was about to return to my hostel to refuel when Ajay, seemly unwilling to let me go for even a second, suggested dinner…

The meal itself was uneventful. The conversation immediately afterwards, however, was a somewhat unique combination of completely forgettable and totally life-changing.

Maybe it was because I was in India and it is, by its nature, a very distracting country, or perhaps it was the two margaritas I had consumed after a couple of weeks of relative sobriety, but after dinner, my attention started to wander. I sat quite comfortably taking in the sights and sounds around me but not the lengthy speech that was coming out of the mouth I had previously been so interested in.

That is until Ajay reached out and touched my arm. Looking at me directly and earnestly in the eyes, he took a breath and asked: “Would you say no?”.

Of course, the best thing to have done in this situation would have been to explain that I hadn’t been listening and ask him to repeat himself. But 1) I didn’t want to appear like the uninterested lightweight drunk that I most certainly was. And 2) he’d been talking for ages and to be honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted to sit through it all again. So, considering everything he had asked me so far had lead to cute dates and exciting excursions, I just said “no… I wouldn’t say no…” at which point, he kissed me and smiled perhaps just a little too happily.

The next morning I was woken by a slight margarita-induced thumping in my head, which, just so happened to be laid upon Ajay’s warm and naked torso. The second I stirred, those ominously intense brown eyes focused on mine and the slightly-too-large smile returned. He once again reached out, this time stroking the hair from my eyes and, without even the slightest hint of fear, or doubt, whispered…

“So… we’re getting married….”

Shivers went up my spine. Which in 40-degree heat, I can tell you, is not a good sign.

Obviously, the best thing to do was tell him the embarrassing truth — admit that I hadn’t been listening, the whole thing was a huge mistake and I’m sorry but there wasn’t going to be an engagement, never mind an actual bloody marriage.

But while I am good at getting myself INTO sticky situations, I would rate my ability to get out of them as ’poor’ to ‘really fucking bad’.

Which is why I smiled and did nothing — neither confirming his theory nor in any way denying it. This might not sound like the wisest move but, in my defence, I just didn’t see how anyone could be serious about getting married to someone they had known for less than two days! To me it seemed that this was just a continuation of the pseudo-romantic intensity we had played out so far — an intense but totally insincere game that he was in on, where we would act out romantic but ridiculous fantasies before returning to our respective homes and a reality of lukewarm (but far less terrifying) tinder dates.

This engagement I decided, like my slightly fuzzy head, would go away of its own accord.

But, of course, it didn’t go anywhere. In fact, things escalated with the same terrifying speed with which idle small talk can turn into in-depth discussions of childhood trauma when you dish out coke at a dinner party (and with the same accompanying heart palpitations).

Not only did he introduce me to the rest of his friends as his wife-to-be, but he also told me he had already given the good news to his mother. To put this into perspective — at this point, I had told my own mother more about the food and mosquito viciousness than I had about Ajay or my current change in pre-marital status.

And then it happened.

Read Part 2 here.