The Perfect Window for a First Impression

The Perfect Window for a First Impression


Arian Agrawal and Arjun Naskar had dozens of mutual friends at M.I.T. in Cambridge, Mass., many of them Indian-American like themselves, during the three years they overlapped as students there.

Yet somehow Ms. Agrawal and Mr. Naskar managed to avoid meeting each other entirely.

“M.I.T. is a very small school, which makes it even harder to believe that we didn’t connect there,” said Mr. Naskar, 31, the head of business-to-business marketing at Remind, an education platform based in San Francisco.

“But then again, maybe it was for the better,” said Mr. Naskar, who had a reputation for being equal parts thrill seeker and prankster back in his college days.

“I came from a small private school in San Jose, Calif., so when I got to M.I.T., I just let loose and went a bit wild,” he said. “I was also a little full of myself, so I don’t think my act would have gone over very well with Arian.”

“Having not met in college is probably the best thing that ever happened to us,” said Ms. Agrawal, a founder of Riya Collective, a rental platform for Indian wedding attire in San Francisco. (She graduated from M.I.T. with a degree in management science in 2010, a year after Mr. Naskar received his degree in biology.)

“As students, Arjun and I would never have seen each other as being mature and confident enough to get married,” she said. “I just feel that neither of us would have been that impressed with the other.”

Mr. Naskar has done his share of impressing his circle of high school and college buddies. “Arjun once climbed Mount Shasta with shockingly little preparation,” said Daniel Hung, Mr. Naskar’s best friend. “That culminated with he and his followers sleeping at the top of the mountain in winter, with no tent.”

In early 2012 and by sheer coincidence, Mr. Naskar and Ms. Agrawal both decided to quit their jobs and find work with start-up tech companies in San Francisco. At the time, she moved from New York, he from Boston. When they arrived in San Francisco, just a few days apart, the technology gods or some other force of nature steered them toward adjacent apartment buildings in San Francisco’s Mission District, where they became neighbors. Each shared an apartment with mutual friends from M.I.T.

“I noticed this beautiful woman, our back windows faced each other,” said Mr. Naskar, still unaware that she was the woman he never got the chance to know in college.

He would find out during his first visit to Ms. Agrawal’s apartment, where a birthday party was being thrown for her roommate and an M.I.T. graduate, Sarina Siddhanti-Garg. She introduced Ms. Agrawal and Mr. Naskar.

It wasn’t long before they began comparing notes, and figured out that they should have met long before. “I remember how hard it was to believe that Arjun was living at that time with two of my friends from college,” Ms. Agrawal said. “I was like, ‘How did I miss this guy?’”

Ms. Agrawal said that every mutual friend from college had nothing but praise for Mr. Naskar. “I heard so many wonderful things about him, everything from super smart to articulate to opinionated to Arjun being a true leader,” she said. “Impressed? I was blown away.”

Mr. Naskar, who had already been working for a tech start-up in San Francisco for two weeks before he met Ms. Agrawal, helped bring her on board. They remained co-workers and friends for three months, until they embarked on a work assignment in New York, where Ms. Agrawal grew up. She took some free time to visit friends from M.I.T., and took along Mr. Naskar.

“At work, Arian was often uptight, but when we were in New York in a social setting and she let her hair down a bit, I began to see the real Arian,” Mr. Naskar said. “She was warm and caring and so much fun to be around.”

They began dating and comparing more notes.

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He learned that Ms. Agrawal was a daughter of Lucy N. Agrawal and Dr. Arun K. Agrawal of Garden City, N.Y. Ms. Agrawal’s father, who is retired, was an anesthesiologist and surgeon at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. (now known as NYU Winthrop Hospital) and South Nassau Communities Hospital (now called Mount Sinai South Nassau), as well as a professor at Adelphi University in Garden City. Her mother was a nurse in Garden City before becoming a stay-at-home parent.

She learned that Mr. Naskar was the son of Aloka R. Naskar and Ben D. Naskar of San Francisco. His mother is the global head of leadership recruiting at Stripe, a credit card processing company in San Francisco. His father is a technology executive and adviser for start-ups in Silicon Valley.

In August 2015, Ms. Agrawal moved into the apartment that Mr. Naskar shared with Mr. Hung, and the trio attempted to start a business that revolved around a transportation app. Although the business failed, the new living arrangement allowed Ms. Agrawal and Mr. Naskar to learn more about each other.

“I learned that Arian cannot keep a plant alive,” Mr. Naskar said. He stopped laughing when Ms. Agrawal shot back, “And at what age will you learn to fold clothes?”

The two were married Feb. 29 — well before any recommendations came from the Centers for Disease Control to halt large gatherings. The couple gathered with guests at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort’s Ocean Palm Court in Miami Beach, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The bride, clutching a bouquet of calla lilies and hibiscus, followed a path of white delphiniums that led to an altar adorned with a huge arch of white, yellow, lavender and soft pink flowers. Gabriel Au-Chan and Ms. Siddhanti-Garg, friends of the couple, became Universal Life ministers for the event. Mr. Au-Chan, the officiant, led the ceremony.

Most of the 160 guests, including 60-plus graduates from M.I.T., watched the outdoor ceremony from white chairs situated under palm trees and a clear blue sky that was soon fading in a Florida sunset. The reception followed in the St. Regis’s Astor Ballroom.

“Arjun is like fire, and Arian is like ice,” Mr. Au-Chan said to the guests. “She’s the cool, levelheaded one in the relationship, where Arjun can be the more passionate one.”

That passion was acknowledged by the bride during the exchange of vows, which included the couple honoring the Hindu tradition of saptha padhi, or seven walks around the fire spelling out the promises they made to each other.

“I vow to always appreciate your passionate side as the quality of yours I love most,” she said, “and to be patient when you come up with crazy ideas, and be intentional about the most mundane, and be by your side as you pursue each of these actions wholeheartedly.”

The groom initially needed to take a closer look at his vows, as he was unable to read his own hand writing.

“I vow to be your No. 1 fan in whatever you decide to jump into,” he said.

His next line was crystal clear: “I’ll support you unconditionally in this life,” he said, “and in the next.”


On This Day

When Feb. 29, 2020

Where St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, Miami Beach

Lady in White The bride found her wedding dress while on a trip to India, but it wasn’t white at first. In traditional Indian weddings, the bride typically wears a red dress. “It’s unusual to find a white gown in India, but I found something I liked and asked them to make it in white,” Ms. Agrawal said. The dressmaker obliged.

Honoring Tradition The couple are Indian-American, while the bride also has Puerto Rican roots on her mother’s side. Though they chose a nondenominational wedding over a traditional Hindu ceremony, they included two celebratory events the day before the wedding in a nod to their Indian heritage: a sangeet, which honors the union of the two families, and a baraat, a groom’s wedding procession.

Celebrating in Style Many of the women who attended the wedding and the sangeet wore dresses from Riya Collective, the bride’s clothing company. The company is currently trying to help clients affected by the coronavirus outbreak. “We are in the process of building a community for brides who have been forced to relocate or postpone their weddings,” Ms. Agrawal said recently, adding that more than 100 brides have already done so.


Robbie Spencer contributed reporting from Miami Beach.

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