Our Y We Are Soulmates event saw some of Oman’s most devoted couples demonstrate how to achieve enduring love and affection with a little dedication.
There’s a saying that goes: “Couples who are meant to be are the ones who go through everything that is meant to tear them apart, and come out even stronger.”
And as we entered the closing stages of our very own “Y We Are Soulmates” contest, our final couples battled through the previous rounds by showing that the spark of romance still burns as brightly as ever.
Taking centre stage were eight couples, for whom the sands of time supposedly haven’t tainted their love.
To get to this point, all the couples had to do was to send us an email describing – in 50 words or fewer – the love of their life.
But now their challenge is to answer a set of questions compiled by our managing editor, Felicity Glover, all aimed at exploring the aspects of each other’s likes, dislikes and habits.
The setting for the much-anticipated grand finale to our Valentine’s Day contest is Markaz Al Bahja Mall, and the chosen couples have all been gearing up for a tough night of questioning.
The atmosphere, though, is nothing short of romantic. Most of the couples have come in their favourite colours, with some wearing white, black and the unmistakeable colour of love: red.
The MC for the evening is Merge 104.8’s rock star presenter, Chris Fisher. And after a few minutes of salutations (in Chris’s books, that’s crowd engagement, jokes and handing over some beautiful red roses to those in the crowd), we are ready to set the ball rolling.
The first task that the couples face is simple: we ask them to point out a few of the qualities they admire in their spouses. And without hesitation, each pours his or her heart out about their other half.
The standout of them all, however, is Sunil Seth, who says: “I love my wife because even after all these years she is still a hopeless romantic.” The two even have matching red shirts that sport loveheart saying, “He is my love” and “She is my love”, which have been sewn on by Sunil’s beautiful wife, Vineeta Seth.
Sunil and Vineeta have spent the past 28 years together, and their love story dates back to the early 1980s when the two were teenagers.
“We met each other when we were very young,” says Sunil, before his wife jumps in to complete the story.
“Our first meeting happened when I was on a visit to my aunt. And Sunil was in college then. And my aunt and Sunil’s mother (now her mother-in-law) were best friends. We soon met each other, and got to know each other. But there was no spark between us then.
“But as destiny would have it, we were meant to be together. Our marriage was through pre-arranged means, where our families approached each other. In 1988, we tied the knot and ever since then, we’ve been together,” she says.
Today, the couple have two children.
“Y We Are Soulmates”, which marks its fourth year of bringing couples like Sunil and Vineeta into the spotlight, is presented by Mitsubishi Motors in association with Markaz Al Bahja Mall and Golden Tulip Seeb Hotel.
After our much-anticipated first round, next comes the nerve-racking question-and-answer session. Proclaiming your love for someone is quite an easy task but proving it by answering questions in front of a crowd of judges and spectators – both young and old – who have gathered around the stage, is a different ball-game altogether.
After all, this is a game to find out whose love can withstand the barrage of questions we throw at the couples.
This round includes brain-teasers such as: what the spouse would grab in the event of a fire, when their mother-in-law’s birthday is, and where the couple had their first date.
In total, we lined up a total of 10 questions for the couples to answer. And after an hour of answering questions (on a notepad), the couples are good to go.
Chris is back on the stage with each of the eight couples, comparing answers as the judges note down and tally up the points. Soon, however, things are coming to a conclusion and the winners of this year’s “Y We Are Soulmates” are decided. Newlyweds Mary Jane Ledesma and her husband Mark sweep all before them without even a single error (scoring a total of 20 points).
“This is our first time in a competition like this,” says Mary Jane. “We have been married only for a little over one year but we met when we were classmates at Philippine Normal University.
And Mary Jane points out: “I had a crush on him on the first day of class.”
Responding to Mary Jane, Mark laughs: “I didn’t notice her at first. But she made sure I did when she started sending me emails. But as they say, the rest is history. And today, we are together.
“One more thing is that we believe in destiny. I came to Oman, on the 5th of July in 2013, and she came here on the 5th of July in 2014,” says Mark, as Mary Jane laughs and says: “I followed him here.”
Today, they are both teachers at the Philippine School Sultanate of Oman, and have recently become proud parents after the birth of their baby, Marcia Antonette. “We are best friends. And we are soulmates,” the couple tells Y.
They won prizes worth a total of RO715, which includes a one-year gym membership for the couple, a V-Kool Ultramaster paint protection voucher worth RO240 and Markaz al Bahja vouchers worth RO75.
Taking second place in the contest is Amogh Karvekar and his wife Cheryl, who have been married for six years, and a couple for more than eight years.
“We met in 2008 as colleagues working for a multinational company, in Mumbai. But soon, we became friends and then a couple,” says Cheryl.
“Understanding and patience holds us together. I believe that we are very compatible, and can say that we are best friends,” Amogh adds. They are taking home RO440 worth of prizes.
Meanwhile, Sunil Seth and his wife Vineeta bag third place in the contest after a tough tie-breaker round against two other couples.
Giving tips to youngsters, the couple of 28 years say: “Even after spending so many years together, sometimes one tends to take the other person for granted. But you have to stick through it and work hard to make your marriage a success.
“We keep going for holidays maybe once or twice a year and that’s been crucial for us. Back then and now, it is the same feeling. The bonding between us has always been constant.”
Amogh adds: “Listening to each other is also key if you want to stay married. You will have fights but make sure you love each other and that you make your significant half the centre of your life.”
Y also awarded finalist Winkle Banga and her husband the prize for “best-dressed couple”, winning a RO50 dinner voucher to dine at the Golden Tulip Seeb Hotel.
“Congratulations to the winners and finalists of Y’s We Are Soulmates competition,” says Y managing editor Felicity Glover. “We had a fun Grand Finale and it’s very clear that there are many devoted couples in Oman. While we threw in some curve-ball questions to test their compatibility, many handled them very well and surprised even their partners!
“And we look forward to another great We Are Soulmates competition next year – thanks to all who entered!”
And if you didn’t make the final this time, don’t worry. There’s always next year…
Despite the high divorce rate among celebrities, there are some couples that continue to defy this trend. Here’s our top five:
Meryl Streep and Don Gummer
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson
Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan
Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri
Hugh Jackman and Deborra Lee-Furness
• What would your husband/wife grab in a fire? (apart from you!)
• What time of day is your husband/wife at his/her best?
• If your husband/wife could be anyone famous, who would they be?
• If your husband/wife could eat one thing right now, what would it be?
• When is your mother-in-law’s birthday?
• Where did you go on your first date?
• Who was your husband/wife’s best friend growing up?
• What year did you meet your husband/wife?
• What is your husband/wife’s favourite flavour of ice cream?
• Is your husband/wife a tidy person?
• What shoe size does your husband/wife wear?
• What’s the first thing your husband/wife does in the morning?
• What is your husband/wife’s favourite piece of clothing?
• What’s your husband/wife’s favourite movie?
• Do you have pet names for each other? If so, what are they?
• What is your husband/wife’s favourite song?
• What is the first movie you saw together?
• Where did you go on your first date?
• What was your husband/wife’s favourite subject at school?
• Who gets the last word in arguments?