The Many Languages of Love: Couples on a Pandemic Valentine’s Day

Pandemic Valentine's Day

When Shakespeare wrote, “the course of true love never did run smooth” in ‘A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream,’ I wonder if he ever considered the idea of pandemic relationships and even a pandemic Valentine’s Day? The past year has presented to us unprecedented challenges and not only in a socio-political and economic sense. Our personal lives were disrupted and turned upside down with many moving back home, moving in with a new partner, and adjusting to this new sense of normality. We traded cocktail hours for couches and date nights for distance, as we accepted that human connection would inevitably become largely digital.

However, despite these conditions, the past twelve months have shown how love, joy, and relationships can triumph. We saw couples reorganize, re-plan, and design their weddings to not only adhere to Covid-19 guidelines but show off how creative they could be in celebrating love. The rise of the popular social media app, TikTok, gave a platform to many couples who showed us a glimpse into their lives, whether it be through cooking, “this or that” challenges, or just doing fun dance routines.

[Read More: Love and 8 Ways to Celebrate This Valentine’s Day (and Every Day!)]

Those looking for love were also aided by apps like DilMil or Bumble, which made online-dating during a pandemic slightly more fun. No doubt, it has been a difficult year, yet as we approach this pandemic Valentine’s Day, I feel like there is a resounding sentiment of hope — hope for a healthier future, for our personal communities, relationships, and the whole world.

For this year’s pandemic Valentine’s Day, we reached out to our favorite couples who are proving that love in lockdown, despite its unique challenges, is hopeful, fun, and heart-warming. We asked them to share their lockdown experiences, favorite Covid-friendly date night ideas, and how they would describe their relationship as a whole. Prepare to say a lot of awww’s.

Aditya and Amit

Aditya (he/him) is a creative, content creator and works at a risk management company and his partner Amit (he/him) is a dancer, creative director and founder of Aatma Performing Arts based in New Jersey. Both are big foodies, the cutest dog parents, and were featured in countless outlets including Vogue India for breaking the barriers of love by tying the knot at a Hindu temple in 2019.


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A post shared by Aditya Madiraju (@mad_adiyoo)

1. What is your Covid-friendly date idea for Valentine’s Day?

Usually, Covid-friendly dates for us start with a long drive and doggy park runs. They end with an online class of either painting or dance! We try to fill our day, so we don’t sit idle and binge-watch Netflix while eating chips on the couch.

2. What is one lesson or something you’ve learned about each other over the past year while in quarantine?

We both have learned a lot! We learned that we both need a break from each other. Once a week, I work in a different part of the house and Amit takes over the living room. We love each other but we definitely need our own space and an occasional change of scenery.

3. What is one way you celebrate your love year-round?

We cook good food and eat it together. We fall asleep while watching TV and start impromptu dance parties in the middle of the day!

4. Describe your relationship in one word or two.

Organized chaos.

Nikita and Sachin

Nikita Gupta (she/her) is a writer, entrepreneur, and creator of the multi-cultural lifestyle blog, Growing Up Guptas. She lives with her husband Sachin and daughter Amaya. Their love story was met with hurdles at the start when her husband was disowned for marrying an African American woman but nine agony-filled months later, Sachin’s dad contacted him and said that they would rather have him in their lives than not.

1. What is your Covid-friendly date idea for Valentine’s Day?

We’ll order take-out from one of our favourite restaurants and watch the new movie, ‘Namaste Wahala’ on Netflix!

2. What is one lesson or something you’ve learned about each other over the past year while in quarantine?

Self-care is super important and having time apart (and together) to enjoy the things we love is essential.

3. What is one way you celebrate your love year-round?

We celebrate our love everyday by showing each other affection and checking in on each other. We love going on vacation as a family each year to celebrate our union and love.

4. Describe your relationship in one word or two.


Saahil and Matthew


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Saahil M. (they/them) are a writer, educator, and editor (and Brown Girl Mag’s Brown boy co-creator). Their partner is Matthew Claiborne (he/him), a producer. The couple is creative, fun-loving, and a must-follow on Instagram!

1. What is your Covid-friendly date idea for Valentine’s Day?

We’re planning to have a cozy Valentine’s Day fondue brunch in a heated igloo on a rooftop overlooking the East River in lower Manhattan!

2. What is one lesson or something you’ve learned about each other over the past year while in quarantine?

This year, we learned the importance of rest.

3. What is one way you celebrate your love year-round?

We celebrate our love year-round by celebrating each other!

4. Describe your relationship in one word or two.

Honest and extra AF.

Ami and Veeral


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A post shared by AMI DESAI (@amidesai)

Ami Desai is a blogger, style queen, and incredible mama. She and her husband Veeral Desai have three beautiful children.

1. What is your Covid-friendly date idea for Valentine’s Day?

Outdoor dining was reinstated here in L.A. County, and to get ahead of the weekend craziness, my hubby surprised me with a quick wine date during the week while the kids were at their respective soccer practices. It may not sound romantic but honestly carving out even one hour to just reconnect and take the edge off does wonders! For Valentine’s Day itself, we’ll be celebrating with our little loves probably curled up on the couch with some hot cocoa, lots of candy, and a movie.

2. What is one lesson or something you’ve learned about each other over the past year while in quarantine?

You really get to know someone on a different level when you spend so much time with them, even if you’ve known them for half your life as I’ve known my husband. I’ve gotten used to my better half traveling quite a bit for work so when the pandemic hit it went from playing catch up on the weekends to working, parenting and everything in between in such close quarters. The biggest thing that was solidified in my head about my husband in 2020 is his unwavering work ethic. Whether it’s with work or family he gives 150 percent to everything he does and that has inspired me so much in my own work and role as a mother. Don’t get me wrong, being together 24/7 definitely has its moments, but I’m grateful for what he’s shown me this past year.

3. What is one way you celebrate your love year-round?

I’ve learned over the years that it’s not about material things. Presents are nice and trust me, I love a good surprise! But if you really want to celebrate someone you love, show up when they need you the most. Be there to listen, even when you don’t have advice to give. Just being there as a sounding board is priceless.

4. Describe your relationship in one word or two.

Best friends.

As we find ourselves figuring out our “new” social lives, it is important to remember that love can never be lost, although our internet connection frequently seems like it is. It’s easy to assume Cupid got Covid this year, and Valentine’s day is cancelled, but I hope you dedicate this pandemic Valentine’s Day to your loved ones –galentines, pets, best friends, significant others, and family – and to self-care, which is one of the best forms of love.

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

3 Tips on how to Rock Viva Magenta, the Pantone Color for 2023

The results are in — the Pantone Color for 2023 is here — and it looks like Viva Magenta will be ruling runways, the streets, and (even) your wardrobes.

Viva Magenta is a deep shade of red, and Pantone describes it:

Brave and fearless.

It’s meant to be celebratory, and joyous, and encourage experimentation. If you were thinking of toning it down a notch with your wardrobe in 2023, it’s time to think again. It can really be your time to shine in something bright and colorful!


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But, for anyone who’s used to wearing neutrals, Viva Magenta can be daunting.

How do you incorporate this vibrant hue into your everyday looks?

Where can you find just the right pieces?

How do you rock the color without going overboard?

Well, popular South Asian designers and maestros of color are here to answer all your questions.

[Read Related: Decoding Dopamine Dressing This Summer]

Aprajit Toor, Arpita Mehta, and Rahul Khanna break it down for you — what to wear, how to pair, and everything in between. Their takes on the Pantone Color for 2023 are simple but they’ll help you make a bold statement anywhere you go!

Take a look at what they have to say.

Rahul Khanna of Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna:

Viva Magenta is a color that suits all skin tones. It’s a color for all occasions; women and men can both wear this color with [the] right styling. Cocktail saris, jumpsuits, and reception gowns are some great options for women whereas, for men, the color has started picking up a lot lately. Men have started experimenting with their looks and we as designers have more options for men as well. Recently, we made a custom-made silk velvet fit for Ranveer Singh in the same color. Apart from your everyday clothing, Viva Magenta is also going to be the ruling shade for the upcoming wedding season.

Arpita Mehta:

The best way to do Viva Magenta in your everyday wardrobe is to go top to bottom in [it]. Be it in co-ord sets or a kaftan or any comfortable outfit. It’s such a bold & beautiful color that it looks the best when it’s self on self rather than teaming it up or breaking it with another color.

Aprajita Toor:

Viva Magenta is a very powerful and empowering color that descends from the red family. It is an animated red that encourages experimentation and self-expression without restraint; an electrifying shade [that] challenges boundaries. One can easily incorporate this color by picking a statement footwear, bag, or jewelry in Viva Magenta which can be paired with neutral or monotone colored outfits.

And there you have it — three ways you can easily take a vibrant hue and turn it into something you can wear every day. Take cues from these top designers on how to wear the Pantone Color of the year and get started! We’d love to see how you style Viva Magenta!

By Sandeep Panesar

Sandeep Panesar is an editor, and freelance writer, based out of Toronto. She enjoys everything from the holiday season to … Read more ›

5 Indo Caribbean Food Experts you Need to Know This Winter Season

trinidad curry
Curried Chicken with Roti Parata or Roti, popular Middle Eastern/Indian cuisine

It is officially that time of year—the holiday season. There’s nothing like Christmas and New Year’s in the West Indies. Between the pepperpot in Guyana and the palm trees decorated in lights in Trinidad, the home food, warm weather and laid-back ambiance makes us wish we could escape the cold and head back to the Caribbean. Most of us, however, cannot “take holiday” and find ourselves hungry for fresh dhal puri and doubles. But, thanks to these Indo-Caribbean food bloggers, we can bring the motherland to our kitchens.

1. Matthew’s Guyanese Cooking

From Diwali mithai specialties to curry chicken, Matthew is creating a name for himself as a young Guyanese food blogger. He makes a great effort to incorporate Hindu holidays and traditions on his Instagram account, in conjunction with the customary foods and sweets associated with these religious events. However, his expertise does not end there, with new and alternative recipes for classic dishes such as curry chicken and bhara, Matthew takes center stage sharing both traditional Guyanese dishes as well as specific religious dishes made for festivals. His most popular YouTube video, with 1.4 million views, features his grandmother and focuses on the best tips to make the softest Guyanese paratha roti. In addition, his YouTube account is home to many videos offering guidance to Indo Caribbean cooking. Find recipes at

2. Trini Cooking with Natasha

Natasha Laggan of Trini Cooking with Natasha is wildly popular throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. With humble beginnings, Natasha credits her love of food to her family’s business. She speaks of the nostalgia home food provides her as she reminisces memories of her grandmother’s cooking and helping her mother make sandwiches early in the morning. Featured by Forbes, Natasha grew her Facebook following quickly throughout the pandemic by posting old YouTube videos. Today, she has more than 1 million followers on Facebook and over 200K followers on YouTube. She uses her passion for cooking and Trinidadian culture to bring easy-to-follow recipes to viewers. Her following has now reached the West Indian diaspora globally as she has also become a brand ambassador to two well-known food companies.  Follow the food expert @trinicookingwithnatasha.

[Read Related: 5 Indo-Caribbean Recipes for the Holiday Season you Have to Make]

3. Cooking with Ria

With over 100K followers on YouTube, Ria is quite the expert when it comes to making roti. Her dhal puri, sada roti and paratha roti tutorials have over 1M views! However, her expertise does not stop there. Of the 180 YouTube tutorials, her recipes vary from curry to other Trinidadian favorites like macaroni pie and pigtail soup. Just scrolling through her YouTube page makes your mouth water. From doubles to classic Trinidad bakes like pound cake and sweet bread, she provides precision and anecdotal commentary while guiding you through the familiarity of home food. Check out Ria’s page at @cookingwithria.


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4. Chef Devan

Known as Chef Devan, Devan Rajkumar embraces his Guyanese Canadian heritage by creating recipes combining flavors of both the East and West Indies. His love of food has allowed him to expand his role to judge in a popular Canadian cooking show: Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters. His cooking often blends the flavors of multiple cultures but also creates the classic recipes of his motherland. With a multitude of interests, Chef Dev uses his social media platform to connect with followers by sharing various aspects of his life that go beyond cooking. His most recent YouTube video provides a trailer for an upcoming video “Tastes Guyana” which shows him exploring Guyana from the inside, specifically deep parts of the inner country. To learn more about Chef Devan follow @chefdevan.


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5. Taste of Trinbago

Reshmi is the chef behind the growing blog, Taste of Trinbago. A Trinidadian native who now resides in Texas, she uses her love of food and Trinidadian culture to share hacks, tips and easy recipes with West Indians throughout the globe. She finds a way to simplify traditional West Indian meals, that we once watched our elders make with curiosity.  From holiday specialties like black cake to Diwali delicacies, Reshmi has brought vegetarian and non-veg recipes to followers in an extremely accessible way. She even posts recipe cards on her IG highlights for followers who may need written instructions. Her IG profile is a mix of various West Indian foods while also sharing bits of her life and even her secrets to baby food. Follow her @tasteoftrinbago.


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These are just five Indo Caribbean food bloggers sharing their secrets to easy cooking. The once very daunting recipes and food instructions our parents gave have been simplified by most of these bloggers through video, voice over and modernized recipes. We no longer have to estimate a “dash, pinch or tuk” of any masala. We are just days away from Christmas and this is the perfect time to find the best-suited recipe to make that paratha for Santa.

Featured Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

By Subrina Singh

Subrina Singh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian & Asian American Studies from Stony Brook University and a Master’s Degree … Read more ›

South Asian Creators Claim Their Space at the Cannes Film Festival

Ever since we can recall, the Cannes Film Festival has been a merger of movies and glamour. On one side, there are hand-picked films — ready to premiere and make their mark in the world of entertainment — and on the other, audiences and paparazzi alike are served epic moments in fashion.

The festival, aimed to preview upcoming films from all over the world, invites a wide variety of guests that span the film fraternity, of course, but more recently, has opened its doors to many digital content creators, including renowned South Asian creatives.

With a more vast guest list comes a more recent debate: Cannes is a film festival and not a fashion showcase. Kickstarting the debate this year was none other than ace Bollywood director, Nandita Das, who in an Instagram post shared:

Sometimes people seem to forget that it is a festival of films and not of clothes!

In short, Das wants Cannes’ narrative to continue to focus on films.

[Read Related: Cannes Film Festival 2022: Red Carpet Representation at its Finest]

But of course, there’s been a paradigm shift in the guest list over the last few years; this shift has allowed talents from various industries — including lifestyle content creators, entrepreneurs, etc., who showcase their work in fashion and beauty like fine masterstrokes — to walk the carpet and represent their craft, making space for others in their industry.

Influential names like Dolly Singh, Kaushal, Diipa Buller-Khosla, and Shivani Bafna — all of whom made a raging impact on the red carpet this year — weigh in on the significance of representing South Asian artists/influencers on the red carpet, and how they feel they’ve been part of this paradigm shift at Cannes Film Festival.

Diipa Buller-Khosla

I believe that each step we take at events like Cannes sends a powerful message of diversity, cultural richness, and artistic excellence. Representation matters, and the presence of South Asian creators on the red carpet at Cannes helps broaden the narrative of beauty, talent, and creativity. It allows us to showcase our unique perspectives, narratives, and contributions, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive industry. By actively participating and making our presence felt, we help create more opportunities and spaces for South Asian creators, encouraging others to share their stories with the world.


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A post shared by Diipa Bu?ller-Khosla (@diipakhosla)


Since 2015, the first time I walked the red carpet, till this year I have always been invited by L’Oreal Paris, one of the main sponsors of the event. It has always been such an honor to be invited to the festival through the makeup brand that I have been using for almost two decades, and, before my social media career began. Personally, I feel a sense of acknowledgment from such a prestigious brand, and its head office teams that sponsor Cannes Film Festival, and value the work I have done and continue to do as a South Asian content creator within the beauty space. Makeup, hair, and beauty will always play a big role within the film industry and it’s something I have always created my content around which is why I am proud to attend.


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A post shared by Kaushal ? (@kaushal)

Dolly Singh

This is a proud moment not just for me but also [for] my peers and the entire content creator ecosystem given that we have reached such new global stages and presence. Of course, as you said, such film festivals, once considered as an exclusive hub for a congregation of the finest acting talents have, in the last few years, opened their arms to more people from the entertainment industry.

This is not just a sudden phenomenon with a burst of Indian creators at the festival this year but there is increased participation from non-film and non-South Asian celebrities across various spectrums from different sides of the world. Along with the many filmmakers, actors, producers, etc I also met some amazing influencers and entrepreneurs from other sides of the world. It’s amazing to represent India and celebrate and champion the advent of the digital ecosphere on such a prominent platform.

The confluence of actors and creators signified the amalgamation of traditional cinema and new-age digital influence, highlighting the transformative power of creative expression and how festivals like Cannes have become more forthcoming and progressive in their approach.

Cannes, like any other prominent festival, boasts of a red carpet that is synonymous with fashion and glitz, and I wanted to use this opportunity to represent all the amazing Indian fashion designers on the carpet besides, of course, attending the screenings. As someone who is just not an influencer but also an actress, I thoroughly enjoyed all the red-carpet screenings and meeting like-minded film talent from around the world at the event. At some point in the future, I would like to be attending Cannes for a film I’ve featured in.


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A post shared by Dolly Singh (@dollysingh)

Shivani Bafna

Creators are often placed into boxes of where they belong and the rooms they can be a part of. Being on the red carpet dismantles the ideology that there’s a cap on how far we, as creators and as a South Asian community, can go and what we can achieve.

The Cannes Film Festival has always been viewed as the epitome of a glamorous event — everyone who attends looks like they’re living their best lives. I used the platform to share an authentic message of what the experience felt like for me. To represent all of us who doubt our potential, experience imposter syndrome, and are nervous to find their place, yet continue to push through to achieve their dreams!

As the first Indian American influencer to walk at Cannes, I hope I can inspire young women to confidently ask, ‘Why not me?’


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A post shared by Shivani Bafna (@shivani_bafna)

There’s no doubt that the Cannes Film Festival is centered around films, and continues to be a unique space for the global film fraternity to bring their art and showcase their aptitude. But, creators like Bafna, Singh, Buller-Khosla, and Kaushal — a special shoutout to Raja Kumari for being instrumental in paving the way as well — have their own set of responsibilities to fulfill upon their invitation to the prestigious event. Their will to represent their South Asian identities, celebrate their industries, and continue to hold space for their peers makes their presence at Cannes more than just clothes.

All images in the featured photo are from the influencers’ Instagram feeds.

By Sandeep Panesar

Sandeep Panesar is an editor, and freelance writer, based out of Toronto. She enjoys everything from the holiday season to … Read more ›