Porus Vimadalal and Prayag Menon are one of the cutest couples I’ve met in a long, long time. To wit: a love story that began on hi5, complementary careers (Prayag is a newly minted stylist and Porus is one of India’s brightest young photographers) and a relationship spanning close to a decade which, in Hollywood years, is practically an eternity.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I chatted to them about family traditions and growing into adulthood together.
How did you guys meet?
Porus Vimadalal: Remember hi5? We met on there and got talking, although neither of us knew we were gay at the time.
Prayag Menon: I’m pretty sure I knew I was gay.
PV: I always knew too, but we didn’t know the other was gay. So we got to talking a whole lot, and I had no idea what Prayag looked like because he was so shy he didn’t even have a profile picture. I just really loved talking to him.
We met in Bangalore, where Prayag used to live, when I visited on a family trip and it was pretty much just instant. We said we’d take it slow and a week later, we were madly in love.
What was the moment you knew?
PM: For me, it was when he was leaving to go back to Bombay and it was just so miserable, and again a month later when I went to visit him in Bombay and had to leave to come back to Bangalore. It was always the leaving that was so difficult. That’s when I knew.
PV: It was long distance in the beginning, and then we went to flying school in Dallas together. My father was a pilot and I’d always thought I might try it and it meant we could be together, so…
PM: I had just finished a Bachelor of Commerce in Bangalore and I hated it. I couldn’t see myself doing accounts for the rest of my life. We were out to dinner with Porus’s family when it came up, and we figured it might be worth trying it together. My parents weren’t up for it but Porus’s father was incredibly supportive; he sponsored my training.
PV: My dad struggled to make it and he had so many people help him along the way, so he always told himself that when he was successful he’d help someone become a pilot too.
What’s the best time you’ve ever had together?
PV: We decided to buy a place in 2012 and doing it up together, that was the best time ever.
PM: It was essentially us projecting our creative vision onto the house, and it was great because we ended up agreeing on most things.
PV: Although I think we bullied the architect a bit.
PM: Poor guy. I remember going to Dubai to shop for the house, that was such a wonderful time. We agree on most things but when we don’t, we try to find a balance.
What’s the nicest thing Prayag has ever done for you?
PV: He does this every year. I’m not a big believer in traditions but I’m Parsi, and so I have two birthdays; a regular one and a Parsi one. Prayag loves Zoroastrian culture, and so every year he makes a really big deal of my Parsi birthday; there’s always this grand ceremonial tray and these rituals that he performs – breaking an egg to ward off the evil eye, lighting a lamp, making the kheer, getting me a cake, everything. It’s the sweetest thing.
Who’s more romantic?
PM: I’m definitely more expressive.
PV: I’m not super expressive, but I like to think my actions speak louder than words.
PM: Although sometimes you want to actually hear the words, you know?
PV: I’m not romantic in the trivial sense of the word, but Prayag definitely likes the flowers, the whole thing.
If you could change one thing about each other, what would it be?
PM: Porus is so forgetful and aloof about everything sometimes.
PV: In my defense, I think artistic people are always a little bit lost. I’d change his nagging and him being a neat freak. He’s OCD about our place! He’s the one always checking up on the maid, he always has to make sure everything is clean and in perfect order at all times.
PM: It’s because I’m so attached to our home – but I know it gets a bit much. I’ve relaxed about that a little bit.
There’s this dialogue, both in India and globally, about what it means to be gay. Does it affect you at all?
PV: I can’t say we’ve ever felt uncomfortable because of the people around us – my family have always been great to us, so we’ve always felt quite secure knowing that everyone we love supports us.
PM: We’re also fortunate that we’re in this industry, where everyone is so supportive of homosexuality.
But it makes me sick to think I don’t have equal rights in a country where I pay tax just like everyone else. I’m not asking for religious approval, I just want legal support. I can’t open a bank account with Porus. When we were buying a house, I met the builders with my mother-in-law and I blurted out by mistake that we were looking for a home for my partner and I, and I remember the builder was so shaken. We had to lie the next time around and say we were just friends, and that made me feel so terrible. But I wanted the house, and I didn’t know what to do.
PV: It doesn’t matter to me; I don’t really care. Nothing really affects me unless it concerns people I really care about. When it comes to the rest, sometimes you just have to let go.
What’s changed most for you over the years?
PV: Prayag used to be very guarded when we first met, but he’s opened up a whole lot; there was this whole other side to him that I’d never seen.
PM: I think that the thrill has taken a bit of a backseat, while comfort’s come to the forefront. I can be myself now, because I know that he’s always going to be there for me. It’s unconditional.
PV: We’re both sure of one thing now which is that no matter what happens, we have each other for the rest of our lives. We’re realistic; we know that things can go wrong..
PM: You can’t expect idealism in a relationship. But Porus is the one unwavering constant in my life and I am his and for us, that’s all that matters.
As told to Komal Basith.
Porus Vimadalal and Prayag Menon photographed by Shovona Karmakar.