From Vietnam to India, love via text

By Ngoc Ngan   August 10, 2023 | 11:44 pm PT
From Vietnam to India, love via text
Do Nhu Y and her husband standing in the family’s resort, May 2022. Photo courtesy of Nhu Y
After only two weeks of texting through a dating app, Do Nhu Y decided to fly to Bangalore on her own to meet her new boyfriend in-person for the first time.

On a winter day near the end of 2019, she arrived at the airport of the South Indian city. Nhu Y saw her boyfriend Porithosh Shetty waiting for her in jeans, a T-shirt, and sandals. The 37-year-old woman was briefly disappointed, thinking that he did not make enough of an effort to look nice for their first meeting.

However, her qualms about this first impression were quickly dashed when Porithosh showed how considerate he was. He adjusted her car seat to a comfortable position, and even prepared face towels for her so she could freshen up.

He went as far as to have prepared a meal for Nhu Y in advance because he was afraid she would be hungry after a long flight. Since it was difficult to find Vietnamese food in Bangalore, he ended up preparing seafood fried rice, Thai salad, and Tom Yum soup because of their similarity to the flavors of Vietnamese cuisine.

Nhu Y says that when the car passed by the three gates to get to the Shetty’s estate on the outskirts of town, she felt like she had stepped into a different world. Their manor was built on 20.000 square meters of land that was split in two: one half for the resort the family owned, the other for their residence.

The manor was surrounded by a garden, and it’s swimming pool was made private by granite walls. The inside of the home was furnished entirely with fine wooden furniture. The entrance was adorned with a red carpet, where 10 servants were waiting for the couple. When Nhu Y got out of the car, they bowed to her and then exited through the back door to begin their work.

It was only then that Porithosh revealed truth about his family. He is the oldest son of an upper-class Indian family. His late father was a doctor that built a reputable hospital in Bangalore that Porithosh and his brother are now managing. Porithosh himself also manages the resort, a restaurant, a 40-hectare coffee farm, and the 150-year-old house where he was born.

Prior to this meeting, the couple had only known each other online for a few weeks. In October 2019, Porithosh Shetty traveled to Vietnam for vacation and incidentally saw Nhu Y’s profile on a dating app. Having been charmed by her face and smile, the 45-year-old entrepreneur hit "like" and immediately texted her.

At that time, Nhu Y was working as a nurse at the District 5 Medical Center in HCMC. She had recently broken up with her boyfriend, but even though she was single she hesitated to reply to Porithosh’s messages.

"Indian people have a lot of customs and cultural norms that are different from Vietnamese people, and that can be difficult to overcome," she says.

But on the last day of his trip, Porithosh’s determination finally won her over. In her first reply to him, Nhu Y declared that since she was of age, she wanted to find someone to marry, not someone to fool around with.

Porithosh’s first marriage fell apart in 2014, so he understood how serious marriage was and sympathized with her sentiment.

The pair were were unable to meet in person before Porithosh left Vietnam, so they decided to stay connected via phone.

Nhu Y in a wedding dress on her wedding day. Photo courtesy of Nhu Y

Nhu Y in a wedding dress on her wedding day. Photo courtesy of Nhu Y

During this time, Nhu Y had to rely on translation tools to talk to Porishosh. Though faced with a language barrier, Porithosh was patient, listening to every word and every problem she talked about without complaint. His behavior made Y trust him and for her feelings began to grow.

"He never said anything vulgar to me, unlike other guys I’ve encountered on social media," Y says. The calls became more and more frequent, and their feelings only deepened further from there. Finally, they planned to meet.

In the winter of 2019, Nhu Y requested 20 days off from work to fly to Bangalore.

During her stay there, she was overwhelmed by his family’s wealth. Y had grown up in a modest family of eight, all living in a 21 sq.m home, so she was unaccustomed to being waited on hand and foot by others.

On one occasion, Porithosh took Y to a shopping mall, asking her to try on a $2,000 bag, but she refused to take it.

"I’m not used to using expensive bags, and I don’t think it suits me anyway," Y explains.

Thinking that she was only acting shy because he was with her, Porithosh gave her his credit card and told her she could buy whatever she wants. Even then, she was adamant about not spending his money, and that surprised her suitor.

After three weeks, Nhu Y went back to Vietnam, leaving Porithosh in longing. He missed seeing her silhouette in the kitchen in the early morning light, hard at work rolling the dough to make banh canh (thick noodle soup) for him.

"Are you willing to be by my side forever?" Porithosh texted her after their parting.

Only a month later, Nhu Y returned to India, where they embraced at the airport once more.

At this point in time, Porithosh’s mother returned home after a vacation. The first meeting between his girlfriend and his mother made him nervous. He wrote 10 things about Nhu Y and why he chose her to be his wife in a notebook and showed it to his mother. When it came time for the meeting, Porithosh held onto Nhu Y’s hand to calm her nerves, making sure to have his brother be present to help Nhu Y in case her English was insufficient to communicate with her future mother-in-law.

Porithosh’s mother smiled when she saw this. His previous marriage was arranged by her, but the couple was unhappy. At this second chance, she wanted him to decide for himself.

To prepare for becoming a bride in India, Nhu Y returned to Vietnam to resign from her job. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic kept the couple apart for nearly two years. They were finally reunited in October of 2021, allowing them to register their marriage and throw a wedding at the family’s resort.

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Nhu Y with her mother (second person on the left) and her in-laws the day before the wedding, October 2021. Photo courtesy of Nhu Y

Nhu Y says that the first days of being a wife were fairly boring for her. She was barely required to do anything, and even the simple act of cleaning the dishes after a meal was regarded by her mother-in-law to be the responsibility of the servants.

A day in the life of the women in the Shetty’s household revolved around going to the gym, doing yoga, reading books, and attending party functions with their husbands if they were needed.

Even Nhu Y’s sister-in-law, a medical student who went abroad to Australia, had little opportunity to utilize her degree.

Faced with homesickness and monotony, the newlywed wife began to post videos on YouTube about her life in India to have something to do.

The channel surprisingly became popular, so much so that people came to know of Nhu Y and asked her to ship some food products back to Vietnam for them. After a few orders, she decided to make this her side business.

In the beginning, Porithosh was opposed to this. In his mind, his wife did not need to work because the family was wealthy. Regardless, Y was able to convince her husband by telling him about a day in her daily life: being able to find products, as well as packing and shipping them allowed her to use her time more sufficiently and feel less bored.

"Furthermore, I want to work so that I won’t get lazy," Nhu Y adds.

Faced with her determination, Porithosh relented. Occasionally, he would also be seen in his wife’s videos as they make pho and naan bread (a type of Indian bread) together.

In a recent video posted last week, Porithosh took his wife to the seaside city of Mangalore to enjoy some cocktails. Seeing how the harsh winds tousled Nhu Y’s hair, Porithosh gently untangled the knots. He then gave her his jacket to shield her from the wind.

"Thank you for always being so considerate," she says with a wide smile.

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