Online love: She meets husband only three months before their wedding day
Miss Cheryl Yap went to Romania to meet her boyfriend whom she had met online, causing her father to make a police report. Her story made headlines. But what makes people travel miles for love?
Theirs is the type of love story that parents, friends and even the police would warn against.
They met through an online matrimony site, started a virtual long-distance relationship and, at their first "meeting", he proposed.
It was not until three months before their wedding day that this couple finally met each other in person.
Special needs educator Kalpana Venkatachalam tells The New Paper on Sunday: "All my friends scolded me, saying that he could be a psychopath. But just look at how happily married we are, four years later."
It started when she created a matchmaking profile on a matrimony site. She was encouraged to do so by her mother and her sister.
Madam Kalpana, a Singaporean, admits she did so in a cavalier manner, to placate her family.
She even listed her personal flaws as being a straight talker and possessing a fiery temper.
In 2010, while she was at work, Madam Kalpana received a phone call from the US.
Says Madam Kalpana, who was then 26: "It was this strange overseas number which anyone would normally ignore. But for some reason, I decided to pick up."
It was a decision that changed her life forever.
Indian national Jothiramalingam Samikkannu, then a chef in Pittsburgh, US, says he was attracted to Madam Kalpana's honesty when he saw her online profile.
Mr Jothiram, as he prefers to be known, tells TNPS in accented English: "At that time, my parents were also pressuring me to get married as I was turning 30... So I decided to call her."
Says Madam Kalpana, 31: "He told me to look at his profile on the same site, but I was in a bad mood because I happened to be quite frustrated with (something at work) at the time. I wasn't exactly nice to him on the phone."
CHATTED FOR 3 HOURS
She forgot about the call until a week later when he e-mailed her.
Feeling guilty for forgetting, she agreed to text chat with him over the Internet that evening - but "only for an hour".
They ended up chatting for three hours.
In that time, they traded photos, talked about themselves and shared personal experiences. Both had never dated previously and were surprised at how "impressed" they were by the other party.
And at the end of their chat, it was Mr Jothiram who proposed to her, confessing: "I really like you, I think I want to marry you and spend my future with you."
Madam Kalpana was incredulous, saying: "I was really afraid that he would not be who he said he is. I know that there are many bad people out there."
It took months of online conversations to convince her that Mr Jothiram was genuine.
In that time, she fell in love with him.
She also went to his hometown in India and was given little reason to doubt him when the town's residents and his family vouched for his character.
Convincing her friends took a longer time, as they thought Mr Jothiram wanted a marriage of convenience to get a Singapore citizenship.
But their fears were allayed when Mr Jothiram came to Singapore for the first time to meet all of them, including Madam Kalpana.
Mr Jothiram, who have moved to the US about 10 years ago, had originally planned for him and Madam Kalpana to live there.
But he decided to give up his job as a $4,000-a-month chef to work as a restaurant manager in Singapore, earning around $2,600 a month.
Says Mr Jothiram: "I came here to be with my love."
The couple got married in 2011. They stuck together even through a miscarriage and remain happily married today.
Their Facebook pages are plastered with affectionate pictures of themselves.
Says Madam Kalpana: "This was a random guy I met over the Internet and, yes, I was so afraid at first that he was not the person he seemed to be.
"I must have been very lucky indeed."
Cheryl Yap's love story
THE NEW PAPER, FEB 4
A Singaporean woman and her mother were feared missing after they "disappeared" from the family home on Jan 22.
Apparently, they were not contactable and her father discovered that she had bought plane tickets to Romania. He made a police report.
Two weeks later, both women were found safe and sound by Romanian police. Appearing in an interview with Romanian broadcaster Pro TV, Miss Cheryl Yap Lay Leng, 25, said she had gone to Romania to meet her boyfriend, Alexandru Donea, 18.
Miss Yap and her mother, housewife Foo Li Kheng, 61, had been staying with Mr Donea and his family in their home in Vulturesti, a village commune in Olt County, about 150km from the capital Bucharest.
The couple had met online more than two years ago and shared an interest in manga.
When asked why she went to Romania, she replied: "To meet my boyfriend, to work together on YouTube."
On Friday, Miss Yap and Mr Donea said they were planning to marry in one to two years, Shin Min Daily News reported.
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