ANDREW LINDER AND MUAAZ BUDHIA (HE AND HE, MR AND MR)

Written by Andrew Linder

 

After ending a long-term relationship all my friends encouraged me to get out there again as
soon as possible, telling me that I needed to get something called Grindr on my phone if I
wanted to have any chance of meeting someone new (at my age, is what I think they really
meant!).

I duly obliged and set up a profile on the app, not expecting much to happen after that.
Surprisingly, I got quite a few messages but was easily able to eliminate many potential
hook-ups, as I wasn’t really there for that. I wanted something that could be taken further
than a one-night quickie.

I also automatically excluded guys younger than a certain age, as I have always dated older
men. I messaged many of them back to say I wasn’t keen on meeting anyone that young.
Muaaz, however, was persistent and kept messaging me, even though I had made it quite
clear that at 44, I wasn’t going to date a 22-year-old! He insisted that I had to give him a
chance and eventually, about six weeks later, I relented, agreeing to a meeting.

Muaaz took the Gautrain from Pretoria to Sandton and I picked him up at the station. The
chemistry between us was unbelievable from the moment we met, and throughout a
grocery shop on the way home! I think both of us knew right then and there that something
special was going to happen between us.

On his third visit to my place, Muaaz spent the night, and, basically, never left. We made it
official about three months later and after being together for 15 months, we decided to get
engaged, with a wedding date set for March 2020. The engagement, I’m afraid, wasn’t a
terribly romantic affair, but more of a discussion. We wanted to be absolutely sure it was
what we both wanted, without getting too caught up in the moment.

For engagement rings we resized some very old eternity rings my late mother had left us,
with Muaaz’s containing rubies set in yellow gold and mine emeralds in white gold.

We began the planning immediately and after making lists of everyone we needed to invite,
we hit 100 guests and possible partners in no time. After phoning around for a few quotes,
and being horrified at what these things cost, we decided to go back to the drawing board.
We had a long chat about it and decided to instead have a far smaller affair at home with
just the family and our closest friends. We also brought the date forward by about three
months, as there was now less planning involved.

Our families (including our closest friends) were thrilled with the news, with some a little
surprised, as marriage had never been on my list of goals prior to my meeting Muaaz.
Muaaz’s mother Mariam immediately began working on the catering arrangements,
ensuring me that “everything would be taken care of” and she wasn’t kidding. On the day of
the wedding, Mariam arrived with Muaaz’s sister, Shereen, brothers Shiraz and Hassim and a
few other close family members. The cooking began not long after sunrise, with the
ceremony planned for outside by our fishpond at 1 pm.

We made sure everyone knew it was going to be a casual affair, with Muaaz and I saying our
nuptials in shorts and short-sleeved shirts. After beginning a few minutes late, we were
pronounced married at 1.11 pm on December 27, 2019. Mariam and family came through in
a big way, preparing curries, biryanis, rotis, sweetmeats, and biscuits and cakes for Africa.
We feasted well into the night.

Although we changed the wedding date, we were unable to alter our honeymoon booking,
so we set off for a well-earned break on March 23. We got up at 5 am to begin our long drive
to Premier Resort Sani Pass, a place I had spent many wonderful holidays as a kid. We took
the scenic route down, driving over the almost unused Loteni pass, rather than taking the
regular roads. It was a spectacular drive and eventually, nine hours later, we arrived at the
hotel.

The manager met us at the entrance only to inform us that with Cyril Ramaphosa’s expected
speech that night, it was likely the hotel would be closed. He gave us the honeymoon suite
for the night but informed us soon after Ramaphosa spoke that the hotel would be closing
the next day. We were gutted: there we were in one of the most beautiful places in the
country, perhaps even the world, and we had to leave, without even a proper look around!
Another long trip in the car and we were home, not knowing when we’d be able to plan our
trip again, as the country went into its hard coronavirus lockdown just a few days later.
We finally got to go on our real honeymoon in late-November 2020, with five amazing
nights at Umhlanga and six at Sani Pass.

We’ve both been working from home most of the time since the lockdown began and we’ve
managed to make it work well. Muaaz is a personal trainer, who specialises in one-on-one
clients in our gym at home and I am the markets editor at Business Day.

Three years and three months on we are more in love than we have ever been, and we’re
absolutely certain we’ll be together for life. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no such thing as
fairy tales, but we work well together and, most importantly, laugh as much as we can,
which is vital in any relationship especially so in the trying times Covid-19 has dumped on
us.

We share our home with our cats Tyrion and Snow and have decided against kids. For our
one-year anniversary on December 27, we are going to spend the night out at a nice hotel.

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