Last year, on July 23rd, Pauline Laravoire (H.18) and Meghdut RoyChowdhury (H.17) sealed their union on the HEC campus, the place where their story began. HEC Stories interviewed the now happily married couple and invites you to relive this tale of love symbolizing diversity.
Pauline Laravoire (H.18) and Meghdut RoyChowdhury (H.18) were both in their first year when fate brought them together on campus in December 2014. They first laid eyes on each other at the university restaurant. Salah Eddine Ouadia (H.17), a mutual friend of the couple-to-be, gathered around him a group of classmates who would soon become inseparable. Among them, Pauline and Meghdut, whose meaningful glances and awkward exchanges marked the early stages of their story. Pauline, hailing from an affluent suburb of Paris, and Meghdut, from Calcutta, have been together ever since.
After graduating in June 2018, the blissful couple moved to Calcutta, Meghdut’s hometown, where they co-founded Y-East together, the first collective of individuals and organizations in East India dedicated to social and environmental impact.
Although she fell in love with India, the young woman wanted to return to France. “We came back last April with the desire to change our environment a bit, and especially for me, to regain a foothold in the French ecosystem. It was also an opportunity to take on new professional challenges on my end,” she tells us, although the couple has no intention of permanently settling in France. For them, one thing is certain: Calcutta is their final destination! And for two reasons: “Meghdut is a staunch ambassador of his city and his family expects him to follow in his father’s footsteps,” she explains.
Indeed, Meghdut has a strong attachment to the Indian metropolis, which holds a special place in his heart. Calcutta, despite being the intellectual and artistic capital of the country, is in decline: “also called The City of Joy, Calcutta is associated with misery, has got a negative reputation nationally and internationally, and is facing a brain drain to foreign countries…“. The young groom has the will and ambition to restore the city’s reputation, which he loves so much. He fervently wishes to make it more attractive for young talents and restore its reputation as a hub of innovation, art, and culture. For this reason, he created the Make Calcutta Relevant Again campaign in 2020, which continues to gain momentum.
First Nuptials in Calcutta
Meghdut asked for the hand of the love of his life two months later having just settled in Calcutta in August 2018. Everything happened very quickly for the engaged couple, who officially signed the civil registry in India on February 16, 2019.
This formalization of their engagement brought together 350 joyful guests at the RCGC (Royal Calcutta Golf Club). Surrounded by their loved ones, the couple was vibrant and adorned in splendid traditional Bengali attire. The menu featured a grand buffet honoring diversity: a mix of Indian and continental food to delight the taste buds of all guests, accompanied by live music !
One wedding is good, but two is better!
Half Indian, half French, the couple also wanted to celebrate their union in France, the place of their encounter.
The newlyweds were on the lookout for the perfect venue for their ceremony. They visited two or three places, exploring the countryside around the Paris region. However, despite the beauty of the sites they visited, they didn’t have a “wow” moment—every location seemed “dull and devoid of meaning” to them.
But an idea was proposed by Pauline’s brother during a family dinner : “Why don’t you get married on the HEC campus ?” Initially a joke, this suggestion sparked fond memories of Jouy-en-Josas. The decision became clear: “We thought about it for two minutes and said to ourselves that the campus’ castle wasn’t a bad place for a wedding !“, Pauline exclaimed with laughter. No turning back, their choice was made: it would be HEC or nothing ! “Nothing beats being able to get married where our love story began. Not only did we meet there, but we both loved our respective paths at HEC,” she continued, still moved.
They promptly reached out to Eloïc Peyrache, whom they both knew well, to explain the reason behind their request. “As loyal alumni of this beautiful campus and because it was the place where we met a few years ago, could we consider celebrating our marriage on the campus ?” The idea pleased the dean and general director of HEC, who quickly connected them with the teams at the Château.
Unfortunately, the ambitious project came at an inopportune time… The COVID crisis occurred, making its realization impossible. “There were two postponements. It was initially supposed to take place in July 2020, then in July 2021, and finally, we were able to definitively postpone it to July 23, 2022! COVID greatly hindered us, but thankfully, the teams at the Château renewed their support year after year and gave us the green light for this celebration on campus,” she said, expressing gratitude.
Cultural fusion for a grand wedding
Nostalgic for their student years, the couple considered inviting their fellow classmates, who had become true friends over the years . The alumni mixed with the cohort of 270 guests, between Building T and the Château, flanking the Hall of Honor. How many of their graduated classmates made the trip for this symbolic day ? “20, no 25. What? 30! Are you sure?” The uncertain couple eventually settled on the number 35. They came from 26 countries and were delighted to reunite in this place dear to all. “That’s the beauty of the campus, meeting so many nationalities, different backgrounds…”
The newlyweds highlighted their “intercontinental couple” nature and wanted to give equal importance to their two very different cultures. July 23 would be the day of a Western-style wedding. The groom will be in a suit, and the bride in a white dress. Their vows will be sealed in a bottle as a keepsake of this day. The next day, July 24, will feature a brunch infused with Bengali culture. This time, the couple will be adorned in splendid attire—a red sari for the young woman and a traditional Indian outfit called a “punjabi” for the groom.
To include the Indian family in the Western celebration, the French secular ceremony takes on some Bengali-inspired details and moments. The speeches in French are translated into English so all guests could understand. “There was an entire cultural program proposed by Meghdut’s family members. It’s very different from French culture, but in India, everyone easily dances and sings. My husband’s mother danced with her sisters, Meghdut’s four-year-old cousin sang Bella Ciao like a rockstar, there were vocal and dance performances by his cousin…,” joyfully recounts Pauline. In their French attire, the couple also chose to adorn their heads with traditional Bengali wedding hats.
A dear master’s friend of Pauline, Sushil Reddy (H.18), crowned with several world records for his research and races of thousands of kilometers worldwide on solar bicycles, helped her create an unforgettable surprise for her future husband : “With several alumni, we trained to learn a Bollywood choreography. My husband had no idea at all; he didn’t know we were preparing this tribute to the cinema he loves so much !” she tells us, amused.
Going even further in creativity, the future spouses imagined the names of the ceremony tables with the help of Meghdut’s sister, mixing the first name of a French personality with the last name of a Bengali personality. Guests sat at the “Zinédine Ganguly” table, bridging between the French footballer and an Indian cricket player.
Coincidence or destiny’s hand, the much-moved wedding day is finally celebrated on July 23, Pauline’s birthday ! “It’s the most beautiful of our memories, the best day of our life. It’s what everyone says, it might sound a bit cheesy, but in our case, it was true! From A to Z, from 4 p.m. on the 23rd until 2 p.m. on the 24th, it was nothing but happiness !”
Long live the newlyweds!