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First a “little lie”, then a solid commitment


Shortly after Summer Hofford and Dr Sujay Kulshrestha logged on to Tinder, they agreed to meet at a Chicago bar on a cold and rainy Saturday in April 2016. Their first drink went well.

Dr. Kulshrestha, 29, had just graduated from Washington University in St. Louis. He then obtained a medical degree from the University of Chicago. Ms Hofford, 28, was pursuing an acting career in Chicago at the time after graduating from Loyola University in Chicago. On May 9, she received a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“She was so beautiful and smart, I just thought she was out of my league,” said Dr. Kulshrestha, 29, a general surgery resident at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. He is also working on a two-year clinical fellowship from the National Institutes of Health.

The magic of the first date seemed to be on Dr Kulshrestha’s side, until he pointed to a bar across the street and suggested they go there for a second drink.

Ms Hofford first agreed, then wished she hadn’t.

“He was really nice,” she said, “but an hour or so after the date started it was getting more and more rainy and cold and dark.”

Feeling like she’d rather spend the rest of a dark day curled up with a good book, Ms Hofford told Dr Kulshrestha that her roommate was on lockdown and had to go home immediately.

Suddenly Dr. Kulshrestha ran out of toast in Chicago, as the woman he once thought was out of his class now seemed to be out of his life.

“I had been on a lot of dates with Tinder this month and was feeling a bit exhausted,” Ms. Hofford said. “I also felt like we were running out of things to say to each other.”

So she told him what she jokingly described as “a little white lie”.

“I thought I managed to get out of it smoothly,” she said with a laugh.

But Dr Kulshrestha had always thought she was lying and consulted her best friend, who advised her to contact Ms Hofford again.

“I really wanted to know if she was still interested,” he said. “So I got back in touch.”

Her second effort was worth the toast, as Ms Hofford explained that while she changed her mind between beer rounds, she never changed her mind.

They started dating again, and soon they had to re-evaluate their relationship, as Dr. Kulshrestha began interviewing for the General Surgery Residency programs.

They each made a strong commitment and avoided a long-distance relationship when Dr Kulshrestha was matched to Loyola University Medical Center near Chicago, where both were already living.

They got engaged on September 1, 2019 at the Montrose Bird Sanctuary in Chicago, overlooking peaceful Lake Michigan. With a view of the skyline as a natural backdrop, Dr Kulshrestha knelt down and surprised Ms Hofford with a diamond ring.

The couple tied the knot on May 30 in an outdoor ceremony at Iceberg Point on Lopez Island, off the coast of Washington state. Ian Freed, who became Minister of Universal Life for the event, officiated in the presence of 10 guests.

The couple had planned to tie the knot aboard the MV Skansonia, a retired ferry on Lake Union in Seattle, with 150 guests, but the coronavirus forced them to change plans.

Among the guests were the parents of the bride, Leanne Skooglund and Harry Hofford of Seattle, and those of the groom, Kunjamma and Pankajb Kulshrestha of Bloomfield, Conn.

“The weather was wonderful and we had pretty much the whole island to ourselves,” the bride said. “Everything was just perfect. “



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