A huge difference between dating sites and a marriage bureau

Finding a love that lasts, a partner that fits and is ready to commit for life, is hard enough for anyone but for a homosexual from a culture where it’s forbidden to love someone of the same-sex, it can be even more of a challenge. That is why increasingly more people turn to match makers such as the Arranged Gay Marriage (AGM) agency run by Urvi ShahBased on an Indian model, the agency does all the hard work for its clients, trying to match people based on their personalities, lifestyle and life views.

Increasingly more gay and bi sexual people are turning to match making companies in search for a life partner.  Photo/www.pexels.com

GayIceland spoke to three clients who have had success with the service and were happy to share their experience. However, they asked not to have their photos published, to protect both themselves and their families, as some of them live in a country where homosexuality is still illegal.

Gaurav Salve is a 41-year-old New Yorker of Indian origin who registered on 5th of January 2016. His background is slightly different as he’s not had to hide his sexual orientation and lives in a society where it’s acceptable for him to date and even marry another man. Gaurav says he turned to the Arranged Marriage agency because he felt like a failure after a string of bad relationships. “Arranged marriages are an Indian concept and when I heard about this upcoming marriage bureau, I spoke to my mom and wanted to try this site for finding a life partner.”

Were you hesitant or afraid of being ridiculed?
“I was hesitant of calling them because of my age. I thought they would not be able to find a partner for me because I was 40 years old. I was feeling like a loser thinking about registering on a website where someone else was going to choose a life partner for me.”

Had you tried any other websites before that?
“I have tried almost all the dating sites available. I found many partners there
but I found it useless because most of them were not compatible enough. There is a huge difference between dating sites and a marriage bureau.”

“I was hesitant of calling them because of my age. I was feeling like a loser thinking about registering on a website where someone else was going to choose a life partner for me.”

Were you matched with many people before you met your partner?
“I spoke to many people in the initial six months. I even met a few people in nearby states. It was nice meeting them and I was glad to get to know them as individuals.

How long did it take till you met your partner?
“I spoke to my life partner first on 24th October 2016 and met him on 5th February 2017. He is 43 years old from Canada. I feel like we are more connectable and we have many things in common. We have similar life experiences and we have the same kind of maturity and bond. I guess the arranged gay marriage bureau has surprised me with a soulmate! We got married on 8th March 2017 and we are now living in New Jersey. We have a lovely married couple’s life, we’re very satisfied together. We are planning to adopt a baby girl next January or having a surrogate child.”

Do you recommend using the agency?
“I am in love with their work and support. I have always been in constant touch with Urvi and have seen her working hard to fulfil her duty. I want to see her speaking on a TedX and for her company to receive awards!”

Dating sites don’t work for long-term relationships

Maitree Basu is a 37-year-old woman who lives in India and says she’s a member of an LGBT community that is a taboo. “I am from Kolkata, the city of joy. My childhood was lovely. I have two siblings and we lived with our parents. I was always an extrovert bubbly girl and a foodie. I have an awesome relationship with my family. Somewhere inside I always felt unfit in society because I was lesbian. I knew about it since my childhood but never dared to tell anyone. I had a relationship with someone during my undergraduate studies but she got married to a guy because she never had the guts to open up to her family. I got scared and decided to shift to another city for my masters. I did my masters in Bangalore and felt freedom to be here. I met many lesbians and most of them were closeted. I am now working in an IT company in Bangalore.”

Why did you decide to try an arranged marriage website?

“I am 37 years old and was in need of a partner. I have dated a few women through dating sites but these sites don’t work for long-term relationships. There are so many fake profiles and many men would create fake IDs of women so that they can have a sex chat and then they will approach

Maitree Basu had gone through several dating sites before turning to the Arranged Gay Marriage Agency. With its help she has found a partner.

lesbians to have sex with them. I was pissed off and was Googling for best dating sites for lesbians in India. Somewhere I typed “gay marriages India” and came to know about this marriage bureau. I got really very excited to register myself. I called up the bureau and followed the procedure of registration.

I was worried while getting registered though because websites cannot be trusted easily. More than that, I was worried about sharing my documents with the company because I never wanted my identity to come out in public. On one side, it was my fear of exposing my sexuality and on the other side; it was the hope of happiness that I always waited for.

Finally I chose my happiness, visited the office and got myself registered in June 2016 and found my partner on 21st December 2016. For the first time, I met her in February and we are so much in love.”

How did your family react?
“Three weeks after meeting her, I went home with her and told my parents about my sexuality. Urvi provided a counsellor and she herself spoke to my parents about it. My parents were very angry and my dad even abused Urvi on a Skype call. He was just about to disown me but I guess I am lucky enough to have a mother like this who handled everything. She is a doctor and she took just a week to accept my sexuality.

We moved in together 15 weeks ago and everything is going perfect. My dad is still against my decision but my mom is OK with me if I stay in live-in relationship with Tanu. I am the youngest child and my siblings are feeling pity on my situation for no reason. My parents and I call each-other every day. They are just concerned about society, its pressure and my safety.”

“I have dated a few women through dating sites but these sites don’t work for long-term relationships … many men would create fake IDs of women … and then they will approach lesbians to have sex with them.”

Have you found your life partner then?
“We are enjoying each other’s company. It feels like I have found my soul mate and I cannot even measure my happiness. I am not going to get married because marriage is just a legal certificate our parents give for having sex. I am in a live-in relationship because all I need is a person who can understand me, a family, a strong bond, care, love and compatibility.

Would you recommend this solution?
“India has a huge gay population. I agree that most of them are closeted and they feel uncomfortable to come out, especially the men. Many of them even get married to girl and then they spoil the girl’s life. It is a struggle to live in India as gay. People make fun of us, people abuse us but no one understands what mental trauma and torture we go through every day.

I will always recommend this agency because you can rely on them. They provided us lawyers, counsellors, and more than that, the CEO of the company, Urvi Shah was always in touch. We could call her at midnight knowing that she is going to pick up the call and will help us no matter what. AGM is a platform where anyone can find a like-minded person.”

Fell in love at first sight

Purvish Ahuja, 34, is from Mumbai in India and is planning to marry his partner in September. “I was using a lot of dating sites for many years and I could only meet people who were seeking for casual sex or a relationship where they can be financially dependent on someone. One of my friends was a registered member of AGM and asked me to enrol too. As I was desperate to have a life partner and tried all other ways of doing it, I called up the CEO, understood the process and got registered on 1st February 2016.”

Purvish says he had contact with 31 people from the agency but none of them seemed to be a fit. “On 25th of May I got my partner’s profile. After liking the profile of my partner, I was introduced to him on a Skype call. We spoke for a few hours trying to understand each other. We shared our numbers and began chatting and talked for 16 days before we were sure we could be together forever because we had a lot of similar experiences. We decided to meet up and I took a flight from Pune and went to Delhi too meet him. I was supposed to stay there overnight.

Purvish Ahuja found the love of his live with the help of the agency. The two are getting married in September.

It took me four hours to decide what to wear because that was our first meeting. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I wore a baby pink shirt, jeans and black blazer and headed towards the arrival gate. A gentleman standing in a black suit with a tie was holding a bouquet of roses and a welcome sign. I fell in love with him at first sight. I stayed with him for four days and knew that he was the one.”

But Purvish’s family are not supportive in his happiness. “I was never interested in women. I always had crushes on male actors and heroes. My idea was always clear but I was always in doubt because my surrounding people used to get attracted to the opposite sex. I was in 10th grade when I decided to talk about it to someone and I chose a random old guy on the streets to discuss this. When I told him what my feelings were, he asked me curiously, “Oh, so are you gay?” and this thing hit my mind. He said that there are many people who have the same disease and that I needed to consult a good doctor.

 “A gentleman standing in a black suit with a tie was holding a bouquet of roses and a welcome sign. I fell in love with him at first sight. I stayed with him for four days and knew that he was the one.”

I come from a lower middle-class family where my father is a farmer and mother is a housewife. My brother studied till 8th grade and then got married. At a very young age, I left home and moved to Mumbai and started working in a garage on a highway. When I came to Mumbai I met similar people who made me understand the concept of homosexuality.

After finding the love of my life, I went back home with him after being away for 20 years and tried explaining this to my parents. They asked me not to come back ever again. My mother started crying thinking that modern society has created an issue in my life which turned my sexuality into a curse.”

Undeterred, Purvish and his 39-year-old partner are going to marry on the 21st of September, between their birthdays. “For our wedding, we do not have any special plans. We want to get married according to Hindu system in front of our neighbours and friends; we will take pheras, exchange rings and have an exclusive photo-shoot. We then have special plans for the honeymoon.”

Main photo: blavoulondon – Blavou Wedding Photography

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        Núðluskálin
        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        Seatours
        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

        600x400-seatours-tasting

        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

        600x400-seatours

        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -shags
        -kittiwakes
        -fulmars
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us


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