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BY JANEL BLADOW
FAIRY-TALE ROMANCE… You could call it a combination of “On The Waterfront,” “It Happened One Night,” and “Clueless.” It’s definitely the “Love Story” of the Seaport — with a touch of Bollywood.
The story spans two continents and three oceans. A girl from Hong Kong meets a dude from California in the port of New York City. Sparks fly. Can there be anything more magical than that? There’s plenty of magic in this tale of romance — and some madcap and mystical moments too.
Divya Daswan first came to The Big Apple from Hong Kong seven years ago as a design student at Parsons. She lived in a dorm on Williams Street and began her first American love affair — with our neighborhood. “I was smitten,” she says of the Seaport. After school she moved to Front Street next to Jeremy’s Ale House.
Shawn Ware was from California. A man of the docks, ships and the sea. His job drew him to the Seaport, and he too fell for the cobbled streets, the old buildings, and the feeling of neighborliness, of belonging.
They first met briefly at Jeremy’s. Just a night of hanging out with friends, very casual. They barely spoke to each other, and at evening’s end, went their separate ways.
But they both had Mondays off, so Sunday was their Saturday night. And for about five years before Hurricane Sandy surged across South Street, some 20 regulars met up Sunday nights at Fish Market.
Shawn, Port Captain for Hornblower New York, was one of those regulars, along with Divya, but they never mingled until one night in 2012.
“One Sunday night Shawn was at one end of the bar and I’m at the other end. No one else was left,” says Divya, recalling that proprietor Jeff Lim was behind the bar. “Jeff is bouncing back and forth between us for a couple hours and finally he says, ‘I’m so tired of entertaining you guys. Shawn go sit next to her.’ ”
Divya and Shawn talked about anything and everything into the wee hours until finally wrapping it up at the 4 am closing. He offered to walk her home but she demured. They said goodbye and shook hands, and there was nothing more for a year.
Even after Sandy destroyed their neighborhood haunt, and both stopped in to help pick up the pieces, they missed each other — one had just left and the other came in. As in any romantic movie, their timing was off.
Friends knew she was interested in him and that he was fascinated with her, but still nothing happened — until finally, eight months later, Divya went into Fish Market for a drink when and saw him. She boldly approached him.
“I have the biggest crush on you.” And she kissed him.
That’s when he officially asked her out. They had their first date the next night — after their first kiss.
Trying to keep their budding relationship on the QT so they could see if it worked outside the glare of their mutual social circle, they avoided their usual hangouts. But a few weeks later, their cover was blown — they were drinking at Watermark and in walked Jeff.
“The first thing he said was ‘I knew it,’ ” Divya says.
Fast-forward through their four-year courtship to Christmas last year.
“We walked down to the Brooklyn Bridge,” Divya says, recalling how confused she was when Shawn brought along an umbrella, telling her that he was worried it might rain.
With the Brooklyn Bridge as his backdrop, Shawn dropped to one knee and proposed. Then opened his umbrella. Divya was surprised, thrilled and still a bit confused. “I found out later that it was a signal to an FDNY boat that was to honk and send up a water spray when I said ‘Yes.’ ”
Thus began 11-months of international wedding planning! As if arranging a three day celebration and organizing people coming from around the world weren’t enough, Divya also designed all her wedding outfits herself. “It was all-consuming!”
First came a civil ceremony at Fish Market on Nov. 5. David Feiner officiated and dozens of friends and family shared the moment. Then came festivities at the Intercontinental Resort in Pattaya, Thailand. From Nov. 23 to 25, it was non-stop partying for 130 guests, including about 35 Seaport friends — including Jeff’s mom Lynn, chef at Fish Market — who made the trip to be with the couple.
First, the Daswani family came together for Holi, a traditional Indian festival of color. A welcoming party was combined with Divya’s grandmother’s 80th birthday. Then came the bachelor and bachelorette parties, and then Sangeet, a meeting of families and friends, in a lavish beachfront dinner party at Cabbages & Condoms (yes, that’s the restaurant’s actual name).
The wedding was on Nov. 25 at sunset on the beach. All the men wore pastel turbans — color was everywhere. And later that night, they all partook in a wonderful, wild, reception dinner and dance.
“We want to thank all of our family and friends for making this the most incredible year of our lives,” Divya says. “Every second of it exceeded our wildest dreams. For that we remain eternally grateful and filled with memories we’ll forever cherish.”
But, after all these years, she is still in awe. “A girl from Hong Kong, a guy from California, at the tip of Manhattan — you have to wonder, how did we meet?”
And the honeymoon? Not till June. “We needed a break. We’re bushed.”