'Everything just feels like this is the way it should be, and very natural and perfect, and all that stuff, and so looking back on how it all unfolded feels kind of surreal.'
In summer 2017, when Cheryl Hurst was attending a conference in Greece, she was oblivious that her future fiance, Preet Banerjee, was in the elevator. "I remember Preet was wearing a yellow watch — and he had a white shirt on that had the sleeves rolled up, which is just, I don't know, instantly hot on any guy," says Cheryl. She says she was "instantly attracted" to Preet, but he says he didn't pay Cheryl much attention at first. "My first impression when she came into the elevator was 'Oh, a girl with a backpack,'" he tells CNN Travel. After talking to one another, they found out they were attending the same conference.
On the last day of the conference, Preet invited everyone to join him to tour the city of Athens. Although everyone agreed, only Cheryl turned up at 9 a.m. the next day. Spending the entire day touring Athens, the two "had really in-depth conversations." After a whole day of sightseeing, the duo went back to the St. George Lycabettus together, to the hotel's rooftop bar, spending a "gorgeous" evening together.
They were really attracted to each other but did not expect anything romantic. They lived in different countries, there was an age gap and they barely knew one another. When Cheryl said bye to Preet as he headed for the cab, she felt like something was amiss. The two didn't exchange phone numbers or contact details. "We thought we'd let it be a perfect few days as good friends, and not try to maintain it through any other medium," says Cheryl.
A couple of months later, Cheryl was visiting her family in Canada. Hoping against hope that Preet might be attending a conference in Toronto while she was there, she sent him a message on Twitter to let him know that she was in town. They continued where they left off and talked for hours on end "finding excuses to talk to each other." Preet later admitted he had feelings for Cheryl in a Twitter message but she didn't believe it could work due to the age and distance differences. But Cheryl changed her mind and sent another message three days later. "I want to be with you."
Happy Valentine's day to my favourite dude who also happens to share my taste in photo styles x pic.twitter.com/v4BJKBJJ3Q— Cheryl Hurst, PhD (@CherylmHurst) February 15, 2022
Preet and Cheryl started a long-distance relationship. Six months in, on one of their long video calls, Cheryl told Preet she loved him but Preet instead hung up the phone. "Then, the next day, there was a knock on my door, and he'd already booked flights to surprise me in England because he didn't want to say 'I love you' on FaceTime. He wanted to tell me in person." Cheryl's parents fell for Preet and although their different backgrounds as Preet is of Indian descent, he jokes that their main cultural differences come from Cheryl's years in the U.K. and his Canadian perspective. "It was always, just even from first being in the elevator, it was just very flowy conversation," says Cheryl.
Out here trying to live my classiest life and I’m just not cut out for it pic.twitter.com/YPyGoULbwm— Cheryl Hurst, PhD (@CherylmHurst) May 31, 2022
In 2020, Preet and Cheryl moved in together in Toronto after three years of living apart. This happened by chance because the country closed its borders to stop the spread of the pandemic during that time. Cheryl claims, "I was in the air when Canada announced lockdowns. During that year of isolation, they decided to make London their permanent home because Cheryl strongly feels that the U.K. is her home and Preet sees it "as an adventure, as well as, you know, being with the person that I love. So that was a pretty easy decision at the end of the day."
The two are now planning their big move and a big wedding.
In June, in a beautiful establishment in Monaco, the two were enjoying champagne on a private balcony and Preet popped the question with Cheryl immediately saying yes. The couple thought it was beautiful, but Preet jokes that proposing in the elevator "would have been very poetic. I'm just not that creative." They thank the luck that brought them together in such unsuspecting circumstances. "For me, the takeaway that I have is — you just don't know what can happen," says Cheryl. "Everything just feels like this is the way it should be, and very natural and perfect, and all that stuff, and so looking back on how it all unfolded feels kind of surreal," says Preet. "It's all these little forks in the road that, had the situation just been a little bit different, none of this would have happened, which is crazy, because I think that we're soulmates."