Yousef Turshani and Nadeah Vali are savoring the togetherness of their recent nuptials - possibly even more so than most newlyweds.
Because when the calendar flips to 2011, Yousef, 30, a pediatrician at California Pacific Medical Center, will be joining Doctors Without Borders - and he doesn't yet know where he's headed. Meanwhile, Nadeah, 26, an international law student, will herself be on the move - to The Hague, where she'll be interning with the prosecution in the Charles Taylor case for the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Both are passionate about human rights and international issues, and they know this will probably mean living apart for stretches of time. But first there are two months in a lovely Hayes Valley sublet, to enjoy the moment. Besides, their recent trip to the altar was fraught with "Romeo and Juliet"-type challenges, and they deserve a rest.
Yousef, a Libyan American raised in Kentucky and Florida, and Nadeah, a Pakistani Indian American from Southern California, met two years ago at a professional gathering in Los Angeles. They both felt a click, but when Yousef requested phone numbers from Nadeah's friends and not her, she was bewildered. But Yousef had a strategy; he would approach from an angle.
There were group outings, but within weeks, they were dating. When Yousef announced he had an interview to work in San Francisco, he discovered that Nadeah had one the very same day, at the very same time. They drove north together, and both landed jobs. "In Arabic, we say it was naseeb - destiny," says Yousef.
However, destiny is sometimes not so easy.
After a move to San Francisco, the courtship progressed. The following year, Nadeah started law school in Cleveland, and the romance continued despite the distance. A year in, Yousef popped the question. But though he had been raised to embrace diversity, when it came to picking a bride, his mother balked: She wanted her only son to marry a Libyan. Planning a wedding against that disapproval was a "nightmare," says Nadeah. The couple even split for a time, discouraged.
But when Yousef graduated from UCSF, he wanted his one ticket to the ceremony to go to Nadeah; it was a signal to his family. Then he worked with them. Three months later, at the close of Ramadan, traditionally a time for forgiveness, his mother came on board.
"She had a positive dream about Nadeah," says Yousef. "It was an omen."
All wounds were healed by August's spectacular three-day wedding, where both families happily intermingled.
This Wednesday, Muslims around the world will be observing Eid al-Adha, an important religious holiday; the couple will feast with friends and family. "Prejudice can be overcome on a personal level," says Yousef, whose close friends represent many religions and ethnicities.
"The Quran says it like this," he adds, " 'We have made you from one soul into men and women, into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know each other.' "
On cultural differences:
Nadeah: "With more intermarriage, the world becomes more tolerant."
Yousef: "There is tolerance, then acceptance, and then the final jump: making family together."
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/11/12/LV6I1G08OE.DTL#ixzz15gKsUq2O