Anoop Shah Marries Pooja Verma


The newlyweds Anoop and Pooja Shah with their parents, on the left, Ajay and Angela Shah and Dr. Lalit and Aruna Verma on the right.

By Jawahar Malhotra

AUSTIN: It was a baraat like no other as the puzzled guests assembled in the foyer of the large ballroom, with the wedding planners “shush-ing” them to keep quiet so that they wouldn’t startle the groom’s steed. “A quiet Indian wedding,” muttered a few. “Unheard of!!” Many impatient minutes later, after the immediate family and close friends had taken pictures inside, the doors opened and the groom, Anoop Shah came out, seated on an embroidered saddle on a massive, white Texas Longhorn, with a 4 foot spread, led by its handler; hence the “shush-ing” lest the critter be spooked by the noise. A gasp went through the crowd and then Anoop gingerly got off the saddle and the Longhorn was led out the backdoor.

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The groom poses on a Texas Longhorn in front of his family and close friends before the baraat started.

The bull, rather than the traditional steed, was Anoop Shah’s desire to make his wedding to Pooja Verma a Texas affair, harkening back to the roots of the Bayou City he was born and raised in. He insisted on having the wedding at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort, between Austin and Bastrop on Highway 71, where guests could play a round of golf, hike wilderness trails, play a game of horse shoes, work out at the Spa or play a set of tennis.

The wedding was planned for the great outdoors, in the Amphitheater by the banks of the Colorado River and the reception to follow on the large, grassy Riversong Lawn behind the lobby, where a white tent over a metal frame had been erected. But, alas, it was not to be as a furious rainstorm that started Friday night and lasted all day Saturday drove the ceremonies inside to the Grand Ballroom, “which was the backup option that the resort offered us,” said Ajay Shah, Anoop’s father.

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The couple after the wedding ceremony.

But it turned out to be just as well as the baraat danced in the wide hallways and inched its way to around the side, the dholuk player and the DJ keeping the baraatis invigorated, with the groom joining in, all the way to the Baron’s Ballroom which was tastefully decorated, with long, tall flowering branches forming a backdrop to the mandap. Pandit Padmakar Gangathirkar of Austin, who has become widely acclaimed for his refreshingly straight-forward delivery in Hindi and witty descriptions English of the ceremony, officiated the ceremony which kept everyone’s attention, a rarity in Hindu weddings. The sangeet dinner was by Bombay Bistro of Austin and the reception dinner came from Bombay Brasserie of Houston.

The groom, Anoop Shah, 30, completed his undergraduate degree in Business and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and after a brief stint working in Madison, Wisconsin, finished his MBA at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He is presently an Associate in Corporate finance with Next Era Energy, in West Palm Beach, Florida. He is the son of Ajay Shah, a mechanical engineer who is the co-founder of Shah Smith Associates, a consulting engineering firm in Houston.  His mother, Angela is a dietician who formerly worked in several area hospitals.

The bride, Pooja Verma, 31, was born and brought up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and got her undergraduate degree in Finance from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, eventually getting an MBA from Cornell University. She works as a Project Director at TNTP, an NGO consulting firm from Brooklyn, New York. Her father, Dr. Lalit Verma has been the head of the Biology and Agricultural Engineering Department at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville for the past 14 years. Her mother, Aruna, retired as a kindergarten teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

After a “minimoon” in Sedona, Arizona, the couple will make their home in West Palm Beach, Florida. They plan a longer honeymoon next year in New Zealand.