I want you in my life

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19 Feb 2024 | PEOPLE

I want you in my life

//Story by Thrina Tham / Photos by Kenneth Lin & courtesy of ME3 Harmeet

English Melayu

They got off on the wrong foot when they were assigned as course buddies but soon found that they did not mind being stuck together.

ME3 Naresh (left) and ME3 Harmeet started their SAF journey together from enlistment day; and are now both serving in DIS.

They met where every Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) journey begins – on enlistment day in CMPB (Central Manpower Base).

It was a rough start. She thought he was a show-off; he thought she was proud and aloof. As fate would have it, they were assigned as buddies in their training course.

So began the many project works and presentations together. It was August 2006, and they were in the SAF's Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) community.

When then-Recruit (REC) Naresh headed off for his Basic Military Training (BMT) two months later, then-REC Harmeet Kaur realised that she actually missed him. (BMT was in the midst of their training school back then and both of them had entered in different batches.)

"I was quite sad and I thought 'there goes my friend.' That was when I realised he's not just a companion but also a close friend, a buddy," said Military Expert (ME) 3 Harmeet, now 39.

He must have felt the same. He called her three months later, inviting her to attend his BMT graduation parade – which she did.

They started going out for a few months after that, and officially became a couple in 2007.

The couple have been together for 17 years since 2007.

The "sad" proposal

"070707 – that was when I proposed to her (to start dating officially). It's a sad story, do you really want to hear it?" said ME3 Naresh, 39.

(Of course, we do!)

He already knew he wanted to propose but could not find the words as they were on a taxi to his workplace that morning.

"We had this long awkward moment where we didn't talk to each other.

"I got off the cab, she continued on her journey… And then I messaged her 'I want you in my life'," recalled ME3 Naresh.

"I thought, 'wow, what a way, Naresh'. But yes, he's not a romantic person," said ME3 Harmeet, nodding in full understanding of her husband of 15 years.

Good humour and communication have kept the couple tight; and they have a 13-year-old daughter, Harshini, together.

This is how they roll

Practical as he is, ME3 Naresh even set a "condition" for their marriage two years later.

As they both had tests to pass as part of their career progression in the SAF, he told ME3 Harmeet that they should get married only after clearing their tests.

Even their then-Sergeant Major knew about this, and told them to "go prepare for their wedding" shortly before the results were officially out.

Said ME3 Naresh: "He said it in such a way that we knew we passed the tests. So then I told her 'let's apply for BTO' – that was my proposal."

"After my first proposal, I knew this is what I get. This is how we roll," said ME3 Harmeet in good humour.

The two got married in 2009 after fulfilling their own "condition" of clearing their milestone tests in the SAF.

The pair are now in the Digital and Intelligence Service – ME3 Naresh as Unit Chief Expert in the Open Source Unit; and ME3 Harmeet as a Military Intelligence Expert in the Joint Intelligence Command.

"The good thing is that there's someone who can understand the difficulties of your work. Some things can be hard to explain if your partner doesn't understand," said ME3 Harmeet, on having her spouse in the force.

They also work together to ensure that someone is always around for their 13-year-old daughter, Harshini.

"Whenever there is a tasking at hand that's going to be very time-consuming, I will check in with him on his schedule and we try to balance it out," said ME3 Harmeet.

For one, they have alternated their involvement as trainers in the National Day Parade (NDP), since it requires many weekends away for work.

ME3 Harmeet (far right) was a parade trainer to the Key Appointment Holders at the 2022 NDP.

My hotline; my ChatGPT

With both of them in the force, the couple also made a commitment to draw the line between work and family.

"We don't talk about work when we are with our daughter," said ME3 Naresh.

Though the two don't talk about work while they are with their daughter, they still expose her to all things SAF, such as taking her to the Army Open House in 2017.

Have there been times when they have helped each other at work, then?

"All the time!" said ME3 Naresh.

ME3 Harmeet admits that she turns to her husband when in doubt about certain things.

"For example, if I need a sample document and don't have it, I can 1800-dial Naresh. If he has it, he would help send it to me," she said.

Meanwhile, ME3 Naresh is not shy to share that he asks his wife to screen through some of the non-classified emails before he sends them out.

"I'll ask her to vet some things – she'll spot my grammatical errors and say 'why is your English so bad?'," he said.

"She was my ChatGPT before it was invented."

"We're an SAF couple, of course we..." What do military couples have in common?

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