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How we met: ‘He was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen. I asked him: “Are you single?”’ | Life and style


Hannah was on her way home from work in London when she noticed the tube attendant on the platform. “I just thought he was the most beautiful man I had ever seen.” This was three years after a painful breakup, when she believed she was, finally, “totally at peace” with being single.

She felt “a fluttering feeling” as their eyes met. “I’ve never felt such intense magnetism,” she says. But afterwards Hannah, now 31, could not remember which platform, or even the station, she had seen the man on.

She looked out for him for weeks. Then, after leaving her office early one day, she saw him again – at Finsbury Park station. Next time, she promised herself, she would ask him out.

The next day, there he was again.

It was busy on the platform, so she hung back, steeling herself to go up to him. Ten minutes passed – and three or four trains. Imran noticed her still standing there on the platform. “You still here?” he asked.

It was not “the most confidence-building thing” that has ever been said to her, Hannah remembers – but she seized her chance.

“I said to him: ‘Are you a single man?’ He was very taken aback and said: ‘What, me?’ I thought: ‘Well, who else am I talking to?’”

Imran did not have a working phone – which Hannah would come to know as typical of his haphazard approach to comms – so she gave him her business card.

Imran, now 44, says he had never been asked out at work before. “It was a big surprise – a nice surprise.”

He had noticed Hannah on the platform: “I thought she was gorgeous.” He also thought she might be “dangerous”. “To be honest, I was a bit worried. I was thinking: ‘What does she want to get with me for?’”

At the time, Imran had been single for seven years, busy raising two children – then aged 16 and 17 – from a previous relationship. Dating had not been a priority.

Their first date was a few days later at a pub near the station – “not even a nice pub”, says Hannah. She still ribs Imran about meeting her round the corner from where he worked, so his colleagues wouldn’t see them.

She had worried there would be awkward silences, but they were still talking at closing time. It came as “a bit of a shock” to learn that Imran had two teenagers, Hannah says – “I took a huge gulp of my gin and tonic” – but it did not put her off. After the pub closed, Imran took Hannah to his favourite local chicken shop, and they ate sitting on a bench outside a club.

It was “relaxed and convenient”, rather than glamorous, says Hannah – but they went on only one more “datey date”. “It became quite domestic quite quickly.”

She remembers a point about six months in when Imran said he would be gone for an hour, then got caught up in errands and family, and went off-grid for the day – “a typical Imran thing”, she now knows. “I realised, as I was imagining these terrible scenarios, that I loved him, and that was why I was so irrationally worried and upset.

“It all came out in this blubbery mess. I thought there was no way that this man was going to tell me he loved me, too – that he was far too guarded – but then he did.”

A little over a year after their first date, just before Christmas, Hannah moved in with Imran and his younger son in Islington. “The house just feels better,” says Imran.

He describes his relationship with Hannah as “two worlds meeting”, but they share values and like to spend time in the same way. He says she is intelligent, articulate, caring, empathic. “I like everything about her. She’s so good at everything she does, she doesn’t take any shit – I like that a lot.”

Hannah says Imran is open-minded, patient, forgiving – “the yin to my yang”. “He’s got bundles of tolerance and compassion where I’m quick to be impatient, annoyed and judgmental. He’s definitely helped me to be a better person.”

They bring out the best in each other, Imran agrees – this interview being a case in point. “I really wouldn’t normally do something like this because I’m such a private person. I think what did it, was she said: ‘Maybe it will give hope to somebody else.’”

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