He wanted her first visit to India to be a memorable one and he made it unforgettable.
Sometime in the mid-1990s, the late Dr Balaji Sadasivan - he was Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs when he succumbed to cancer on Sept 27 last year - took his wife Dr Ma Swan Hoo to Agra where he had to attend a conference on neurosurgery.
They arrived in the city on Valentine's Day and Dr Balaji took her to visit the Taj.
"It was so romantic. The Taj was beautiful. I had read about it but did not expect it to be so beautiful. Balaji had seen it before and for my very first visit to India he wanted me to see the Taj. It is something that I will never forget," said Dr Ma of the visit.
Days after the launch of Dr Balaji's book - The Dancing Girl: A History Of Early India - on July 22, Dr Ma spoke to tabla! about her husband's labour of love and her life with him.
They had met while they were students of medicine at the University of Singapore in 1976. She was a second year student and he a year senior and it was a college play that brought them together. "I was the director of the play and he was the main actor.
We spent a lot of time together, rehearsing and discussing the play. We had dinners together and had lots of conversations not just about the play.
It just started from there and didn't stop," she said, recalling the early days of their relationship.
Shortly after the university stage production, Dr Balaji wrote a play on the Malacca sultanate which went on to win an award in a competition organised by the National Arts Council.
His admiring junior helped him edit it. "His handwriting was not easy to decipher. I helped out so that he could give it to his father's secretary who could then type it. Also it was Balaji's way of introducing me to his father, who ran an accounting firm.
Those days people tended to matchmake and this was a subtle way of introducing me to his father. I don't think his father got the hint but his mother felt that something was happening," Dr Ma said with a smile. But that smile slowly faded and her eyes welled up when I asked her what she would always remember Dr Balaji for.
"When I first got to know him what amazed me was his intelligence and his breadth and depth of knowledge of so many things. That was why, I guess, that every night when we had dinner together there was so much I was learning from him. He was a fantastic teacher, I was the student. He made it so interesting and so easy to understand. Every day I was learning something new and something fascinating.
I think that is what I miss. He had lots of knowledge and lots of wisdom. He had so much to share. It could be any current event, economics, songs, movies, even Lady Gaga. It was amazing. Honestly, I have not come across anyone like him," she said with the smile slowly coming back.
The two got married in 1981 and a few years later moved to Michigan, where Dr Balaji trained in neurosurgery. During the five years there, they had their second child, daughter Anita, who now works for an international bank here.
Older son Dharma who holds a degree in philosophy from the US, was part of the first batch that graduated from the Singapore Management University in the juris doctor programme recently.
Dr Ma did part-time work in the neurosurgical department while in Michigan. She helped in the clinics and also did research work in the laboratory.
"The last many years I have been working part-time because I wanted to spend as much time with Balaji when he travelled," said Dr Ma who cut down on work considerably after Dr Balaji took ill. She stopped working for two years and recently started to work again.
Life changed for the couple after Dr Balaji entered politics in 2001. During their courting days, they would go to the Drama Centre to watch movies. After the children arrived, they would watch midnight shows after the children had gone to bed.
It was a pastime that continued till Dr Balaji became an MP. "We just did not have the time after that," said Dr Ma who played the supporting role as the wife of an MP.
At some of the Meet-The-People sessions she would take snacks for the volunteers. She also tried to accompany Dr Balaji on his overseas trips because apart from "understanding what he did, it gave us time with each other".
She would also accompany him to community events where both were invited. "It was important for me to understand what he was doing and by going with him I realised the community was very happy that he had a wife who was there to support what he was doing," she added.
For Indian events, she used to wear a sari which she had worn for the first time on her wedding day. "After that I did not wear it till Balaji became a politician. It was Deepavali and one of the Tamil Murasu reporters wanted to visit our home and I decided to wear a sari.
Our neighbour happened to be an Indian from Delhi so I got her help in learning how to tie a sari. After that I had a lot of occasions where I thought wearing a sari would be appropriate. Usually I used to get Balaji to help pin the sari," said Dr Ma who wore a sari for Dr Balaji's book launch.
That brought us to the subject of the late minister's writing skills. She said he did all his research himself and ordered a lot of books from Amazon.com. The two would discuss what was to be written but Dr Balaji did all the writing. "The thing about Balaji is that he was gifted. He had a kind of photographic memory.
He knew exactly which chapter, which paragraph of which book he has read. He could also write fast," she said. "Initially when he started writing, he would send it to me and, after editing, I would e-mail it to my son for further editing just to get him involved. But after a while we realised we couldn't keep up with Balaji.
He was writing faster than we could edit!" said Dr Ma who, after her husband's death, helped in sourcing the images, working on the maps and getting the book published.
Dr Balaji was 55 when he died. His love and passion for history continues to live through his wife, who volunteers as a guide at the Asian Civilisations Museum and the National Museum. A science student, she admits that it was only after meeting Dr Balaji that she developed an interest in history.