NB: Goa was my dear mother’s birthplace and childhood home. The events described below took place not far from her village, Saligaon. This is a beautiful story of life and fate. I have nothing to add to it except to wish this couple many years of the togetherness brought about by their chance encounter in Goa. Happy new year, Hirva and Nikhil. Dilip
“It was just instant attraction,” says Hirva of the moment she met Nikhil. “I remember him holding my hand and walking me through the dance floor. And I just looked at him and he looked at me and we both remember this moment of looking at each other, and I was like, ‘I just want him to hold my hand forever.’ It sounds really like out of a movie, but that’s exactly how I felt.” For medical school student Nikhil, that New Year’s Eve was emotional, cathartic and unexpected.
It was December 2010. Nikhil’s father had recently passed away from cancer. Nikhil, then in his 20s, and his brother, who are Indian American, traveled from their home in the US to western India to scatter some of their father’s ashes. “We decided to spread his remains in an ancestral place,” Nikhil tells CNN Travel today. Afterward, the two brothers extended the trip.
“We were going to be there over the New Year, and so we decided to go to Goa, up on the western coast, which is known for some of the best New Year’s celebrations in India,” says Nikhil. One of Nikhil’s oldest friends flew in to join them, and the trio headed to the golden beaches and buzzy bars of Goa. They set their sights on ringing in 2011 at Tito’s, a beachside club famous for its New Year’s Eve extravaganzas.
“Goa, during New Year’s, is packed,” says Nikhil. “So we found a hotel in the next beach over to Tito’s and of course, it being New Year’s, it was bumper to bumper traffic and we couldn’t get to the beach where this club was located.” In the end, the three men decided to walk from their hotel to Tito’s — not realizing the distance until midway through the trek. The walk was made even more challenging because Nikhil’s friend had convinced the group they should dress to impress — it was New Year’s Eve after all.
“But it’s Goa, and it’s 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and we’re the only three idiots dressed in suits,” says Nikhil today. When the three men eventually reached Tito’s, they found out the club was enforcing entry fees — the equivalent of around $100 per person. The group didn’t have enough cash on them. “We walked another six kilometers back to find a bank — and all the ATMs, we realized, were running out of cash,” says Nikhil. Eventually the men withdrew the money, went back to Tito’s and headed in — later than planned, but still with plenty of time to enjoy the evening.
Inside it was loud, neon strobe lights illuminating figures dancing. Nikhil lined up at the bar, and when he turned around to speak to his brother and his friend, he saw, for the first time, the woman he was going to marry.
On December 31, 2010, Hirva was a twentysomething from western India, about to start business school. She was out celebrating New Year’s Eve with two of her girlfriends. Hirva tells CNN Travel she saw the night as a “last celebration” before she’d be knuckling down to study every weekend. Women got free entry to Tito’s. Men had to pay, but there were reduced rates for those entering in a mixed group….