He flew to India for New Year’s Eve and met the love of his life

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He flew to India for New Year’s Eve and met the love of his life

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.
In the line outside Tito’s, Hirva and her friends were approached by a group of guys who asked if they could enter with them, to lower the cost.
“We agreed to do that and help them out,” says Hirva. “Then they ended up just hanging out with us. They didn’t leave our side, and we really did not want to hang out with them.”
Inside Tito’s, Hirva and her friends were trying to shake the men off, when one of the group spotted Nikhil and his group at the bar.

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“The fact they were dressed well, we thought, ‘They seem like nicer guys, and if we strike up a conversation with them we could get rid of those other guys,'” recalls Hirva.
The two groups made their introductions, Hirva’s friend leading the way. Hirva and Nikhil, who have asked for their last names not to be included in this story for privacy reasons, were the last to be introduced.
“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.”
New Year’s Eve meeting

Tito’s was tightly packed with revelers, but the club is open air, situated right on the beach. The sound of waves crashing punctuated the dance music.
“We could see the sky, we could hear the ocean,” recalls Hirva.
For the next several hours, Hirva and Nikhil were side by side.
In between dancing, they told one another about their lives.
“She told me that she got accepted to business school and I very distinctly remember her describing that for the first time, and her being really excited about it,” says Nikhil. “That also was very attractive to me, because we’re both similarly ambitious.”
“It was typical club music,” says Hirva of the songs playing in Tito’s. “I remember this one song that we were dancing to, together.”
It was the song “Break Your Heart,” by Taio Cruz.
As 2011 dawned, the club started a countdown to midnight.
“I remember I was dancing with Nikhil, but as it struck midnight, I realized I was here with my girls and immediately let go of Nikhil to go give them a celebratory hug. He was still a stranger then,” says Hirva.
As the night wound to a close, Nikhil asked Hirva for her cell phone number. She hesitated.
“In India, you don’t just share your phone number with random guys you meet, it’s not a thing. It’s not safe. And so I was trying to not share my phone number with him,” says Hirva.
Hirva and Nikhil ended up going their separate ways without exchanging details. Neither of them thought they would see each other again.
“There were absolutely no talks about keeping in touch or meeting again,” says Hirva.
But it turned out their friends had swapped details. And the next day, Nikhil’s friend, after a bit of teasing, passed on Hirva’s number.
Nikhil sent Hirva a simple first text, just wishing her “Happy New Year.”
“My best friends and I were having brunch at a beach shack and my phone pinged,” recalls Hirva. “It said ‘Happy New Year’ from Nikhil. It was totally unexpected. But definitely made me smile.”
Hirva saved Nikhil’s number in her phone, under the name “New Year Boy.”
The night before, in Tito’s, one of Hirva’s friends had taken some photos with her digital camera. At brunch, the women flicked through the pictures. One stood out — of Nikhil and Hirva, arms around each other, smiling.
“All of us agreed that there was something about that picture,” says Hirva. “That picture made it look like I had known him forever.”
Later, Nikhil sent Hirva a Facebook friend request, and she accepted.
Then she updated her Facebook status to the lyrics to “Break Your Heart,” the song she’d danced to the club with Nikhil.
“I got a lot of comments, and no one knew actually what it meant except for him,” she recalls.