Getting engulfed in the ocean’s turbulence felt like homecoming to Girish Gogia. “It was almost like tradition to go cliff-diving in Goa whenever I travelled there. The turquoise of the ocean called out to me, I’d never be able to hold myself from doing it. The year of 1999 as well we went to our usual spot to prepare for the dive. I did my routine, and jumped in head first,” Girish recalls.
It was but one slight miscalculation of the depth of the ocean that time around. “I hit my head on the sea bed. While my head miraculously survived this, my body’s weight completely fell on my neck, and hence, a paralysis swept over my body. I couldn’t move my limbs, and in the flashes of consciousness that I was gaining, I could see myself drifting further and further away from the shore,” Girish explains.
You know how they say that when one has a near death experience, their life thereafter feels like a rebirth, like they are starting afresh? Girish wanted none of that. Life-altering as it was, he didn’t want this incident to be the start of his story, when people talk about his valour. He refused to wipe off his glorious yesteryears, and wanted nothing more than to get back to being the spirited, adventurous man he was. Images of a life that was so passionately crafted and led flashing in front of his eyes.
Girish remembered how his life has always been full of plunges and leaps of faith – he remembered how he had left the confines of the city he grew up into study Civil Engineering in Belgaum. He remembers the turning point in his life, when his burning passion for architecture and design scared him, as he would have to start over.
“I was always fond of colour combinations and fascinated by structures. I had the fortune of visiting all of Europe as a child, and I have been smitten by Roman architecture ever since. Shifting fields after putting in four years of my life building a completely different skill set was frightening. But I was confident,” he recalls.
Girish named his company Ambience Interiors, and remembered how doors kept opening, and success kept knocking, just because of how fervently he sculpted his fortune.
He remembered feeling proud and content, when several corporate offices, and projects in the ivory coast of Nigeria, getting featured by top home and decor magazines were all a direct indication of how well he was doing. He remembered the ecstasy of travelling all over the world for his work, and spending5 years in West Africa for his timber business. He remembered the thrill of being thronged by the rainforests of the Amazon on all sides. He remembered how his wife was also diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, with paralysis progressing inch by inch every year, but how their marital flame only burnt stronger.
Even still, the memories of a life this golden and resilient aren’t easy to erase. Not even by the chilling irony that a meticulously planned night that he wished to spend surrounded by the people he loved and floating on the ocean staring at the moon was being spent instead surrounded by doctors, lying almost corpse-like on a hospital bed, staring into that blinding halogen of the OT.
He knew that this incident wasn’t going to be the start of his life’s story, when people hear his tales. And there was no way he’d let it be the end. All it was, is another leap of faith into another challenge.