Two Cultures, One Love

By Debbie Lagestee     •     Photos by Valerie & Ed Photography

It has been said that dogs have a sixth sense or an intuition about new people. Cassandra Goyal knows this to be true from personal experience. She adopted her dog Linley, a Jack Russell Terrier, 12.5 years ago, several years before meeting her husband, Abhinav. Linley was always by her side and accompanied Cassandra on errands around town and on vacations. When Cassandra and Abhinav began dating, he and Linley took an immediate liking to each other. Cassandra jokes, “Abhinav fell in love with the dog before he fell in love with me.” All joking aside, she was grateful for their compatibility and Linley’s stamp of approval on Abhinav. Luckily for Abhinav, Cassandra fell in love with him too! They dated for a couple of years before getting married in 2016.

Photo credit: Photos by Laura

Cassandra and Abhinav’s wedding weekend was a grand affair. In addition to taking their hands in marriage, it was also important for them to marry their two cultures. Cassandra was born in Ontario, Canada, and moved to St. Louis, Missouri, when she was in middle school. Abhinav was born and raised in Dehli, India. They hosted their guests at a country club in Columbus, Ohio, where they had two wedding ceremonies. Friday night was the Indian wedding, complete with Indian attire, food, and music. The dancing and celebrating lasted until 1:00 am, a night to remember! The festivities continued Saturday with a traditional American wedding. The backdrop of the golf course added to the beauty of the spectacular event. Two months later, Abhinav and Cassandra flew to India for another reception to celebrate their nuptials with friends and family members who could not travel to the U.S.

Cassandra attended the University of Missouri St. Louis for her undergraduate degree, then stayed in St. Louis for graduate school at Maryville University. She continued her studies, earning a post-master’s certificate at the University of South Alabama. Cassandra always had an adventurous spirit, so it was no surprise to her family when she accepted a position as a Nurse Practioner in Columbus, Ohio. When she moved there, she knew no one but made friends and ultimately met Abhinav while they worked together at the hospital. One of their favorite memories was going to the Jazz and Rib Festival while living there. It was an annual event along the river with stalls selling different types and flavors of ribs and set live jazz music. It was a fantastic way to spend a summer day with friends and Linley. Cassandra now works at MUSC as a Hospitalist Nurse Practioner.

Abhinav went to medical school in India. He came to the U.S. in 2009 to do his residency in Pennsylvania and then did his fellowship in Columbus, Ohio. Moving to the U.S. was not much of a culture shock to Abhinav due to the large amount of American influence in Dehli. However, being away from his family was more difficult than he anticipated. He traveled back to India two times per year to visit, and his sister has since moved to Seattle, WA. Although there is still quite a bit of distance between them, the closer proximity allows them to spend more time together. Abhinav is a Physician at Roper St. Francis Hospital, specializing in Internal Medicine and working as a Hospitalist.

Cassandra and Abhinav have many shared interests and hobbies. They enjoy tennis, hiking, camping, scuba diving, and traveling. Cassandra played tennis in high school and college and still loves the game but is on a break now while mending an injury. Cassandra hiked at Mt. Everest base camp, and Abhinav is preparing to do the same at Mt. Everest base camp in Nepal in October. He does CrossFit as a means to prepare for the adventure. Abhinav grew up playing cricket and table tennis. He is always up for an action-packed game of ping pong and looking for new neighborhood partners. For fun, Cassandra enjoys decorating cakes. Traveling has been a passion of Cassandra’s since she was a young girl taking road trips with her family. She was grateful when she learned Abhinav shared her passion.

She recalls, “I loved being outside, walking barefoot through National Parks. I like to see other cultures, see what other people like and what foods they eat.” She has been to 30 countries and has seen 5 of the 7 Wonders of the World. The 2 remainings, The Great Wall of China and Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, will stay on her bucket list until she can check them off. Cassandra and Abhinav are very laid-back travelers. They often just book a flight and a hotel and figure out the rest when they reach their destination.

Cassandra and Abhinav are proud parents of their daughter Norah. She is a sweet, timid, calm baby attached to her mama. At just 1.5 years old, she is already taking swim lessons and doing baby gymnastics. She likes dogs, meeting friends for playdates, reading books, and going to the beach and the pool. Norah has a very mature palate and chooses to forgo bland baby food. Instead, she prefers spicy curry rice, Thai, and Mexican food. Like her parents, Norah loves to travel.

She took her first trip when she was one week old. At one year old, she went to India to meet her extended family. She has also been to Costa Rica, and they will visit Cancun, Mexico, later this year. Unfortunately, Linley will have to sit this one out. Cassandra and Abhinav are raising Norah in a bilingual household. Cassandra began learning Hindi, Abhinav’s first language, 6 years ago before marriage. They speak English and Hindi to Norah so that she may carry both heritages with her.

Abhinav and Cassandra moved into Essex in Carolina Bay in 2019 when they relocated to Charleston. They chose the neighborhood because they loved the area and the community. The walking paths and the amenities were a great attraction as well. Walking Linley and Norah around the neighborhood is a favorite activity for them. As the holidays approach, they are reminded how much they love cruising around on the golf cart admiring the Halloween and Christmas decorations throughout the community. On the cul-de-sac where they live, they are surrounded by an amazing group of neighbors. Cassandra is thrilled to be involved in a few mom groups and Bible studies.

They grew up halfway around the world from one another, living in different cultures. Abhinav and Cassandra were brought together by their careers in medicine, but what keeps them together is that they embraced and intertwined their two cultures with one love.

This article was featured in the October 2022 issue of Carolina Bay Neighbors magazine.


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