Image Source: https://edition.cnn.com/
Nupur Gupta was nearing the end of a two-week stint teaching at a yoga retreat in Goa, India.
It was February 2019 and the weather was balmy, bathing Goa’s famous beaches in a warm glow. The sea glistened, invitingly.
In between yoga practice, Gupta always made time for a swim.
On this particular day, she floated out further than she usually would. When she realized how strong the current was, it was too late. The water had started to pull her under.
She tried not to panic.
“I knew somewhere that, ‘Okay, if I constantly, and with consistency, keep swimming, I might make it,'” she tells CNN Travel today.
Whenever Gupta attempted to crawl back to shore, the current dragged her under and she’d fight her way back to the surface, gasping for air.
“Then I saw this man coming towards me.”
This was Attila Bosnyak, a financial adviser in his forties hailing from Hungary but based in the Netherlands.
Coincidentally, Bosnyak was a student at Gupta’s yoga retreat where, he says, he’d been trying to “disconnect from the hustle and work pressure and the Dutch winter.”
Gupta didn’t teach Bosnyak’s beginners group, so they’d never spoken directly.
Bosnyak was a strong swimmer, so he wasn’t scared, but he was struggling to reach Gupta in the face of the strong current.
“He came very close to me, to hold my hand and pull me out, but just about that time I was pulled in by the ocean,” says Gupta.
That’s when Bosnyak realized that, even if he could get hold of Gupta’s hand, he wasn’t strong enough to pull her back to the shore alone.
Glancing around, trying to stay calm, he spotted a nearby cluster of rocks that were blocking Gupta and Bosnyak from the view of anyone on shore.
Bosnyak figured if he could climb on top of one of them, he could wave back to land and catch a lifeguard’s attention, but there was a risk of being thrown onto a rock and injuring himself.
“So I tried to do it carefully,” Bosnyak recalls. “But I couldn’t really, so two, three, four times I was basically pushed onto the rock by the wave.”
From Gupta’s perspective, it looked like her potential savior was drifting uncontrollably.
“That’s when I panicked,” she says, recalling thinking: “What if the wave just throws me on the rock and I have a head injury or something?”
Eventually Bosnyak managed to clamber on top, and pull himself to his feet. Waving and shouting, he caught the attention of the lifeguard on the beach, who swam out immediately.
The lifeguard assisted Gupta back to the beach, while Bosnyak swam on ahead.
It was only when Bosynak reached the shore that he realized he was bleeding.
“Especially my back and my thighs because of the scratches, and my fingers — because I’d tried to hold on to the rock,” he recalls.
“My heart sank when I saw that, because it just made me realize that what this man just did to help someone, to help me,” says Gupta.
As Bosynak, exhausted, collapsed onto a sun bed, Gupta jogged to the nearest store to get some disinfectant and, on a whim, chocolate ice cream.
Back on the beach, Gupta started tending to Bosnyak’s wounds. Then she handed him the ice cream and he smiled gratefully.
“Something changed, for me, in that moment,” she recalls. “There was a click in my heart somewhere.”
Bosnyak felt it too, even as he lay there, bleeding.
“I think that was a magic moment,” he says.