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What A Romantic Love Story!

February 27, 2024 14:39 IST

'Being patient, kind, and supporting each other is the backbone of our love.'

Jason and Nicole

All photograph: Kind courtesy Nicole Flanagan and Jason Gong

Jason Gong, adorably boyish, is Chinese-American.

Nicole Flanagan is a pretty Mumbaikar who moved to the US for her higher education.

Their beautiful story begins on a chilly February evening in 2022 amid the vibrant nightlife in the heart of Chicago's downtown area.

Nicole, ready for a night out with her coworker and her date, found herself unexpectedly third-wheeling. However, her spirits were high.

Jason and his best friend from college were club-hopping. Their journey led them to the Joy District restaurant around 9.30 pm.

And Magic Happened.

Jason says, "She walked past me, looking and smelling great. 'Who's that pretty girl?' I wondered. I was intrigued. I think I fell in love just then.

"I wanted to talk to her, but I was so nervous. I needed my friend to hype me up a little before I made my move."

Describing their initial interaction as a dream, Jason adds, "What a friendly person, I thought."

His gaze shifts to Nicole as he says, with a twinkle in his eye, "And now she yells at me when I don't clean up."

Jason and Nicole

Nicole joins in, laughing, "It was literally love at first sight when I met him."

"It's his eyes," she says, "the way he looks at me and listens to me. He's so patient, extremely kind and a gentle soul."

Nicole recalls the night vividly. "He seemed genuinely interested in me. He asked about my hobbies, my interests, the restaurants I like and what I love about Chicago."

A seemingly ordinary conversation held the seeds of something extraordinary.

Talking to Jason became more than just an exchange of words; it was a revelation that prompted Nicole to ponder, 'Did I find the one?'

The answer was left to speculation for just as long as it took Jason to tell Nicole, 'I'd love to see you again.'


Their first date was a harmonious composition at a local karaoke bar.

"We both ended up going up on stage and singing I Just Can't Wait to Be King from The Lion King," Nicole remembers with a fond smile. "I'll never forget that night. I remember texting my best friends about it; I was over the moon.

Jason and Nicole

Did the cultural differences affect their relationship?

"Actually," says Nicole, "it's refreshing. I never knew how much I would love anime and Manga until Jason came into my life. He's got me hooked onto watching and reading the One Piece Manga series; I'm on chapter 819."

Jason's commitment to a healthy lifestyle has also influenced Nicole.

"He's a health nut," she says. "I never realised how much junk food I was eating until I met him. He keeps me in check and is very strict about his diet. He loves sesame noodles, dumplings and Chinese pork dishes. Thanks to him, Boba (bubble tea) has become my favourite drink too."

"He even taught me how to say a few words in Mandarin, but I've forgotten them already."

Jason, who Nicole describes as "brilliant and ambitious, has played a pivotal role in my personal and professional growth. I've never met anyone as smart as he is. He makes me a better person and, being in tech, helped me excel at my work.

"And," she grins, "I've also gotten really good at Call Of Duty (the video game)... unlocked some special skills."

"I love the fact that she's a gamer," Jason laughs. "She's always ready to drop anything to play video games."

Their story has a spice-laden twist too.

"I've gotten used having a lot of curry in my life," Jason confesses. "Her two favourite dishes -- she orders all the time and they're very spicy -- are Chicken Vindaloo and Lamb Rogan Josh. They've definitely caused some tummy problems too," he grins, patting his stomach.

Jason and Nicole

The couple opens up about the relationship storms they have weathered.

"We're both very passionate about each other," Nicole confesses. "So any past relationships that we hear about sparks jealous rages in us."

That, they say, is the reason why reassurance is one of the pillars of their relationship.

"It's very important to reassure each other every step of the way," Nicole asserts, "by making each other feel special and comforting each other when needed. I'm a very impatient person, but he's extremely patient with me and never fails to make me feel like a million bucks."

The tenderness of their connection manifests in everyday gestures -- a warm hug, a spontaneous kiss. "He's very lovey. He kisses me a lot and will never say no to any of my requests," she blushes.

Jason adds with a candid smile, "It was a challenge to accept that there were people before me who caught her attention first. But she makes me feel so special; it's very clear how much she cherishes me.

"She made brownies for me when she can barely cook," he chuckles. "She got all the ingredients -- eggs, oil, baking dish -- and surprised me with it when I got home.

"She goes out of her way to buy me things and is full of energy. She's always ready to drop anything she's doing to chill with me. She loves to laugh."

Jason and Nicole

As the conversation turns to the evolution of their love over the years, Jason reflects, "I've definitely gotten more comfortable with her, sharing more things about my family, my previous experiences and my life. I feel like I depend on her more. She's also getting me to dance a lot more with you now."

Nicole grins, "I got him to watch my favourite movies with me, especially my horror movies -- The Conjuring series, Annabelle and my all-time favourite -- Jurassic Park."

Nicole's daily routine reflects the intensity of their connection.

"I rush home from work every day just to see his face and be close with him," she confesses.

"Doing things together is crucial," Jason emphasises. "Enjoying activities we both love, cooking together, paying video games, going out -- these shared experiences contribute to the tapestry of our relationship."

The couple, who now live in the East Village, Manhattan, New York, highlight the importance of surprises in keeping the romance fresh.

"It adds an extra element of excitement to our relationship," Nicole says.

"Above all, being patient, kind, and supporting each other is the backbone of our love.

Jason and Nicole

And their favourite romantic memory? Jason smiles warmly. "It would have to be the day we went to this restaurant in Chicago. She was late as usual, but she sat really close to me the whole time and I wanted to keep kissing her."

For Nicole, it's the drive to Champaign, Illinois. "He said, 'Let's go, I wanna take a drive with you'. He planned everything out and I felt like I could stay up all night, exploring places and talking to him."

Nicole and Jason share the golden rule that underlines their relationship: "Your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse is your own special person -- treat them well."