When Kavi Mannan Packiam first laid eyes on Stephanie Soledad Rodriguez at a birthday party for his childhood friend, Gautham Jothi, Mr. Packiam told Mr. Jothi he thought she was gorgeous.
Mr. Jothi told him to forget about it. She was Mr. Jothi’s colleague, and he feared it might make things messy for him at work. However, when Ms. Rodriguez expressed interest in Mr. Packiam, Mr. Jothi gave his blessing.
After the November 2019 birthday party at Le Bain, a nightclub in New York, Ms. Rodriguez made plans to go to Pho 87, a restaurant on Chrystie Street, with Mr. Jothi and his husband. When Mr. Packiam heard, he invited himself along. “Kavi didn’t even like pho,” Ms. Rodriguez said.
As soon as she got into a cab after dinner, Ms. Rodriguez texted Mr. Jothi to ask if Mr. Packiam was single. He was.
A week later, Ms. Rodriguez reached out to Mr. Packiam on Instagram. The couple’s first date was Dec. 6 at Chefs Club on Mulberry Street. It went so well that Ms. Rodriguez invited Mr. Packiam to her Upper East Side apartment the next day for a holiday party. On Feb. 1, 2020, they became boyfriend and girlfriend.
Six weeks later, the pandemic took hold. On March 15, Ms. Rodriguez headed to her mother’s home in Riverside, Ill. Five days later, Mr. Packiam retreated to his brother’s home in Delmar, N.Y. In late spring, the two returned to New York City. But in mid-August, Mr. Packiam was ready to move forward, and Ms. Rodriguez was not. They decided to break up. But fate kept bringing them together.