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The Amazing Race

Five airports, four flights, three airlines and two days later, the heart that began its journey on a pre-dawn, cold, rainy morning in NorthEast Ohio reached its destination in a sunny, warm, humid, sleepy hamlet of Kumarakom, south of the city of Kochi, in the southernmost state, Kerala, of India.

It felt like we had been in an episode of “The Amazing Race” over the past forty eight hours of traveling. Except that this was a one-team episode, and so we were the first to arrive at the destination…

The Hole in the Heart

It had been over two years, actually closer to three, that I had been back to India. The passing of my Mom in February 2016, the last of my two sets of parents (birth and sustenance), had created a small hole in my heart that had grown slowly bigger as the weeks turned to months, quarters and then years. After the two year mark, I had begun to wonder, when the road back home would open up to my heart again. The longer I stayed away, the weaker the pull to go back became.

My wife must have felt my fading away. In mid July, the visionary that she is of great intuition, made the decision. It was time to return. In a whirlwind of messages between close family and friends on WhatsApp, a location was found, advance deposits were made, plane tickets were bought, and seven families committed to two separate reunions. The stage was set for the heart.

A Resurgence Story

After having read all the reports of the massive flooding which had happened in August, I had expected Kochi city and her surroundings to show signs of damage everywhere. I was to learn from the local cab drivers that the shiny, gleaming airport terminal we had arrived in had been three feet underwater, and had to be shut down for four weeks. Everywhere we went, whether by auto-rickshaw, car or boat – not a single person complained about what had befallen them. You could see and feel that they were happy that we were visiting and investing in their recovery.

As we took multiple boat trips through the backwaters and on the massive lake, more stories of overcoming and resurgence filtered through. I asked questions of everyone on the lake house that we were staying in – the cleaning lady Asha, the cooking lady Jinu, the manager Aarokya, the boat guides. I asked questions of a mix of Hindus, Muslims and Christians, for Kerala is a state where they all blend together.

All of them would speak of their beautiful families, how much they were grateful for what (little) they had, and of how the floods – and their subsequent recovery from them – had brought them closer as communities.

Family Foundation – Revival Begins

As the long languid days of sitting by the pool unfolded, entranced by the lake as boats of all shapes and sizes slowly slid by like a knife through slightly warmed butter, I felt a warm glow beginning to heal my heart’s hole. The heart started to feel a revival, an increase in functional and emotional capacity. The first reunion, with my brother and sister’s family, laid the foundation for the revival. The feelings of disconnection that had grown with time and distance after my Mother’s passing, were rearranged and reframed like the floating hyacinths that constantly reconfigure themselves on the lake surface.

The heart felt closure, it felt rooted and anchored again. It was a bit like the houseboats that anchor themselves overnight on the lake, and whose solitary lights could be seen like a string of pearls in the distance every night – an entourage of twinkling stars brought down from the heavens onto the waters.

Reunion with Friends – Heart Revival

And as if the revival with the family reunion wasn’t enough, what followed during the reunion with four friends from undergraduate engineering school (and their families) was an even greater closure of the heart’s hole. The five of us have a friendship, a kinship that goes back over thirty years. It has sustained the test of time and space, grown through our weddings, our children’s births, our travels across the world with our businesses and careers.

When you gather the energy of five families, in a five-bedroom lake house, where there is not much else to do but to sit around and swim in the energy of each other, a healing synergy surges through every heart. The five of us are like the five elements, and every time they come together, the limits to our creativity seem to be transcended.

For those of you who have read this far, I am grateful to you for coming along on this journey with me. I share with you with the intent that somewhere in this retelling of my personal revival, you find inspiration to be led to a heart’s revival of your own. I also hope, that when your heart’s hole does close, that you will share a bit of your revival journey with us.

For we shall all be grateful to draw inspiration from the resurgence of your submerged heart, your resilience, your heart’s revival.


Kumud @AjmaniK

P.S. Join us for our weekly twitter conversation with the #spiritchat community on twitter – Sunday, January 13th at 9amET / 730pm India. I will step up to host, and I look forward to hearing stories about your heart’s revival. I will bring the tea and the questions… your presence is much looked forward to šŸ™‚ – Kumud

Houseboat in Kerala

Friends with families

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