Attempting to heal a broken heart in Hampi

by Kim on March 20, 2013 · 36 comments

A friend from home has come to visit us in India. 

She’s come on the tail-end of a painful breakup. We meet her at the airport. It is early morning, 6:30 a.m., but the sticky Goa heat is already shimmying down, settling in for the day.

As soon as I spot Wendy through the airport doors I can see that the stress of the past few months has taken a toll. Already tiny by nature, she is bone-thin now, dissolved, it seems, in her dark months of sorrow. And there is a sadness in her eyes that I have never seen before. She looks tired, haunted.

Still, she walks out of the airport with a smile. I’m so happy to see her I almost burst into tears. We hug and exchange big, bellowing HELLO’s. I feel like a mother hen who has been given a beautiful, fragile egg to care for. Brian and I cluck around her and usher her towards our taxi.

We pass a few slow beach days in Palolem and then catch the overnight bus to Hampi. I have coordinated this piece of Wendy’s visit, insisting we come here. I want Wendy’s time in India to be magical. I want it to seep into her bones in the same way it has seeped into mine. I want her to be jarred by the spiritual pull of this colorful country.

Hampi is an ancient city, historical and sacred. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site settled amongst boulders in the bright-green Indian state of Karnataka. In Hampi, you can’t fling your sari without grazing a temple or monolithic sculpture. It seems the perfect backdrop for someone going through a transformation. I want Hampi to help heal Wendy’s heart.

As promised, Hampi is wonderful. It is beautiful and foreign and ancient. We spend our days touring temples under a scorching sun. In the evenings we sip chai in a rooftop restaurant called Ganesh’s. 

Hampi gate to temple

Hampi Virupaksha Temple

Hampi Monkey Temple

Hampi Stone Chariat

Hampi temple walls

Wendy and Kim in Hampi

But I have to admit a secret disappointment in the place. I’d wanted Wendy to have a magical experience in Hampi, some kind of moment to yank her out of her sadness and whip her back into the present, something to help her look towards the future once again.

But Hampi is just Hampi and Wendy is still Wendy, with good days and bad days and deep moments of sadness sparked by bright blazes of hopefulness. 

We take the overnight bus home again, wedging our bodies into our sleeper compartment, happy to let the cool breeze blow in through the window. The bus bumps away through the night, stopping at intervals so the passengers can pee. Wendy and I file out and squat by the side of the road under the moon’s unblinking eye, laughing at the pure Indian-ness of it all.

We are dropped at an intersection on the outskirts of Patnem in the quiet hours before sunrise. We walk back to my apartment through the empty streets, the dogs bark in the distance. “India sleeps!” says Wendy. “I didn’t think it was possible.” And in the pre-dawn silence I can sense a change inside of her. It’s a calmness that wasn’t there before. She seems to have embraced the quality so essential for survival here in India. Uncurl your fingers. Loosen your grip. Let go.

When we wake the following morning the heat is still oppressive. We head to the ocean in the late afternoon, buy Tuborgs, and chat on recliners. The sun is making her daily departure from the sky again. We swim out into the ocean, diving beneath the waves, feeling as free and as playful as dolphins.

The setting sun is a brilliant pink and its light reflects on the water. We float in the rose-colored afterglow. I am happy. And as I watch Wendy bobbing in the Arabian Sea, the last blazing moments of sunlight skipping across the water, I think that she is happy too. I ask God, Ganesh and The Universe that someday soon she stays that way.

Sunset in Goa. Healing a heart in Hampi

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Carmel March 20, 2013 at 9:23 am

Nothing like great friends and a little space and distance to help the healing process. Sounds like this trip was well timed.

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Kim March 20, 2013 at 10:26 am

It was definitely well timed. I was glad I could be there for her during part of her process.

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Hannah March 20, 2013 at 9:24 am

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I’m so glad that you and Wendy were able to enjoy India together, and have no doubt that the time you shared there helped shake away some of her darkness, replacing it with India’s indomitable light. And I’m grateful I got to share a little bit of it with you both too xxx

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Kim March 20, 2013 at 10:26 am

“India’s indomitable light,” Hannah, you have got a way with words!

Yes, I think India was good to her.

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Tracy March 20, 2013 at 10:11 am

“Brian and I cluck around her and usher her towards our taxi.” Kim, you’re hilarious. I’m glad that you and Wendy had each other when you both seemed to really need it, good friends can heal all kinds of wounds.

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Kim March 20, 2013 at 10:27 am

Squack! Thanks Tracy!

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LEA March 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm

It is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. Break ups and special the bad one’s make you stronger and sometimes we can realize that perhaps that person was good but not for us. :)

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Kim March 20, 2013 at 11:25 pm

It’s true, we do get stronger when we make it through the other end of the hard time.

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Karen March 21, 2013 at 9:02 am

She’s so lucky to have friends like you. I am sure her trip was therapeutic.
Karen

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Kim March 21, 2013 at 10:48 am

I think it was. Yay for friends :)

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marty gibson March 21, 2013 at 9:10 am

WOW! What a true friend you are. She came back relaxed and with more smiles. The old chatter-box is back. Thank you,
Wendy’s Mom

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Kim March 21, 2013 at 10:49 am

Yes!!! I could see the chatter-box returning towards the end of the trip. I’m so happy about it :)

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Brigid March 21, 2013 at 9:32 am

I’ve always been a bit hesitant about travel to India. I think what mainly concerns me is not coping well with all the hecticness and craziness surrounding me, the inability to escape to calm.

“Uncurl your fingers. Loosen your grip. Let go.” Love this! I hope if I do make it to India in the future I can also learn to embrace this sentiment.

Beautifully written post, and what lovely friends to have!

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Kim March 21, 2013 at 10:50 am

Brigid, I completely understand. I worried about the exact same thing and have shocked myself over and over again by the fact that I’ve just embraced the hecticness. If you come to India you may just find that you surprise yourself.

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Wendy March 21, 2013 at 9:47 am

Its true, you cannot find something where you seek it. But, what was not found in Hampi was found later. Love. Time heals all wounds and India gives us the grace to learn to love. I chose to conciously Give Love – to myself and others every day.

I love you lady. Thanks for being there.

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Brian March 21, 2013 at 10:00 am

Thank you for visiting and giving me one more reason to cluck around Kim tires of me clucking her all the time…wait, that sounds bad…

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Kim March 21, 2013 at 10:51 am

Love you too. I deserve and email soon with updates…

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Kristin Thomas March 21, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Just beautiful! My heart hurts for your friend, but she is very lucky to have a friend like you. I hope healing and comfort will find her soon! <3

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Kim March 21, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Thanks Kristin. She is getting better every day :)

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Shalini March 22, 2013 at 7:42 am

Kim – This was really beautifully written. I’m guessing this may have been who you were going to visit Sri Lanka with, glad India is helping her to heal.
Shalini

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Sarah Somewhere March 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Beautifully written, Kim. Girlfriend time is invaluable, especially during sad times and I’m glad you two had yours.

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Kim March 23, 2013 at 1:53 am

Thanks Sarah :)

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Candace March 23, 2013 at 10:05 am

Kim!!! This is the kind of post that threatens to have me over-do it with exclamation points and all-caps in my comment…in all seriousness, though, I LOVE this. Every last line of it, but especially this:

“I want Wendy’s time in India to be magical. I want it to seep into her bones in the same way it has seeped into mine. I want her to be jarred by the spiritual pull of this colorful country.”

I felt the same exact way when my friend Erin came to visit in November – when you love a country, it’s only natural to want your friends to experience it the same way. What I discovered with Erin – and what I think might have happened with Wendy, too – is that the love isn’t found in any one place…not in Hampi or Agra or even our beloved Dharamsala.

What I’m coming to believe about India is that it’s a process – it’s a thousand little things adding up to an overwhelming love for this country that you can’t quite explain or pinpoint – but it’s there all the same by the time you leave.

Thanks so much for sharing such a beautiful story, my friend!

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Kim March 23, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Candace, that is a very wise observation and I think you are probably right. It is a process, a thousand little things, that build to one incredible love that is hard to explain. Well put my friend!

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Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) March 24, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Beautiful post as always! I can’t help but wonder if what you’ve learned about surviving (or thriving!) in India is not also true for life in general: when we learn to let go, it seems we open ourselves up to gaining so much in return. We carry so much with us—pain,anger,fear—when we let it all go, it’s like we finally have room to be so much more!

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Kim March 24, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Brilliant, Steph, I think you are absolutely right.

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Tom and Margot March 30, 2013 at 6:49 am

All of our emotions are so amazing, with out experiencing one the next is not the same, as with our journeys we can look back and say they all were part of growing, learning, love,sorrow, joy, compassion, and so on. We continue on everyday being thankful for our life.

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Kim March 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Well said Tom and Margot. I agree.

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Amanda April 8, 2013 at 7:39 pm

So beautiful. As always.
Amanda recently posted..In Photos: Costa Rica Highlights

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Kim April 9, 2013 at 4:48 am

Thanks Amanda :)

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Montecristo Travels (Sonja) April 15, 2013 at 6:57 am

A friend did this for me once .. although my journey took me to Doha of all places. You are a good friend. To know and understand that healing is personal. It too is a journey.
Montecristo Travels (Sonja) recently posted..Knowing When to Defer a Trip – Walking the Fine Line Between Fear and Common Sense

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Kim April 16, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Oh yes, the healing process is such a journey. Friends make the world go ’round. I know she would do it for me :)

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sRINIVAS H May 23, 2013 at 2:55 am

WOW SO BEAUTIFUL PICTURES FROM Hampi,

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Kim May 24, 2013 at 6:38 am

Glad you enjoyed them :)

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