Few days ago, I was invited for a function by Army to deliver a talk to students at the lawns of India Gate. The place where the stage was set up was exactly the place where a boy on wheel chair was sitting few years back. To be precise in 2009, Nov.
Beginnings of Marathon Running
I am referring to the day when I was running my first half marathon, which was the first ever half marathon of any Indian amputee too. I was running with a walking prosthesis, which is not meant for and not even capable of making anyone run using running gait as done by any person who has his limbs. So, technically I was also not running but hopping on the sound leg and dragging the amputated one, to match the speed and in between walking a bit too. My aim was to complete the 21 km distance on my both, oops, 1 and a half legs of mine and one artificial leg, too many of legs around, hmm.
While delivering the talk, those old memories got kindled. I remember, it was perhaps, 12 th or 13 th KM, on Rajpath, where I was approaching India Gate after taking the U turn at half mark. I was struggling to move ahead as I was not just tired but also getting fed up by the effort I was making to drag the limb. I remember the tussle of good and bad inside me. Bad inside me was giving me all sort of ideas to quit and good inside me was motivating me to keep moving. I was using all sorts of tricks to divert my focus from feeling the pain and exhaustion by admiring the things around. At this point suddenly, I heard someone shouting and waving at me from the lawns of Rajpath. Towards my left- hand side at some distance, was sitting this boy on wheel chair. He must be around 15/20 mtrs away from me, but I could feel his happiness when he waved and cheered me up. That was a big motivation for me. A sudden thought struck me, and I got charged up. I thought, “DP, you are on right path, your effort is getting fruitful as at least one person, who is on wheel chair, got some smile due to your action, it means you have chosen the correct approach in life, now don’t give up, and finish the run, the beginning of ‘change’ has been initiated.”
A Perspective towards life
Long back in 1999, when, while lying on ICU bed I was waiting for doctor to finish inspection of my wounded leg, my mind was working aside that left out leg will soon become a ‘leg piece’ but still won’t be of any use to me. Nevertheless, doctor shared the news of amputation which I endorsed immediately. But that is not what I wish to refer to. It was the 1 st thought, which was surprisingly, inspiring even for me, which I am referring to. And the thought was, “Let me see, how amputees live their life, perhaps one day I will be able to do something, which will not only inspire me, but many others”.
It took 10 years for that thought to get convert into reality, but it did happen. And the moment of Rajpath was the proof of the same.
Amazingly, this could become possible, because of two things. One, I had promised myself on that ICU bed that I won’t compromise with quality of my life. And second, I picked up an activity, running, to make this happen.
Running, an activity, which, we all, or every parent, feels good about, when we see our kid progressing. From walking to running. It is a natural activity till few years and then we see this as alien thing. Suddenly, life becomes so fast that we resort to sitting to catch the pace. Sitting in automobile. And the activity which could have kept us alive, slowly dies down itself.
A positive trend for fitness
Past few years, however, have seen a surge in running as an event. This is a very positive change as even if it is trending like a new fad on the board, at least it is bringing back life in various lives.
I am happy I could keep a pace with it and was front runner, way back in 2009 to bring some similar revolution in lives of persons with disabilities. Today, be it an amputee, a wheel runner (what I prefer calling to a wheelchair runner), a polio affected person, a blind or even other type of disability affected people like open heart surgery done, diabetic etc, we see all of them using this beautiful natural gift of God, overwhelmingly. And rightly so nurturing the productive results of it, in their lives.
So, what stops you from coming out of your houses? Afterall it just takes a pair of shoes, a T shirt and a short to get cracking. Isn’t it amazing, for playing this fitness sport, one doesn’t need to get specially trained, at least the novice runners, who are just focusing on being fit and enjoyment?
Now a days, marathons are being organised, every now and then in every corner of the country.
Especially in metros it is like every Sunday there is a run. So, it becomes so easy to not just run but be part of the crowd doing similar activity. Enjoying the fitness and having a carnival sort of fun on a Sunday morning is like rejuvenating for the whole week.
To me the best part of running is not just being fit but also having the liberty to enjoy eating whatever I feel like. No need to die with dieting. It is a simple maths, eat your way and sweat running way till you balance out the inputs with your output. And the result is a fit person enjoying life and saving money and efforts to go around the hospitals.
Adding to above, you get new and colourful pics to put on social media and feel good about your achievements. Some of us don’t mind even putting pics of gulping down some junkfood and still look fit. Trend is changing to the extent that running groups are now talk of the town and new addas of networking and socialising.
Another beautiful aspect of this activity is you get opportunity to do something good. If you take part in any event related to social cause, be it raising funds for a needy person, for a flood affected part of country, paying homage to heroes, or collection of funds for Cancer research. You get all these opportunities to feel good and proud about yourself. After all who doesn’t want to do something good for others?
After 4th half marathon in 2011, I started a self-help support group and an NGO, “The ChallengingOnes” (TCO). TCO works to enable amputees, whom I prefer calling “Challengers”, by making them take part in various sports and marathon is one such sport, which we use exhaustively.
Here too,again, it is the running, which coerced me to use it. There are two main reasons behind it. First is the same, it does not need any special training and equipment. Second, marathon give an opportunity to a disable to perform live in front of public and let them see that ability is not related to body parts but your thoughts. This way TCO believes in shaping up their attitude and convert them from being “Challenged” to “Challenger”. This also helped the public to positively convert their age-old dogmatic thinking towards disability, as an outcome of bad karma, to something as inspirational. These challengers, slowly became, inspiration for public and many able bodied also picked up fitness activity, running, as their daily routine. Over these 7 years TCO has grown to a family of more than 1600 amputees, and many out of it have got success at national and international level in various sports and adventurous activities.
Taking ahead the success of TCO to deep inside Indian cities, we thought of reaching out to various disabled people by organising an event at their door steps. And that is how SwacchAbility Run originated. We have already completed 2 editions of this event in last two years, and 3 rd edition of the same is starting from 7 th Oct to 14 th Oct in Rajasthan, covering 5 cities of the state in one week. If you are out of any of these (Kota, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Ajmer and Jaipur) you have the chance of being part of it. Check out the event details here
You will feel good that you are a part of bringing “Inclusion” by means of giving respect to disabled people and “Cleanliness drive”, which is led by Disabled themselves, along with the school kids and public of your city. You will also get chance to meet the war heroes and families of martyr of your city, who will adorn the stage as guest of honour.
So, before you land up in old age, which starts a bit too early now a days due to ill effect of sedentary life style, get set, get going and get fit so that the environmental effects of pollution etc also does not make you feel old even in your grey years. Run! And run away from boring and unfit life. And if you are out of the above-mentioned cities, run to be part of bringing change to our beautiful country and feel proud about it, about being Indian.
All the best.Jai Hind.
Other day I was attending a function organized by Ithihas foundation. An organization engaged in real time teaching to students since last many years. Smita madam, the founder,is a passionate lady, an encyclopedia of knowledge and a wonderful story teller. She takes the kids of various school around the historical monuments and share the story behind and around not only of structure but the human beings and the lives, who the structures were related to it.
What a wonderful way to teach history, the past, our traditions, values, ethos and all logic and why’s and how’s related to that era – I believe that is the best way to help the kids register things and resonate with their present life to keep the future of country intact. And madam Smita is a perfect example, who is keeping the traditions of being a good teacher alive.
How good a student I am? Time for some Introspection.
But, my question here today is not about how good a teacher should be. Today I am asking to prod self, that how good a student am I? If Smita madam is able to create some difference, it is not just because she is a good teacher but that the students are ready to listen and imbibe the values shared by her without resistance.
We have many good teachers around us. Our parents, school teachers, friends etc as all of them guide, support, mentor and help us grow. But I still feel the best teacher is life itself. Reason is, rest all can be either biased or may try to put best foot forward to not to offend or displease you, or they may not walk the talk and thus overlook your mistakes for their own benefit to not to get ticked off in return. But life, life is a perfect teacher. The learning curve of life is always enriching, it is only the students who lose perspective and start looking for short-cuts fail. Otherwise life offers equal chance to each one of us to shine and stand out.
Our Learning Perception
Often when we look back it is generally the strict teachers (may be parent), whom we use to hate while under them due to their hard way to handle, later comes out the real ones, because the habits we got imbibed due to their strict handling made us achieve things in life. The same way when we undergo hardships in life, a so called non-negotiable cruel teacher, we later realize that how actually it helped us to grow, to get to some place. But again, this is possible only for good students.
While under strict teachers, some students use to adhere, adjust, adapt and learn the way they wished us to learn but others use to escape, evade, tell lies, bunk or totally avoid the teacher to not to face the reality. Same way in life too, those who adhere, adjust, adapt and learn, they grow, and others become negative. Sometime to the extent that they try adapting wrong methods to avoid or evade. But life is cruel, it will keep you in fix till you don’t learn out of it as evading leads to failure, which means repeat the class. And one can not get dropped out of school of life till one learns the lesson. More you delay more hard it becomes.
Like the schools if hardships given by life is too tough, it proves that the lessons you are about to learn are making you achieve bigger things. So, challenges or hardship is directly propionate to lessons learnt out of it.
If I give you my example. The most difficult or challenging lesson I had was my injuries, my amputation. It is just that I could adapt, adjust, learn and make best of whatever is left out with me helped me to reach wherever I am today. I feel lucky that life chose me for this tough lesson. And this way my injuries becomes the best thing ever happened to me. What nothing else could make me, my disability ensured I should become.
It all depends how good student you are. How you look at it. Your perception towards life and its challenges. People feel Disability is a curse, but I feel, what no one could teach me, my disability taught me.The life I am living post injury is far better than what I could have lived otherwise. So, my disability ensured my abilities.
It’s all the game of perception. And a good student understands it well. It is easy to imbibe these traits as youngster, but it is not at all difficult to change one’s perception at any time of age.
I know you love yourself
On this teacher’s day, let’s start looking at things from a different perspective and become good students of life. Avoiding or crying over your fate won’t help but accepting the reality, adjusting, adapting and making best of whatever you have will lead you to new heights. Life’s lesson will always be tough but for sure only positive ones should achieve new heights. I know you love yourself and you would surely try to be a good student of life, the real teacher.
All the best and Happy Teachers Day.
Just a few days back there was a fire in residential building of Mumbai’s Parel area. Nothing new about such incidents but what was amazing this time, was involvement of a 10-year-old girl Zen Sadavarte, in saving many lives out of fire.
Yes, a 10-year-old girl. How is that possible that in case of an incident where the whole building is on fire and people are running for shelter but a small girl is keeping her cool and using all the methods she was taught in school to be followed in such situation.
Well, it is not about her knowledge, which many of the residents might be having. Neither it is about the skills, which for sure she was too young to acquire, it was her sheer attitude which helped not only her but many elders. Of course she gained knowledge about it in school, but she carried the attitude to use the knowledge, which made her a winner in odd situation. For me she is a winner because she turned her learnings into action for her attitude of being a fighter.
This proves that howsoever well-read you are, how so many degrees you have earned, if you are not carrying a winner’s attitude, all these things, which you feel is an asset will go waste.
A correct attitude gets recognized in the odd time only.
Attitude of Listening
Zen is only 10 years old but she carries good listening skills. It is due to this skill only she remembered what was taught to her. Listening is a very important skill, which if gets imbibed in her age helps all through the life.
‘Listening’ is different from ‘Hearing’. Very subtle difference. Something which is heard from ears and gets absorbed in mind in such a way that it works to bring positive outcome is listening. However, in hearing, the absorption area is not used. Another minor difference is, while listening, mind is ready to understand what is said and then assimilate to decipher it. But in hearing, person is doing so to prepare the answer to adjust the point of view he or she carries.
Attitude of Learning
Once we understand the difference between listening and hearing, it becomes easy to ‘Learn’. I was not very good in getting marks, but I was and am an ok listener. I acquired most of my life skills and knowledge due to listening. Sometimes it was listening to others and sometimes to my heart, which always gives out the difference between right and wrong.
To be a good learner, one need to be courageous enough to accept that one doesn’t know. There is a very dangerous combination of ‘not knowing and not agreeing to it that I don’t know’. This combination is the biggest challenge to learning. It hinders your growth.
When I lost my leg, it was not so difficult for me to accept that I don’t have leg so no point cribbing and sulking or seeking sympathy about it. This helped me to move ahead and learn things to counter the challenges posed by not having leg and later learn to make this shortcoming as my strength.
On the lighter side, Zen could be a good learner as the name itself generates meditative feeling. I may be an ok learner because I am a Sikh (Literal meaning of the word ‘Sikh’ is a learner in Hindi).
Zen could evacuate because she could build the attitude of using the knowledge and not storing it. I could run because, I learned to build the attitude of pushing limits to achieve what I dreamt about.
Attitude originates and ends in mind
We all have heard this many a times but let me repeat it for the sake of saying again. ‘If you think – you can do it. You will do it. If you think you cannot. You will not.’ Both way you are right as it is your mind only which plays the role of doing it or not doing it. No one can force you.
Just sit back and think. Anything which we see today has originated in someone’s mind first. Zen could do it because she thought she could. She did not jitter despite the fact that many around her must be in such state of mind.
That’s the mechanism of attitude. It works like that only. When we think positive, we plan positive and thereby we work with a positive attitude to get positive results. I can vouch that because I have done something which was considered almost impossible till then. You attract what you start thinking. If you look back, you will realize that something which originated in your mind as thought, both negative or positive, got converted into reality somehow. That is the power of thinking. This is also known as law of attraction.
Never Give Up
During my talks as a motivational speaker, I meet countless people who are eager to meet me in person, seek a photograph – yes! Selfie as we call it and create a moment. The more I meet the youngsters my urge to work with them on their perspectives increases. There is a need for transformation – in attitude, in faith and in outlooks. I am not a trailblazer for change here, I love them for their clarity, their friendships, their candidness but maybe it’s the technology, the change in interface that has changed the way they think. Their world lacks substance as they are stuck around the Instagram and facebook stories. The moments that they capture is only born with the vision of few likes &; comments and afterwards – they are on a new vision.
They are quick to get inspired, quicker to hope & try and quickest to lose hopes and give up! That’s disturbing! But I am also happy that, may be less in number, but there are kids like Zen, who inspire by their actions.
I am the Boss
One of my session which is designed around the school kids as I believe that is the correct age to build attitude, is called, ‘I am the Boss’. This is only about attitude building and the power of positive attitude. It disheartens me to read about the suicide cases, the adolescent crimes and fraud stories involving the youth – who have mostly done it under peer pressure or the reason because they gave up to a certain circumstance. The program revolves around that problem area and specifically works around the young mindsets who need positive & mature nurturing at this age.
Now that I work every day for my NGO, The Challenging Ones and with people who are trying to bring in some change in the society – I feel the necessity of attitude building – the attitude of positivity and peace, of hard work and tolerance, of friendship and camaraderie.
The ‘Zen’ attitude.
Till year 1999, I had no idea about physical disability, how it is connected by the society with our past karma. How less are the opportunities for people who are fighting a battle with any type of disability and also a societal battle against inclusion.
The lone battle:
In the beginning it was not that bad as I was surrounded by many like me, there was a feel of pride in the air being Kargil injured. It is only afteran year of hospitalization that I realized how alone I was not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. There was no one to understand, what is the feeling of a highly active person suddenly going non-active at all. The transition of thoughts from being the one physically active to one who is restrained from many angles was the biggest challenge.
I wasn’t happy! Not at all with life.
I needed a purpose – a definite one and a challenging one.
First & foremost was to get on my feet – yeah! I had a new leg and I was enjoying the new organ. It brought me back on my feet and I was ready to take charge of my life – once again. While the battle of getting on my feet was won but this was just a part as injuries were all over. A long battle need to be fought to live a life of dignity. I was suffering through numerous losses – family, raising a little child without effecting his innocent heart in any negative way. But I had promised myself to not to compromise with quality of my life ever. Running ofcourse was an integral part of this quality life.
Finding the purpose:
1st Marathon which I ran in 2009, took me 3hours 49 minutes and I was absolutely fighting, struggling with my mind, body, heart & soul. Many firsts happened that day – I felt the hunger, I felt the elation and I felt the gratitude towards life. Most importantly, for the first time I could exercise control over my mind, the most difficult thing in life.
That is how started the journey of marathons. In 2011, it became the first blade run. And later few more 1sts.
Sports as the medium of Attitude Building:
I had found the purpose and I was ready to help people who were fighting the battle against disability. I vouched for inclusion of people with physical disability in the society and Sports was the medium. Sports are a great way to instill confidence & boost the mental attitude.
I found some like-minded people who were more than happy to join the cause and we were ready to bring the change.
I started a close FB group for amputees. Closed, because I did not wish anyone to get added and pass an inappropriate remark on any amputee to make him feel bad and lose whatever little courage he mustered after looking at few extra ordinary things like news about amputee running marathons.
But, it was not easy for me to make them speak to each other despite being in a secured arena. That was the effect of taboo we had made the disability into. Nevertheless, relentless efforts and basic positive instinct of every individual to live beautiful could not hold them for long. There started a journey of links. One to another and many got added as link to this chain and every new challenger, as I preferred to call amputees, passed his inspiration to other new joiners. Today TCO working life family grew to strength of 1700.
We are working through campaigns, events and tie-ups. If you know a person who is physically challenged and is seeking inspiration to be a challenger – reach us here or write to my team.
Let us vouch to convert the view point towards disability:
Someone is restricted by losing body part of its mobility because he/she is the chosen one who can perform and carry out things in much better way even in such state. He or she is not less abled, rather he or she is much more abled than any able bodied. A challenger and not a challenged.
Announcing the much awaited 3rd edition of ONE RACE Human Race SuperSikh Run on Sunday, 9th December 2018.
The event made debut in 2016 and has become one of the most popular running events. With a single Loop, it makes one of the more popular runs to go for Personal Best. The 3rd edition is expected to attract more than 6000 registered runners, the event has grown by more than 100% last year and had over 4500 runners.
Large enough to have that ‘big race’ feeling but warm and fuzzy enough for every participant to get underway and running at their pace, the SuperSikh Run is all set to steal every participants heart year after year and establish itself as the most sought after run in the running calendar.
SSR vision is “To Inspire everyone to be SUPER HERO by believing in themselves; a run with a real heart, SSR raises Aid for leading charities including KHALSA AID.
By participating in this event participants get to run on one of the most scenic routes in Delhi starting from the historical Gurudwara Rakabganj in central Delhi. The unique race route is single loop covering Gol Dak Khana circle, St. Columbas School, Gole Market, Mandir Marg, Ridge Road and Army Public School.
The courses for all the three formats are mainly flat with medium range elevation at one place for the 10Km and two places for half Marathon. The route is fast and well marshalled to ensure all the participants get any assistance they need.
The face of the event and Chief inspiration officer is Major DP Singh, Kargil war survivor and India’s first amputee marathoner, Limca Record holder.
The SuperSikh Run is further supported by Daler Mehndi, Humanitarian Music artist, who has dedicated his Paraolympic Theme song ‘Bhaag Khilaadi’ to ONE RACE HUMAN RACE – SuperSikh Run.
We are also supported by Mr. Fauja Singh and the ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh along with other prominent sports personalities in India. The Half Marathon features some of the best runners and running groups from India and it is complemented by 10Km and 5Km run to inspire new runners and encourage them to embrace a healthier lifestyle.
Being true to the mission we organise weekly Bootcamps, with Elite runners who are Ambassadors of SUPER SIKH RUN and its core values, to recruit new cohort of runners by making running less intimidating, and get them to run with ease through a structured training program. Runners as we all know tend to be loyal and committed and with the right start you know you have got a runner for a life.
We also have some wonderful experienced pacers running in the half marathon and the 10Km event to help participant achieve their goals.
Gurudwara Rakabganj Sahab is conveniently located right at the heart of Delhi, less than 10 minutes from Connaught Place and just a couple of minutes from the nearest metro station at Central Secretariat. It is one of the most picturesque Gurudwara in India with a very rich history.
All participating runners get the sought after ONE RACE SuperSikh Run tee, finisher’s medal and Hot Langar at finish line along with an awesome race day experience. Participation also entitles you access to the two day ‘Festival of Humanity’ as part of the SSR BIB Expo.
Connect and Engage with over 6000 participants who matter to you.