Last Sunday I had a beautiful experience. I attended Mrs Jyoti Ranade’s Arangetram. It was live proof of what one can achieve through passion and dedication!

Mrs Ranade is my dad’s friend’s wife. She has been learning Bharatanatyam for the past fifteen years under the able guidance of Mrs Meghana Sabade. Mrs Ranade works in a reputed bank and pursues various other hobbies too; some of them being embroidery, painting and yoga. Young at heart and vivacious, she is certainly an inspiration!

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As I’ve written in a previous post, an Arangetram is akin to a graduation in Bharatanatyam. It takes a lot of hard work, determination and perseveration to reach this level of competence. It’s difficult for even young girls to put in the amount of efforts required to reach this stage. Imagine, then, how tough it must have been for a lady who’s almost in her fifties!

Yet Mrs Ranade practised three to four hours daily; perfecting every step and every expression, right down to the tiniest details. Her guru, Mrs Sabade, recounted that she would sometimes think of simplifying the dance steps for Mrs Ranade so that they would be easier for her to perform. But Mrs Ranade would have none of it. She would reassure Mrs Sabade that she’d manage to perfect the step(s). And by the next practice session she really used to do so!

It was amazing to see her stamina and grace. Performing Bharatanatyam solo for three hours is no mean feat, and certainly not when you’re middle aged. But then, age is just a number to Mrs Ranade! Watching her perform, I was struck by how powerful one’s willpower is!

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A few months ago I had the opportunity to attend a talk by Mrs Aparna Prabhudesai. Mrs Prabhudesai is the first lady from Maharashtra who has scaled Mt. Everest. She has scaled it from the North Ridge, which is considered to be the more difficult route.

This, in itself, is a major feat. What makes it even more laudable is that she is forty-seven years old, and, due to a severe meniscus injury a few years ago, had been told by doctors that she would never be able to walk again without support. Even in her own home Mrs Prabhudesai had to use a walker or a wheelchair to move around.

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Mrs Aparna Prabhudesai

After being wheelchair-bound for five months Mrs Prabhudesai decided to change the course of her life. In May 2013 a friend of hers invited her on a trek to Triund in Dharamshala. Though she trekked a bit with the help of braces on her legs, her friend had to carry her most of the time.

On returning from this trek, Mrs Prabhudesai decided to take up running. In June 2013, she ran 3 km for the first time. She went on to complete several half and full marathons in India and abroad.

In May 2014 she participated in a trek to Everest Base Camp. When she saw Mt. Everest from the base, Mrs Prabhudesai decided that she had to scale it in 2017. With this aim in mind she completed basic and advanced courses in mountaineering from Manali in September 2014 and June 2015 respectively.

Though she carried her leg braces along for the expedition, Mrs Prabhudesai did not actually use them. During the talk she gave a humorous account of her entire expedition: the challenges she and her fellow mountaineers had to face during the ascent and descent, the every dipping temperature and oxygen levels, the tricky route, the gale-force winds, and the sight of bodies of mountaineers from over the years who were unable to make it. I got goosebumps by just listening to her as she described every experience she’d had!

Mrs Prabhudesai is the founder of Pune Running – the Viman Nagar chapter of RunWay. She still required physiotherapy and has to regularly consult with her doctors to deal with the pain. But does she let this stop her from pursuing her ambitions? Does she allow this to bog her down? Certainly not! When asked by a member of the audience as to what she’d love to do next, she said she would like to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Mrs Prabhudesai’s smiling, cheerful, never-say-never attitude helps her to conquer every ‘Mt. Everest’ in her life! She is yet another example of the power of willpower and resilience!

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Watching such inspirational people, listening to them as they recount their experiences, as they share stories of their struggles, their fortitude and their eventual triumphs, I feel that for such people even the sky is too small a limit! Perhaps a different galaxy would be a better one! When obstacles are mere bumps in the road, you become absolutely unstoppable!

When I attend such sessions I feel this deep desire to do my best, be my best! I pray for the strength and the grit to reach out to the stars!

I hope that someday I too would perhaps give the best performance I can give, I too would eventually scale my own ‘Mt. Everest’!

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