The Girl Who Moved Mountains

Chapter 1: The Reconstruction

8th April 2015

“Nurse! Nurse! Can you please help?”

“Nurse! Nurseee!”

The panting and screaming continued. Rachna had been woken up by the patient lying next to her who was crying out in desperation for a few sips of water. Thirty minutes, and still no signs of help!

Rachna had woken up with a startle because of the unbearable voices around her coupled with an excruciating pain in her leg. She couldn’t tell anymore if it was reality or a bad dream that was playing in loop. The last thing she remembered was asking a rather charming doctor “Is this the magic potion that will put me to sleep?” And there she was eight hours later, in an “Observation Ward”, an apparently conducive environment for patients. To Rachna, and presumably all the other patients, it felt like anything but that.

What was Rachna, a girl of 20, fresh of college doing in the observation ward of Apollo Hospital?

Back in High School, Rachna had been quite popular for dancing. With multiple choreographies under her belt, it was rather surprising that she had never performed a number in college. On 12th March 2015, Rachna and her entire class of BBA from the prestigious Christ University, Bangalore had decided to take a class trip to a resort called Mango Mist on the outskirts of the city. Their final adventure together had to be a memorable one! She wanted to be remembered as a great dancer, and thought why not perform for the first and last time for the class. Little did she know that the latter would be true in more than one sense.

Rachna’s mom would often tell her the story of how she started to walk when she was just 8 months. She was so quick, that it almost seemed like she learnt how to dance before she learnt how to walk. 20 years later, Rachna, in the middle of the circle formed by her classmates, was dancing to the hit “Dance Basanthi.” Have you heard the song “Pop goes my Heart!” from Music and Lyrics, that Hugh Grant ensures lingers in your mind for weeks to come? Well, with Rachna, something similar happened, only it wasn’t her heart but her leg. While performing one of her favorite moves, Rachna felt a sudden ‘POP’ in her knee, and collapsed.

In her mind she kept thinking ‘Who could have possibly hit me so hard with a cricket bat?’ ‘Was it a cricket bat or a soccer ball?’ ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t feel my leg!’ ‘Why isn’t anyone apologizing?’


Chapter 2: The Rise of a Badass Unicorn

15th September 2015

“Amma, nothing fits anymore! I don’t even like looking at myself in the mirror! This surgery has made me gain so much weight! Why did I have to be all adventurous!” exclaimed a furious Rachna

“Kannamma, if only you saw yourself the way I do, you will see that you are beautiful inside out!” chimed in her doting mother.

Rachna’s mom was her best friend. Rachna didn’t need a knight in shining armor, because her mom could rescue her from any situation! When Rachna was about five, her mother often read to her stories of Snow White, The Princess and the Frog and Rapunzel. Even after Rachna was able to read on her own, she would still insist that her mother read to her because she would enact it and make the characters come to life. Rapunzel was Rachna’s favourite. Having always been a fan of long hair, the fact that someone could use it to practically do anything always fascinated her. But coming back to the present day, Rachna like Rapunzel was confined to her own tower (her bedroom plus WiFi) because she was recovering from an Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Meniscus Reconstruction. Undergoing rehabilitation, Rachna was unable to walk without the help of a walking aid. And like Stitch said, she had her ‘Ohana’ (family) with her, who went to great ends to be her support system. One day, Rachna decided to watch Tangled, which was the Disney adaptation of Rapunzel and asked her mother to join. It warmed her heart to see how much her mother enjoyed it. She saw her childhood come back to life and wanted to hold on to the dear moment for years to come. But the real reason the movie moved her was Rapunzel’s sheer determination to change her situation.

“No, I won’t stop, for every minute of the rest of my life, I will fight.”

-Rapunzel

Rachna knew that the operation on her leg would mean her battle had just begun, but instead of dwelling on it, Rachna had to fight it. She knew that to make her leg heal faster and to be able to dance again, she first had to lose weight. And thanks to Rapunzel, she had just found a little faith, trust and Pixie Dust.

8th April 2016

1 Year post ACL Reconstruction and 4 months after she embarked on her fitness journey…

‘Don’t lose your mind, lose your weight’ by Rujuta Divekar had been lying in her bookshelf for the longest time. It took two ligament tears and one major surgery for Rachna to go and pick it up. And Thank God she did! She would wake up at 5 am, eat her banana, do that knee friendly work out for two hours and then plan and cook the rest of the meals for the day. She showed consistency not only in her fitness regime but made sure that she was self-driven in all the freelance work she was doing. Every project reflected her passion and zeal to learn new things. And just like Rapunzel, each day, she pushed herself a little harder. Day one was one abdominal crunch, day twenty was fifty. There was nothing that could stop her now because she realized the magic of using your mind to make things happen.


Chapter 3: 20 Pounds and 2 Companies

 

14th October 2017

 Rachna had just been awarded the “Superhost” status on Airbnb for the 5th time in a row. Airbnb (the disruptor of the travel industry) evaluates its hosts on a quarterly basis and provides a five – star rating to those hosts who excel in every aspect of enhancing a guest experience. Rachna was out doing herself each time in order to personalize the stay of every guest who stayed at her property. In June 2016, Rachna converted a villa that they had on the Nilgiris into a Bed and Breakfast and began hosting on Airbnb. To her surprise, the response was quite phenomenal. Being a business student, capitalizing on the opportunity came to her naturally.

Along with being a host, Rachna was doing a full – time job at a start-up based out of Hyderabad, India. During her time there, she was pushed out of her comfort zone to learn coding for websites, tools such as Bootstrap Studio (basically everything she had never heard the name of) and was able to follow her passion of creating content for the application that her team and her were working on. But not a day went when she gave up on her fitness. Nearly two years after she started it, Rachna was still cooking all her meals, working out and then walking to work. In her spare time, she was selling personalized greeting cards on Amazon.in.

To add to all the gratifying opportunities, the most significant one came from teaching children at government schools. Rachna was a volunteer for India Literacy Project and she would teach her beloved and enthusiastic students whatever she knew about art and craft. This made her realize, that Snow White was right, you really are the one who can fill the world with sunshine!

After recovering from her surgery, Rachna had promised herself that each day she would learn something new. And to everyone’s surprise, herself included, Rachna tried to make the best of everything she had, and today not only is she the proud owner of two companies, but she lost 20 pounds with a dysfunctional leg got into one of the top colleges for Hospitality in Switzerland. How did she do it you may ask?

Because “All dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”

-Walt Disney

And that’s how she became the girl who moved mountains (quite literally, from the Nilgiris to the Alps).


About the Author:

Rachna Ramesh currently resides in Bluche, Switzerland where she is pursuing her Master’s in Hospitality from Les Roches, Global Hospitality Education. Besides working on her dissertation, she loves to travel and wishes to do 25 countries before she turns 25. Her favorite past time is updating her fitness blog: https://artista2610blog.wordpress.com/, meeting new people, eating Dosas and finding ways to hunt down Indian Food in Europe. She truly believes that we can change the world one smile at a time. IMG_4684

 

Brave Up!

“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.”

-Michelle Obama

England was good to me. Being back in Abu Dhabi meant it was time for a reality check and June and July turned out to be rather significant in evaluating my career and fitness goals.

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The Neighborhood

I was all geared to lose the English Breakfast and Nando’s feast that I had piled up on without any concern about the consequences; and like I said earlier – by all means go on a holiday but it can never be a holiday for healthy living. It is a permanent choice.

I felt like I had to start over, but this time I was more aware, more determined to achieve my goals. The key is to keep challenging yourself. If you can do 10 push-ups today, try 15 in the next couple of days. Remember: you are not competing with anyone but yourself. The entire journey should purely revolve around: YOU!  And since we are on it, make sure the target goes beyond just “Looking good”. We were all born extremely cute and we all grow up to be beautiful, pretty, handsome and all the uplifting adjectives. The focus should be on feeling fit and healthy, because then you feel great from within, and once that happens you automatically love everything about yourself. So I urge you to do things that make you happy and feel good (This wisdom did not come to me instantly, it took a lot of consoling from my parents and friends and understanding myself; so its ok to take that time, but trust me – it will be worth it once you realize the bigger picture of it)

Create your own happiness: 

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Make a vision board – or just anything with quotes that keep you motivated and help stay on track!
Run, Dance, sleep(as the T-shirt reads) or catch up with friends who support your journey

Or…. 

Eat some great wholesome food(I have my doubts about the last one)
 Just take your pick!

The Third Miracle:

I was in line with my goals, I did my work outs, I ate the right kind of food – the leg pain had reduced, but it did have its ways of showing up and when it did, it was the absolute worst. Whenever my leg was exposed to Air Conditioners it would aggravate. If you have ever visited UAE , you would know that the exposure to Sun is so minimal because right from your bathroom to the bus stand everything has centralized air conditioning. So all that artificial cold found its way to trouble my legs(torture would be more appropriate).

UK had been extremely cold too (for my standards) but I could layer up there and so did everyone else. To step out in 50 degrees Celsius, in Abu Dhabi with thermals on was not exactly pleasing. So I resorted to socks and shoes. Even at home, you would find me with leg warmers – all the time! (I wouldn’t deprive my parents of the AC obviously)

Finally, to an extent we had addressed my problem. And my left leg and right leg were competing  with each other to see who can hurt the most, so really there was only so much I could do (or so I thought to myself).

In times like these, its best to divert yourself to better and greater things. When we were in India, we had a vague plan of putting up our property on Airbnb. And  June 2016 saw the light of it. We managed to complete all the requirements of the travel portal and got a heads up to let out our home to travelers!

Being fond of traveling myself, it came as no surprise that getting the opportunity to host people and helping them create memories made me extremely happy.  I was in a way about to live my “tour guide” dream. And when I saw my phone screen flashing with a notification from Airbnb with the very first enquiry, I jumped (out of my bed, since I couldn’t actually jump) and rushed to tell my parents who joined in my burst of excitement.

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            kotagiri

“The Mountains are calling and I must go”

-John Muir

If you are planning a holiday and are looking for a place, I would love to be your host!

Just log on to: https://goo.gl/2Mpf3k (You can also use the following link to earn yourself some travel credit – https://www.airbnb.co.in/c/rachnar13)

My experience of being a host so far has been nothing short of extraordinary. To see a place so familiar through someone else’s eye has its own charm. I am filled with a lot of gratitude above everything, to be able to share this space with fellow travelers and create something that fills their life with magic.

Putting the property on Airbnb has a greater significance. My grandfather was a civil engineer and working on this property was his last project. He has left behind bits of his legacy in every corner of the house, and as a tribute to him, we only think its fair for everyone to get a chance to encounter the marvel that is the Nilgiris.

The Fourth Miracle:

Do you remember how I wanted to find a job once I got to Abu Dhabi? Well, I loved working for my current company so much, that thinking of working anywhere else made no sense to me. I am blessed to be working with some of the top minds in my field and there is just so much to learn each and every single day. Hence, I decided it was time to move back to India.

I will see you soon!