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

 

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Everyday I am Hustlin’

“You are only one Work – Out Away from a Good Mood”

Aren’t we all guilty of thinking or feeling the “I am in no mood to workout blues”.

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So how do you stay motivated, or like theAwkwardYeti, how does one remember to workout?

I think it boils down to one thing: What is the one workout you absolutely love?

I would like to trace back to how I went from aversion to working out to being in love with it!

Before I was off to college, a group of friends and I would play Basketball, every single day. The court was like our second home. So even if I did not religiously focus on what I ate, I still had a decent level of fitness.

But college changed everything. Just like the comic , I had forgotten what it was like to have activity in my life – I did occasionally go for a jog in Lal Bagh on my aunt’s insistence, but my standard excuse was – we walk so much in college, the campus is so big!

Through the three years – my diet went for an absolute toss, and exercise out of the window. I even gave up on dancing! The one time I danced in front of my classmates – and bam – ligament tear! I feel like that was my body’s way of punishing me for my ignorance.

Fast forward to 2016 – if there was one work out I genuinely enjoyed it was DANCE! Since I couldn’t risk doing that, I had to find an alternate love.

Now this took a lot of research (endless browsing through Youtube Videos):

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(You can find the links for the workouts at the end of this post)

The great part about doing workout videos is the feeling of working out with someone else, and with fitness trainers like Jessica Smith and Casey Ho – they manage to put you at ease and keep you motivated, you start to believe that they want the best for you! They remind you to do it for well – being and not merely for looks.

How to stick to a work out regime and get past missing it ?

  1. Set a Goal

Whether it is losing weight or maintaining it, or getting that 6 – pack ab – trust me, its not impossible.

2. Your mind will not trick you, until you let it

Only you have the power to convince yourself what is important. No one can do it for you. If you are able to convince yourself you don’t need to work out, why can’t you do the opposite?

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3. Remind yourself why you started in the first place

   I have mentioned this earlier too, have doodles, charts whatever you need and hang        them in your room to keep you going.

4. Be Grateful

     Be grateful that you have a well functioning body. Remind yourself that its the only one you can live in. So treasure it, and look after it.

5. Don’t compromise, you deserve better than what you are settling for:

    As easily as you select your favorite flavor of ice cream or pizza, apply the same to your work out. Pick the one thats best for you, and don’t stop.

And 3 months from now you will thank yourself for how far you have come!

The physical changes you observe will always be a plus, but its the change in your mental health thats the real deal. You will feel energetic throughout the day and mindfulness will surround you like a cloak. You will notice how happy and in control you are.

Try it, and see for yourself!

Links for different channels:

  1. Jessica Smith – https://www.youtube.com/user/jessicasmithtv
  2. Casey Ho – https://www.youtube.com/user/blogilates
  3. Spark People – https://www.youtube.com/user/sparkpeople
  4. Fitness Blender – https://www.youtube.com/user/FitnessBlender

 

 

If it burns , you are getting closer!

Live Well, Laugh Often!

“And will you succeed? Yes you will indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)”

-Dr.Seuss

Before leaving for India, my parents got me the most thoughtful gift ever.

“500 ways to live in the moment” – Even if we all could just do one of them each day, we would start feeling the ripple effect of positivity in our lives.

16.08.16

First day in office.

I was off to a great start – Kala uncle being my neighbour , suggested we go together and I was looking forward to finally meeting everyone as my communication with all had been restricted to Skype over the past few months.

Also: I packed my Dabba(s)!

 

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Hopefully soon, I will get to a point where you are interested in my recipes! 😉

Isn’t it wonderful how the minute you are surrounded by some great people, good things follow ? I’m thanking my stars because I get to work with such great people everyday!

Whats amazing about working for a start up that’s run by incredible human beings who do everything to push their employees is the room they create for the growth of every individual. When you start working with them, you realize how far passion and hard work can take you.

Venkat sir, who currently resides in the US, believed in me and hired me based on a Skype call. Thanks to him, I rang in the new year (2016) with a job in hand! I had the chance of meeting him quite recently myself, and it’s an honor to work with someone who is the mind behind our application and so extremely down – to – earth.

A lot of us have the chance to witness a significant impact of a person in our lives, and they make you realize what your true potential is even when you are not aware of it yourself. Manmohan sir has come to be this person in my life. Its amazing how throughout his busy day, he always manages to find time to talk to me, listen to my chattering, and makes sure I leave the room only when I have learnt something new (its subtle, but impactful). A special thanks to him for believing in me and pushing me to do better each day!

An important message I want to convey from the above is ‘go out there and find this person.’ A lot of us move away from our homes to build something; to create an identity for ourselves. This journey can often be overwhelming and challenging, hence making it crucial to find people who can influence your life positively. Constantly seek for a mentor – someone who you can confide in and someone whose happiness comes from seeing you grow, someone who encourages and supports you, and most importantly guides you when you stumble.

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Just a gentle reminder…

The weeks that followed were equivalent to my ride on Formula Rossa. The days were going by too fast, and I wasn’t sure my pace of doing things were at par. But its essential to stop, breath and appreciate yourself once in a while. You are doing the best you can and you are only getting better at it.

Each day, I was making room for new learnings. Hyderabad was giving me so much to look forward to, I had a job I loved, I was a host on Airbnb, Artista was picking up its roots again. I even did a little something for my Munchkin’s first birthday! I cooked my own food, attended a wedding in Bangalore in the midst of it all, and really started to “Live in the Moment”

 

Until Of Course……

Happily Desi

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

– Meister Eckhart

Jugaad!”

The first time I heard this word was in 2006, when my father used it while traveling from Delhi to Uttrakhand. Our car had broken down in the middle of nowhere and with a few phone calls to someone in a completely different city, we were able to arrange another car.

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Pictured: Jugaad Technology

Jugaad (Hack) has crept into all our lives, and in India especially, we indulge in Jugaad on a daily basis (from fixing clothes with safety pins to carrying fuel in water bottles), Juggad  is a talent that you are born with if you are Indian.

Which is exactly why it is always good to be back in India! Its the people. No matter where you go, you always have someone to look out for you.

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Once again, it was time for a Goodbye…..

The minute I stepped on the desi land, I was reminded of the hospitality that comes with returning to your country (I know, I know, I wasn’t even gone that long!)

Every decision has a driving force, and one of mine was Mr.Kala Satyanarayana (I will refer to him as uncle from here on). I must have done something right in my past to deserve him as my mentor. He is the most patient, kind and passionate person I have met. He has dedicated his life to helping others grow; he has such a significant impact on anyone who works with him, and all you really want to do is make him proud. I am one of those lucky people who gets to be on the receiving end of his ideals and work ethics and learn something new each day for which I am beyond grateful.

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Seen in picture: Uncle, my closest friend Sushmitha and the lovely Malathi aunty

The first time I met them was in 2006 when we had moved into the same apartments. Sushmitha and I have been thick as thieves since. But little did I know that someday I would be working with her dad. My very first day back in India started with uncle and aunty, because being the extremely benevolent people that they are, they had come to pick me up at the airport, got me to my home sweet home, followed by a feast that aunty had prepared for me! (You can see why my parents were so confident to send me back)

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Change in View

The next day was Independence day, so I had enough time to settle in, unpack and get ready before starting work (which obviously had to be used for catching up with my friends instead)

And just as expected my friends were checking up on me, and ensuring that there was no such thing as “lonely” when living alone.

I am not sure what amount of gratitude will be enough for this next one, but I am going to try to do justice to it.

If F.R.I.E.N.D.S did a version with families, we would fit right into it. This incredible family had moved in about a month before we left for Abu Dhabi, so we hardly got the chance to spend time together; but I think within a week we had made up for it. Preethi, Mohit, Ajji and Mitakshi(my Munchkin) live right across from me.

Preethi is the reason I know what its like to have a sister. She is such a beautiful and positive soul that you can’t even go a day without seeing her! (To this also add: Amazing chef and baker; Goodbye Diet Plans!) Every morning at 8 am Preethi would be at the doorstep with breakfast – because she can never come to terms with why someone would take all the effort to cook only for oneself!  She is my confidant, my partner in crime and my fellow TV show binge watcher, but above all I am so blessed that I have someone who goes out of their way to look out for me, always!

Mohit and Ajji instantly welcomed me into the family. I have honestly attended more of their family events than my own. Ajji would check up on me every couple of hours and she continues to do it even now. The icing on the cake is our little ball of sunshine: Munchkin. I can go on for days about her, but to sum it up – she truly, in every way possible lights up all of our lives.

And just like that within seconds all of them completely made me forget that I was going to be staying alone.

It was time for a big reality check though: Was I going to be able to prepare all of my 6-8 meals everyday and work out and make it on time for work? Well, I sure as hell was about to find out!

This post is dedicated to every single person who has played a role in my journey so far, I thank you for changing my life just by being such a precious part of it. A special thanks to my parents who spend every minute of their day believing in me and doing everything in their capacity to make my dreams come true.