The spirit of adventure never left this motivational speaker
A motivational speaker, adventure junkie, social activist and a successful writer, nothing deters Navin Gulia from living his life to the fullest, not even his disability. Paralysed below the waist, after he met with an accident while serving in the army, Capt. Gulia never lost hope though he lost his job, was bed-ridden, hospitalized for two years, and came out of the hospital in a wheelchair. Navin shares his thoughts on what makes him the achiever that he is.
“Those two years in hospital made me a much stronger person and when I was out of it, I was not thinking of how this was a major loss. And I was not mulling over something like why me, I was thinking why not me. Millions of people suffer in this world, so why not me!
Navin’s feats include driving to the top of Khardung La at 18340 feet in a 18-year-old Maruti 800
I had chosen to be a para-commando because of my love for adventure. There too I could have faced life and death situations, so I never lost heart.
Instead, I was ready to brave this loss. I was always positive and developed a lot of calm and patience. These helped me overcome any doubts that could have hindered me from living my life on my terms.
The time in the hospital instilled confidence in me and I started dreaming big and thinking of doing what everyone thought was impossible. Life inspires me and I love my life.
Whatever comes my way, I always look at it from a positive frame of mind. People used to tell me that you can’t do this or that, but I always thought otherwise. Their apprehensions made me stronger and I knew that if I could get out of the hospital in two years, I could do anything.
I then set my sights on targets that even normal human beings would dread. As a first step, I myself modified my old car to suit my needs.
I was able to manoeuvre my car the way I wanted and went on to apply for a driver’s licence and got rejected for known reasons. I told my instructor that if he wants to reject my application then he should do it on the basis of my driving skills and not my physical appearance. After several deliberations, I was given the license by the transport commissioner himself.
I then decided to drive to Khardung La all by myself. 18340 feet in an 18-year-old Maruti 800 seemed hard for others, but for me it was just another challenge. And I did it.
I was ecstatic and this instilled more confidence in me. After having conquered 18340 feet, I wanted to do something bigger and it was then that I dwelt upon the idea of conquering Marsimik La at 18,634 feet.
I drove non-stop for 55 hours to reach the world’s highest mountain pass in 2004 and created a world record that stands firm till date. There was no stopping me and even my family members didn’t get to say much in my search for some adrenalin rush.
They knew once I had made a decision then nothing in this world would deter me from achieving it. I then decided to kiss the skies and I went on to do hand gliding, microlite flying and soared with the eagles at 20,000 feet. While doing all this, I felt how beautiful life is.
Despite my success, I have a word of caution for all those adventure junkies who want to follow my footsteps and follow their dreams.
Never compromise on safety.
You should indulge in these sports if you have had some basic training and doing something dangerous just for fun is not my idea.
You have to prepare yourself and treat it like a mission. For me my experience with the National Defence Academy helped me understand the nuances of adventure sports.
After satiating my hunger for adventure sports, I was fortunate to become a darling of the media and my story was splashed across newspapers. My story struck a chord with the people.
After much coercion from my friends in the media and otherwise, I decided to write a book wherein I would share my story with the rest of the world. Within few months of release, the book, ‘In quest of the last victory’, became a best seller.
In my two years at the hospital, I was always dreaming of doing things that everybody else thought were unachievable. I kept nurturing these dreams and this I believe helped me get out of the hospital bed to a wheel chair and then explore this beautiful world full of immense possibilities.
In 2005, I decided to dedicate my life for the cause of the disabled children who I believe are the most downtrodden section of the society. A nation's progress can be understood from how it treats the most vulnerable sections of the society. For me, children are the most vulnerable of the lot who need a lot of attention and care.
This gave birth to the idea of starting an organisation that would cater to the needs of these children. In 2005, I started AADA (Apni Duniya Apna Ashiyana) with meagre resources. I wanted to help as many children as I could because they might not have friends and family like me who were there to support me at any stage of my life.
Our body and mind has infinite ability. Our ability never restricts us. Our thoughts do. If we think we can, we can. If we think we cannot, we cannot. This has been my mantra and I know this would never fail me. So, I won't stop till I achieve what I think I can.”
As told to Akash Bisht