Enduring stories of hope, courage, self-empowerment

Enduring stories of hope, courage, self-empowerment

Enduring stories of hope, courage, self-empowerment

 A cancer patient living life to the fullest as an accomplished karate exponent; an 86-year-old sharpshooter grandma motivating underprivileged children to follow her awe-inspiring path; a global communicator talking aloud the humanist relevance of faith, family and feelings.

These rare gems of society claimed their place at TEDxBangalore on Sunday, their enduring stories of courage, hope and self-empowerment holding the audience in absolute awe. The fifth edition of the event, of which DH was the media partner, had just struck a chord.

Counsellor Viji Venkatesh's deeply personal introduction of Kerul Patel set the stage for a determined recollection of his 15-year battle with leukaemia. Diagnosed with the disease after a bone marrow biopsy, Patel had to fight denial, depression, anger and resignation to a mortal fear. His son barely 18 months old, Patel suddenly found his life crashing down.

But then the fighter in him surfaced. "My priority shifted to survival. Fitness took precedence over everything else. Yet, I realised that my body was lagging behind my mind," he recalled. The turning point came five years after his diagnosis. "I turned to karate and felt physically better. I started sleeping better. My mind would be clear."

In 2010, Patel cleared his black-belt degree. Five years later, he had conquered two more degrees. For Viji, who works with 18,000 cancer patients, Patel's positivity and remarkable zest for life were a revelation.  Patel articulated it aptly: "Today, I am not dying of cancer. I am living with it."

Shooter Dadi

For 86-year-old Chandro Tomar alias Shooter Dadi, the world's oldest woman sharpshooter, the big shift came she was 65. Her granddaughter Shefali's coach had asked her to try out a pistol. One shot, a second and a third, and an extraordinary sharpshooting talent was discovered. A decade later, the grand old lady has a whopping 25 national championships under her belt.

Communicator Aaron Sherinian had enough expertise in digital global engagement to disclose: "Young people spend 22 hours a day within reach of a mobile phone. Eighty percent of people grab that phone as soon as they wake up." But that connected world would not be complete without human linkages, without looking back, looking beyond and looking inside.

Dark dungeons

In police officer Roopa D Moudgil's spirited advocacy of a transparent, reformative prison system, the TEDx crowd had a rare glimpse of a world outside the mainstream. "Prisons are dark dungeons, particularly when the prisoners are poor. Without bribes, it can be hell," she said in all frankness.

The prison, she told a shocked audience, is a world lived in luxury by the privileged few. Air-conditioned rooms, refrigerators, branded clothes and more beckon the politically powerful. "A mining baron was even assured a tennis court before he got his bail," said Moudgil, sparking laughter.  

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