When disability makes no difference

When disability makes no difference

“What is life? “ asks Navin Gulia, adventurer, social worker and writer. And then answers it himself: “Feeling joy, pain, happiness, exhaustion, fear, hunger, success and failure. Adventure makes you feel it at the extreme.”  When Navin says that, you listen. Because, he is not just any other guy seeking an adrenaline rush. He is the man who paralysed his body below the shoulders in a freak accident at the Indian Military Academy and despite a 90 per cent disability  —  went on to set a world record by driving a Tata Safari to Marsimik La, at 18632 feet, the highest mountain pass in the world – 1232 feet higher than the base camp of Everest.

“The best way to empower a person is to take everything away from him. When you have nothing to lose, there are no fears,” he says with a smile. Who would know it better than him? When doctors pronounced him 100 per cent disabled, Navin challenged those limitations, and strived relentlessly to achieve whatever targets he set for himself. Though Navin has no sensation below his shoulders, he has taught himself to drives cars and motorised gliders. “With practice you can do anything,” he says, “and I was never afraid of hard work”. He has designed controls that let him handle an automobile’s clutch, brake and accelerator simultaneously and uses them by pushing his arm, by moving his shoulder. “Flying has much lesser controls than driving. Pull the steering and the plane goes up, push it down and it comes down. Unlike a car, a plane cannot topple. So, I found flying even easier than driving,” he explains.  Adventure, he feels, is not taking risk but eliminating it with preparation and efforts. You are safer taking part in adventure sports than walking across the road. “If you are adventurous you may succeed or you may fail but if you chose to be safe, you have chosen to lose,” he says. Navin can be contacted at www.navingulia.com

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