“Mumbai is a second home for me, and if to you want to deal the traffic in this city, just cross the roads with an amputee and see how quickly people make way,” said New Zealander Mark Inglis, to an appreciative crowd that roared with laughter.
The man who was the first to conquer Mount Everest as a double amputee, was in a conversation with website editor Rupangi Sharma at the Tata Literature Live in Bandra yesterday, in a conversation about Bouncing Back Up.
Growing up in New Zealand, he got to explore and experience life fully and this is how he developed an all-consuming live for mountains. In any case, he was always trying something new, even rough sports like rugby., “I had a strong independent streak in me at that time,” he confessed.
It was in a cave where he and his partner were trappedfor 324 hours, i.e. 13 and a half days on Mount Cook, that he went through an experience that really tested his will to live. He got severe frostbite, and by the time he was hospitalized, his legs had to be amputated. “It was embarrassing for me since I was the head of search and rescue and I was saved by search and rescue,” he said, humour intact.
But nothing coykd keep him down. To have both legs amputated at a young age with a family of his own, didn’t change the way he looked at life. He saw this as a new challenge he had to overcome. Along with his 10 month old daughter, he also learned to walk again. And fibally, he also became a mountaineer again.
Throughout his life, he overcame every obstacle that was thrown at him. Even now, at the age of 60, he is still looking for something new to try and to ‘push his heart to the absolute limit’, he says.
Mark is looking forward to December e, which is World Day of the Disabled. But there is a caveat. He wants to replace the ‘dis’ with ‘differently’. Knowing what he is capable of, no-one expects this to be too difficult.
“No matter who you are, you have a certain value,” said Mark, who has proved that adage several times over. Being an amputee doesn’t stop him from doing what he likes, including wearing shorts. He has a certain sense of pride for his knees!
“The harder you push yourself, the better you understand yourself.”
Written by journalism students Annet Anandraj, Samara Fernandes and Kunal Hariani
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