#AgeNoBar with Parimal Gandhi

As I look back on a life spanning six and a half decades, I see how it has stretched me to my limits. Four episodes of Cancer. One near miss. Blind twice, four corneal transplants with one coming up later this year. A cardiac bypass. Surgeries for Glaucoma. Battling diabetes and temptation, Hypertension, salt and oil. And the consequent difficulties that have accompanied me all through a journey, carried out mostly by myself. But then, life is what you do with what happens to you. My real achievement is to have taken all this in my stride. I no longer know how to walk, I can only stride! I have worked and travelled extensively and lived life my way. As a corporate trainer, over 100000 participants and 1000 trainers trained globally. Every moment I have lived has been happy and fulfilling. I am rarely without a smile! Five factors have helped me overcome these challenges.

Healthcare– Brilliant doctors and their teams. Absolute clinical efficiency combined with uncompromising empathy. They ensured that the diseases and treatments did not become my life but remained smaller sections of my big picture. It would have been terrible of me to die and disappoint these magnificent medics! I never miss out on my meds, drops and injections.

Attitude– Life throws challenges my way. I accept them as tests, gifts, even prasadwithout demur. I then wrestle with them using all my resources. I have learnt to almost enjoy these trials while continuing to do what I want to elsewhere in my life. I never ask, ‘Why me? Why repeatedly?’ I have chosen to live my life. I will not let it live me. I have gone with the flow and gone against it, as my goals required me to do. I have never felt that there was a choice to be exercised. Should I not take my best shot at recovery? Should I not stay happy if life is going to be short? Can I be happy if I am not going to do what I was made for – help people learn? 

 Faith– The parmatma never tests me without sending help. He knocks me down but never knocks me out. The diseases have been tolerable and treatable. Difficult but not impossible. As soon as a vicissitude arrives, just a step behind is a totally appropriate miracle worker to help me. Why should a dear cousin marry the foremost oncologist in the country? Why should a great cancer surgeon’s parents have continued to be my parents’ friends after a chance encounter at a hill-station? Why should an incredibly humane oncologist become a good friend in my Rotary Club? A Hungarian in the railways chooses to become an ophthalmologist, move to the USA, come to Ahmedabad and then perform a corneal transplant for me in Amarillo, Texas? I run into my eye doctors on a 6-hour train ride? Incredible. I no longer believe in coincidences. And I have realized that in facing these contests with Fate, several of the negative karmas of my past now stand extinguished. And I have simultaneously encashed many of my good karmas. Why else would so many karmic penalties have been coming my way one step ahead of the most wonderful caregivers?

Profound gratitude– for the positive, cheerful people around me. All of us are the sum of our experiences.  I am very appreciative of the tests and trials. They have forged me into who I am. It feels marvelous to rise in one’s own esteem and like and respect oneself.

My Profession– Why is someone who almost qualified to become a Chemical Engineer a Corporate Learning and Development professional? I meandered into this fulfilling occupation and am always thankful to be in it. It has been an island onto which I have clambered and an oasis that has quenched my very being. In inspiring and motivating my participants, I have kept myself charged and positive. Fate has attempted to wreak havoc. And I have remained alive and have splashed around in the storms. I have surmounted every challenge with aplomb. I do not know how all this will end. But I have decided to make it a happy ending. Pune is one of my favorite cities, like Baroda, my hometown. A cultured, university town, I also have the privilege of examining Ph. D. candidates for Pune University and conduct training for a few clients in Pune. I also buy trousers, Bhakarwadi, chivda and Shrewsbury Biscuits there and love that Bhimashankar is so near!

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