Friday, 4 November 2016

Inspiration Porn everyday

From past many months now I have been associated to this word 'Inspiration' quite often. All things written about me uses one of the following phrases,  'overcoming disability', 'brave', 'suffers from', 'defying the odds', 'despite disability', 'resilience', 'epitome of willpower', or my favorite, 'inspirational'.

A few months back an acquaintance of mine messaged me of Facebook that he was feeling depressed and suicidal, but, after seeing a few pictures of me on Instagram, he found strength to live his life. What surprised me was that he mentioned "If you in spite of your disability can live your life in a normal way, I can definitely live my own". Or once my boss said "I am sure you would have reached greater heights in your career if you were not disabled". Or my co-worker once told me"I am so proud to have worked with you, you do what you love in spite of you begin a woman and being disabled". Or a few weeks back a recruiter did some google search before interviewing me and when she met me, she asked me about my disability. "Which leg? What is your accident story?" Well for everyone who is reading this, you might feel what is wrong with these statements? These people are finding inspiration out of me, or are appreciating me and my courage to do things I love, or genuinely wants to know more about me. I always try to take these statements as it was intended, as a compliment, and return it by saying a thank you. But, honestly, no, These statements are trying to bring me down to this new word that is now my identity. How would you feel if world perceived you or your condition as so pathetic, so unfortunate, miserable, that they started calling you 'inspiration' merely because you woke up today? Something that they could never do if they were you! sometimes its degrading and implies that my own existence is something to be overcome, that living my everyday life is above and beyond what anyone expects of me. 

What's your excuse? These words are meant to provoke an able-bodied person's pity and make them self conscious how easy everything is for them. The bar is so low for them that even a person on wheelchair/an amputee is able to do it. What is your excuse? huh? Making people bad about self and thus motivating them to work hard towards their goal. 

The problem with Inspiration porn is not just related to disability, it grows on fetish of tragedy. We feed these fetishes. Because be feel intense emotion which makes us feel good about our own lives. In the Rio Olympics, it was not just Paralympics that was portrayed as superhuman thing. Even the Olympic Refugee team was admired and pitied. Their stories of fleeing their war-torn countries, their terror, their fear was publicized and shared in news papers and social media. 

Inspiration porn to able-bodied fails when you guilt people to work harder by motivating. People quickly go back to their real procrastinating self. Later on, a disabled person is reduced to a stereotype able bodied people use to motivate each other. They share such stories on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and sometimes feel good about themselves and again try and push themselves out of wherever they are stuck. 

Inspiration without activism equals exclusion. After thousands of people sharing my story, only thing I got in return was popularity. Disabled people are still treated in the same way as they were being treated before. No one came forward to make places more accessible, or put in some money for my training or covering my costs. There is still inequality, still people are excluded.  

I don't think my disability has anything to do with who I am as a person. I just want everyone to realise their potential like I realised mine. So whenever I go out to speak on some platform, I tell people how I found my potential and motivate people to find theirs. I normalize my disability as any ordinary episode. It is never overcoming disability, it is always accepting to live with it that matters.

I am not others. I am a person. I have my own aspirations, dreams, frustrations,  and goals. I reach some every day and some are more lofty. However, they are mine. My disabilities do not make me beautiful or unique . I am complex person. I do have disability, and I have not overcome it. It remains, permanently, just like my ideas. I have my own set of problems,I have completely forgotten how it feels to keep both the legs on ground and I have very faint memory of running. Most of my issues are related to attitude, access or tech. Now a days I hate stairs, and have to deal with blisters and pressure sores from my prosthetic. But that is all normal to me, just as having two working arms and two working legs may be normal for you. It is just the world is not made for one legged person.

I like to be called inspirational when my family or my friends say that. Because they know how much I have given in to reach the place I am today. They know my tears, pain, hard work.  It’s nice to have people notice it, your life, your situation, your struggle and your fight and I don't mind being called inspirational by them. They also know how adamant, stubborn, irrational, demanding, perfectionist, obsessive, and sometimes stupid I can be. 

I am not the best para-badminton player in India. But I am best that plays with a prosthesis on. I am still adapting myself. On court I am not as fast as I was before. But does that stop me? No, It doesn't. I am learning new ways to adapt myself to my prosthesis. Sometimes the support I need from my prosthesis is minimum. Sometimes my prosthesis weighs me down too. But, we find our own ways. I know where I stand and I know what I can do. I do not have unrealistic goals. Yes, but I know what needs to be done to be better day by day(This is what I think makes me a better person). A very few people who play badminton understand the struggle that I go through when I am on court. And the appreciation I get from them is what matters. These statements 'in spite of this prosthesis you are able to move so much or hit such few shots' are what makes me go stronger and learn faster. My life hasn't turned out how I wanted it to be, I still have so many unfinished goals and aspirations. But does that make me  worthless? No, because I matter.

Shout-out to disabled people who aren’t “inspirational”, who are unemployed or stuck with a job they don’t like, who didn’t do well academically and/or had to drop out of school, who aren’t in a position to live and take care of themselves independently even if they would like to, who don’t “just get on with things without complaining”, whose lives didn’t work out in the way they were hoping for, who haven’t “overcome” their disability in the way that society tells us we’re supposed to. You exist, you’re worthwhile and you matter. 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Irish International 2016

Irish Para Badminton International 2016 was held in Antrim, Northern Ireland, UK from 22-6-2016 to 26-06-2016. I won a Silver medal in Women's singles and a Bronze medal in Women's doubles with my partner from the Netherlands. In mixed doubles, me and Manoj Sarkar were out in quarter finals.

I would like to thank all the people at Rotary club of Deonar and residents of Anushaktinagar for making sure I could participate in tournament. I would also thank Adidas India for sponsoring my apparels, Jankalyan Sahakari bank for sponsoring my kit and Ottobock India for giving my a blade prosthesis for training and playing.

My current international ranking after the tournament is as follows:

Mixed doubles : 3rd
Women's singles( SL3) : 5th
Women's doubles: 20th

Some action pictures by Alan Spink can be found here Action Photography

Some pictures clicked by me.

Irish breakfast

oops, ankle twist

The tri colour

SL3-SL4 Men's doubles (Anand and Manoj)

SS6 Men's singles (mark)

Me with Asami Yamada from Japan

Finals day


Team bonding time

Medal cermony

Team India

My precious

SL3 men
medal medal

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Leaving one thing for another

In March when I wrote about doing ten things I am afraid to do, I also mentioned I will concentrate on things that are important to me and not waste unnecessary time on people, places, things and ideas.
To make that thing happen, I have started saying 'No' to trips and vacations, started concentrating on people who matter, let go of things that hold me back and now I have quit my job.
My swimming pool is under repairs, thus I am unable to swim and click pictures for you all. I will post them as soon as I get a chance. I am monitoring my bank account properly now and am minimising my unnecessary spend on travel and shopping. Using public transport is difficult as I need to walk a lot to reach where I need to from a railway station or a bus stop and this summer gives no relief. I am completely dependent on rickshaws and cabs. (I wish Uber or Ola gives me a gift card). 

I did no activity on social media and deactivated my Facebook account for a week, stopped replying to messages on Whatsapp and did not post anything on Instagram and twitter.

Due to no activity for a few days, when I re activated my accounts, I became super active and also installed Snapchat to compensate. Ha ha I am never going off social media in future, but yes, I will just be less frequent.

I also wanted to tell you all that I am now going to Northern Ireland for Irish International in the 3rd week of June. I am training extremely hard for this. My schedule is crazy with training, practice, studies and office. Also, I have started Running (All thanks to Ottobock India for giving me running blades to practice) and go and practice it daily in the evening after office. I am right now utilizing all 24 hours and wish I could get few more hours in a day to do all the activities that I desire. 

 Last few weeks were really hard for me where I had to take some very important life changing decisions during that time. Also, had to find me a sponsor for my Irish tournament. Unfortunately, haven't been successful in finding one. This whole thing is frustrating. I don't know how my seniors have done this(New found respect for them for going and winning tournaments in spite of millions of road blocks). Sometimes things can get so much out of hand that I cant even devote time to my training when I have to schedule meetings to meet potential sponsors. 

I am not sure how things are going to work in future for me. I don't even know if quitting a job was a proper decision or not. But all I know is that I have to become a better person and I have to leave one thing to concentrate on another. Future has a story to tell and I wish to mould it just the way I want. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Contact me

After my World championships, a lot of people have asked me to use social media to show my presence and spread awareness about disability and para sports. So here I am, all active. You can contact me/ follow me/ PM me/ DM me on the following handles:

Facebook: joshimanasig
Instagram: joshi.manasi
Twitter: joshimanasi11
Snapchat: joshimanasi

See you all on social media.
Do write.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Start writing things down

Does it happen to you that you think about something and need to write that quote? Or you observe something that must be noted by either clicking it or by writing it down? Or you somehow create a poem but there is no pencil or paper to write it down and feel it can never be written on a phone? This happens to me so often that I have started carrying a small book and a pencil with me. Each and every bag of mine has a book and a pencil in it. Right now I have so many half filled books each  with my thoughts scribbled and I feel I must write some of it down on my blog too.

To start with I am posting a small poem that I had written few weeks back while I was travelling from Dehradun to Roorkee.

And he slept with a blanket over his face, 
on a footpath, 
never far from the madding crowd, 
waiting for the sun to rise again.

My book has some observations like 
  1. How one particular area has different colors of flowers and foliage during different time of the year.
  2.  How a driver of BEST bus calls the bus conductor near him when he needs assistance when he is driving the bus.
  3.  How sun and sky looks from my window during particular time of the day and season.
  4.  What are my requirements and needs from a car and how must a car be analysed by me before buying.
  5. Must watch movies and must listen to songs.
  6. Poems that I loved (I have noted down only Gujarati poems, Don't know why)
  7. Some Ted Talks that I must wathc and some Podcasts that i must listen to.
  8. Places that I need to visit in Mumbai and India and world.
  9. Some sketches that I drew while traveling
  10. Mostly unfinished poems and some stupid thoughts on life.
  11. Some experiences of my travel, point wise.
  12. My views and observations on work, family, life, friendship, love, etc.
  13. Address, phone numbers, email ids, 
  14. My notes and points that I need to cover in my speeches.

I Think about you when I have nothing else to do,
just like how I think about my goal.
I don't know if you make me happy yet,
because right now you don't.

मेरी रेवड़ी कहाँ गयी? मेरी इंक पेन और पेन्सिल है कहाँ? आज शुरू हुई है मेरी छुट्टियाँ, मेरी दादी है कहाँ?

Conquering fear of diving in deep water, one step at a time

Thank you for mailing me your super secrets on things you are scared of doing. That was good response to my previous blog where I had mentioned about trying to do ten things that I am afraid to do.To continue this, I have picked up my fear of diving in deep water as a new task that I need to do to strike off my list.

Because I don't know how to swim, I never ventured into water level above my knee on a beach. If by any chance I do some water sports activity, like going around on a banana boat, I never jump into water. Reason 1) How do I climb on the boat again? Reason 2) what if my life jacket fails?

In April 2013, I went for a trip to Andaman Islands and I ventured into deep sea for the first time We did a sea walk stint near Coral Islands there. The people over there were reluctant to assist an amputee but after finding me over enthusiastic, they took me in. We did some initial training, and I was ready for my sea walk experience. The most difficult part for me was climbing down a ladder and then equalization of pressure. Somehow completed the whole walk in water. When I reached the surface, my nose started bleeding and I had the most terrible headache. That day I told myself that I will never dive in deep sea again. (That was headache talking)

But in April 2015, when Divyanshu Ganatra asked me to try scuba diving, I somehow forgot about my old experience and directly said yes. Divyanshu has started his own organisation that promotes adventure sports for people with disabilities called Adventures beyond Barriers. In India ABB is pioneer in promoting adventure sports (check out their details here)  and I was lucky enough to learn the techniques and skills from Kshitij Mittal from FinKick Adventures(check out their details here ).
My first part of SCUBA training was completed and I was asked to learn swimming to finish the next 2/3rd of the course. Somehow due to tournaments and work I never prioritized swimming and never ventured into water after April 2015.

In March 2016, our support group from Bangalore (It is named as One Step at a Time started by Hema Subhash along with AASTHA foundation by Sunil Jain) organised a small swimming camp for people with orthopedic disabilities to learn how to swim. This motivated me to learn swimming here in Mumbai. I filled out my forms, got medically certified, and I started my very own swimming camp.

It has been few sessions now, and I am learning on my own. I know that it will be a slow process but I have taken up this task and there is no looking back. I now wish to swim without assistance and that too in the deeper part of the pool. Once I finish this, I am again going to Pune to finish my course in Scuba diving and hopefully be a certified diver to dive unassisted in open waters.

All thanks to Divyanshu, Kshitij, Hema and Sunil who inspired me to learn a skill I never thought I could learn after my accident.
I will post pictures of me learning how to swim soon.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

To do ten things that I am afraid to do

I have decided to again write this blog and be active here for sometime. Things are moving smooth for me. After winning silver at BWF Para-Badminton World Championship, I am getting a lot of appreciation for my work. I have been given with more and more opportunities lately and I have started to be more vocal about para-sports and about my disability. I am doing one thing that I was extremely scared of - ie. Public speaking. 

I was invited to speak on stage for the first time by my engineering college. This was in Oct 2015 after the worlds to share my tournament experience and about my journey from a regular amputee to a para- sportsperson. To my surprise, I did a good job and there was no looking back. After that I have been invited to address students of various schools and colleges throughout India. Inaugurated various events in Mumbai as well as in various parts of the country. I am right now giving lectures in India's top Management schools and Engineering colleges. I have been invited by top government organisations and corporate companies to talk to their employees about my journey and share my experiences. This makes me believe that we as people are progressing and we are being more and more inclusive towards people with different needs. It makes me happy when people message me saying how their life has changed after knowing my story or meeting me. 

I am able to feel all this only because I overcame my fear of public speaking. 
I have realised that I still am afraid to do so many things and some because I feel completely safe in my comfort zone. I have now decided to do ten things that I am afraid to do or I am scared of doing. It does not include skydiving, or bungee jumping, or getting a tattoo as they are not what I do regularly and by doing them, my life is not going to change. 

I want to do ten things that I need to do right now that I am too scared of doing. I still have not figured them out and I don't want to  be bounded by time but yes by the end of 2016, I must be able to strike off those ten items. 
Some things that I can think of right now are:
1) Being in the driver's seat and riding my own car. (Right now I lack that confidence too)
2) No activity on social media. (Whom will I talk to if not on whatsapp or facebook or twitter?) 
3) Leaving Mumbai and be happy about it. (I'm going to cry like crazy away from the city I love the most)
4) I have fear of heights, need to conquer it.
5) I am too lazy to monitor my bank account but lately I am spending too much on unnecessary things that I don't even require (like unnecessarily spending money on traveling, cabs, food, clothes etc.). I will try to minimize the outflow and travel by public transport whenever convenient.
6) Swimming in deep waters
7) Watching horror movies (sounds lame, but no, it isn't)
8) Wasting too much time, energy, money on wrong people, things, ideas or places. 

I cannot think of more things that I am afraid of, I am sure within a few days the list will have 100s of entries and I will choose the best 10 and try to do it.
I will keep you all updated. 

Mail me what are those ten things that you are afraid of at 
Waiting to hear from you guys.