It’s time for this week’s People of India Project and ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for this?
At 14, she was the youngest member of a sea kayaking expedition along the west coast of Greenland.
At 17, she became the youngest in the world to have undertaken the Trans Greenland Skiing Expedition which she also used to raise funds to start a home for girl children of leprosy patients.
In 2012 she completed the Basic Course in mountaineering from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) and was given the best trainee award and then summited the highest mountain in Europe, Mt Elbrus, 5642 m.
In 2014 she completed the advance course from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering
In 2016 Graduated from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY where she was an Instructor for Cross Country Skiing and White Water Kayaking
In 2018 she climbed Mt. Everest (highest mountain in the world) and Mt Kilimanjaro (highest mountain in Africa)
In 2019 she climbed Mt. Vinson (Highest mountain in Antarctica) and Mt Aconcagua (highest mountain in S. America)
And just in case you thought she’d been slacking, she is also a proficient downhill and cross country skier, a keen white-water and sea kayaker, a PADI certified rescue diver and a Taekwondo Black belt.
For this weeks’ People of India Project, I am delighted to present, Deeya Bajaj.
- Who you are (naturally!)
My name is Deeya and I am an Indian woman. I love adventure, the outdoors, learning about different cultures (through food), and spending quality time with the people I love!
- What inspired you to cfollow your chosen path?
Adventure has always been a passion. My father is one of India’s stalwarts in the outdoors (he was the first Indian to kayak and raft down rivers in six continents, as well as the first Indian to complete the polar trilogy- skiing to the North Pole, South Pole and skiing across the Greenland icecap).
Growing up in a family like this, adventure was our normal. I went on my first hike strapped to my fathers back, before I even started walking. Our family holidays would consist of doing something outdoors whether it be hiking, diving or skiing, and I absolutely loved it. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join Snow Leopard Adventures, our family business, right out of college.
- An anecdote which epitomizes your India?
Going out on a hike through a village and having a conversation which turned into chai with a young woman. She was the same age as me but was already married, with a young kid. Though we were from different worlds and in different stages of our lives, I loved the fact that we could get along and have this amazing conversation about education, and the realisation that we had a lot of similar stands on the subject.
- One thing that you can’t live without?
My support system- family and friends. Through my expeditions I have realised that no matter what life throws at you it’s super important to stay positive. I believe a key factor in what has made me resilient and able to have that attitude has been the support and love I have received from my family. My younger sister especially, Meghna has been a constant pillar of support and positivity. I am so grateful to have her in my life!
- One thing that you hate?
I hate the fact that women are still struggling to gain equal footing in India. I hate knowing that there are women out there who are victims of sexual violence and abuse and are absolutley helpless in their predicatment.
- If you could change one thing about India what would it be?
More women in positions of power – in the government as well as the private sector.
- Who is your greatest inspiration?
My parents. They have been a constant source of support to me and left no stone unturned in helping me pursue my dreams. My mother for constantly showing me what a privilege it is to be a woman, and to never let me gender define me and to father for introducing me to the “great outdoors” and being my favourite “adventure buddy”.
- What is your favourite quote?
Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible. – Maya Angelou
- I have noticed huge changes in India over the last few years but what is the biggest change you have noticed in India over the last 10 years?
I think the younger generations are a lot more active and in touch with the political situation in our country – which is great. Social media has been good as it’s creating more informed citizens, but we need to be certain about where we’re getting our information from.
- What do you think are the biggest challenges India faces over the next ten years?
We have to as a country unite and understand the essential humanity that connects us all. I have travelled all over the world – to all 7 continents, and I think Indians are extremely generous, open and happy to include other people. However quick we are to include foreigners, we sometimes forget to do that amongst ourselves. The era of discriminiation has to end, we have to stop categorizing people according to their religion, caste, sexual orientation, and gender.
I also strongly believe that we need to ramp up our conservation efforts, We are blessed to have a magnificent natural heritage and as a country we must protect it at all cotsts.
- Which is the destination at the top of your bucket list?
I would love to visit the Andaman and Nicobar islands, it’s a part of India that I’m so curious about- and of course there’s the added benefit of being able to scuba dive and sea kayak!
- What is the one place you visited that you have NO desire to return to?
New Delhi 😂 Just kidding- the NCR is home for me and I think each and every place on our planet has things that make it beautiful / unique and give me a reason to return.
- Book or Movie?
Book for sure.
- Just for fun! I am doing a survey to find India’s most popular breakfast, what is yours?
- In retrospect, what is the one thing you wish you could have told your 20 year-old self?
Haha this was 6 years ago.. I was in my second year of college. I think sometimes I would get overwhelmed / caught up in details, I would have told myself to always keep the bigger picture in mind!
For more information on Deeya: