What makes you come alive? What did it take for you to understand this?
Ajit: Life is one long marathon, but not all the participants start from the same line nor do they end at the same line. We are placed in a point and we start running, and keep running for the rest of our life. One has to make sure that they are satisfied, sheltered, safe, and hopefully are in the future forward direction; and have learned from the experiences of where they came from in the past.
Your starting point is based on parameters such as – where you were born, what family you were born in to, your socio-economic standing, your health, the friends that you have, the school you went to. Some people start really ahead, but slow down later. Some people start slow and speed up later.
The realisation I have from this marathon is not that I compare myself with the others in the race, but how I compare myself with my previous self. I feel I have made progress sometimes, while sometimes I feel I have slowed down. Whatever it is, I am only focused on making sure that my present self is at the best that it can be, and this makes me come alive. Reflecting on the last 25 years of my life has made me understand this.
If I am in a position to help someone, I always will. I feel I have an advantage as I have been blessed and lucky in many ways. I feel it is my responsibility to help people who are behind and in front. I love waking up to this thought every day. It’s my sense of my responsibility. It’s my sense of a purpose.
Ajit Bikram Shah
Director & CEO, Lotus Holdings
Trishna: Nature – blue skies, green trees, fresh air, mountains, sea, stars and so on really make me feel alive. I have always been a sky lover, and have always connected with the moon, sunset, stars and have had contemplating episodes with each one of them. I realised this at a very early age. Nature has always made me feel that we are nothing against it. I am always humbled by small things in life, full of gratitude for what I have, and finally always counting my blessings.
Sujita: I have realised that taking a risk is something that truly, physically and mentally, makes me come alive. When you think about the science of how your body reacts to the chemical changes that taking a risk triggers, quite literally my body comes to life. I feel rejuvenated, I feel driven to be at my physical best, and my physical presence is very aware of time, emotions and stress. From a mental health perspective, I feel the fog in my head clear up; day by day as I work towards this new goal my vision gets clearer, I get a rush of that accomplished surge in my brain.
When I quit my nine to five job to move to Nepal, that was a huge financial and social risk I was taking. I had never lived in Nepal, and with barely any family or friends here I was unaware of how I would adjust. But over time, I turned this risk into one of the best decisions of my life. A risk that has taught me to better understand my strengths, weaknesses and my limits.
Anju: There are multiple things and facets of life that affect me the positive way to come alive. The sounds of nature in all its purity give solace to the soul. The sprouting of seeds, fresh green leaves, flowers and fruits, the advent of different seasons that changes the colours around us: all these taken for granted phenomenon makes me come alive.
The challenges that cross my path in my private and professional life prompt me to always try and overcome them and move ahead. Without the fair share of ups and downs, life would be too mundane. These make me come alive.
Nature, playing and toiling with the soil has always been a good part of growing up, it just took more years of continuance to realise and to appreciate the bounties mother earth showers on us mortals despite the unwarranted invasions done by humans, and with the years it prompts me to spend more time with the soil to stay creative and alert towards those around me. Time has taught me to appreciate and understand the gravity and importance of the simple things in life.
Live and let live. We have enough natural disasters, why humans against humans: makes me wonder.
Anju Malla Pradhan
Region IV, Council Member, Union of International Architects
Arun: Being able to rescue and save lives during real case scenarios makes me come alive. It was 25 April, 2015 when I was admitted to a hospital due to high fever and the shake started. Within half an hour there were multiple casualties lying all over the emergency ward. I couldn’t help them because I didn’t have knowledge about rescue and medical aid. Instead, I took on the dead body management which I later learned was called Black Zone. Rather than being valueless, I opted to dedicate my efforts in any possible way.
Sagar: The things I love the most make me alive. Mostly to be on the shooting set of my films, commercial ads, music videos or anything related to my craft.
Do you ever feel trapped by circumstances? What do you do then?
Ajit: I don’t feel trapped by circumstances. I believe that I should play with whatever hand I have been dealt. I know for fact that circumstances change in time, and that these are just momentary.
Trishna: Yes certainly, I am human. I am an overthinker. I always picture all kinds of scenarios and my head is in an abundance of pre-planned escape modes in case I get into situations that I will have to avoid. Usually, I try to be calm and address the issue because I know I have already thought about how to escape the trap.
I have been very harsh with myself throughout my life constantly looking for validations, people pleasing gestures and doubting everything about myself, but now I am in a place where I am trying to find and improve myself every single day. And by being grounded and strong in the core, I feel happiness is here – within.
Founder, Mithila House; Co-founder, Spektrum Nepal & Partnership and Communication Officer, Restless Development
Sujita: I take a moment to breathe and tell myself that “it will be ok”, it is a miniscule moment in the grand scheme of life that will pass, and when I look back, I will realise that I am in control of my decisions.
Anju: Feeling trapped by circumstances is a package deal that comes with life. There were days earlier when I gave into the awkward circumstances, compromised with situations, sacrifices were made and then moved on, not always happy and with conventional social systems force guiding me to act as I did. With time and experience, I have learnt to take it in my stride, to decline such forces.
It’s important to stay happy to stay sane in life but it’s easier said than done. Take life as it comes, give your best, with minimum harm to those around you. It’s just not possible to keep everyone connected to you happy, so just move on.
Arun: During Covid 19, the first death case of a woman at Dhulikhel Hospital made me feel trapped. I was trained only on dummies on how to wrap an infected dead body by the Ranger Battalion. When I entered the real scenario, the woman’s blood was flooding the floor as she had just given birth. I was unaware about handling infectious fluids at that point. But I decided to put all my focus on the expected outcome and applied whatever techniques I had learnt, keeping safety in mind.
Sagar: I do feel emotionally associated with the character I portray and emotions like anger or frustration of the given character sometimes translates into my everyday life. I travel and meditate to get out of that zone.
Does it feel selfish or irresponsible sometimes to do the things you truly love and want to do?
Ajit: I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to be selfish and do the things we want to do. I think we become the best version of ourselves once we do the things we truly love and want to do, and once you are at this state of mind, you automatically become selfless to others who want you. It’s like the airplane announcement – “please put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting anyone else.” This should become your autonomous automatic act.
Trishna: Well, mostly not. I am more carefree now because I am thankfully making a living out of what I love to do. I do miss my 20s when I was more carefree and very uninhibited to go for whatever I really wanted to do. Now, it’s more adult decisions but my family and friends are so supportive that they just don’t create that environment for me to feel guilty. I am happy with what I am doing at the moment.
Sujita: Yes, all the time. I overcome this feeling by centering myself and realising how blessed I have been to reach my successes, especially coming from my difficult upbringing. I tell myself that this is the reward for the hard work my mom, grandma and I have put into building this life. This perspective allows me to embrace all the ups and downs of life without taking anything for granted.
I take a moment to breathe and tell myself that “it will be ok”, it is a miniscule moment in the grand scheme of life that will pass, and when I look back, I will realise that I am in control of my decisions.
Miss Universe Nepal, 2021
Anju: Balancing home and work is a tough job. With the conventional upbringing, with duties defined despite equal access to education, I hardly managed time to do the things that I truly loved doing. Responsibilities and workload snatched away my hobbies of reading, sewing, knitting embroidery, etc. After graduation, architecture became my passion, I loved the hours spent at the drawing board, loved to realise my projects on ground, the sense of satisfaction was immense. Now into teaching, I love spending time with young students, getting to learn a lot in the process. It’s a win-win situation for both parties and I hope to have been able to get the job done well.
Major time is taken up tending to my plants where I forget all my woes and don’t realise time passing and then there are the digital devices that prompt me to forget about the world and get immersed in all the information that it provides. With time I have honed myself to believe in the benefits of me-time.
Arun: I have dedicated my life to rescue. The rescue field is completely selfless and requires an individual to be responsible under any circumstances. I see things I love doing as my responsibility. I can happily say that my work gives me satisfaction and brings peace to my heart.
Sagar: In this field, being selfish is considered a common characteristic. Preparing for a character takes time and I spend a lot of time exploring and getting into the skin of the character which can sometimes alienate my family and friends.
What are some of your hard-won insights into finding and following your purpose?
Ajit: I want to be resourceful to everyone else who is running this marathon with me and if I am in a position to help someone, I always will. I feel I have an advantage as I have been blessed and lucky in many ways. I feel it is my responsibility to help people who are behind and in front. I love waking up to this thought every day. It’s my sense of my responsibility. It’s my sense of a purpose.
Trishna: In life, I have realised that it’s very important to be grounded and to be humble and kind. I have been blessed with a great family, privileged to have the opportunity to travel and experience new things and have connected with great like-minded people, I feel that if I ever was egoistic about my privileges or discourteous to the life I have been given then I would not be a happy person within. I have been very harsh with myself throughout my life constantly looking for validations, people pleasing gestures and doubting everything about myself, but now I am in a place where I am trying to find and improve myself every single day. And by being grounded and strong in the core, I feel happiness is here – within.
Sujita: Rather than following a handbook or taking others life as an inspiration, it is so important to understand your own strengths and weaknesses. My insight into finding and following my purpose is to liberate myself from the idea of being “correct” and “perfect”. As women raised in a patriarchal society we have a defined trajectory we are expected to pursue. A trajectory that measures our womanhood by the perfect balance of age, weight, height, and social standing. When bound by such requirements, how are we to define our purpose?
Coming from a place of privilege, it is easy for me to liberate myself from such bounds and seek my purpose. But as a society I truly think we can do more to alleviate the strings that bind a young girl from defining her purpose.
I have dedicated my life to rescue. The rescue field is completely selfless and requires an individual to be responsible under any circumstances. I see things I love doing as my responsibility. I can happily say that my work gives me satisfaction and brings peace to my heart.
President & Operation Incharge,
Anju: It is important to always stay grounded. Compassion for all and to develop the ability to feel for and understand the needs of the deprived and try to help to the best of your abilities gives utmost satisfaction in life.
Arun: Sharing knowledge and learning from each other is the best way to progress in life. Being proud of your origin, your country, the socio-cultural context is what gives us all a unique identity in the wider world. I am proud to be a Nepali despite the hardships faced with our green passport in foreign soils as I travel around. We have a lot to share with the world, standing proud amidst the chaos of politics and governance.
Sagar: Develop a growth mindset, embrace challenges as opportunities, develop a personal vision statement, and practice gratitude.
Your life motto
Ajit: Live life one day at time. Don’t get too excited for good things, and don’t get too sad for bad things.
Trishna: One of my favourite authors Murakami quoted in one of my favourite books “Things outside you are projections of what’s inside … what’s inside … is a projection of what’s outside.” and I have really been touched by this, so my life motto is to be true to myself, within and beyond.
Sujita: Go for it, you never know what’s on the other side.
I do feel emotionally associated with the character I portray and emotions like anger or frustration of the given character sometimes translates into my everyday life. I travel and meditate to get out of that zone.
Anju: Being born a human being, the most intelligent of all beings, it is for us to work towards sustenance of the earth. It is downright evil to just suck up on the nature’s bounty, better to be humane enough to give back in kind. The early months of the Covid pandemic when the earth healed and nature came back to full form was a golden period (the adversities aside).
Live and let live. We have enough natural disasters, why humans against humans: makes me wonder.
In the professional arena I believe in practicing what I preach. If every being were to follow this literally, the earth would definitely be a better place.
Arun: I have dedicated my life to rescue and saving lives. I want to do something that no-one has ever done before. Just one-thing.
Sagar: The main moto of my life is to explore and surrender my life to acting. I ant to be able to lead from the heart, not the head.