Text peppered with humour:
My sense of humour has always been there. I was always the fun person at home. At 14 I was a Japanese court jester in a yellow kimono in a school play. I remember the episode about good looking Greek eye specialist Dr Dialinas in Geneva. To check my eyes he had to come right up to my face and I was staring at this handsome face so closely, it made the procedure less painful. (Laughs at the memory).
At 12 not understanding the gravity of losing my eyesight:
I was so young. Just followed my mother from one doctor to another. To me it was “I can't see. No glasses are working” but nothing more grave than that. As time passed, my incurable Macular Degeneration increased, i would see less – a form, maybe a colour from very close up. I could never see faces. Reading was completely over. My memory strengthened over the years and helped me get by.
Believing “nothing is impossible!”:
As a child you don't think about 'making choices' – as it sounds many years later. I knew I had to study, play games, swim. I did it because my siblings and my friends did it. Literally, as simple as that. I was fortunate to have wonderful parents who weren't over protective, nor treat me like I was disabled. A disparity never existed.
Hiding my disability from the world:
I think I was in denial, especially during my college days. I didn't want to say 'I can't see' to my friends and classmates. Perhaps if they knew, it might have put me in a different slot. I wanted to be like the rest of the crowd. As a young girl it was my little secret. It kind of happened naturally.
My maxim: “The only thing that can hold you back in achieving your goals is the lack of faith in your own abilities”:
I tell others – forget self pity. Instead of looking at the minuses, look at the pluses. There is no time for quibbling and complaints. Face the challenges, have the courage, the will, and you will do it. I consider myself so fortunate. Great family, friends, education, job, so proud to be born in India.
A deeper vision transcends physical sight:
If you don't see from your eyes perhaps its something you see from within. When God takes away one sense he heightens another one. I have always been intutive about assessing people.
Swamis / Gurus / Mediums:
I hate to say this but all of them were charlatans. That time I went with full, 100 percent faith. Each time believing its going to work. I wanted it to happen, as did my mother. Perhaps it did work with other people. But nothing worked for me. I went to a medium who was also a healer. After that I believed I have my guardian angels around me constantly. When I pray I can sense them. I talk to them. I did communicate with my Dad through a medium in America. You can and should talk to them because they can hear you. They want that connection because they are your parents or siblings or a friend who are in a spiritual realm.
Working in Europe with the Indian Tea Board:
I first studied Italian in Perugia, Italy, next, spent six months in a boutique in Geneva earning 500 Francs per month and practicing my Italian and French. Then I joined the Tea Board in Brussels. Highly challenging. Four years were very stressful. I would forget the hard work because there were many glam points. Good allowances, good hotels. It involved exhibitions and meeting people who asked about India and our tea. We were kind of ambassadress representing our country. Dressed in beautiful silk saris meeting the media, working in close connection with our Embassies and Air India. We travelled all over Europe. In Madrid we met our Ambassador, Maharaja Bhawani Singh of Jaipur.
Meeting J. Krishnamurti and
Krishnamurti was such a simple human being oozing with compassion. I was a stranger when I went to meet him yet he asked 'why didn't you come earlier?' He desperately wanted me to get better. But nothing happened and I was more disappointed in disappointing him than not getting better. He saw me for three days and I was sobbing when I left him. It was like leaving home. I met Dali during my Tea Board days. When I introduced myself he said he liked my sari. He was not at all like I thought such a big artist would be. I was carrying a big packet of tea and told to tell him how the Indian Tea Board had made Dali Tea. His wife snapped at me because we had used his name!
Revealing my disability:
Yes, it would have made life much easier as many people called me a snob – as I never acknowledged them again after meeting them. It was at the EST (Erhard Seminars Training) meeting in Bombay where I confessed publicly about my lack of vision. Some people apologised, realising why I hadn't recognised them subsequently. Had I talked about this years earlier, I would never have had a job. How would Tea Board have hired this blind bat and trusted me running all over Europe? They would have forgotten my competency despite my boss saying I was his best worker. Perhaps this was the right time to disclose my disability. No regret about that.
Meeting Guruji BKS Iyengar:
Yoga was my saviour. The most important person I have met in my life is my Guruji Yogacharya BKS Iyengar. From 1970 to 1978 I went from one yoga school to another, searching. I stopped when I met Guruji and stepped into an Iyengar class. I wiped out everything I had learnt previously. The amazing caliber of this man, even now at 93, gives me more courage, more faith. I asked Guruji, “Sir, how many lifetimes do we need to learn everything you know?” He answered “Mimi, why don't you think how many life times you have saved by doing yoga?”
I wrote the book because my friends said I should publish my story to inspire others. It took three months of intensive work. The publishers then sat on it for two years. Finally I self-published. I wanted Shaimak Davar to launch it. With his date in hand, we went into print a week before we launched.