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Visually-impaired Assam man reaches Everest base camp, sets an example of 'nothing is impossible'

Visually-impaired Assam man reaches Everest base camp, sets an example of 'nothing is impossible'

Bikramjyoti Das, 44, is no ordinary man. There are few who give up on their goals and dreams after coming face-to-face with an unexpected tragedy. But Bikram, who lost his sight at the age of 33 after an industrial accident in Mangalore while working for a private firm, steered ahead the wheels of life and have successfully completed the trekking expedition to the Everest base camp on October 27

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Assam's Bikramjyoti Das after successfully completing the expedition to the Everest Base Camp Assam's Bikramjyoti Das after successfully completing the expedition to the Everest Base Camp

There are few people in this world who even after their disability are capable of great things in life. Who with their determination and perseverance, continue to inspire others and etch the words of confidence and self-assurance onto the book called the “Journey of Life”.

Bikramjyoti Das, 44, is no ordinary man. There are few who give up on their goals and dreams after coming face-to-face with an unexpected tragedy. But Bikram, who lost his sight at the age of 33 after an industrial accident in Mangalore while working for a private firm, steered ahead the wheels of life and have successfully completed the trekking expedition to the Everest base camp on October 27, becoming the only blind man among the team of 6-member trekkers.

Bikramjyoti Das before the accident
Bikramjyoti Das before the accident

Bikram, though being visually impaired, didn’t stop from ‘opening the eyes’ of others. Interacting with blind people, learning their hurdles, tribulations and limitations, Das learnt, unlearnt the traits of hiking, trekking with the support of his family members, walking up and down the stairs, moving in-and-around his home, before taking on the challenge of going to the Everest base camp.

And what makes the difference here? Das is the only visually-impaired person to partake this risky yet boldly encouraging step, who rising above his disability, is setting an example for others too.

"Many people are unaware of their actual capabilities. I'm confident that many people are capable of considerably more than they now do,” Das clarifies.

Bikram has an upbeat, determined voice. He is confident in his abilities and has dedicated his life to taking on new challenges. While being blind, he places a high value on doing things that others cannot see despite having functional eyesight.

In an exclusive interview with India TodayNE, Bikram explains how he managed to open his ‘closed eyes’ and continue to do so for others as well while persistent with his endeavour to achieve new heights in life.

Q1) When did you start your career and what obstacles did you face?

Bikram: I am basically a mining engineer and reside in Guwahati, although my father hail from Assam's Barpeta district. I passed out from Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad in 2000 which is now in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), and later on was engaged in mining related companies. Until 2011, I was having a fairly good career, but unfortunately in 2011 I met with an industrial accident.

Q2) Do you think that the incident in 2011 was a big setback for you. How did you manage come out from the trauma?

 Bikram: Although there were some bodily dysfunctional after the accident but the main problem I received was with my eyesight. I could not regain my eyesight after that accident. My optic nerves as well as the retina got damaged. That got me into a whole lot of uncertainties. Suddenly that accident happened which led to many unpredictability of my future.
I was married just seven months then when the accident happened. I also had to look after my retired parents. All those things disturbed me.
But then I needed to come back. For me, for my aging parents and my immediate family members. So, I learnt about mobility techniques and all. Through that I regained back some amount of confidence in me. And then I started giving some exams and all. So, at that point of time my age was around 33 years. After a year or so since the incident, I secured a job with the State Bank of India as a Probationary Officer. After few years I got promoted and currently working in SBI, in the local head office, Guwahati, as a Manager Digital Banking and Transaction Unit. I would say that it was my new avatar as a blind man.

Bikramjyoti Das feeling the essence of nature in Kathmandu
Bikramjyoti Das feeling the essence of nature in Kathmandu


Q3) How did this idea of hiking upto the Everest base camp cropped up?

Bikram: When I was sighted I had some interest in trekking and all but never attempted high altitudes. But last year, one of my friends who participated solo in the Annapurna base circuit camp, he saw a blind man who was part of the trek. He immediately called me and asked whether I am interested in all such kind of treks. I told him that I was interested but didn’t know how to begin my practice. He then told me that if you are interested then you should do because there are other blind people who are engaged in such activities.
And then there was no looking back. After discussion and due consultation from his wife and family members, Bikram Das began his practice and stepped out to claim the peak of success by participating in a 20-day expedition to the Everest Base Camp.


Q4) What challenges did you face while conceiving your dream to trek to the Everest base camp?

Bikram: I would like to thank my guide who has been helping me overcome the hurdles during my practice. I would be holding his elbow or his shoulder, as per the situation required during the trek. I had already spoken to the trek operator and even practiced with him before the expedition begun. 
We had a practice run on October 15 nearby the capital Kathmandu. I did some coordination practice with my special guide who is assisting me to the Everest base camp. He was satisfied with my progress and will be together until the entire expedition. There will be six to nine others along with 5 sighted friends as part of the expedition including my friend who was part of the Annapurna base circuit camp expedition. They will be moving around independently so will I with my special guide, holding my 20-25 kg back pack. I being the only blind person will be following special strategy along with my guide.

With the special ethical guide who accompanied and assisted Bikramjyoti Das during his Everest Base Camp expedition starting from 17th October
With the special ethical guide who accompanied and assisted Bikramjyoti Das during his Everest Base Camp expedition starting fro


Q5) Any messages you want to convey to others who are facing similar fates while pursuing their dreams?

Bikram: This is our motto – What’s within you is stronger than what lies outside. Treading a difficult route to unravel the strength within us is what we are doing here. Me and my team members are very excited about this expedition as they are looking forward to be part of this trek and get to learn about my experience as they earlier knew me only via phone but never met before. They all come from different places. With few even coming from UK and US. So, it is a whole new experience for them as well as for me too being a blind person. My team members will come to know about how I go about with my daily work and practice session through an empathetic purview.

By decoding his limitations, Bikram Das instilled the motivation he required. “If I can attempt such expedition so why not you?” True, if a visually-impaired person can attempt such challenging task, then no task can be adjudged as ‘IMPOSSIBLE’ because, encouragement comes from within, and people like Bikram Das continue to inspire many through their unusual yet exhilarating story.
 

Bikramjyoti Das at Everest Base Camp
Bikramjyoti Das at Everest Base Camp