From COVID recovery to almost 10 million steps: What walking taught me
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Life is a journey filled with twists and turns, and I’ve learned that the true beauty of existence lies in our unwavering spirit to keep moving forward. Those who’ve followed my life and adventures, such as my epic road journey that spanned over 25,000 kilometres, crisscrossing India’s borders in more than 77 days alongside my dear friend Ahmer in 2020 to create awareness about Covid, or my harrowing battle for survival during the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, know that I am a living testament to resilience and determination. Standing at a mere 5 feet 2 inches in height, with no remarkable physical attributes to speak of, it’s been my unwavering resolve to never give up that has carried me through the storm.

I’ve always believed in taking life’s challenges head-on, for it’s the only way I know how to live. With the unwavering support of my family, friends, and colleagues, I’ve stood as a warrior, unyielding in the face of adversity. From that treacherous night drive to Along in Arunachal Pradesh when our car was trapped in a muddy slope in a desolate wilderness, to the chilling evening when our vehicle was stranded amidst the dunes of Longewala, Rajasthan, dangerously close to the Pakistan border, without a phone signal or another soul in sight – my friend Ahmer and I rose to the occasion every single time, our determination shining like a beacon in the darkest hours.

My encounter with COVID-19 was a monumental struggle: a battle for breath as my oxygen saturation levels plummeted to as low as 38. 

Hospital beds and oxygen were in short supply, and the pandemic’s grip on Mumbai was relentless. After an arduous struggle, I finally secured a hospital bed, but not without overhearing doctors discussing amongst themselves that I had a mere 48 hours to live. I was breathless, on the brink of losing consciousness, but I summoned every ounce of strength within me. I held the hand of my attending doctor and uttered the words: “I have a six-and-a-half-year-old daughter at home, and I will make it back to her.” The days that followed were nothing short of a battle against the odds, much like the tempestuous waves that roared in the Arabian Sea. Yet, I emerged victorious, even with a broken ribcage.

In the aftermath of my trials, I was weak and emaciated. I had ingested numerous steroids and medications during my bout with COVID-19, and in an attempt to regain my strength; I had indulged in hearty meals, causing my weight to balloon. My blood sugar levels soared to a staggering 400+, a condition I had never experienced before. Dissatisfied with my physical state, I yearned for change. However, due to my fractured rib cage, multiple orthopaedic specialists advised against weightlifting or strenuous exercise.

It was at this crossroads that my former colleague, Anant, offered some advice: daily walking. The idea resonated with me, and I decided to embrace it as my own. In early 2022, I embarked on my walking journey and have continued it to this day. I started slowly, covering around 8,000 to 10,000 steps every day. Over time, my daily walks transformed into a form of meditation. I walked indoors in my modest Mumbai apartment, within hotel rooms during work-related trips, during team calls, Zoom meetings, and even in my office. I roamed the grounds, explored the neighbourhood, and ventured into the national park. 

Siddhartha Dutta

In 2022, I accumulated over 8.2 million steps, spanning approximately 5,780 kilometres, surpassing my record from the previous year. This year, I have taken nearly 9 million steps, covering nearly 6300 kilometres and am sure before this year’s end I will be able to cross the 10 million steps milestone. In the process, I shed nearly 15 kilograms of weight, and my blood sugar issues vanished. What was initially a task has become my passion, my daily meditation.

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Thank you,
Karma Paljor

While this journey has worked for me, I understand that it may not be suitable for everyone. Every individual is unique, and the path to renewal may vary. If my story has ignited a spark within you to embark on your journey, start slowly, perhaps with 10,000 steps a day, but always consult a physician before undertaking a regimen as intense as mine.

Life continues to throw fresh challenges on my way perhaps like never before, but I remain determined to confront them, just as I always have. In the face of uncertainty, I’ve discovered the remarkable strength within us all to keep moving forward, for it is through our determination and resilience that we truly embrace the uncertain beauty of life.

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