The Weight of Life

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| This is the 369th story of Our Life Logs |


I was born on July 5, 1976 in Pune, India. My dad was an instrument technician at the meteorological department, and my mother was a teacher. They gave my sister and me a simple yet loving childhood. Like every Indian parent, my father valued a well-rounded education and saw it as the key to a better life. He only expected the best from us and wouldn’t accept anything less. And I didn’t disappoint him.

I lined up with my father’s expectations by remaining at the top of my class. To blow off steam, I also played sports, another endeavor of which my father instilled the love in me. To him, sports would not only keep me fit but also teach me discipline and prepare me for a great future. Therefore, every day after school you would find me either playing volleyball, or kho kho—a popular Indian game of competitive tag, or competing in track and field. All of them were extremely rigorous and required a lot of training, dedication and energy.

I remember once I ran back home early during training, feeling frustrated, exhausted and unwilling to continue the grueling routine. My father was livid. He took me back to my coach and instructed him not to send me home until I finished my workout. He then turned to me and sternly said, “You’re not allowed in the house if you do not complete your training.” After I finished and came home, he sat me down and said, “If you want to succeed in life, you can’t yield to a few roadblocks without giving it your best.”

This tough love lesson shaped my life forever. My love for challenges started therein, and I decided that I would never quit until I succeeded.

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In 1993, when I was 17 and studying telecommunications engineering in college, I had an opportunity to visit a consumer exhibition in Pune, one of the first in my city. That visit sparked a bold idea in me: starting my own business organizing exhibitions. I knew I was young. I knew I had no experience. But I saw great merit in bringing these types of events to the city. Whether I would fail or succeed, the risk was mine to take and I was up for it. 

This idea didn’t sit well with my parents. Getting into entrepreneurship was considered a risky proposition, but after some hefty convincing that I’d balance business and school, they supported my decision. Within a few months, I started my company Informedia.

Of course, multi-tasking between school and the company was easier said than done, but I stayed determined to reach success like my father taught me. With time, I learned the ropes of the exhibition business and applied all my expertise to its operation which has only got bigger and better as time goes by.

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In the midst of my business success, I met my future husband. When he first proposed to me, I declined because I was wary of him. I was the simple, no-nonsense type, and he had a bit of a reputation of being a ladies’ man, but after a lot of cajoling from his end that he was serious about marrying me, I finally accepted.

In 1995, we got married and he joined my company. Together, we put our love and energy into magnifying the company’s growth. In 1996, the company became official and was renamed to Events India. A few years later, we had our two kids and simultaneously started a new company with a few partners, a real estate development firm. Both companies grew leaps and bounds and so did my reputation as a successful entrepreneur. Wasn’t life wonderful?

Running two companies certainly had its share of glories and tribulations. To keep up with all the moving parts in my life and destress, I would work out and stay fit. I really enjoyed heavy weight training. I started conducting intensive workouts. That gave me the right outlet to challenge myself and push my limits. Whatever stress I had, be it professional or personal, I would lift above my head and out of my psyche. So, for the many years following, my life went on, balancing between family and work and workout.  

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Me (left) at the gym with my friend.

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I thought I was living the dream life when life threw me a mega curveball in 2017. After 22 years of marriage, my husband filed for divorce. We’d had our ups and downs, but enough for a divorce? I was left completely blindsided and absolutely crushed.

After signing the divorce papers, moving on was a mammoth task. Even getting up and going to work was an ordeal. I felt numb, like all I’d known of my life was crumbling. I had moved to a new house with my kids, trying to find a way to keep going in life, a daunting experience. But I knew I had to. I’d worked so hard for my company to succeed and I had two kids counting on me to be strong and care for them. As hard as it was, I had no time to even wallow in self-pity. That’s life, right? It hits you, when you least expect it but eventually you have to face it and move on.

For my kids’ sake, I really tried to be strong outside but inside I was feeling very vulnerable. I stopped going to the gym completely. Life seemed to have lost its purpose. In the past, I could just go to the gym and work my stress away. But this was deeper than regular stress and wasn’t going away with an endorphins-packed workout. I needed to up the ante.

My father taught me to not accept defeat when life got hard. So, I made up my mind that I would reinvent myself and try something new that would give me purpose again.

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I called up my coach Mayank one day to ask him about a CrossFit gym in my area. He gave me all the information I needed and offered to give me one-on-one personal training. Ready to turn a new leaf, I agreed. During our sessions, Mayank repeated what he’d said to me many times before, “You know, you have a mindset to take up powerlifting as a sport.”

As he talked about it, I began to see a new life for myself. Sure, I was 40 and not many women my age pursued a sport at this point in their life, but I thought back to my father’s words: To find success, you must challenge yourself. I knew that this would be a challenge, but I welcomed it, ready to conquer the next obstacle in my life.

The journey wasn’t easy for me. Most women my age would sit back and relax after working a long, wary day. In contrast, I had taken up something that required a lot of sacrifice and commitment all while I was still balancing work and my two children. However, with the support of my colleagues and my not-so-little angels, I balanced it all with great tenacity. Powerlifting gave me a new lease of life and was the perfect channel to cope with the pent-up emotions that I had been harboring after my divorce.

After severe training, I participated in several competitions including the Indian Powerlifting competition (72kgs weight category) followed by the Asian Games 2019. I bagged gold medals in both competitions as well as several others on local and state levels. Recently, I even represented India in the world powerlifting championship where I stood seventh in my category amongst 130 countries.

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With my coach Mayank at Asian Powerlifting Championship 2018.

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Powerlifting was the catalyst, but I never could have gotten through without the support of my friends, family, and coach. Mayank recognized my capabilities and directed my energy, passion and my competitive streak towards a sport that not only gave me a new identity but also a sense of self. 

Most important of all, I never would have gotten through every obstacle in life without my father’s important lesson to never allow a road block to keep you from success. He instilled in me the attitude to take up challenges and see them through no matter what. So much so, that it became the driving force of my life and the secret to my success, be it when I started my own company at 17 or when I took up powerlifting at 40. Through learning how to work hard and never give up, I’ve been able to get through every obstacle in my life, big or small, and it led me down the path I’m happy to call mine.

 

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This is the story of Rohini Ranade Bansal

Rohini was born and brought up in Pune, India where she still resides. An early starter in life, she began her entrepreneurial path of organizing exhibitions as early as age 17. She overcame any struggles thrown her way including having two kids in the early days of her career. Instead, she formed another real estate company with few partners. After a few years, Rohini was a force to reckon with in the field of exhibitions and real estate. Until, life threw a curveball. In 2017, due to irreconcilable differences, she underwent an unexpected divorce. Newly single with two kids, she had to start her life all over again. Instead of sulking, she reinvented her life through powerlifting at the age of 40. Through each obstacle, Rohini faced it with courage, learning early in life not to walk away from a challenge. Her company, Events India, currently hosts the most premium consumer exhibitions throughout Maharashtra, India.

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The gold medals Rohini has harvested.

 

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This story first touched our hearts on June 4, 2019.

| Writer: Trupti Shetty | Editor: Kristen Petronio |

 

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To protect the privacy of the storyteller and those involved in this retelling, some of the names may have been changed. (1)

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