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Globetrotting Against all Odds

Jatinder Kaur is no ordinary person. She is 68, yet young at heart. She loves travelling and has already been to several countries and different places in India, and this is despite all the odds that her life has had in store!

She lost her husband some years ago, and she has been living with a prosthetic limb as she was born with one of her legs 11 inches shorter than the other.

On the occasion of International Day for Older Persons, on October 1, we spoke to this high-spirited sexagenarian who is happy with what life has to offer her. She believes in ‘counting her blessings’ and enjoying life for all that it has offered to her.

Tell us a little about your childhood and some challenges that you had to face?

My father was in the Army, and we used to live with my maternal grandparents. By birth one of my legs is 11 inches short. My parents tried to get all kinds of treatments, but nothing helped, but my family supported me and treated me equally with my other siblings. I was a bright student in school. People used to say I would be dependent on my brother, and this hit me hard. So, I decided that I will be self-dependent.

What ignited your interest in Stenography? Tell us about your humble beginnings in this profile.

I was taken by my maternal aunt to the employment officer, and he advised that stenography was job-oriented and was a sitting job, which was more comfortable. I took admission in a stenography course at a government institute in Ludhiana, which I cleared in merit and got a job, but I had got the job in handicapped quota. I felt bad about it and felt that my qualification hence had no value. So, I then passed an exam of stenography and I joined the secretariat with an officer whose wife had also lost one leg. He helped me in getting a prosthetic leg as an extension, which I have been using for 22 years now.

The grief of losing someone dear in life is often unbearable. If you’re comfortable, tell us a little about how you dealt with the unfortunate loss of your better half?

My husband was also working in the secretariat at the same time. We got married in 1983 and we have two daughters. A month had passed after our second daughter got married. My husband was perfectly fit, however, one day in 2014 he suddenly suffered a stroke and passed away at the hospital. I was depressed and it took time to come to terms with reality. I was feeling I had lost everything and had to undergo psychiatric treatment for over a year.

Despite facing multiple challenges in life, you have always emerged to become a stronger version of yourself. What is your happiness mantra and what is it that keeps you going?

God has given you just one life, so make use of it. You should accept what God has given you because you cannot change anything. Do not compare yourself with anyone and never have any inferiority complex. I have never in my life compared my life with anyone else and I am just very happy.

Tell us about your association with Grey Shades and some of its key features?

I started using a smartphone to cope with the changing technology and one day I was scrolling Facebook and came across Grey Shades. I got to be in touch with the elderly through Grey Shades and we were encouraged to pursue our interests. I revived my interest in poetry as I had forgotten how to write, and my job was such that I never got time to pursue my interest in poetry.

Grey Shades is a great initiative. It has changed my life for the better. Thanks to Grey Shades, I got the motivation to travel to Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Dubai, Singapore, and the Philippines. I recently reached Nathu La pass on the India-China border at the age of 68 and won over life’s challenges. I retired in the year 2014 after spending 40 years in service and ever since then I have been travelling. I have been to different places in our country as well.

One thing that you like the most about Chandigarh?

I love this city as I have grown in this city and never stayed outside the city. It is a beautiful city to live in.

One final message for all our readers.

Always have confidence in yourself and always remember that you can contribute to society by spreading your knowledge.

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