You know my name, not my story !!

This post is the script of my ‘Ice-Breaker’ speech in Toastmasters Club. Here is my whole life in 10 minutes :

You know my name, not my story,
In the darkest failures, my shining glory,
You know what I’ve done, not what I’ve been through,
What was the lie and what all true,

You judge me from the scoreboard,
but you don’t know my game,
Maybe what I am doing make no sense,
but you hardly know my aim,

You are laughing at my efforts,
screaming all of them are in vain,
Listen, I’m not giving up,
I’m like a beast,very hard to tame,

You know my name, not my story,
In the darkest failures, my shining glory !!

~ Amit Chaudhary


Today, I am going to tell you that story of my life which you still don’t know. My life has five main chapters :

Chapter 1 – Hills to mills :

I was born in the lap of Himalayas, a village named Tharu in Kangra Dist of HP. It was a joint family and major occupation of the family was farming till my father got job in Indian Railways.

Himachali by birth

Son of Mountains

In around two years my younger brother was born and I was sent to my maternal abode which was a remote village in the hills of Himalayas.
It didn’t have a pakka road connecting to the nearby town and we used to get drinking water, supplied by trucks. I still have a fading memory of my great-grandmother with whom I used to go fetch water and used to spill almost all while reaching back home. My maternal grandfather was in army from whom I used to listen War stories. The life was simple and serene.

But then around 4 years of age my parents took me from a village in hills into the town of mills where my father worked. It was a place called RCF(Rail caoch factory) Kapurthala. Raliway coaches were manufactured there.This was my journey from Hills to mills.

From Hills to Mills

From Hills to Mills

Chapter 2 – The transformation :

Inspired from my maternal grandfather, I had a dream of being an Air force fighter pilot…
In class fifth I took the entrance exam to join Sainik School Kapurthala. It was a military boarding school. I cleared the written test, interview and medical and
joined it. Little did I realize the kind of trouble I was putting myself and my family into. Unknowingly I had put my family through financially hard times as it was an expensive school. I can’t forget their sacrifice and what they have done for me.
Not only that I had put myself in that ‘hell’. The school was ruthless, there was ragging, physical torture, a morning to midnight strict routine and then there was pain of separation from the family. I cried and cried till my tears ran dry. I still remember how I used to communicate through letters and postcards to home.
Slowly things got bearable and I adapted and learnt to live in that hell. I washed and stiched my own clothes, gave myself medication when needed, did almost
everything on my own and transformed into a self-dependent individual.

Journey in Sainik School Kapurthala

Journey in Sainik School Kapurthala

Another kind of transformation was brought in by my school teachers.
My school Principal inspired me to read good books and watch good movies, my art teacher brought out the artist in me. I didn’t want to join school band but my music teacher beat the hell out of me and made me join it. Serendipitously, our school band was selected to march on Republic day in New Delhi. Marching on Rajapth is one of the memorable moment of my life. I love music now.

Artist, Musician and Thinker

Artist, Musician and Thinker

Then, In the Xth board I was amongst the toppers of my class and my school registrar’s lecture on the day of result struck me. He said one should not only be good in studies but should be an allrounder.It had a great impression on me and in 11th class I started playing every sports be it basketball, swimming, squash, volleyball, football etc. I won Gold medals in my first 3000 mts and 1500 mts athletics races. I made a place in school Basketball team. I never believed if I could be a sportsperson.

Molded into an All-rounder

Molded into an All-rounder

It was then I realized I can do anything or anybody can do anything.
In hindsight all of this experience have made me stronger, not only physically but mentally as well and now I call it Heaven not Hell.

Saikapian Abode

Saikapian Abode

Once upon a time, I lived in heaven,
When I was a boy of age eleven,
I put my little steps into the heaven,
there was a glitter in eyes,
the excitement and frenzy of a new life,
the stage was set to transform,
a puppy into a lion n live the life of king size,
the golden years of my life were seven,
Once upon a time, I lived in heaven !!

Chapter 3 – Dream to Dust :
After seven years of transformation I was ready to realize my dream. I cleared NDA written exam and SSB interview but unfortunately I was rejected in medical. I had calcification which means, I had a mole of calcium on my liver. Although AIIMS, Dellhi cleared me but they didn’t take me in. It was a shock… I was broke and I was shattered. From cloud nine, I crashed to the ground. The pain was unbearable as I was rendered helpless by fate. Moreover I didn’t have a clue what to do with my life. I was lost.

Dawn became dusk and dreams became dust

Dawn became dusk and dreams became dust

Chapter 4 – Sweat and Shine :

I refused to lose in the hands of fate. I took admission in BSc NM in DAV college Jalandhar. There I got opportunity to be in college quiz team and we won Inter- college physics quiz there. That’s how I met a physics lecturer who suggested to me to do engineering. So along with my Bsc exams I took AIEEE and managed to get admission in Civil Engineering, GNDEC Ludhiana, One of the best colleges in Punjab.
As I had no particular interest in engineering, I did everything but studies. I was in my college Athletics, Basketball, Cycling, Cross-country, Quizzing and Cultural team. I won innumerable medals and trophies during college. I became national player in cross-country and cycling.

Just do it

Just do it

I had joined various clubs in college such as ISTE, NCC etc. I started writing poems, photography and video making. Surprisingly I was among toppers in my civil branch and became Student of the year in the final year of my college.

Student of the Year

Student of the Year

Chapter 5 – In search of the destiny :

By final year I had watched many true story movies such as October sky and Glory Road, watched many inspiring videos such as stanford speech of Steve Jobs and Harvard speech of JK Rowling, many inspiring books such as Stay hungry and stay foolish and connect the dots. All these in culmination gave me wings again to dream high and touch the sky. I dared to dream again. This time I dreamed of being someone who can make difference in the world. I decided to do an MBA.

In the final year I had offers from construction companies but I decided to join TCS thinking it would provide me learning and it indeed has.

Before joining TCS I taught in PT Education as a quant teacher for about six months.

Teacher @ PT Education

Teacher @ PT Education

Since joining TCS I have participated in events such as CSR initiatives, TCS 10K, TATA Crucibles, TBLA ( Tata business leadership awards) in which we were regional finalists and various other events. Besides that I have joined many clubs such as photography club, dance club, trekking club,quiz club and now the TM club.

Let's do everything

Let’s do everything

This April I appeared for TAS( Tata Administrative Services) and went till presentation rounds. It was then I realized that I need to improve my speaking skills and it is one of the major reason to join TM club. I have developed new interests such as singing, gyming, cooking, learning Spanish and playing chess.

Let's do everything - Part 2

Let’s do everything – Part 2

I like to be jack of all trades. I believe there is just one life to live and lets do everything one can do.

In search of destiny ...

Before winding up I want say few lines of my poem …

Jal jaane de khud ko, iss aag se kyu darna hai,
yeh aag aur davaab hi tuhje badalenge,
Abhi koyla hai tu, Heera tujhe banana hai,
Iss andhere ko cheer kar,
kirano se apni, jag roshan abhi karna hai,
Jal jaane de khud ko, iss aag kyu darna hai,
Abhi koyla hai tu, Heera tujhe banana hai !!

PS : I became the best speaker of the day 🙂


Edit : Due to shortage of time I couldn’t write about the support and motivation I have got from friends at every stage of my life. Whatever I am today is because of you all. The list is long and you know, you are in my special list. Kyunki …

Har ek Friend Zaroori hota hai … Love u all 🙂

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Trekking to Kanoor Kote and Dabbe Falls

Caveat : It is a long way to the end, but so is the trekking. If you are a trekker I am sure you can reach its end :p

Climb every mountain, Search high and low,
Follow every byway, Every path you know.
Climb every mountain, Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, ‘Till you find your dream !!

These words always keep echoing in me…
Prologue :

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The son of the mountains

Being born in the lap of Himalayas, the love for trekking and mountains was innate in me. I was always in awe of the heights and beauty of the Himalayas and no other terrain in India excited me as much as Himalayas. But geography lessons in school and shows in Discovery channel fostered a desire to experience western ghats too along with other places. Western ghats is known for its beautiful dense rainy forests and its rich flaura and fauna. But life got entagled in school, college, and subsequently in the race of career, it got busy in array of things and innate desire of adventure and thrill was lost somewhere inside.
It is amazing how a single message or mail can produce a change in your life just like a single spark can produce a violent fire so strong that it can burn even a forest. For me it was a mail from Bangalore TCS Maitree about one day trip to Ranganathittu for bird photography. Though I was not a photographer and still I am not, I got excited by the mail just for the love of nature. This trip rekindled the lost desire and it was as if I had tasted the blood.

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Ranganathittu : A click by Amit Chaudhary

A week after that, I trekked to Kudremukh peak with a bunch of enthusiasts, strangers who became good friends by the end of the trek. I fell in love with the beauty of the of western ghats and monsoon rains. ( I had decided to trek without a rain coat )

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KudreMukh

The trek to Kudrekmukh

Without much ado, let me start with trek of Dabbe falls and Kanoor Kote of which this post is about.

14-June :

The Kudremukh hangover was not even over yet and Voila ! A mail from Bangalore Maitree. This time it was from Adventure club about a trek to Dabbe Falls and Kanoor Kote. Felt like Western ghats were calling me again. I decided to get it registered no matter what. I had office that weekend. Somehow managed that. My first hurdle was over. The next biggest hurdle is to get registered as the number of seats were around 50 and I was sure the kind of employee TCS has its gonna be tougher than Tatkal reservation of Indian Railways. The next day the link opened five minutes late which has already caused panic among the enthusiasts and as expected the seats just got filled in a blink of an eye. Thanks to the backup plan I finally got the registration. ( At least IT has taught me to have a sound Business Continuity Plan if nothing else :p)

16th- June to 18th June :

In this period all the confirmed TCSers received regular mails from Adventure club with all the details which helped us in preparing for upcoming trek. Thanks to Maitree team for all the minute details. The bags were packed and the excitement was on the surge, eagerly waiting for the day to come.

19th June :

Left the office a bit early, did some shopping and bought some arsenal( common salt) to fight the blood -sucking leeches. The time of journey had arrived and the excitement was already on the peak. After the ritual and group pic, we embarked upon a journey to reach our base camp. Most of the faces were new and a cool introductory session broke the ice. We decided to get some sleep before the trek and called it a day.

TCS Maitree Adventure club

TCS Maitree Adventure club

20th June : ( DAY 1 – Kanoor Kote)

In the morning we were joined by Aventura India members who were our official guides and facilitators. We arrived at a place from where our bus can’t go further and we have to travel 2 kms to the base camp which was at Hosagadde Village Forest IB quarters, Sagara Taluk. We were welcomed by rain the moment we boarded out of the bus. The noise of traffic and honking of vehicles had turned to chirping of birds and beat boxing of cicada. We had left all the clutter of city life behind in Bangalore.

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Boulevard to Base camp

The location of base camp was mesmerizing. In our front were Sharavathi Back waters filled with muddy water, the brown soil filled with gravels n pebbles and the green horizon behind was creating a beautiful landscape which we started capturing in our cameras the moment we reached there.

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How can I let it go without clicks :p

The world was beautiful as far as we can see. The showers of rain were adding to the beauty of it and our photography team was struggling n running around to save their cameras from drenching. I somehow suppressed my urge to swim in the backwaters coz it was muddy and we were not allowed to do so.

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Sharavathi Back waters

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After freshening up and sumptuous breakfast we were briefed about the day activities i.e. the trek Kanoor Kote. After taking our packed lunch which was tamarind rice and raita, and filling our water bottles we headed for the trek. I guess I was the only one without a rain coat and in some time I was about to know the consequences of it. Again after walking for about 2 kms we reached our bus. We went playing antakshri which was fun in itself.

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Antakshri : Hindi songs vs Telegu songs :p

It has become more of hindi vs telugu songs competition in which, both teams didn’t accept defeat. Our journey was interrupted in the misty forest where a tree had fell on the road. Some of us got down and moved the tree out of the way. While we were removing tree out of the way, our photography team was busy in capturing the moments. It is good to have some photographers in the group to capture these unforgettable moments.

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Branches of trees and wires blocking the way

The Downpour welcomed us on the start and I felt cold and thought I made a mistake not to carry a rain coat. Chuck it … I came to enjoy the rain, I am gonna do it no matter what and I started humming Rain over me song :p. The much awaited trek had started and we had been made wary of leech infested path. Leeches were going to be biggest spoiler in the trek. The energy was high and people were out of sight in no time. I deliberately started slow to have company of my photographer friends. I wanted as many pics as I could get :p.

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Trek to Kunoor Kote

The moment we entered leech infested area we were on our toes, but all in vain. Leeches are very stubborn creatures and we finally started donating blood. By the time we were removing one other would have already found a way to climb upon us. Even salt was of little help as we were not able to see where all the leeches were. We carried on fighting with them and donating them blood. The shoes got drenched in rain and started feeling slushy. Wearing slippers or sandals would have been a better idea as the trek wasn’t so steep and slippery.

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We stopped at a place which was grassy, more importantly it was free of leeches. The vegetable pulav had never tasted that good and water never that sweet as it tasted at that moment. It made us realize to value food and water as every bit and every drop mattered when you are in scarcity of resources. We gathered all the waste in trash bags as we didn’t want to spoil the beauty of the land. After refeulling we started our ascent to Kunoor kote fort and temple. The clouds were providing shade, the cool wind was refreshing us at every moment, the rain was cleansing us and the scenic beauty gave the tonic to the eyes.

About after 5 hours we reached the desolated fort and temple. We came across a Mallabar pit viper and I was delighted to see it and so was the photography team. Photo session followed without caring for leeches stuck to our feet and legs.

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Kunoor Kote fort and temple & Malabar pit viper

Within minutes we started the return journey as we wanted to descend back before sun set. We didn’t want to travel in leech infested path in night. (Night and leech : A lethal combination).
Personally I was fit and felt only the joy and bliss. I could see fellow trekkers’ steps became slower, the bags became heavier and gravity became stronger. Still all carried on challenging and pushing their limits. We can do anything if set our mind to. We started singing songs thinking it would bring some respite. The DJ of the jungle Cicada joined in with its the background music.

The sun set and it was dark. Thankfully we had crossed the leech infested area. Beaming Bus lights at far end marked the end of a 18 km adventurous trek. Many of the trekkers were already waiting in bus which now looked like warzone with leeches and blood all around. In a hurry we had a head count and sarted back to base camp. Refuelling session started in the bus with the leftovers of the day. Most of us just want to hit the bed and didn’t want to get up till eternity.
We had missed the timeliness and organizers were doing their best to keep everything as planned. We reached the point from where we had to start 2 km trek again to base camp of which most of us hadn’t had the energy to do so.
Thanks to the friends of Aventura India who were ready to hitch us till our base camp on their truck. But the adventure hadn’t ended for the day yet. While the journey back we encountered a massive tree blocking the road. I took almost all our remaining energy to lift it out of the way. Kudos to all for the team-effort which reminded us that unity is indeed a strength. Surprises such as these add to the adventure.

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A road block adventure

We were famished by the time we reached and gulped down every edible thing we could get our hands onto. We were behind our schedule which had pushed the plans by few hours. Some of the folks couldn’t agree to the new plan and decided to return to Bangalore the next day.

We heard from the organizers that we have to wake up at 6 if we want to reach dabbe falls on time. That part of information regarding waking up was something which our mind decided not to process. We all slept in a hall in our sleeping bags. In few moments we were in so deep slumber that even if an explosion had occurred near us we wouldn’t have heard it.

21- June ( DAY 2 – Dabbe Falls)

Just in a minute ( it felt like a minute) we were woke up by the orgainzers as the clock struck 6 am. Sadly, time travels fast in the night. The bodies were in pain and the smell of violini and pain remover gels was still in the air, but surprisingly everyone woke up with new zeal.

It had rained cats and dogs in the night. Due to heavy rain our breakfast service got delayed. Aventura India members indulged us in various games and fun activities which gave a jolly start to a new day. After having breakfast, hot tea/coffee and taking our packed lunches we were ready to hit the trek again.

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Filling the energy tanks

It was going to be the longest day, not only for us … technically 21st June is the longest day in northern hemisphere of the earth. We packed all our stuff and hit the 2km stretch for the last time. We reached the dabbe falls trek point in an hour.

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Trekking point to Dabbe falls

Some of us stayed back in the bus. This trek was supposed to be short but steep and slippery. In some time we were about to know how much ! The way went through dense forest, through the fallen trees and little brooks. On the way we crossed a home whose owner gave us the luscious mangoes from the mango tree.

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Aamsutra

It was something everyone cherished. The mangoes were really delicious. After the juicy break we entered a narrow path with water running through it. I had decided to wear slippers this time which turned out to be a good decision. Our old enemy, leeches had arrived again though in less numbers.

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Before the steep slope

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We reached the cliff like point from where we had to descend on an almost 70 to 80 degree slope. From there, we cloud hear the roar of the waterfall. My heart had started to throb after listening to it. My wish to take a shower under it was pulling me towards it. We started the descent which turned out to be a unique challenge. The trees’ roots provided natural web of ropes which gave us some ease and personally allowed me to act like the Tarzan.

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The vertical fall

We took one and half hour to descend about 400 mts. We stopped at a point from where we had a first glimpse of Dabbe falls. The moment I saw the falls, I fell in love with it. It was disheartening to know that we couldn’t go down further as the path was too dangerous in the monsoon season. We had to content from a bird eye view. Taking shower in it remained a wishful thinking. Nevertheless that view made me forget everything else. We all had our photo-session there.

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Photo session @ Dabbe Falls

After drinking all the beauty of the falls and the woods we took an U-turn to ascend back. Climbing is much easier than descending a terrain like this, just it needs a little more energy and I had it in abundance. Surprisingly we ascended back the steep stretch in half an hour.

We stopped at a picturesque village house for lunch, the owner  was hospitable and gave us shelter from the downpour. After another round of tasty food we headed back. I wanted to reach faster than all others so that I can take bath in fresh water. After wandering and losing way for a few times, ( I shouldn’t be alive came to my mind) I made it back first and took a bath in running & chilling water. It was blissful. All the dirt, fatigue and pain washed away. Then others reached and everyone took their turn to get fresh.

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With style

It was a cozy feeling to be in dried clothes after two days. We were served with snacks and hot tea/coffee which took us to cloud nine. After giving feedback to Aventura India members and thanking them and other friends, we parted our ways to begin the return journey to Bangalore.

After that, the feedback session of TCS Maitree Bangalore Adventure club began. Everyone thanked them for their efforts to make this trek successful and I would also personally thank all the team for giving us such a nice experience. The time and effort you all gave to this even is commendable.

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After dinner smiles

We had dinner at a fine place and felt we were back in civilization. In the morning we were back in the noise of traffic leaving all the serenity behind. A force was still pulling me back there and I realized to get over this hangover will take some time. Again like the previous trek, we went as strangers and returned as friends.

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The strangers became friends

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Trekking bless us with friends and memories. It teaches to push our limits and never say never. It teaches us that it is not always about the destination but about the journey too… not about oneself but others too. It teaches us to value nature and life.

The brooks, woods and mountains will always beat in my heart …

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Carpe Diem

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep !!

Thanks for stopping by. It was my first attempt to write a trek blog. Please leave your comments and feedback 🙂

PS : My special Thanks to Saajan, Ishita,Vinit and Amrita for the beautiful pictures, and Anusha, Nagarjuna and Vinay for organizing such a beautiful event.

A Glass full of Milk, paid in full ( A true Story )

One day,
a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for

 a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?” “You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.” He said, “Then I thank you from my heart.”

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Year’s later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor’s gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She began to read the following words:

“Paid in full with one glass of milk”

Signed, Dr. Howard Kelly.

Salute n Respect : Sushil Kumar ( Olympic Silver Medallist )

Raised in the true Indian wrestling tradition of milk-and-ghee, alcohol was never his thing. So, when a leading liquor brand offered Sushil Kumar Rs. 50 lakh to appear in a surrogate ad, the London Olympics silver medallist said a firm no. “I didn’t want to be associated with a liquor brand in any form as it would send a wrong signal to the youth,” said Kumar, the only Indian to win two back-to-back individual Olympic medals.

Surrogate ads involve promoting banned products such as cigarettes and alcohol in the guise of another product.

“The sporting tradition that I have been raised in values discipline way above money,” he said.

Kumar’s bronze medal triumph in Beijing four summers ago earned him celebrity status and after the 29-year-old changed “the colour of his medal” in London, his place in Indian sporting history was sealed.

Starved of youth icons —other than cricketers — advertisers found a star in Kumar, who endorses Mountain Dew, Eicher tractors and National Egg Coordination Committee, earning R1 crore annually.

The liquor company has now turned to cricketers, though not all have been keen customers. Two years ago, Sachin Tendulkar turned down a R20-crore offer from a top liquor brand.

Malala Yousafzai

Salute n Get well soon ….. The paragon of Courage
Salute : Malala Yousafzai, 13 ( Get Well Soon )

At the age of 11, Malala Yousafzai took on the Taliban by giving voice to her dreams. As turbaned fighters swept through her town in northwestern Pakistan in 2009, the tiny schoolgirl spoke o

ut about her passion for education — she wanted to become a doctor, she said — and became a symbol of defiance against Taliban subjugation.

Malala Yousafzai is the first Pakistani child who has been nominated for the Peace award on Universal children’s day. This year a total of five children have been nominated from around the globe and Malala is the only one from Pakistan.

On Tuesday, masked Taliban gunmen answered Ms. Yousafzai’s courage with bullets, singling out the 14-year-old on a bus filled with terrified schoolchildren, then shooting her in the head and neck. Two other girls were also wounded in the attack. All three survived, but late on Tuesday doctors said that Ms. Yousafzai was in critical condition at a hospital in Peshawar, with a bullet possibly lodged close to her brain.

We truly salute your efforts, Malala. May you continue to work for the betterment of Pakistan and for the children who are denied the basic right to education. Pakistan needs people like you.

Like her official page

http://www.facebook.com/malalayousafzaiofficial