Dreams; there could be many, there could be one. For me however, participating in beauty pageants was never really one.
Growing up in the wilderness of a place like Godavari with two wildly adventurous elder brothers, hiking up the hills every weekend, playing hide and seek in the dense forests, splashing up on the fresh river water… no one would’ve even guessed I would get into pageants. My scholarly family of teachers definitely didn’t see this coming. But oh well, I guess this is what makes life beautiful, its unpredictability.
My mom was heavily pregnant, she said, when I was in her womb. Everybody thought she’d give birth to a twin and then there was just me; me alone, born in a warm august night. Three point some KGs at birth, an uber healthy child that I was and how that uber healthiness never left by my side all the way to my adolescence.
“Rambo” as I was lovingly called in my neighborhood, I loved my boy haircut, those torn out sneakers from braving all my adventures and my little white bicycle that so strongly stood by me through all those tattered trails. I still remember my dad installing two additional little wheels in my bicycle to help me support my balance because, as it is I was famous for injuring my self and also because I was only 5.
To recall my many adventures as the “Rambo Kid”, there was this one time when I slipped my self into an almost 30 feet long, cemented slide and wait here is the best part, I got in it headfirst; broke my only milk tooth. Then there was this one-day, when I saw my brothers and his friends making plunges at a big sand pit. I know it is “long jump” now but then all I understood in my head was that I had to make the fiercest jump to impress my audience. Therefore, with no fair warning to anyone whatsoever, I remember running the fastest that I possibly could and making a leap only to be landed on my tongue. I cry and cry, with all that sand in my mouth and my eldest brother comes to my rescue and wipes it all off with a bundle of socks.
To which, by the way, I only recently confronted him, asking why socks? “I mean weren’t there anything else that you could have done that with?” And he goes, “No it was freshly washed socks. It was clearly an emergency and the socks were right there hanging out in the sun”.
I let out a big sigh … and have been trying to move on from the incident ever since. But it never fails to bring a smile on my face every time I think about it. Joys of childhood? I think so.
And now, here I am. At 23, three beauty pageants down as Miss Tourism Queen Nepal 2011 all set to represent my nation and compete with a bevy of beauties from around the globe. And, if the idea of being one’s graceful best, poised, polished, looking picture perfect pretty at all times doesn’t scare the “Rambo Kid” I don’t know what will.
And it did. Big time. I freshly remember standing up on the stage during the grand finale of Miss Teen Nepal 2006 that day, all set to recite my beautifully written introduction only to forget it all, which was followed by the longest most painful “nothingness” of the mind I had ever experienced in my life. The worst part was perhaps the fact that I didn’t budge from the center stage for a good couple of minutes, still hoping to recall all that I had to say, until the emcee herself had to show me the way (sigh).
We were taught, that to make a mark in a beauty pageant one must stand out; and boy did I stand out. There are quite a bunch of people who still remember me as “That Rai girl who couldn’t utter a word” and I am in the know of my moment of obscurity becoming quite popular in YouTube , although I never got the guts to watch it myself I did read the comments posted up there and I can tell you it wasn’t the best things for any one to read about themselves. I did however; enjoy the amount of attention my little “non-act” garnered. “Famous for not the best reasons, but famous still” I pacified my self.
Now again, going back to my “epic fail” first stage appearance ever, I remember rushing backstage with two choices in my mind. Either I choose to break down in tears over my two months of training going down the drain and messing up my beautiful makeup or stand up and fight and work to give the performance of my life. It was then that The “Rambo Kid” in me came along to help me build up the courage to face my fears head on; something it had learnt to do as a child. And despite all that disastrous beginning, I still ended up wining the 2nd runner up title. Coming out of the experience braver than ever and most importantly coming out of the ordeal as a winner in my own eyes.
It must be my love for competitions that drove me to participate in all the contests that I did. Along with the beauty contests, I never stopped battling out in my national level basketball tournaments or fighting in any other college level sports related activities, to international essay, article and poetry writing competitions... as many there were out there that fit my criteria, I must have tried them all.
I made the “Rambo Kid” in me to believe I could qualify to become a beauty queen. While it was a challenge, we pulled it off. Now I can go back and forth to becoming any which facet of me that I want, a little treat I give myself from time to time. Then there is this intense athlete in me that loves to gruel and train to win championships, a musically inclined soul that yearns to hit the right notes one day to become a good singer and then a writer; who used to fail her English while in school who is but now paid to write the same. Ahhh.. how I enjoy the many facades of my being and the many competitions that I was part of helped me find it all.
I guess, all I am trying to say here is , whatever you choose to become, you will be. I truly believe that all of us have many dimensions to ourselves and that we’re often too scared to explore. I know I was. But also there isn’t a more enriching life to live than to live a life really knowing who you are and what you are worth of. In all these years, I have understood that defeats and victories were merely for the entertainment of others. And that in your hearts of heart you should always know that agreeing to be a part of a battle already makes you a winner.
As for me, as much as I enjoyed my journey from the Rambo kid to a Beauty Queen, I know this definitely doesn’t end here. And whether or not I am a part of any other contests in the future, I will never stop exploring the many possible sides in me and keep finding joy in it.
After all, all of us hope to get the best from life but have we considered giving life back the best we have? Finding the many gifts I have been bestowed with and exploiting it to enrich my life and those of many others around me is my way of giving back to my life … what’s yours?
FYI ... I am still yet to go for the Miss Tourism International Contest slated for the summer of 2011. Thanks for reading :)