1. The only woman in the world who
has scaled Mt Everest twice was
born in a society where the birth of
a son was regarded as a blessing,
and a daughter, though not
considered a curse, was not
generally welcome. When her
mother was expecting Santosh, a
travelling 'holy man', giving her his
blessing, assumed that she wanted
a son. But, to everyone's surprise,
the unborn child's grandmother, who
was standing close by, told him that
they did not want a son. The 'holy
man' was also surprised!
Nevertheless, he gave the requested
blessing ... and as destiny would
have it, the blessing seemed to work.
Santosh was born the sixth child in
a family with five sons, a sister to
five brothers. She was born in the small village of
Joniyawas of Rewari District in Haryana.
2. The girl was given the name 'Santosh', which
means contentment. But Santosh was not always
content with her place in a traditional way of life.
She began living life on her own terms from the
start. Where other girls wore traditional Indian
dresses, Santosh preferred shorts. Looking back,
she says now, "From the very beginning I was quite
determined that if I chose a correct and a rational
path, the others around me had to change, not me."
3. Santosh's parents were affluent landowners who
could afford to send their children to the best
schools, even to the country's capital, New Delhi,
which was quite close by. But, in line with the
prevailing custom in the family, Santosh had to
make do with the local village school. So, she decided
to fight the system in her own quiet way when
the right moment arrived. And the right moment
came when she turned sixteen. At sixteen, most of
the girls in her village used to get married.
Santosh was also under pressure from her parents
to do the same.
4. A marriage as early as that was the last thing
on her mind. She threatened her parents that she
would never marry if she did not get a proper
education. She left home and got herself enrolled
in a school in Delhi. When her parents refused to
pay for her education, she politely informed them
of her plans to earn money by working part time to
pay her school fees. Her parents then agreed to pay
for her education.
5. Wishing always to study "a bit more" and with
her father slowly getting used to her urge for more
education, Santosh passed the high school
examinations and went to Jaipur. She joined
Maharani College and got a room in Kasturba Hostel.
Santosh remembers, "Kasturba Hostel faced the
Aravalli Hills. I used to watch villagers from my
room, going up the hill and suddenly vanishing after
a while. One day I decided to check it out myself. I
found nobody except a few mountaineers. I asked if
I could join them. To my pleasant surprise, they
answered in the affirmative and motivated me to
take to climbing."
6. Then there was no looking back for this
determined young girl. She saved money and enrolled
in a course at Uttarkashi's Nehru Institute of
Mountaineering. "My college semester in Jaipur was
to end in April but it ended on the nineteenth of
May. And I was supposed to be in Uttarkashi on
the twenty-first. So, I did not go back home; instead,
I headed straight for the training. I had to write a
letter of apology to my father without whose
permission I had got myself enrolled at Uttarkashi."
7. Thereafter, Santosh went on an
expedition every year. Her climbing
skills matured rapidly. Also, she
developed a remarkable resistance to
cold and the altitude. Equipped with
an iron will, physical endurance and
an amazing mental toughness, she
proved herself repeatedly. The
culmination of her hard work and
sincerity came in 1992, just four years
after she had shyly asked the Aravalli
mountaineers if she could join them.
At barely twenty years of age, Santosh
Yadav scaled Mt Everest, becoming the
youngest woman in the world to
achieve the feat. If her climbing skills,
physical fitness, and mental strength
impressed her seniors, her concern for
others and desire to work together with
them found her a special place in the
hearts of fellow climbers.
8. During the 1992 Everest mission, Santosh Yadav
provided special care to a climber who lay dying at
the South Col. She was unfortunately unsuccessful
in saving him. However, she managed to save
another climber, Mohan Singh, who would have
met with the same fate had she not shared her
oxygen with him.
9. Within twelve months, Santosh found herself a
member of an Indo-Nepalese Women's Expedition
that invited her to join them. She then scaled the
Everest a second time, thus setting a record as the
only woman to have scaled the Everest twice, and
securing for herself and India a unique place in the
annals of mountaineering. In recognition
of her achievements, the Indian government
bestowed upon her one of the nation's top honours,
10. Describing her feelings when she was literally
'on top of the world', Santosh has said, "It took some
time for the enormity of the moment to sink
in ... Then I unfurled the Indian tricolour and held
it aloft on the roof of the world. The feeling is
indescribable. The Indian flag was flying on top of
the world. It was truly a spiritual moment. I felt
proud as an Indian."
Also a fervent environmentalist, Santosh
collected and brought down 500 kilograms of
garbage from the Himalayas.
There is something disarming about Maria
Sharapova, something at odds with her ready smile
and glamorous attire. And that something in her
lifted her on Monday, 22 August 2005 to the world
number one position in women's tennis. All this
happened in almost no time. Poised beyond her
years, the Siberian born teenager took just four
years as a professional to reach the pinnacle.
2. However, the rapid ascent in a fiercely
competitive world began nine years before with a
level of sacrifice few children would be prepared to
endure. Little Maria had not yet celebrated her tenth
birthday when she was packed off to train in the
United States. That trip to Florida with her father
Yuri launched her on the path to success and
stardom. But it also required a heart-wrenching
two-year separation from her mother Yelena. The
latter was compelled to stay back in Siberia because
of visa restrictions. The nine-year-old girl had
already learnt an important lesson in life — that
tennis excellence would only come at a price.
3. "I used to be so lonely," Maria Sharapova recalls.
"I missed my mother terribly. My father was working
as much as he could to keep my tennis-training
going. So, he couldn't see me either.
4. "Because I was so young, I used to go to bed at
8 p.m. The other tennis pupils would come in at
11 p.m. and wake me up and order me to tidy up
the room and clean it.
5. "Instead of letting that depress me, I became
more quietly determined and mentally tough.
I learnt how to take care of myself. I never thought
of quitting because I knew what I wanted. When
you come from nothing and you have nothing, then
it makes you very hungry and determined . . . I would
have put up with much more humiliation and insults
than that to steadfastly pursue my dream."
6. That toughness runs through Maria even today.
It was the key to her bagging the women's singles
crown at Wimbledon in 2004 and to her meteoric
rise to the world number one spot the following year.
7. While her journey from the frozen plains of
Siberia to the summit of women's tennis has touched
the hearts of tennis fans, for the youngster herself
there appears to be no room for sentiment. The
straight looks and the answers she gives when asked
about her ambition make it amply clear that she
considers the sacrifices were worth it. "I am very,
very competitive. I work hard at what I do. It's my
job." This is her mantra for success.
8. Though Maria Sharapova speaks with a
pronounced American accent, she proudly parades
her Russian nationality. Clearing all doubts, she
says, "I'm Russian. It's true that the U.S. is a big
part of my life. But I have Russian citizenship. My
blood is totally Russian. I will play the Olympics
for Russia if they want me."
9. Like any number of teenaged sensations, Maria
Sharapova lists fashion, singing and dancing as her
hobbies. She loves reading the novels of Arthur Conan
Doyle. Her fondness for sophisticated evening gowns
appears at odds with her love of pancakes with
chocolate spread and fizzy orange drinks.
10. Maria Sharapova cannot be pigeon-holed or
categorised. Her talent, unwavering desire to
succeed and readiness to sacrifice have lifted her
to the top of the world. Few would grudge her the
riches she is now reaping. This is what she has to
say about her monetary gains from tennis:
"Of course, money is a motivation. Tennis is a
business and a sport, but the most important thing
is to become number one in the world. That's the
dream that kept me going."
On Killing Tree.
Author: GIEVE PATEL
You must have observed people cutting down trees. But can
they kill a tree? Is it easy to do so? Let's read the poem and
find out what the poet says on killing a tree.
It takes much time to kill a tree,
Not a simple jab of the knife
Will do it. It has grown
Slowly consuming the earth,
Rising out of it, feeding
Upon its crust, absorbing
Years of sunlight, air, water,
And out of its leprous hide
So hack and chop
But this alone wont do it.
Not so much pain will do it.
The bleeding bark will heal
And from close to the ground
Will rise curled green twigs,
Which if unchecked will expand again
To former size.
The root is to be pulled out —
Out of the anchoring earth;
It is to be roped, tied,
And pulled out — snapped out
Or pulled out entirely,
Out from the earth-cave,
And the strength of the tree exposed
The source, white and wet,
The most sensitive, hidden
For years inside the earth.
Then the matter
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,
And then it is done.
Author: JOYCE KILMER
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Online Lessons with Spoken text and correct pronounciation