From an academic point of view, Neillima Pudota is an Engineer, having done Mechatronics Engineering and worked as an Industrial Automation Engineer for a long 8 years in MNCs such as Wipro, Siemens System house and Cognizant.
From a non-academic point of view, she says her parents have always recalled her as a hyperactive kid. To channel her energy into something productive she enjoyed taking part in activities throughout her childhood learning Bharatanatyam and Carnatic Music.
From Livingit’s point of view, Neillima Pudota is an inspiration, an embodiment of woman empowerment and a passionate pursuer of an active lifestyle having climbed the Everest, and taken part in runs for a cause such as the world famous Pinkathon.
Born to parents who travel a lot, Neillima describes herself as blessed that they took her along. One of those trips, to Sikkim in 2008, was in fact where she fell in love with the mountains developing her passion for the outdoors – while her mother, a journalist with a Ph.D. on Women Empowerment, remains her backbone in supporting such social issues till date.
As part of our #IamLivingit series, Rachana from Team Livingit connects with Neillima on her adventurous and passionate lifestyle.
Livingit: Has fitness always been a big part of your daily routine?
Neillima Pudota: Yes, Bharatanatyam has kept me quite fit since my childhood. As I grew older, I incorporated yoga into my daily routine too. When I decided to be a mountaineer, my fitness regime only became more organized and target oriented.
Livingit: In 2015 you planned to climb Mount Everest, but due to the earthquake in Nepal you completed the Base Camp Trek instead. In the beginning of 2016, you then approached the heights for a second time being the first woman from Andhra Pradesh to have scaled 8650 meters of the impressive mountain. Tell us a little bit about the experiences?
Neillima Pudota : In 2015, I went for an Everest Base Camp Trek, yes. That trek was when I realized my true potential and trained to climb Mount Everest in 2016. When I went back to the Everest in 2016, I felt very strong and very blessed too, by Sagarmatha (Nepalese for Everest). I have been blessed tremendously to have taken the right decision, at a time when the person I relied most on the mountains, my Sherpa, had his health give up on him.
Looking back at the journey and the decision that day, I’m still in awe as to how much Sagarmatha blessed me. Isn’t it amazing to know that a person is alive and living happily today because of the decision I made that day? What Sagarmatha has taught me is beyond a human comprehension and it’s simply out of my caliber to articulate the experience!
Livingit: Do you plan to take a third start, to reach the summit?
N eillima Pudota : One of the most important lessons I have learned from my experience this time is to celebrate Life, celebrate the climb and not the summit. I was one of the mountaineers who were obsessed with reaching the summit. But a lot has changed now.
All the growth happens when you climb and you can miss it all if the summit is the only thing on your mind. Chances of feeling empty when you reach the top will be higher. So, my take on this would be to grow as much as you can as a person, summit or not, Everest or another Mountain.
Livingit: How did you train yourself to climb Everest, what was your fitness routine?
Neillima Pudota : A running mileage of around 50-60 kms per week (5 days of running), weight training in the Gym (4 days a week), Functional Training (3 days a week), Staircase climbing of 100-120 floors with 20-25 kgs weight (once a week) and finally breathing exercises and yoga daily.
Livingit: What is your advice to anyone looking to climb the famously dangerous terrains?
Neillima Pudota : Grow as much as you can – Mentally, Physically and Spiritually. If climbing is where your heart points at, follow your heart. Always choose excitement over fear. When in doubt, remember why you started it in the first place. Take the climbing/mountaineering courses. Also, please note that the most dangerous terrains are not famous yet, so keep exploring!
Livingit: Did you face any difficulties?
Neillima Pudota : Of course! A Lot! And those are the Mountains I cherish to have climbed. On the Mountains, you can never be prepared enough for an “adventure”. Why would they call it an Adventure then?
Livingit: Tell us about the Gear you used for the Everest expedition.
Neillima Pudota : Carabinors, Jumar, harness, tape sling, helmet, descender, Ice-axe, mountain boots, crampons, rope, hiking stick, head torch, glacier goggles – every small thing is important up there. Camping gear and equipment like a tent, sleeping bag, mat, stove, even matchstick!
Every small thing is important. Clothing like down jacket, down suit, down gloves, layers of thermals, woolen knit socks etc., the list of a lot. I cannot tell you enough the importance of taking Mountaineering courses and to be as familiar as possible with these gears and equipment.
Livingit: What inspires you to take up such an active lifestyle?
Neillima Pudota : Surprisingly, death. It kills me to sit idle and do nothing when there is so much of life to be explored. Also, somehow, I have always seen death wandering around me.
It scares me sometimes and I’m forced to take a break to contemplate over it. And the answer I got every time is, to Explore a little more before I die.
Livingit: More recently (November 2016), you ran close to 350kms in 7 days from Vijayawada to Vizag barefoot. Why the distance?
Neillima Pudota : It was meant to be an intercity run to promote awareness about breast cancer. It is called “The Spirit of Pinkathon run”. Vizag going Pink happened on November 20 th as part of the Pinkathon initiative and the nearest big city from Vizag is Vijayawada. As the temporary capital of Andhra Pradesh, Vijayawada made perfect sense to me. Hence the distance: Vijayawada to Vizag – 350 kms.
Livingit: Why barefoot?
Neillima Pudota : Ever since my return from Everest, I have become a minimalist. I have realized the joy of running barefoot after years of struggling to fit into right shoes for running. The benefits of running barefoot cannot be summarized into a few words. But it’s a perfect answer for people who think running is an expensive sport. We don’t need an expensive watch, expensive running gear or shoes to start off with. Nature has given you all that you need to run- A beautiful pair of feet!
To know more about barefoot running check: Barefoot running demystified!!
Livingit: As a Pinkathon Ambassador, why would you urge women to join in on the marathon?
Neillima Pudota : Pinkathon is India’s biggest only women’s run and I’m proud to be a Pinkathon Ambassador. Pinkathon gives a platform for all women to start a journey towards fitness, to have local training groups and to have fitness goals.
At all Pinkathon Events, participants are entitled to a free Mammogram test/ Bone Density/General tests irrespective of the category of run – 1 km or 21km. I’ve seen women run in sarees and burkhas too. More important is the sense of freedom with which the women smile and run. Also, it’s beautiful to see the circle of strong women that weave the Pinkathon Family.
The Ambassadors across India are connected just because of the wonderful cause and the numbers are growing. For me, it gives me tremendous strength to wake up to such strong women around me. Imagine the impact it has for other women who are yet to take their step towards fitness. It’s Amazing!
Also, read about the Pinkathon Pune Chapter-2016!!
Livingit: A singer, a climber, a runner and a professional dancer – how important is it for you to be able to live your passions?
Neillima Pudota : It’s important to explore. I don’t know of any other way to find your passion. Sometimes you make a living out of it and sometimes you don’t. But you will start to live.
You will realize that everything else is only to make a living. The sooner you realize it, the better. Many people crib about not having the time or the luxury to live your passions. But understand if you can even take out 10 mins a day, you can pull off the ups and downs of the entire day happily.
Eventually, the time will increase. You will find a way. And the Universe will help you.
Livingit: You have also written down your first book. Would you like to tell us something about it?
Neillima Pudota : Yes! I have penned down my first book and it’s about the Amazing Journey to Everest. The book has come out really beautiful and at the end of the book, I felt the story chose me. I felt too human to choose the mountains or the story and I also felt too human to write such a powerful book. Sagarmatha told her story through me. I’m very excited about the book! All Glory to Sagarmatha. I hope the book and Sagarmatha will inspire a lot of people.
Livingit: Finally, what does it mean to you to be able to say “I am Living it.”
Neillima Pudota : I can only say to follow your heart; that is the only way to find happiness.
“Train your mind to follow your heart.”
Some will find it in an office space; some will find it in the outdoors, and some will find it at home. But wherever you find it, you will be happy without a comparison. I’ve said “I am Living it” at an office space and in the mountains too!
Following your passion doesn’t mean you have to make headlines, it doesn’t mean you have to reach the summit, it doesn’t mean you have to run 350 kilometers barefoot either. It means that you’re pushing yourself to be your best and that you are #livingit.