Azadi Somashekar has always enjoyed climbing, not just rocks, but trees, buildings, people as well. She (laughs), “I’ve had lots of opportunities and my parents have a very positive attitude towards climbing,” says Azadi who is a novice climber and an ultimate frisbee player from Bangalore.
She got introduced to climbing by an ex-student of Centre for Learning (CFL) Gowri Varanashi. She says, “my old school which is based outside of Bangalore and is surrounded by farms and scrub forests. The entire area is covered in rocks and boulders, and we would have weekly walks where everyone would be scrambling up everything in sight”
Picture Credit: Praveen Jayakaran
“There’s that extreme thrill of finally sending a route after consistently working on it, and knowing that I put in the effort to get here, I’m the one who made this work.”
Azadi reminds one-day Gowri came and did a one day workshop at my school with some of her climbing friends. They showed us a couple of techniques and put us on some routes and that’s what really got me interested in rock climbing. I had so much fun and my takeaway was so overwhelmingly positive and I decided that this was something I wanted to work on and put effort into.
Photo Credit: Praveen Jayakaran
Azadi says I climb for a couple of reasons, but they all boil down to the fact that I am extremely happy while climbing. One of my favorite things is how utterly focused I become when I’m on a route. It’s easy for me to completely tune in to what I’m doing right at that moment. The rest of the route can fade away. I don’t look ahead and I don’t look at how much I have already accomplished, it’s just where I am on the rock and my body. The rock can also fade away sometimes and it becomes just a battle between my mental game and my body’s weaknesses.
Also, I guess part of the reason why I love climbing so much, is that I don’t have that focus for the rest of my life, and I don’t otherwise have that drive to push myself beyond what I think my limits are. It’s always very peaceful for me, even if my body is struggling, even if my fingers have gone numb and I’m shivering, my mind is completely focused, completely at the moment.
Sometimes my interest drops and I don’t climb or think about climbing very much, I become frustrated, and sometimes nothing I’m doing works, but even then my feelings have always been consistently positive. Just because I come away from a session feeling dissatisfied doesn’t mean that I feel dissatisfied about climbing.
Photo Credit: Azadi
When talking about challenges, she says, “my main concern would be losing interest I guess. This happens for a couple of reasons, mostly if at the moment I’m focusing on something else, like a frisbee. Usually, I don’t fight it, I let myself drop it for a bit because I’m confident that I’ll get back to climbing.
However, I also think that if I didn’t have strong female climbers like Gowri that I could look up to, I would probably face a lot more challenges in terms of my motivation. It’s very easy to compare yourself to all these strong male climbers and thing, I’m never going to get there, and that is definitely demotivating. And when I catch myself doing that, I look to Gowri and other female climbers who are doing good. And then it becomes very easy to stop comparing myself to male climbers and instead just focus on climbing.
Climbing is a very solo sport, and my performance is mine and mine alone, so any comparison at all is rather pointless.”
“I have a very strong mindset of ‘if I didn’t put in the work to get here, then I don’t deserve it,’ and so that way climbing is extremely rewarding for me”.
Picture Credit: Praveen Jayakaran
Azadi says, “I’m not a very consistent climber, sometimes I’ll be climbing every day, and sometimes I’ll drop it completely for a couple of months. Recently, as I’ve mostly been focusing on the frisbee, I’ve only been climbing maybe once a week, but I plan to start regular climbing at least 3-4 times a week. How satisfied I am after a session usually depends on how strong my mental game was. If I was really distracted I’ll usually come away feeling frustrated, even if I performed well. The opposite is also equally true.”
Picture Credit: Azadi
Other than frisbee and climbing I really enjoy music. I play the guitar and I fool around with the drums and keyboard. Mostly jazz, blues, soft rock. I also like just being outdoors in nature, and I’m into birdwatching. Climbing is awesome because I get to go out, explore new places and generally hang out outdoors, which I really love.
Picture Credit: Azadi
What do you feel about having role models in your life?
This International women’s day Inspire Crew wants to tell everyone that every day could be a women’s day. Society should be encouraged to listen to what women and girls had to say. We should make everyone comfortable with their strength and weaknesses. Women were never weak but their upbringing made them weak. In today’s world, those who have managed to overcome and fight stigmas are known to be great but we should know that we don’t need to dress up to bring a change but to focus on how to encourage more women to be who they are and work on it to make a better version of themselves.
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