‘My experience showed me what I’m capable of’: Pooja Dhingra


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Strap: To push herself out of her comfort zone Pooja Dhingra attempted the herculean task of climbing Mt. Fuji after recovering from a knee injury, recently

Pooja Dhingra
Pooja Dhingra

Pushing oneself out of their comfort zone can be a daunting experience but pushing yourself to climb Mt. Fuji, Japan’s tallest peak at 3,776m, after recovering from a knee injury can be an arduous task. Entrepreneur and pastry chef Pooja Dhingra recently attempted a hike to the mountain and even though she was not able to complete the summit, she is ready to attempt it again. She says, “This experience showed me what I’m truly capable of, to take a step back and celebrate my wins, however big or small, and most importantly it helped me realise that even though I didn’t make it to the summit this time, the real mountain that we need to conquer is within ourselves. I’m now looking forward to continuing my training and coming back next year to reach that summit.”

While climbing the summit is not an easy task, attempting the climb after a knee injury is commendable, the 37-year-old explains, “I first read about Mt. Fuji in Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike six years ago and I knew then that I wanted to climb it. Starting the year with a knee injury was challenging. I had to spend the first few months of my training recovering. I worked out for a minimum of two hours every day and my training for the climb involved strength training at the gym, walks, yoga, and even climbing up and down various flights of stairs.” Talking about the challenges while climbing the mountain Dhingra shares, “The climb was challenging on both mind and body, especially since we were on the Subashiri Trail, a harder one. I was going at a pretty slow pace and the climb felt hard. But I remembered the words of encouragement from my friend Rhea (Kapoor, producer and stylist) ‘Don’t worry, do it slowly slowly’ (she said it before Dhingra went on her trip) helped me get through it. The entire experience is something that will always stay with me. But watching the sunset at 2700m and doing this with my friends made it memorable.”

Pooja Dhingra with her friends
Pooja Dhingra with her friends

Although Dhingra and her friends had to stay with the locals due to a typhoon warning, she shares her experience as, “wonderful”, adding, “Staying at there was an experience of a lifetime. Among the clouds and the mountain air, it was serene. The food was nutritious, wholesome, and delicious. We had some warm Udon Noodles and a Japanese Chicken Curry and rice which just hit the spot. As for Tokyo, it’s a melting pot and I’ve enjoyed all kinds of food here, right from authentic Japanese sushi and ramen, to refined Japanese Indian fusion food to Italian. The locals took great care of us and were warm and welcoming, providing us with the most delicious and wholesome hot meals, just what we needed after a hard day of climbing.”

Surely, getting out of comfort zone is not everyone’s cup of tea, Dhingra says, “It’s hard and by virtue of how our brains are wired, your mind will resist anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone. But having said that, I’ve learned just how important it is to get over that roadblock. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone is so important to get to know yourself better. I undertake a challenge every year and I think it’s been imperative for my personal growth.”

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