Feature

Brave Indian Twins Hope To Inspire Girls And Women

The remarkable twin sisters from Northern India who at the age of 23 became Guinness World Record holders for the youngest people (and first twins) to complete the Explorers Grand Slam (climbing the world’s seven highest peaks including Everest and skiing to the North and South Poles).
05 Dec 2019 16:45
Brave Indian Twins Hope To Inspire Girls And Women
Twin sisters Nungshi and Tashi Malik of India at Wailoaloa, Nadi. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Nungshi and her twin sister Tashi Malik want to inspire the next generation of girls and women to live a life of their dreams and not be limited by gender.

The remarkable twin sisters from Northern India who at the age of 23 became Guinness World Record holders for the youngest people (and first twins) to complete the Explorers Grand Slam (climbing the world’s seven highest peaks including Everest and skiing to the North and South Poles).

Recently they competed for Team India in the world’s toughest race in the country and Eco Challenge Fiji 2019 from September 5-25.

The duo is back in the country and now at Wailoaloa, Nadi to write their memoirs of the race and their extraordinary adventure journey leading up to it.

“Fiji has given us so much love and affection,” said Tashi who is younger 21 minutes then her older sister Ms Nungshi.

“We hope to host some school students from this wonderful nation in the coming years at our adventure institute called ‘Outdoor Leadership School’ in our home city of Dehradun – located in a beautiful Himalayan valley, just below the ‘Queen of Hills’ Mussoorie town,” she said.

The two were born on June 21, 1991 (International day of Yoga!) to an Indian  army Colonel Virender Singh Malik and his Nepali wife Anjoo Thapa.

Their  dad being in the army had the twins changing nine schools up to Class 12.

‘Nungshi’ is a word from the language of India’s North Eastern state of Manipur, it means love.

‘Tashi’ is Tibetan word which means Good Luck.

Ms Nungshi said: “Of course we plan to return to Fiji after our book is released to share our detailed experiences of the Eco-Challenge, give motivation talks to universities and schools and inspire girls to dream big and achieve.

“Our connection with iTaukei people has been so natural, spontaneous and strong that we want to give back something positive to them. We feel a part of our soul rests in Fiji. We came as competitors in a race; we’re going back leaving a home behind,” she said.

On the results of the Eco-Challenge Fiji 2019, their website states: “We are under a confidentiality agreement until the production is shown in Q1 2020.  Our race report and photos of the event will be uploaded at that time.”

 Nungshi and Tashi Malik during one of their hiking expeditions.

Nungshi and Tashi Malik during one of their hiking expeditions.

The twins’ thoughts on being part of the Eco-Challenge Fiji 2019

Tashi: It was simply ‘out of the world’ feeling. I don’t think we can describe it adequately in words. No money can buy such experience. It has to be an awesome event of the logistic and operational scale, and experienced staff of Eco-Challenge to make such experience possible. We feel so privileged and fortunate to have got this life changing opportunity especially as girls. We’re so grateful to our parents for allowing us on a physically and mentally most demanding adventure of which we had no prior experience and skills.

Nungshi: Where else can you remain continuously on the move day and night non-stop for 11 days and nights over a most demanding landscape and water bodies. And changing modes of movement from rafting, canoeing, out rigger canoe, stand up paddle,  bilibili to rope climbing, trekking and navigation, lake swimming, canyoneering, diving to MTB cycling. No tourist can experience so much interior over so vast expanse of 700 km in 11 days and nights over sea, rivers, lakes, rocks, jungles and remote villages by non-motorised movement. It was the ultimate epic adventure of our life. And what’s more, we saw Fiji so up close.

How do you feel about Fiji?

Tashi: Fiji’s home to the world! We felt it the day we landed at Nadi for the race. Every tourist and visitor we have met has shared the same sentiment. This nation is abundantly blessed with both natural beauty and its biggest treasure – the native ‘i-Taukei’.

Nungshi: But for Eco-Challenge we would never have experienced Fiji the way we did. We discovered first-hand the secret of what endears Fijian ‘iTaukei’ to the whole world. Their generous welcoming hospitality, spontaneous laughter and enthusiastic ‘bula’ greetings! They had so little, yet they were ready to share so much! Fiji’s soul rests in its villages and shines through its less time tradition.
Coming from a big country like India, what is always on your mind?

Tashi: Mass of people and endless vehicle horns blaring continuously. India is a sea of humanity with nearly 1.4 billion people. That’s 1400 million human beings. Or population wise India’s about 155 Fiji nations.  Our capital city New Delhi with a population over 25 million is itself nearly three times Fiji’s population. Yes, India’s geographical a big nation but our population is overwhelming especially in cities. This adds to very competitive and fast paced modern life.

Nungshi: And the inexplicable almost difficult to root out habit of honking their vehicles. Fiji is a culture shock with its quiet, laid back island life-style. And when we return to India it’s a reverse culture shock.
How long are you two here (Fiji) for?

Tashi: For a month. We came on November  8 and it’s already two weeks. We hope to finish the bulk of our writing in these four weeks. The idea was to reflect on the race and capture key experiences of the event and the people. The detailed work on the book will continue for several more months.

Nungshi: We needed a quiet place without distractions to reflect on this hugely transformative experience. To save money we had considered options of re-locating to remote locations within India but dad said it would be so great to be back near the place of action. We had no money for the trip. Convinced that our story will inspire millions of girls in India and elsewhere, a very generous lady Mata Mangala reached out to fund our project. We feel so blessed and motivated to produce a powerful real life story woven around our Fiji adventure and our past experiential journey leading to it.
How will you promote and empower Fijians and the human race?

Nungshi: Climbing big mountains, we have learned that our biggest power lies within. Life’s challenges and adversity are the best gifts to tap into and discover our inner resources, to learn and grow. Embrace change and make learning a life-long adventure. Do not be a victim of circumstances. Life will throw all kinds of ‘storms’ in our path, rather than running away from them, we should be ready and prepare ourselves to go out and ‘harness the storm’.

Tashi: My message is more for girls and women. “Mountains and nature do not discriminate based on gender. Nor is excellence determined by it. Pursue excellence. Go out and live the life of your dreams.” We have limited time on earth, let’s not waste it living others’ dreams.
What’s next on the horizon for you over the next six months?

Nungshi: For now we’re writing a book on our hugely transformative experience of the Eco-Challenge race, its reflections and lessons from  our adventure journeys of the past nearly a decade  leading up to this race. We hope the book to be ready for release around mid-2020, after the television series on the race goes live sometime early 2020. That’s why we returned to Fiji after spending a month and half in India. Dad said ‘you’ll best recollect and capture the vivid details of the race experiences when you are surrounded by the same environment. We’ll spend a month of which two weeks have already passed so quickly.

Tashi: We’re also busy expanding activities and programmes of our adventure institute called the Outdoor Leadership back home in the Himalayan city of Dehradun about 300 km north of New Delhi. Its aim is to build life skills through great outdoors and the focus is on School Outdoor Leadership and Education (SOLE) programs across Indian schools. Fiji has given us so much love and affection we hope to host school some school students from this wonderful nation in coming years!

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