Interview of Sai Kaustuv – Questions by Rashmi Malpur, Mumbai
Please tell us a bit about your life till now.
Hi friends, Sai Kaustuv Dasgupta here. I am an International Graphic Designer, Motivational Speaker, Happiness Coach, a Singer & a Music Composer. From my childhood, I am suffering from a rare ‘Brittle Bone Disease’ called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. I have already gone through more than 50 fractures and at present all my joints are fully fixed. I cannot walk, so I use an Electric Wheelchair to commute in the outer world.
I was a dancer. I used to imitate all the steps just by witnessing the dance forms. Then one day doctor suggested my parents that dance is not for me. So, I came to know for the first time that ‘I am different’. I was too immature to understand that I am having a rare kind of disease, which is going to restrict me from leading a normal life. I originally belong to Siliguri, West Bengal, so I always had a creative bent of mind. My family shifted to Andhra Pradesh for the betterment of my health in 2004.
After I restrained myself from dancing at the age of 5 years, I thought about doing something by staying in a safe zone as I was realizing that my bones are fragile just like glass. Then I started singing. I was inspired by my mother, who was also my first teacher as she is a trained classical singer herself. I knew the issues that I was facing with dancing so I took to singing as a platform to express my emotions.
In 2009 my body started deteriorating. Any place of my body, which used to get fractured became de-formative. My shoulders also became stiff and my father was unable to move me from my cot to the wheelchair. I was breaking down from within and outside too and finally I became totally confined to my small bed and was not able to move at all. We a have one room flat. So, I was restricted to the same environment each day. Same walls, same colours, same light, same people made my life mundane. In the beginning, I used to get depressed all the time as I was not able to accept this pathetic situation of my life.
Life taught me how to smile after my confinement of 6 years! I made myself a Wheelchair Warrior who defeated all the obstacles and came out of the room to motivate all other differently abled people who are still fighting to come out and lead a barrier free life.
What are you presently doing?
I am an international designer, so I do freelance designing for my global clients, project wise. I do designing by operating a mouse with my left hand, which works now and that too with two fingers only. I hold the mouse with my thumb and click with my index finger. My hands can’t reach the keyboard, but I can type quite fast by using a virtual keyboard. I discovered that there is a virtual keyboard in my laptop, which is a common feature in every system. But, people rarely use it because, they don’t need it. I have penned down my book and have completed typing it in two months. I chat with people and type all write ups in the same manner. All these answers have also been typed by me with just one finger by clicking through the mouse.
Beside graphic designing, I love to give motivational speeches. My wish is to become a top Motivational Speaker whose own life is a living inspiration. I have already inspired millions of people, especially, global leaders, scholars, students & young professionals with live & online sessions through my pep talks. I have conducted motivational sessions for PhD scholars of various institutes in different states of India, as well as those in countries like the US, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia & Nepal to name a few.
What is Sai Kaustuv’s Call for Action!
As I’m a motivational speaker & a happiness coach, many organisations invite me for conducting inspiring sessions. I cannot travel by air as my physical condition (Brittle Bone Disease) does not support that. I cannot sit or enter into a normal car. I travel by wheelchair friendly cars. There is a company in Bangalore and they provide modified wheelchair friendly cars for hiring. They have modified Tata Winger, Nissan Evelia, Wagon R, Tavera, Maruti Suzuki Eeco etc as these are the suitable cars which can be modified.
So, every time I go outside to give motivational talks, I hire them. Now a days this company’s hiring cost is getting higher. There are no other companies around so they travel up & down empty from Bangalore to pick me up. For that they charge Rs 6,000 extra. And this is quite expensive for my family. The total expenses of one such journey comes to around Rs 25k – Rs 45k. Also, the organisations, which are inviting me, find it difficult to bear my communication charges as they too high for them. That’s why it’s difficult for me to continue my journey further which may make me confined to one place once again!
I took some time and did some research on this. I concluded that it would be wiser to make a permanent arrangement by having my own wheelchair modified car. Then I can travel long distance with comfort and less expenses.
But it’s a big challenge for my family to get an accessible car for me as we are going through tough financial crisis. I don’t have any permanent job and we don’t have sound financial background. We don’t know how to proceed. If I get a wheelchair friendly car of my own, I can give it to a company for modification as per my physical requirements. Then I can avail all invitations for delivering inspiring talks. That will help me in my noble mission of making all people happy & stress free.
I am humbly requesting all my well-wishers & readers to help me. Only then can I travel around India for people and for mankind. Your helping hand will benefit thousands through my inspiring journey, where I went through tremendous turmoil, but I ultimately won the race. Even a small contribution will play a big role to reach my goal.
Please go through this link to know more details: https://www.ketto.org/fundraiser/saiwheelchairfriendlycar
You have faced innumerable challenges; what keeps you going? How can you always stay motivated?
I never felt I’m a differently abled even if Iam born with physical difficulties. It does not make me different from others. People with disability need empathy not sympathy!
I happen to have born with some sort of disability, but that does not mean I am disabled. I’ve proved my excellence in what I do. Before judging a differently abled person, I think we should give them a chance and you will be surprised to know what they can achieve. Many people ask me that how it is possible to smile after suffering so much? How do I motivate myself? What is that magical X factor in my life, which is driving me towards my destination.
My biggest strength is my smile. I always love to smile in every situation as I believe smile is the signature line of positivity. And through so many adverse situations of my life, I have learnt to smile as it helps me overcome the situations and gives me the satisfaction of winning over it. My Smile also attract people towards me as they feel a positive vibe after meeting me and they return back totally inspired. So, I use my positive energy and smile to motivate myself. These are my strengths to show the world that what a 90% differently abled guy can achieve and how he can prove his unique capabilities.
Why did you decide to be a motivational speaker?
I was confined into a small room for 6 years. Those 6 years of my life taught me many things. It was a different journey for me and I was seeing my life from a different dimension. I came to know the real essence of my birth and my purpose of life. Also, it was a period where I found real happiness. So, naturally when I found happiness and peace without stepping outside, it became a cause of great inspiration. People started coming to me and I started motivating them. I thought about becoming a Motivational Speaker. I was delighted to see my happiness growing by sharing it amongst everyone. Slowly people started calling me at events through Skype and I started motivating audiences. Through this unique journey of my life, I started inspiring millions, who wanted to be happy and stress free. I love to inspire today’s youths and students, who want to discover the main purpose of their lives. Thus, I am a Happiness Coach too.
Would you like to pen down your experience? Do you plan to write another book?
I have penned down a book in English titled ‘My Life, My Love, My Dear Swami’, which has published in 2015, where I have expressed myself and delivered a message, by reflecting upon my life, the struggles and my learnings from it. The book has been translated in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Oriya, Hindi & Gujarati. Even our Prime Minister Narendra Modi loved and appreciated the book upon receiving a copy of it.
I have written the full book with one finger that is my index finger. I have typed down the full book with the help of virtual keyboard. I’ve completed 52 pages book in one month. It’s not an extraordinary skill. It’s only the power of positivity & will power.
Yes, I am planning to write another book, which will reflect all the shades of Sai Kaustuv. It will describe myself as a total personality, elaborating my daily chores and the journey which made me today’s Sai Kaustuv.
Often it’s a huge challenge to pull ourselves out from tough situations. Our mind enters into a negative mode. How do you suggest to get out of this mode?
It might sound unbelievable, but my belief made me travel beyond all boundaries and that belief became my main strength to fight against all odds. In spite of so many difficulties, I lead my life with positivity. I never entertained negativity in my life because, I dislike the word ‘NO’.
During my confinement of 6 years in a small room, I used to practice positivity. It’s not something that happened suddenly. It was a tough practice to keep myself motivated. In spite of being confined within four walls, I have broken all the walls of obstacles and soared outward on the wings of faith and self-confidence. Inspite of being unable to do regular chores, I have taught myself to do things, which even normal people are unable to do.
I feel sorry for people who say they are in negative situations. Societies, countries, neighbours, relatives are not allowing themsleves to excel. They are not getting enough opportunities to perform well. They have huge bundles of complains. I feel sympathy for them as they are surrounded by negative thoughts. I can undoubtedly tell people that my life is full of negativities because, I can’t move an inch on my own. I need 24/7 assistance from my parents to move, to shift into bed or to do anything.
Let me make it simpler. If I get thirsty while parents are outside, I need to stay thirsty for hours until they return back because, I am unable to take a glass of water on my own. So, if I start complaining about all these things, will it be possible to come out of this critical situation? If you cry, if you complain, if you criticise small things in your life, you will not have enough. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Be grateful always of what you have. If you desire success touches your feet; transform your adversities into your opportunities.
Please share with our readers about Wheelchair Wanderlust Competition.
Travelling outside is a part of our life as it gives us joy, happiness and a fresh essence of life, which is absolutely essential. It also helps us to find our passion by getting exposed to varied cultures and people from different backgrounds. But do you think travelling for a differently able person like me is so easy? That’s a million dollar question. Traveling by wheelchair does not have to be as difficult as we think. The secret is – plan way ahead!
My first accessible visit after a gap of six years when I was fully confined into a room, started by visiting nearby places to get accustomed with travelling. Then I visited Nandi Hills in Karnataka, Bangalore and Whitefield. It was a great start with my family who has sacrificed their joy for my sake because, they never used to plan any outing as I was not able to go out. Gradually, I started exploring more and more. The main thing was, every time I go out, I had to hire a special wheelchair accessible car which has a ramp behind. So, my motorised wheelchair can get into it easily. I can’t travel in ordinary cars as I can’t sit or enter into them.
I went to Goa by car only. I won the All India #WheelchairWanderlust Competition 2016 organised by an International Travel Portal Company and went for an accessible trip to Goa as part of the Grand Prize. It was my first long journey after so many years. I was privileged to meet the State Commissioner for Disabilities in the Government of Goa: Mrs. Anuradha Joshi. She took my feedback on how to make Goa more accessible for the differently abled.
Who has inspired you the most in your life? Why?
Throughout my life till now, my main inspiration has been my parents Kausik Dasgupta and Shila Dasgupta. They are like living angels for me. From morning to night, they assist me in each and everything. Without their help, I can’t move an inch too. In all my success, they are the main pillars and in all my sorrows they are my main consoles. They have sacrificed a lot for my well-being and happiness. They were supportive from the time I was diagnosed with this disease. When my parents came to know about my disease, instead of breaking down, they took me as a blessing. They never complained about me and always took it as a challenge to bring me up with all the needed support. They always felt that they are special parents and they treated me like a special child.
My parents inspired me always to choose what I love to do and it is their greatness, which made me see the world in my own way. Besides them my younger brother Kushal too motivated me a lot. Whenever I have decided to do something new, he always inspired me to go ahead for it. Because of them today’s Sai Kaustuv has come a long way and has been blessed with love from millions of people. They are my ideals.
Share with us your motto in life.
The main ambition of my life is to simply make people happy through my positive pep talks. In other sense, I would like to bring back the purity of heart and genuine happiness, which people have lost in today’s busy course of life. They have forgotten to smile naturally. They only smile while taking a selfie! They need to be motivated. They need to learn to give a pause in life and reflect about their life. So I want to inspire them in such a way that it will help them to regain their true nature and they will learn to smile wholeheartedly.
I never felt I’m a differently abled as being born with physical difficulties, does not make me different than others. People with disability need empathy not sympathy! I happen to have been born with some sort of disability, but that does not mean I am disabled. I have excelled in many fields. So, before judging a differently abled person, I think we should give them a chance and you will be surprised to know what they can achieve. I might be in an Electric wheelchair now to move around but I have destroyed all the barriers and I soar high on the wings of will power and determination.
Being a 90% disable guy, I became the fourth global icon worldwide after Helen Keller, Stephen Hawking and Srikanth Bolla on the basis of my leadership quality, which has been acknowledged by millions in this world. My body may be limited to certain extent, but my mind is powered with UNLIMITED positivity! I’m trying my best to utilize my mind for the betterment of society & mankind.
Do you wish to share anything more with our readers, probably give a message to them?
For all my readers, I would like to tell that – We all are gifted with so many abilities. Please have faith that you too can fly high on the wings of self-confidence and courage. Have strong determination and have clear idea about your destination. Life is too short to celebrate it fully. So, value every moment. Know who you are and know that you are worthy of reaching your dreams. It is never too late to start creating that life, which you have always dreamt of.
Find a balance in your professional and personal life. Do every work with patience. Do not compare yourself ever with others.
Be positive, be inspirational and no matter who you are, what you are, how much capable or incapable you think you are. Just get up, throw your weakness and work towards something, which you are really good at. If I can smile after all these life-threatening hurdles, then you too can march forward with a broader smile. Being a 90% differently able guy, I have turned my disability into my specialty to make you all SMILE! So please smile and make others happy.