Deepa Malik: Where there's a wheel

In 2003, while based in Ahmednagar – home to the Armoured Corps Centre and School, in which her father-in-law was a general – she began a delivery service for home food. Her customers were primarily the hundreds of young cadet trainees who didn’t have the time to dress formally for the Mess Hall, and preferred eating in their rooms when they studied for exams.

That service grew into a proper restaurant, soon populated by young cadets riding bikes that had been worked on. Deepa remembers one of them, who came to an Independence Day party at her restaurant on a bike with the British flag on the tank. “The English took us for a ride for 200 years. Now it’s my turn to return the favour,” he explained.

In the company of this newfound biking fraternity, Deepa rediscovered a serious interest in bikes. And despite the various tubes running into her body, a spinal paralysis, a recurring tumour, and poor lung capacity and circulation, Deepa’s mind was set on the Raid de Himalaya. “People kept seeing me as a patient; I wanted to do something crazy to announce that I was hale and hearty. I wanted to break the myth that life stops after you’re paralysed,” she says.