Bianka Dias, the Goan mountaineer, and adventure enthusiast loves the challenges and wants to get into a different kind of adventure. Starting young at the age of 12 Bianca developed the love for nature and adventure. She had a dream to work with the Indian Defence Services but due to some reason she did not join that and became an adventure enthusiast. Started with the NCC in the school, today Bianca is one of the Goa’s leading mountaineers. The Editor of Incredible Goa met Bianca do discuss her experience with the adventure and the problems she faced by her being a woman.
Taking up the career in the field of adventure is not the cup of a tea for a woman especially in India and very few go for it. In Goa, we do not have many adventure enthusiasts since Goan people are peace loving and enjoys a siesta. Bianca is one such exception who started to admire the nature and adventure right from the age of 12 while she was just in a school. Her passion towards nature and adventure is inborn and she does not have any sort of family background in that.
According to Bianca, she loved the challenges in her life right from the beginning and she always wanted to get into the field of adventure. “I got into adventure when I was just 12 years old. At that time I was in a school and I started going out for camps and got attached to the whole thing. I wanted to join the armed forces since my mom used to work for the India Navy but she was working as a civilian. I would get a chance to go to the campus and see the lives of the armed personnel. At that time the Indian army had opened up an entry for women into the army so I was very excited about the whole thing. They had started with their short service terms and during school, I had also taken up NCC as to get into the army. I knew that I had to be physically strong. In my training, I went for karate, treks, and camps just to get an idea how rough it would be in the army. The whole motive to get into adventure was to join the armed forces,” narrated Bianca.
Although Bianca was very excited to join the Indian Defence Services but finally she did not opt for it. I have tried to find out the reason behind her not opting for the Armed forces career and taking up the adventure sports as her activity for the rest of her life. Bianca said that she responded to the advertisement of for the requirement of army officers which appeared in 1999. “In the year 1999 the Indian army had advertised for the recruitment of lady army officers and I had also applied for it but later on I realized that the post was for the desk job and not for going on the front and fight. For lady officer, it was more like a desk job where the officer would have to come and teach. Because my mom was a PA I could get to talk to officers and see exactly what happens in there. My mom would also tell me that for all women officers they would only have to say yes sir! No, sir! “Are you going to do all that stuff?” My mom asked me. I also asked some of her friends who were officers regarding the same and they said “Bianca that’s right. There won’t be adventures like horse riding and all, as there are no war happening”. I thought that if I don’t get to try my adventure skills here then what’s the use of joining the armed forces? This is the reason I didn’t join the armed forces. I thought of joining police but thanks to my parents as there are two things parents don’t want their children to join in, one is police and the other is politics. So my parents were not very happy with me getting into the police. So I thought that I could do adventure anyways being out of it.”
According to Bianca, she did not inherit the adventure qualities from anyone in her family and it was her strong interest in the same which kept her going towards the adventurous life. “I didn’t inherit of being an adventurist from anyone. It was just the strong interest that kept me going. Regarding the differentiation of upbringing between a girl and a boy, my father was very supportive. He never questioned me. I remember the first time enrolling myself for a camp of 5 days and the fees were just Rs. 300 for the entire week program and my father was cool about that. My parents were very supportive and it’s because of them that I got into an adventure. In my family we believe that similar opportunities should be given to both, a girl and a boy,” said Bianca.
According to Bianca, later on, she joined the college in the science stream and after that, she pursued her studies into the Engineering field. “I was always into sports like running, shot-put, long jumps and so on but after getting into science and engineering I didn’t get time to pursue my passion. One day I decided to go on a trek with my friends and then I realized that all this had taken a toll on my health and I could not do what I really loved to do. That’s when I decided to get back my physical activities and started doing all these again. As soon as I finished my engineering, I got my job placement and when I gave my 1st interview and I told my boss that I want to do my mountaineering course because if I have to do something then I needed a professional qualification and such adventures call for higher risk so it’s very important to know what you’re getting into. So I decided that I have to do some course and I asked for one month’s leave from the company to which my boss agreed,” said Bianca adding that “And that is how I went forward and did my basic and later did my advance in mountaineering. I made sure that I got my qualifications right. It’s not only about getting qualified but you need to practice it too. In Goa, we don’t have mountains so I would keep applying to Indian mountaineering foundation because they basically organize expeditions and they select a team of women from all over India. In 2009 I got my first opportunity to do an expedition with the Indian mountaineering foundation. It was an all India women’s team. We went to a mountain called mount Jonali in Uttarakhand 6000ft high.”
According to Bianca, the training indoor is like working in the controlled environment without much fear of casualty but when you go out in the real terrain, you realize how difficult the task is and what are the risks. My performance and the word from the leaders who give a report on each member was good and they kept me calling for the expeditions and recently in 2015 I lead the All India women’s team to Mount Bhagirathi which is 6650ft.” said Bianca.
According to Bianca, the sports activity is one of the most neglected fields today. There is a lack of awareness amongst the youngster who does not believe in outdoor activities anymore but prefer to sit at home and play with the play station. In the sports, there is no career awareness at least in India. “My branch of mountaineering is still not known to many people in Goa. My parent was not aware, they didn’t have the information. Mostly parents thinks of educating their child in the field of medical, engineer, lawyer because they think that these are the only careers that do exist. I don’t blame them. There are some parents who actually support their children to go into the sports. For us it’s more like a struggle it’s not that the day we get out of our training we will get secured jobs. Either we have done our own start up, struggle and earn a living for ourselves. So parents who are happy with the shortcut struggle won’t be much comfortable in sending their kids in this field. You can make your career out of everything. You just need to know where you are heading to, how to go and how to get yourself trained but before it was not like that,” narrates Bianca.
According to Bianca, there is nothing like a sacrifice. She loves whatever she does and she enjoys every bit of it. “I am dedicated to my work, I enjoy doing this work so I don’t mind sacrificing something. It’s more about dedication, if I decide to do something then I make sure that I achieve it and I dedicate that time to achieve that goal. For me, I would not be with my friends all the time and spend time with them. I would be a little strict and challenge myself that this is the time I need to find out more courses that will be better for my skills. Sometimes my mom shouts at me saying, “Bianca you don’t go for mass on Sundays” but for me, my mass is my environment and I am mostly out on Sundays with nature which is God’s biggest and the most beautiful creation,” said Bianca.
Bianca feels that there is a rampant commercialization of the adventure sports activities. The rampant growth of an urbanization and digitization is leading the new generation towards indoor games. Children do not go out and play outdoor games anymore which lead to unhealthy habits and obesity amongst them. “Children don’t have playgrounds so they are more indoors so there is nothing called as outdoors for them. Kids grow fatter, they get tired very soon and they can’t even run. They complain of getting tired as compared to the elders. I started an organization called OFF-TRAIL, it is an organization. It’s a proprietorship form called off trail adventures,” said Bianca adding that “I started my organization in 2008 after finishing my basics is an advance in Mountaineering because I knew that I am qualified wanted start a group to take people on challenges trips to show them what the risk factor is. I started this organization to create awareness among the locals to take them on treks. Goan mentality about trekking at that time was “what is trekking? We just have to walk the whole day in the forest? And at the end of the day, I have to pay you for walking. I am walking and for that why I have to pay?” that was the biggest challenge before us.”
According to Bianca, she does not believe in taking big groups for the adventure trips since it leads to creating the personal safety hazards and it is highly difficult to manage that. “I don’t encourage a big group for me a small group is more than enough. It’s very difficult to manage. The risk factors are multiplied when you are on outdoor. We do things to thrill so that’s how adventure goes. According to me, those are trekking but it’s rather known as hiking is basically for one day. Anything that is done in a short period of time is called a hike. Trekking is when you go one day, camp out, and then go to another destination those are like trekking expeditions,” said Bianca.
Bianca also feels that the adventure sports activity is not for making money but it more of a passion. “I do not depend on my adventure sports activity to earn my bread and butter which I earn from my main source and that is construction business of mine. I am a Civil Engineer by profession and my major earnings come from that.” Bianca balances nicely between her passion and profession. She also goes for an expedition where she spends a lot of money. “I do not go for vacations rather I go for my expedition. The amount that I spend on the expedition I could easily afford a good vacation in Europe with the same about but that is not my cup of a tea,” says Bianca.
“My message to youngsters is if you know what you want to become something, you need to peruse it and it comes with a lot of dedication. It won’t come easily. It will take its own time and toll so it’s up to you. You should never give up. Some people become a great achiever in a short period and for some success come after a long time. It’s only that you should not give up. This is what I believe in,” Bianca concluded with these words.