Pradip Rai Oral History Summary


Pradip Rai Oral History Summary


Pradip Rai


Summary of an Oral History Recording with interviewee Pradip Rai


Michael Romyn


Kent's Sporting Memories


14 October, 2020


Pradip Rai; Michael Romyn


Kent's Sporting Memories


Pradip Rai Oral History Recording


Microsoft Word Document




Typed Summary


Pradip Rai


Kent’s Sporting Memories Oral History Summary
Interviewee: Pradip Rai
Interviewer: Michael Romyn
Date: 21 September, 2020
Location: Folkestone Sports Centre

0:00 Name, place and date of birth ( Pradip Rai, 20th August 1972, Bhojpur District, Nepal); Pradip describes Bhojpur region, where he was born and raised, including the natural beauty and agriculture abundance of this hill region; the size and geography of the village in which he grew up – ‘amazing paddy terraces and fields, good for farming’- and how farming forms the basis of the villages economy; how outward migration of young people from the village had impacted on the area, how his family worked in farming – and still have a home in the village – although his mother and brothers lived in Kathmandu; Pradip has four siblings – two sisters and two brothers.
6:20 Pradip’s active life growing up in the village, including herding cattle, fishing, and walking a three hour round trip to school; Pradip describes Dandi biyo, the Nepalese national sport (a stick game), which he played alongside volleyball and football, both at school and in the village; Pradip’s favourite lesson at school was English, for which he had a very good teacher – ‘he helped me a lot, he was one of my great inspirations’; Pradip left school at 16 after passing his qualifications, was admitted to a college in a neighbouring district, decided not to go – ‘I was not comfortable’ – and instead travelled to India with his cousin.
14:00 Pradip explains that he started training for the Gurkhas, how it was part of his village’s culture, and how it represented the best opportunity for him; the many competitive and personal steps – including putting on weight - Pradip had to achieve in order to be accepted into the Gurkhas, both at a district and central level: ‘it’s very fierce’; carrying baskets of rocks up and down hills as part of the recruitment process at the central stage; Pradip states that there were 25,000 recruits for just 230 vacancies; the moment Pradip was told he had been accepted, age 21, into the Gurkhas – ‘that was quite a life changing moment…it was the proudest moment’ – and what this meant to both him and his family, especially considering the lack of job opportunities in Nepal.
23:40 Pradip’s back-up plan if he failed to make the Gurkhas; Pradip describes Dharan, the historical city built by the Gurkhas, to which he visited regularly; going from Kathmandu to Hong Kong in February 1994 to begin a period of nine months training – ‘you have to learn many things: English and Gurkha culture, all the fitness and all the requirements of infantry culture. That is a very busy period’; Pradip provides a brief history of the Gurkhas, beginning with the British colonization of India, and including post-war activities.
32:30 How Pradip was posted to Brunei following his training in Hong Kong, where he spent many years; his role in Brunei – jungle training and protecting the Sultan – and leaving Brunei for the last time in 2013.
38:10 Moving to Folkestone, Shorncliffe Barracks, in 2000, and rotating between Brunei and Folkestone until he left the Gurkhas; Pradip lived in Shorncliffe Barracks before he was granted permission to live in married quarters in 2004; life in the barracks, socialising, cooking, playing football and basketball etc.
40:50 How Pradip met his wife, through a friend, in 2000 in Kathmandu, and married her in the same year; he has two children, a son and daughter, born in Brunei and Folkestone respectively; Pradip’s first impressions of Folkestone – ‘it was very windy!’ – and how he likes many aspects of the town: ‘whenever we come here it feels like home’; the large Nepalese community in Folkestone, Dover and Aldershot.
44:00 How Pradip became dehydrated during a training course and developed a blood clot in his groin, on a long-haul flight to Nepal, and the ensuing complications and pain; medically retiring in 2014, and the stent procedure that resulted in a further clot, bleeding in his spinal cord, and eventual paralysis from his chest down – ‘It was hard to accept. I find it very hard initially.’; Pradip’s feelings of anger and desperation following the procedure, the ongoing pain he subsequently experiences, and the life-threatening complications he lives with.
52:45 The medical support and treatment Pradip received following the paralysis at King’s College Hospital in London; spinal rehab at Canterbury Hospital, from where he was transferred to Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury for rehab – a period of seven months; the history and importance of Stoke Mandeville; learning to adapt during the rehab process, and the importance of regular swimming to Pradip and other people with spinal cord injuries.
1:00:00 Moving back to Folkestone, and the difficulty of coping on his own in ‘the new world’ – ‘that is quite daunting’ – and how the facilities outside of a dedicated rehab setting do not match up; Pradip had no physical therapist to assist him, and kept fit via his wheelchair, lifting dumbbells, and attending the ‘very good’ gym facility at Pent Valley, which eventually closed down.
1:02:00 How swimming at Folkestone Sports Centre was very important to Pradip until 2019, when the manual hoist, which enabled him to access the pool broke down – Pradip has been told that the hoist will not be fixed; the lack of fitness and rehabilitation facilities elsewhere in the town and its surrounds; the importance of physical activity as a means of distracting himself from the ‘constant pain’ he lives with; disability provision ‘isn’t one size fits all’, explains Pradip; there is no hydro therapy in the area, other than the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, which he is unable to access.
1:07:50 How swimming helps Pradip stay flexible – a problem posed by being confined to a wheelchair – how it gives him a sense of ‘freedom’, and how it eases his pain; again, the necessity of a hoist or an experienced assistant to get in and out of the pool; Pradip stresses that greater disability sport and rehabilitation – including hydro - provision in Kent would be a huge benefit to the disabled community
1:12:30 The continued lack of physical therapy and support Pradip has received; the impact of coronavirus on Pradip, and the six week rehab he undertook at the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital, including the use of an exoskeleton suit to assist him in walking – ‘it was very good, any kind of walking is very good…you get to talk to people at a high level…it was very emotional.’
1:16:10 How Pradip views his injury now, and how his positive nature has helped him cope; how photography has engaged Pradip – ‘it makes me very happy’ – and his goal of having a studio.
1:17:40 Training for the virtual London Marathon in Folkestone – ‘it’s a big challenge for me…it’s not about winning, it’s about competing’ – for which he is ‘training every other day’; raising money for BLESMA, the charity for limbless veterans, which has been a huge and unquestioning support to Pradip – ‘they are one of the best charities’; plans for future marathons, including taking part in the London Marathon in London, and campaigning for greater disability support in Folkestone.
1:23:40 Playing wheelchair rugby at Pent Valley, and plans to join the wheelchair basketball – he played at Stoke Mandeville - at Folkestone Sports Centre once he receives his new wheelchair; the activities available at Stoke Mandeville