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On a trip to Dehradun, India, I met a Canadian woman in her 30s traveling through the country alone. She had an amazing back-story. The year before, she had a lucrative career working at a hedge fund and all the trappings that came with her job—beautiful, modern home; luxury car; and so on. A random, nearly catastrophic stroke left her entirely paralyzed in a hospital ICU, unable to speak. She overheard the doctors tell her parents that she would never have a normal life, feed or bathe herself: worst-case scenario. She promised herself at that moment that she would function again because she always wanted to go to India. After a long journey of physical therapy and rehabilitation, including many painful setbacks, she booked her trip, and committed to doing as much as she could out of her comfort zone, from meditating with monks in rugged cave temples to embarking on a long train journey to the country’s remote corners. At a gem shop we happened on, she bought herself a beautiful sapphire ring as a reward for reaching her goal—ending up fit, confident, happy, healed, and ready to help people …
Martine Bury is a writer, travel and lifestyle expert, and culture-obsessed globetrotter based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in outlets including Sunset, Forbes Travel Guide, and Travel & Leisure.