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Picking up the pieces again

entertainment Updated: Sep 23, 2009 19:18 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

British-Asian Harnish Patel, 29, was shot at in both his legs at Leopold Café during the Mumbai terror attacks last year. Now, back in the U K, he tells us that he’s ready for life again:

I took part in the Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity Duathlon in London last week. I did the 9 km run in 36 minutes, the 20 km cycle ride in 47 minutes and the 5 km run in 19 minutes — I was nowhere near the last.
It’s okay considering how far I have come since I got rid of my crutches in March after I was shot at in Leopold Café on 26 November.

Run for life
Two bullets passed right through my legs and one skimmed my chest. I was airlifted back to the U K.

I’m a chartered surveyor but I haven’t found work yet. Actually, I’m not looking for one either until I make a full mental and physical recovery.

My legs still hurt when I run because of the peripheral nerve damage. But running stimulates the nerves, so I push myself. I’m taking part in a half Marathon in Greenwich this Sunday, the Bupa Great South Run at the end of October and the Florence Marathon in November.

I was in the hospital for a long time with tubes piercing my body and then I was put in a walking frame. But the pain and agony of trying to manoeuvre myself with it made me angry.

Being positive
I had run before, so I was determined to run again because I wanted to get back to the way things were and start doing the things I enjoyed, as early as possible. Even when I was on crutches, I would go swimming — I would hobble into the pool and do what I could just to strengthen my legs. Running is great, physically and mentally, because it can carry you through certain things.

Besides, I have to stay positive not just for myself but for everyone else around me. It’s not going to help if I crumble. I’ve started going to bars and nightclubs again. Initially, I used to get flashbacks and get startled by certain situations. I even had a flashback in a restaurant in Soho the other day but I managed to nip it in the bud immediately. I don’t freak out, I just remain calm because I have to come to terms with it. A lot of people tell me that I’ve changed as a result of the accident. Honestly, I haven’t.

I’ve always been running, doing things for charity and had a positive attitude.

Victim Support has given me private counselling and the British Red Cross has put people in contact with me. But the British Government hasn’t given me support other than what’s available from the National Health Service. I was left to pick up the pieces myself, and that shocked me.

I had been offered two places to do an International MBA this Autumn, but I have shelved those plans because I’m focusing on rejuvenating my mental and physical scars and coming to terms with what I’ve gone through.

I realise now that despite all this, I have made great progress. however, I was putting too much pressure on myself to do something with my life too soon, and I’m not ready just yet.

I will be meeting a surgeon in October because I still have issues with my right leg and may need surgery. So I don’t want to plan too much yet.

I know I have to accept my plight. This will stay with me for life, so I have to learn to live with it. It’s something you can’t brush under the carpet.