Angad Pratap – A True Warrior On Earth, In the Skies And Space

I am resuming my blog after nearly 2 years and 3 months. Writing about Pratap Angad is the right way to end the drought of posts in this space.

How can I miss this chance to write about Angad Pratap?

Two Feats in Two Weeks

About two weeks back, I got a WhatsApp message from him about completing what must have been a grueling 100 km run in the Kangra Hills Ultra Marathon, in Himachal Pradesh. He ran that on March 10.

He sounded very unhappy about completing the run in 16:53:34 hours, almost 5 hours more than his goal of 12 hours.

Angad Pratap at Kangra Ultra Marathon

His WhatsApp message about his learnings was:

“Mistakes made & Lessons learnt:

1. Lack of practice due to being slightly unwell.
2. ⁠Ill-fitting shoes.
3. ⁠Not carrying salt tablets 💊”

Every race for him hides lessons to prepare for the next big one. And, even very small things like salt tablets are big things.

Exactly a week before the Kangra Ultra Run, on the 3rd of this month, he did something equally incredible.

That day, starting at 8 am from Bengaluru, Angad Pratap rode to my house in Chennai on his KTM Sports bike. Once he reached, his demeanor was as if he had come after a 10 km ride – no fuss, no bragging, no outward show of weariness. Instead, he sported a bright smile on his calm face.

He had a very simple, no-frills two-course vegetarian lunch with us, and stayed less than 2 hours in all, with my wife and me. He endeared himself to my wife, insisting that he help her in the kitchen. A little before 4 pm, he was off like breeze – back on the road to Bengaluru. I was relieved to get a message from him that he reached Bengaluru around 9.30 pm.

What does it say about a man who rides 700 km all alone, taking about 11 hours – to gift us those 2 precious hours!

A Sampling Of Angad Pratap’s Endurance Tests

Angad Pratap has left a trail of even more impressive milestones in his quest to be the best version of himself. Here’s a sampling of what he has accomplished in 2023 alone:

250 km cycling in Bangalore on Jan 18, 2023

7 km Swim on Jan 27, 2023

Conquering 2023 Century Tuna Ironman at Subic Bay, Philippines, on June 11, 2023, under 16 hours. The event consists of 3.9 km swim, 180.2 km cycling and 42.2 km running

Coming 2nd in 72.97 km Ultra marathon in the hills, at Lavasa on August 12, 2023

These are some of the feats Pratap mentioned to me in passing. I am not sure how many he would have kept to himself. By nature, he prefers to fly under the radar of attention.

These mind-boggling statistics do not aptly reveal the wrenching pain behind each of these feats of endurance. A time invariably comes when exhaustion and pain would make one’s legs feel like a combination of jelly and lead, and the body would beseech the mind for reprieve. It would then require huge efforts from the mind to coax the body to tap into unknown reservoirs of strength, ounce by ounce.

A Chance Meeting At A Marathon Run

Pratap and I first met in Bangalore on October 19, 2014 during what was for both of us our first full marathon.

He ran a good race. So did I, though at a slower pace. I still remember how he came back, at least a good 250 meters, after completing his race, to egg me on to the finish line. Though I was drained of all energy, his presence gave me the strength to run, rather than limp, to the finish line.

In Search Of Excellence, In The Skies

Professionally, Pratap is in a league of his own. He is now a Group Captain in the Indian Air Force. And a Test Pilot – regarded with reverence as the Navy SEALS of flying.

The job of Test Pilots requires a combination of superior flying skills along with the mental ability to venture into realms of Science and Mathematics to crunch data, analyse, work on fighter jet design improvements and so on… They are warriors of the skies.

His contributions and grasp of his subjects must be extraordinary. How else would he have been handpicked after several levels of screening for the ultimate honour in his career thus far?

Angad Pratap is one among the four who were awarded astronaut wings by the Prime Minister of India on February 27th this year. He will be part of India’s first human space flight mission — Gaganyaan — to be launched in 2024-25.

Angad Pratap being awarded astronaut wings by the Prime Minister of India on February 27, 2024.

Breaking The Chains Of Thought And Body

People like Pratap live on the edges and they keep stretching their limits. They seek adventure, pushing the frontiers of possibilities. Adventures imply expecting the unexpected and the readiness to dance with the unknown, with a lot of courage and faith.

Speaking about flying, the central theme of Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, (one my all-time favourite books), is about a seagull’s passion for flying. As I write here, I can sense the same passion for flying, stretching, perfection etc., coursing through the veins of Angad Pratap. In essence, his story is also about choosing the path with heart. And the conquest of the body and mind – captured so beautifully in these lines from the book.

“Your whole body, from wingtip to wingtip, is nothing more than your thought itself, in a form you can see. Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body, too.”

Angad Pratap and warriors like him thrive by consciously creating new and varied neural pathways in their brains to experience life with a sense of wonder and newness.

We all are endowed with the intelligence to exit the oft frequented, hard-wired neural pathways where we think the same thoughts, are induced to experience the same mundane feelings and do the same things, repeatedly. We all have the power to move out of our comfortable, cocooned existences, shaped by the unchanging, familiar landscapes of our minds. We too can embrace the unknown and be liberated.

The wise know that to change his or her personal reality a new personality has to be shaped. To birth a new personality one has to let go of the old self, by doing new things, in new ways, in a state of being.

Angad Pratap, to me, is wise at a young age, constantly on the go, transforming himself all the time by taking life as a challenge – like a true warrior.

26 thoughts on “Angad Pratap – A True Warrior On Earth, In the Skies And Space”

  1. Babu, welcome back! I have so missed your writing and, as usual, you choose your words with precision and excellence. Thank you for continuing to share your work with us.

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    • Helen, you are someone who always encouraged me to write. Thank you for following my journey and nudging me to do more.

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      • Babu
        Maybe we are all True Warriors On Earth, In The Skies And Space.
        Maybe we are here to remind ourselves who we are.
        Because of you Babu, I too write (and sometimes with long breaks in between)
        Thank you 🙏🏻
        Helen

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        • I agree with you, Helen. I know for sure you are one great warrior in your space. I am glad you have started writing – though you shouldn’t really emulate the ‘long breaks’ aspect.

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  2. Dear Sir, thank you for introducing a great personslity to the readers. Some portions of the blog enriches with life lessons. Very good job

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  3. Thrilled to read about Angad prathap, the unsung hero. Great rivetting writeup by Vincent babu. Very inspiring but abit too late for eveningers like me. Love to be reading stuffs like this often.

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    • Thanks, Mr.Surendra for appreciating this post. And, if may say, there are no ‘eveningers’ when it comes to our inner being and spirits. You still have time to freak out 🙂

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  4. This is a great article, Babu, such stories deserve greater recognition. am glad to see you holding your pen again.

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  5. What a post Vincent! Excellent read and wonderfully inspiring. Please pass on my best wishes to Angad Pratap. And keep writing.
    Best
    Naresh

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    • Thank you very much, Naresh. Being a runner yourself, you are able to relate to this post with more empathy and a sense of kinship.

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  6. Dear Babu Vincent sir, you are a great observer and admirer of Life. You catch moments and details of life and treasure them. Here I enjoy knowing Angad Pratap and his greatness through your genuine style of your expressions. Thank you and Loving you so much… J Sampath.

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    • Wow, Sampath! What you have said about what I have written here makes me feel very tall. Thank you very much for being so amazing.

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  7. Wow!! Babu Sir!! You write so well!! I really didn’t know you were into blogging…a runner+ writer!! Wow!!! Awesome reading!! Wonderful choice of words!! Great to know about Angad…Your personal touch..your friendship with Angad…his passion…all brought out beautifully in this article…Loved reading it…Beautiful piece of work!! Thanks for thinking to share it with me!! I am honoured!!

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    • Thank you so much, Usha. Your words reflect the kinship you share with people like Angad Pratap. You are an inspiration for so many people, which includes me. I feel very honoured by what you have shared here.

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  8. Babu, you’ve taken the meaning of “friends in high places” to a different level. Very happy to read your thoughtful description of this simple living & high performing fellow citizen.

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    • Bala, what you have said is incisive. The greatness of Angad Pratap is precisely what you said – simplicity combined with inspiring action. I am fortunate to bask in his glow. And create some heat on my own.

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  9. Babu- I’am reading your blog for the first time after I came to know of your excellence in writing. Thanks to Ramesh for mentioning about you and I could grab it quickly. You being one of my exemplars for my NLP Masters Project to model excellence will certainly help me to write as I had a taste of your writing skills after reading this Blog.
    This Blog on Angad- a truly inspiring person – one who loves to be in the skies, water and road is a motivation to all of us, and teaches us to be a warrior battling challenges in our own lives and achieve success.
    I found your blog very simple, understandable, flowing, inspiring and could experience liveliness in those high moments of Angad.
    Keep writing .

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    • Ganesh, I feel humbled that you are taking me as an ‘exemplar’ for your NLP Masters Project. All I did in this post was to give my best effort to write about a person who deserve nothing less than the best. Thank you very much for speaking highly about my writing.

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  10. AWESOMENESS!

    I am wondering how come a septuagenerian like Mr. Babu Vincent and a young enterprising warrior like Mr. Angad Pratap met at Bangalore in 2014 for the first time, common factor being the first marathon of both! A graceful coincidence.

    My lack of knowledge about Marathon is easy to explain. I do not know the role of salt tablets for Marathon runners, I will have to research on that.

    I personally felt abundantly happy to read Babu’s blog after a gap of couple of years.
    Welcome back for adding value to readers like me; I am sure that more people will read this article which has immensely rich and useful content.

    Best wishes to Mr. Angad Pratap and Warm regards to Babu Vincent 🌹🌹

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    • Happy to go through your comments, Rajah. Yes, it was a happy coincidence that we ran together in our first marathon attempt. Thanks Rajah, for sharing your thoughts here.

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  11. An amazing article. Thought provoking and inspiring. Your ability to empathize another, that too so deeply; is wonderful. Your writing style is also smooth. Choice of words and sentence formation shows your clarity of thought. Simply wonderful.

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    • You are very kind and generous with your appreciation of my writing, Suresh. Perhaps, Angad Pratap’s brilliance and greatness must have brought out something special out of me. Thank you for caring to read my post and comment here.

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  12. Thank you Vincent for introducing Angad to us. He is very passionate and extremely focused. Lots of learning’s to take from his achievements. Well written and making it an interesting read .. Best wishes to Angad Pratap – Pride of India.

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    • Mayur, I am happy that you found this post worth reading and you were also inspired by the achievements of Angad Pratap. I am grateful to you for leaving this comment here.

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