I am Azan. I was born and raised up in Kashmir. At 17 I moved to Delhi to get my higher education (B Tech) and in 2014 I came to Canada to pursue my aviation dreams.
As far as I remember into my childhood, I have always wanted to Fly a plane! Always! Many a times people ask me why did I not choose to fly right after school and that I didn't need a Degree to become a pilot. And yes that is true, one can become an aviator right after school. And as much as I would have loved to do that, cut down the years in between then and now, I also believe, that everything has its own time. Getting into Aviation, you'll have to sign up for rocks on your head for a very long time. It is very expensive and extremely intense! I wanted to fly then as much if not more, but I am financially better this time than I was at 17! And it's just not about the money. I am not sure If I would have been able to handle things life throws at us, as well or at all, for that matter, as I can now. So when I look back, dots connect and it makes perfect sense. I didn't have to move mountains convincing my mum and dad but of courseI had a lot of explaining and brainstorming to do and honestly more to myself than anyone else. When you're young, you can want to be anything and nothing sounds crazy. For one reason, that when we are young, we all are fierce. We are not scared. There is nothing to lose. And we have people to fall back on, if things go wrong. As we grow up, the line of "people support system" keeps getting shorter and thinner to a point where the line is just YOU, your parents and maybe one/two friends, if you're lucky. It is hard at that time. I was 24. I wasn't getting any younger and I still wanted to get into aviation.It was pretty intimidating. Leaving everything behind - the life that I knew and had learnt so well. Being away from the few people that I love and care about, and starting from the scratch. Especially when I knew no one here.Absolutely no one! My biggest retaliation was my "practical side".And I had doubts and tons of questions like, Am I going to be okay living in an expensive country with hardly any money, alone, and will it be okay to start all over again. If you ask me even now, when I am almost by the finish line, I could only Tell you one thing, I don't know how things will unwind but I have never been happier than all the times, I get airborne. I have never felt so alive and strong when I land in a crosswind. And all of it, is worth it. It feels good to be recognized. But for me personally, any tag line associated, (first/last) doesn't make any difference. I could very well have been the last of us, to be flying, and I'd be equally happy and content. The experience can be different for different people, considering the diverse backgrounds we all come from. I have seen days, in the process that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone :) Yet here I am. When I sometimes think about the little me, and everything I chose to go through for my love for aircrafts, I, in a very humble way do feel proud of myself. And I would always cherish my road to the destination more than the destination itself. Things that I have learnt, sometimes the hard way, Things I had to sacrifice, feelings I had to let go,takes a lot of courage and I really don't know how did I not give up. Thank God that I didnt :) I would want to convey a message to young Kashmiri girls out there who want to become an aviator but cannot, because of hindrances from the society: "Let them not tell you what you can and can’t do. And being a part of that society I know how insanely difficult that is. It drains you off completely, emotionally, physically and mentally. Worst of all, you begin to doubt yourself. One of my favorite authors says, "Every Warrior of light has to walk and go through their share of hurdles". But it is very important, to never doubt the bigger picture. Believe in yourself and everything you stand up for no matter how long it takes, or how many times you fail. You grind enough and keep striving, you'll get there. However be prepared to fall on the face,get bruised and very hurt. And no one will have your back. No one should. After all, you chose it for yourself. And you better be ready to face the wave and when all of that is over, don't think about the rest. Drag yourself uphill and against the wind. If you make yourself strong enough to live through the storm, I can vouch, one day your battle scars will be your stars." I have to admit that I do feel nostalgic sometimes - my place, my parents, my beautiful and my beautiful valley are irreplaceable. I can hog up as much Kashmiri food as I'd like to, here and I make kehwa every morning ( we just call it by a fancy name, green tea here). But we have a long way to go before we begin to imagine having our own airliners. I do hope we get there someday!