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About Akshay

My Story

As an explorer, volunteer firefighter, former U.S. Marine, and masters graduate in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, I have dedicated my life to studying the human condition and it’s connection with the rest of the planet.

Born in India in 1984, I lived the first eight years of my life there before moving to Singapore for five years. My fathers’ job then brought my family and me to the United States. I arrived in Austin, Texas a lost soul.

During my sophomore year in Westlake high school I found myself wandering on a path of self-destruction. Consumed by a world of drugs and devoid of purpose, I squandered my existence for over a year.

Then in 2001, I witnessed the unselfish heroism of Medal of Honor recipients Gary Gordon and Randy Schughart in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down. Their courage planted the seed of military service into my mind. After researching life in the military and reading a countless number of books on warriors in combat, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

A disqualifying medical condition, thalassemia, forced me to wait another year before obtaining a waiver and traveling to San Diego, California to experience the infamous Marine Corps boot camp.

The Marines inspired me to find other ways to push myself. So in January 2005 I wandered into the South Austin Rock Gym. From that moment on, I continued studying history and philosophy at Southwestern University, but my focus became soul searching in the outdoors. I attempted anything that forced me to face my fears. Skydiving, mountain biking, scuba diving, rock climbing, ice climbing. These pursuits began to define my existence. In the summer of 2006, I discovered my true calling on a 12-day mountaineering course in Alaska. The simplicity of life in the wilderness gave me a profound sense of inner peace. I thrived in the unforgiving indifference of the mountains.

In April 2007, I had to withdraw from school and put my climbing career on hold to serve as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I spent five months training for the war and seven months in Iraq. The deployment further altered the course of my life. In the war-torn country, I became enlightened on the human ability to endure suffering. Struggling through years of hardship and adversity under oppressive regimes hardened the Iraqi people. It taught them resilience.

I never forgot the freedom I tasted in the mountains. But I returned home from the war with a sense of responsibility. I needed to share with the outside world the degree to which local Iraqi’s wished for freedom from tyranny and the personal sacrifices they were willing to make to achieve that freedom. Consequently, I decided to pursue a career in journalism. Through my photography and my writing I hope to tell not just their story, but the story of many others all over the world who suffer in the shadows.

I completed my education and my time in the Marines in July 2010.

Without any constraints or obligations, I leapt into the unknown. I have since been mountaineering all over the world, glacier caving in Nepal, skydiving, ice diving, cave diving, scuba diving, and I have spent one month dragging a 190 pound sled 350 miles across the second largest icecap in the world.

I began the latest chapter of my life within the purity of nature. It will continue in the realm of humanity’s relationship to each other and the land beneath our feet. By exploring different cultures, engaging planet earth, and venturing into the depth’s of our capacity for evil, and good, I push forward in my endless quest to understand the human experience.

The next step of which is a multi-year journey where I plan on running across every single country in the world.