Showing posts with label Visually Challenged. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Visually Challenged. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Definitely Abled! [221/365]

Pardon me for the poor picture quality.
The past weekend I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful gentleman at a blogger meet.
He introduced himself to the group of 150 fellow bloggers as Raghava, blogger and social evangelist and entrepreneur. With a smile that could put anyone at ease.

When I introduced myself to him, he had that ready smile again. Naturally, I asked him what he blogged on and if was a photo-blog perhaps because virtually everyone at the meet was a photoblogger!. Pat came the answer 'Oh no. I am blind'.
Now, I really can't put in words what I felt at that moment. Awkward.

Later, during a short tea break I wanted to know his story. He seemed so normal. He didn't wear dark glasses, nor had the cane with him at that moment.
He was cheerful and didn't rant about how disabled-unfriendly the world is.
Raghava would later explain to me how he began loosing his vision about a year ago, almost in a matter of factly way.  He was curious to know if there was anyone else who were in the same situation as he is and I told him about Poonam Vaidya and the little that I knew of how she coped with a life with dimming lights. The news of someone else who shared the same condition cheered Raghava. I promised to try and connect Raghava with Poonam.

As I left the meeting, I was reminded how small the world is, how fleeting life is and how we take almost everything for granted.
Raghava is steadily loosing his vision. From a perfect vision, he now sees everything in a blur and I can feel how depressing this can be. I can barely tolerate driving without my prescription glasses. In about a year from now, he could be completely blind. That is a frightening prospect. Raghava is no superman. He isn't a dark knight. He isn't immune to the crushing realization that the lights will be turned off soon.

He however does have a lot of fight left in him. We spoke about his interests in social entrepreneurship and the projects he works on. I've seen far too many able-bodied people sulking, bullying their way to the top. When Raghava described himself as 'definitely abled' I was impressed.

Here's wishing his tribe increases!
Good Luck, Raghava.

Other heroes I've chronicled:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The lesser known Heroes [105/365]

source: Bangalore Mirror
While humanity will continue to debate if size does matter, I've always believed that disability doesn't matter.
I've been fortunate to interact and work with several people who were physically or mentally challenged. Besides the fact that we tend to forget how we take a lot of things for granted, physically challenged individuals are exceptionally abled.

They may not have the same faculties that we have, but they do have the same aspirations as we do. And most times, their challenges and the lessons that life in a cruel world has taught them, they are stronger willed than most able-bodied people I know. Perhaps we write them off too soon. Perhaps we kiddie spoon them too often.
While serving with NGOs like Freedom Foundation and Spastics Society, I've realized that we need to treat them with dignity and respect. They really don't need a freebie. They won't ask you for a concession or a quota.

When I see people with a disability begging on the streets and at traffic stops, it baffles me. I wonder why we allow them to live the easy life. With the kind of potential that a differently abled individual could bring to our world, I wonder why we would encourage any disabled individual to beg ever.

Case in point, 23 year old visually challenged student Poonam Vaidya. Reading her story in 'The Sunday Read' within The Bangalore Mirror gave me a tinkling feeling. I felt good reading it. (Read the inspiring story here)
One of the best lines, and one that I've always believed in, is when she says - '...A disability is only a disability if you think it disables you. A disability only prevents you from doing something in the way other people do it. It doesn't disable you, at least that's what I think.'
Living as a visually challenged person can be cruel in a world of colors. But Poonam set her goals, knew her limitations, explored her possibilities, stretched her abilities, and conquered her summit.
It is people like this that proves that there is hope in this world.

A big standing ovation to the lesser known heroes of this world: Bravo, Poonam!

Recommended Read:
Poonam's blog

Friday, February 03, 2012

The blindside of life [33/365]

Do we forgive enough?
Is our love unselfish?
It is incredible how many people will say No to these questions.

Twelve years ago, I made a phone call that led to one of the most profound relationships that I've had.

Soon after the call ended, we got acquainted and since the booth was inside a prominent bus station which I visited often, our bonds grew. 'Aunty' was a middle aged lady who lost her eyesight due to a botched eye surgery shortly after her fifth grade. The doctor 'accidentally' snipped off the nerves to her eyes. Unmarried she was pretty much by herself all her life. I'd later learn that various welfare schemes by the government enabled her to earn her living by candle making, basket weaving and now the phone booth.

As able bodied people, we have many limitations. We are embarrassed and phobic about a lot of things. We would not approach strangers to strike a conversation, yet would spent hours talking over the phone. We would feel embarrassed to give a good compliment or to return an innocuous smile, yet we expect others to be kind and friendly towards us. We feel insignificant in the midst of certain people, yet we want to be the bigger person amongst people we meet. We would rarely try a new profession / craft / hobby without first worrying and being anxious about what the society would say/think about us, yet when we encourage our children to stand out of the crowd. We are insecure and insufficient even when we have much. We give little, yet take much. We are prejudiced against caste, creed, ethnicity and language.

But 'Aunty' blinded by callous surgeons did not curse God for all the curve balls that life has dealt her. She is perhaps one of those individuals whose faith in God has only become stronger. A testimony to how God allows people to go through certain situations so that He is glorified. God has been her guardian, and her strength and even when it appeared that she could be homeless, He worked through the most unlikeliest samaritans. Even when the unscrupulous business people demolished her phone booth, all she did was pray. She didn't indulge in self pity or malicious campaign. As with all things divine, a local corporator soon build her a better and bigger phone booth.

Looking at the lives of those are different from us either by accident or by birth, I begin to believe that no matter successful you think you are, you are only as good as your prayer life.
Our sensory laden lives makes us forget how fortunate we are to see what we see, hear what we hear and speak what we want.

While most people often look for the bright side of every situation, would that make sense to the differently abled unless we decided to share our lives with them?
Hoo Ha!

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