Hello friends, Sai Kaustuv Dasgupta here. I will be sharing with you what Travelling means to me and some experiences of my accessible travels. Travelling outside is a part of our life as it gives us joy, happiness and a fresh essence of life which is very essential. It also helps us to find our passion by meeting with various cultures and people from different backgrounds. But do you think travelling for a differently able person like me is so easy? That’s a million dollar question. But before going further I would like to say a bit about me.
I’m basically from North Bengal but staying in Andhra Pradesh for 14 years. I am a Graphic Designer, Singer, Composer and a Motivational Speaker. I am a 80% disable guy. I am suffering from a rare disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta from my childhood which is also called as ‘Brittle Bone Disease’. I have already suffered more than 50 fractures till date. At present all my joints are fully fixed and I cannot walk. I use an Electric Wheelchair to move around my home and outside. Life taught me how to smile after being confined into a room for 6 years (2009 – 2015)! Could you believe how I used to feel when I could not see nature, sun, moon and all the beautiful creations? Naturally I was in depression. But slowly I started realising that, time has come to seek and find the joy within. So when I observed how my life got confined into a wheelchair, and within four walls, I started developing a desire to change the situation totally. I made myself a Wheelchair Warrior who can defeat any problems and obstacles through the weapon of will power and self confidence.
So after a long gap of 6 years, when I first went out under sky, it was an overwhelming moment for me. I was in tears to see a completely new world around me. It was like a dream come true. And I that day proved the power of positivity. As it was kind of impossible term for me to go outside. But I came out to re-discover my life once again and to understand the value of travelling.
So my first day out was extremely interesting. It was just like “Baby’s Day Out” movie. I was feeling like a bird flying around with complete freedom enjoying every bit of this entire beautiful creation. Traveling by wheelchair does not have to be as difficult as we think. The secret is – Plan Way Ahead! Millions of persons with disabilities across the globe have great difficulties in finding accommodation that is accessible for them. However, accessible can mean different things to different people, so I wouldn’t recommend booking a hotel online just because it says that it’s accessible. You need to gather detailed and dependable access related information so that you can quickly and easily find places that meet your access needs or preferences. That’s why I always prefer to get ideas from the person directly who has already experienced it.
My first accessible visit started with visiting nearby places to get accustomed with travelling. Then I visited Nandi Hills in Karnataka, Bangalore and Whitefield. It was a great start with my family who has sacrificed their joy for my sake because they never used to plan any outing as I was not able to go out. So my first accessible trip was good in 2015. Gradually I started exploring more and more. The main thing was, every time I go out, I had to hire a special wheelchair accessible car which has ramp behind. So my motorised wheelchair can get into it easily. I can’t travel in ordinary cars as I can’t sit or enter into them. Travelling in train of course does not come into my options as Railways are not at all wheelchair friendly. So I can travel either by car or by air. By air too I am having some difficulties as they would not allow to sit in my own wheelchair and travel. I need to shift in their wheelchair and then to the flight seat. That is quite challenging for my condition in the physical level. But I’m hoping to sort it out and will need to get some solutions soon as how much could I travel by car and that’s not the safest mode for differently abled too.
I always feel we should always have concern about our health. So I plan everything by keeping in my mind that travelling should always become accessible and we need to make wise decisions to choose our accessible destinations properly.
LIFE is very precious for me. It is something worth to cherish. Giving value to our life is a practice and giving importance to all the aspects of life is equally important. We undergo all these difficulties in our daily life not because God is cruel and likes our sufferings, but fire is a purifier. Through so many tragic incidents, I’ve realised the beauty of pain as it comes with a surprise of joy in the next moment. It is a lesson, life has given to me that we have to improve ourselves as an individual and as a true human being and realise the purpose of our life. I went to Goa and recently visited Chennai too. Both were highly accessible and comfortable. The roads were quite good but it took so much time because I travelled by accessible car.
During my first long journey which was to Goa, I observed that the big hotels and restaurants are not having any facilities for us. It’s may be having all kind foods and other things but what can we enjoy if its not having a simple ramp to enter? So I think when people talk about accessible travelling, the first point is awareness. We should spread the awareness of accessibility when it comes in the terms of travelling. It does not cost much money to make a place accessible but the awareness should be there in people’s mind. Specially the public places should be accessible as then people like us can enjoy an independent life.
Goa was awesome and had great time there with all people and was fortunate to have a grand meeting with Commissioner for Person with Disabilities, Goa, Mrs Anuradha Joshi. I was the first differently abled person to enter Goa by accessible car. So that made them so happy and I gave some ideas to make Goa fully an Accessible Tourist place.
The main ambition of my life is to simply make people happy through my work and ideas. In other sense I would like to bring back the purity of heart and genuine happiness which people lost in today’s course of life. They forgot how to smile selflessly. So I want to do such works which will help people to regain their true nature and smile wholeheartedly. All people ask me, how it is possible to smile after so much sufferings? I tell them, my biggest strength is my smile. I always love to smile in every situation as I believe smile is the signature line of our purity. And through so many adverse situations of my life, I have learnt to smile as it helps me overcome adverse situations and gives me immense satisfaction of winning over it. Recently, when I was going to Chennai to receive Cavinkare Ability Mastery Award 2017, I got a muscle pull in my legs because of uneven road jerking. It was paining profusely but I thought my goal is to reach Chennai and attend the Prize Distribution Ceremony. So I made up my mind and continued my journey.
So that’s how I find my passion while travelling. As for us its not a easy deal but if we are determined and confident about our power, no one can stop us from reaching our desired destination. I would really love to work on Accessible Travelling so the problems I faced during my trips can be avoided in future. We should conduct more awareness programme and educate people to come forward. We need more support and strength to spread the light of hope to all those people who has confined themselves with a barrier of belief that they cant travel. We need to make them realize that if I can travel after going through so many difficulties, they too can. Lastly I would like to say that, please have faith that you too could fly high on the wings of self confidence and courage. Have strong determination and have clear idea about your accessible destination. Life is too short to celebrate it completely. So celebrate every moment of it. Know that you are worthy of reaching your dream destinations. So be positive, be inspirational and no matter who you are, what you are, how much capable or incapable you think you are. Just get ready, throw your pains and accept the pleasure around you.
“Sai Kaustuv is a Freelance Graphic Designer, Singer, Composer and a Motivational Speaker. His main ambition of life is to simply make people happy through his work and ideas.”