Watching the scenic beauty, admiring the flora and fauna spread around has been enticing, energizing and lovely for me.
As child, I remember travelling to Himalayas, watching the view from the heights of Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath was so exciting. The view held farms and fields of different colours like green, light brown, dark brown, red and so on. The houses, buildings, roads and vehicles appeared as dots or a dash symbol on a canvas of splendid landscape. Also, the illusion that height brought out of driving or touching the light blue sky just fascinated me.
Whether it was admiring vivid flower variety at Nainital, botanical garden of Ooty, sunflower or rose farming in southern India, it always caught my breath.
I just love the Bridavan garden in Mysore, where for the first time I saw colourful water fountains which danced on the music creating a fabulous sight. Later, had similar experience at the dancing fountains at Sentosa Island in Singapore.
Travelling still has the same effect on me, with or without vision surely changed the way I enjoy the beauty, now by hearing the descriptions. Feeling the different vibrations in the air. Smelling the scent around and wherever possible touching the beauty. I even make a point to let my fellow passengers know how they need to describe me and seek their help as and when it requires.
I still remember my sister-in- law describing one of the Japanese lady statue at the Salar Jung museum at Hyderabad. She made me visualise the intricate net clothing carved with multiple layers and designs.
The sound of a helicopter, strength of the wind spun by its fans, experience of boarding and flying in it was just amazing in the short ride at Vaishno Devi Mandir. My sister and other passengers described the view outside the helicopter which made me realize the difference in flying in a aeroplane and helicopter. Here we could open our windows, feel the gust of wind, the sound at helipad and then in the air at the height was so different and fascinating for me.
I want to travel more, visit my dream lands and countries. I strongly believe travelling to different places, enjoying the variety of food, culture, language, meeting different people whether within the country or outside, just feels “alive again”.
Admiring the natural beauty without vision is surely a challenge for us. If person accompanying us aren’t expressive than the challenge adds up.
Hence its my humble request to all accessible travel tour organisers to try and train escorts especially for visually impaired travellers, as how they should describe every minute detail too, including colour, shape, size etc. Also, wherever possible make us touch and admire things. Be it a simple thing as a tree, its leaves or flowers etc.
My fellow travellers often tell me that while we were describing the view for you, we realised that we started visualising in detail and noticed many more things that we might just have missed out hence had a different and un-forgetful experience.
Yes, social prejudice and stigma often tries to shatter our confidence. As while boarding the helicopter at Vaishno devi, the security people tried to hold me so hard as if I will run helter-skelter due to the noise of the helicopter. But when I and my friends made them understand that I just don’t have eyesight but do have brains in place, they eased out a bit.
I feel, as a person with disability, we should treat ourselves as brand ambassadors of our disability, travel and enjoy as and when it’s possible along with sensitise people around with the way we wish to be treated, supported or guided. If we don’t tell or ask what we want than no one else will come ahead to support or guide. Yes, us ask should be genuine, humble and polite. It will automatically create the magic around. Happy Travelling!