The four wheelchair-bound
Mumbaikars in Chennai
On Sep 28, four plucky Mumbaikars set out on a challenging 84 day
nationwide tour. On Dec 20, the four physically challenged
professionals completed their wheelchair-bound trip after logging
in an impressive 19,000 km spanning 28 state capitals!
The tour, which started from Mumbai, was undertaken mainly via the
Golden Quadrangle and stretched from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and
from Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh.
The effort - christened 'Beyond Barriers - Incredible India Tour'
- was the brainchild of Arvind Prabhoo, 44, who is a quadriplegic
since 23 years and operates a cable and internet service in Vile
"We were accompanied by three helpers each on the tour which we
undertook in three SUVs. In each state capital or top tourist
destination, we moved around on our folding wheelchairs," Prabhoo,
sounding weary after the long trip, told IANS.
He was accompanied in the 'mad-venture' -- as some people jokingly
termed it -- by fellow quadriplegic Nishant Khade, 33, director of
Das Offshores Pvt Ltd, an infrastructure company; Neenu Kevlani,
40, a publisher from Bandra suffering from scoliosis since 11
years and Sunita Sancheti, a tax consultant from Bandra and a
paraplegic since 24 years.
"Nobody has attempted a nationwide tour like this on wheelchairs
and we decided to do something different, despite our severe
handicaps. We are happy that we have achieved it without any
problems whatsoever during the tour," Sancheti said.
Discussing the purpose of the trip, Kevlani said the primary
objective was to "sensitise" the countrymen on the problems that
handicapped people face in their daily lives, create awareness of
their special requirements and to change the general mindset of
the people on the issue.
"For instance, we found a majority of the places quite
'handicapped-unfriendly', making them practically inaccessible for
the physically-challenged people who would love to travel around
in this beautiful country," Prabhoo said.
Referring to the special arrangements for handicapped in India as
compared to developed nations, the four rated them as around 20
percent disabled-friendly. "We have yet to catch up on a lot of
small but significant things, especially in tourist destinations
all over the country," Sancheti pointed out.
Kevlani feels that with "a little effort by the government", India
would be a wonderful place for physical handicapped to travel
around and enjoy.
Prabhoo said that during their trip, they were given audiences
with the governors of Uttar Pradesh, Mizoram and Tripura, and
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh.
They also made it a point to enjoy and savour the local cuisines
in each state.
"We also met the disability commissioners or other top officials
of social welfare departments in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya
Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Mizoram, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir,
Uttaranchal, Jharkhand, Orissa and some other states," he added.
Returning to their base Wednesday after the exhausting but
memorable national tour, they regret having missed out on the
Lakshadweep Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The four have already reserved their place in the Limca Book of
Records. Now, all eyes are on the Guinness World Records.
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