On one of those Sundays in early January this year when I was just looking around the Facebook in the hope of coming around something interesting. Sometimes I feel that we keep peeping in Facebook every now and then as we keep peeping in the refrigerator again and again in the hope of finding something interesting to eat. Well probability wise Facebook wins this comparison… haha. Anyways, moving on with the story, I came across a Facebook profile of a girl in some ’Disability Group’ I am member of. I sent her the friend’s request, not just because of a good display picture but also the curiosity of knowing what ‘Planetabled’ is since it was mentioned quite a lot of times.
Don’t remember exactly but fairly soon my request was accepted and I was talking to this girl. Well I’m a little proud of myself when it comes to the flair of talking to someone I don’t know… LOL. but let me admit she was better than me. In no time she convinced me to come to their very first event, it was a heritage walk at Mehrauli Archaeological Park (in and around Qutub Minar, New Delhi). Obviously, my first question to Neha was if the place is accessible on a wheelchair but I was convinced it is. She also explained me that even if it is not completely accessible but that’s what ‘Planetabled ‘ is for, she told me that the idea of ‘Planetabled’ is to provide accessibility solutions to the differently abled so that they can travel without any apprehensions. I wasn’t very convinced though but I thought let’s give it a try, in the end either I’ll have a Sunday well spent because any which ways it’s going to be wasted otherwise.
So it was a Sunday in late January, I was all set for the event with my camera n all. I reached the entrance gate of Qutub Minar and as my driver was assembling the wheelchair for me, a volunteer from Planetabled was there to receive me. He accompanied me to the entrance where all the participants and the volunteers were standing. There was media presence as well. They were interviewing the participants about this whole initiative and I was thinking it’s too much noise without any results. Well I kept my smile on and moved ahead with the event. I won’t get in the details of the event but a lot of things were worth mentioning be it their well trained volunteers, their preparedness, the sign language interpreter for the deaf and mute, they even arranged the wheelchairs, a curator for the visually challenged participants who was helping them going closer to the structures and touch them. Apart from this there was a history expert as well who was telling the stories behind all those structures and Delhi’s history. During the event some new friendships were made as well. By the second half I was convinced what Neha is trying to achieve through Planetabled is not just money but her accomplishment lies in those smiles and those tear of joys in the eyes of the participants.
That was the first event of Planetabled and in the last 6 months there were many such events conducted like a walk in the Garden of 5 senses during Garden Festival, Pottery workshop, Heritage walk at Redfort, A tour to Transport Museum and A poetry-short stories recitation at Dilli Haat and I have been to almost all of these events. All those great things I mentioned for the Qutub Minar event are consistent with all their events but with the Red Fort walk Planetabled went a step ahead when they surprised me with a temporary aluminum ramp to access a museum which had 4-5 stairs at the entrance. I was amazed because this not only shows your preparedness for what you do but also shows your seriousness for the whole thing.
In these 6 months Planetabled has evolved a lot and now they’ve gone even beyond Delhi-NCR. I have heard very good feedback from the participants who availed Planetabled’s services for a few customized tours to Agra, Rishikesh, Mussoorie, etc. Trust me this invokes great feeling and confidence in me that even I can now plan to travel beyond Delhi and that too without apprehensions. Now the worries of an accessible hotel, accessible travel, a helping hand, arrangements and a lot of such things are striked-off my list of worries because that’s what Planetabled is for.
In these last 6 months I have also evolved alongside Planetabled as I am now more confident about going out of home. I am working on my travel wish list and a plan around that list. Trust me it’s not about travel only it is also about feeling empowered about things which were not in your bounds before. On the ending note, I still have those weekdays and weekends but how I look and feel about them has changed a lot.
It’s a job well done till now and I’m sure you’re going to go farther and farther in the path you’ve chosen for yourself. Wishing you lots of love and support. 🙂