Around this time last year I decided to take a leap and do something I had been thinking about for a really long time.
In 2 days time, I’m off to the motherland for the very first time and I am so incredibly excited, nervous and every other emotion that flips your stomach upside down. I know that sounds super over-dramatic, but the thought of going to India has always made me a bit uneasy. What made me anxious, what held me back, were the lack of accessibility and the thought of getting sick.
The confusing thing though, is that I’ve still always wanted to go and see where I came from; the homeland my ancestors left for whatever reason. I’m hitting 25 and I feel I need to stop making excuses, just jump and start that journey of reconnection.
The first decision I had to make was which wheelchair I was going to take – electric or manual? My electric chair is super heavy, and involves a lot of electrics. As much I don’t like being pushed in a manual chair, in this case I decided it was the safest and most convenient option – a privilege I know I have. I’ve been told that most shops have steps to get into them, and it is safer to get lifted in than to wait outside. It also makes transport options more flexible. I also don’t have to worry about electric, battery or motor breakdowns.
I then started to look into accessible travel in India. That place is huge, and Indians are great entrepreneurs, so I knew there had to be someone who would be able to help me with my accessibility needs in a country that is so seemingly inaccessible.
In my research I found a travel agency based out of New Delhi called Planet Abled. I made the initial contact with company owner and founder Neha Arora and we had a lovely long chat on the phone about my needs, interests and what I wanted to get out of the experience.
As soon as we got off the phone, my initial anxiety went away. She understood exactly where I was coming from and I didn’t need to justify why I needed things a particular way – it was so refreshing not having to explain everything in a defensive way.
Since then they have been so incredibly patient and understanding with all my 5 million emails and questions (my anxiety is obviously still there). They organised all our accommodation, transportation and itinerary so beautifully and I can’t wait to experience, and write about, accessible India.