Thursday, August 15, 2013

I have not traveled much but I have always been fascinated about the word ‘Vacation’. I am so crazy about visiting different cities of the way, crazy to the extent of looking into the google map’s street view of various countries. I am sure most of us have dreams to visit other countries, admire the tall buildings in some countries, the nature in some, sophistication in some, people in some and the beaches in some; In short, to look at and enjoy the beauty of places. But I have a strong desire to go on a trip with a person who is different from all of us, who can see everything in a different way, who can see through his heart and brain but not eyes. Yes, I want to take a person whom we think has seen only darkness throughout his life; the one whom we called blind. I have a reason for having such a dream to accompany such a person.

Here’s why:

A man worked as a driver in a government organization. He was not very poor but was lower middle class. He worked hard to earn a good name for himself and was a personal favorite for most of the officials in the organization. One fine morning his boss yelled at him for refusing trips on Sundays which was a part of his job. This was not the first time he was yelled at for not driving for the company on Sundays. He never bothered to explain to his boss why, but he always refused to drive on Sundays. But that day the issue reached its peak and he had no other option left but to explain why.

He told his boss that he attended a physically challenged person who couldn’t walk without someone’s help on Sundays. It was not like nursing, he had to take the challenged person to temples or parks nearby on Sundays. People who can’t walk also have desire to go around on Sundays and that’s no crime. But when they can’t fulfill this small desire on their own there is nothing wrong in taking help. He was even paid for this service he offered for the challenged man. He never compromised on this duty and Sundays were the only thing that the physically challenged man was happy about. From then on the officer never bothered the driver on Sundays.

That officer was my dad and he told me this story.

Back to my desire:
We always over look the small desires of people around, specially the physically challenged. We think people who are medically blind are completely blind to the world outside. But we fail to see what they can see.
No two people can see the same thing the same way. They are the second person who can see the same thing, but differently.

Now to the imaginary vacation:
I was waiting for Ram, a fifteen year old kid, to arrive at the Chennai airport. The Kid was the winner of story writing that I had conducted in a blind school. The prize included a trip to Singapore. Ram arrived and he was accompanied by his mom. I ensured that the mom felt secured enough to send her kid with me. They stuffed the trolley with his luggage and pushed it till the end they were allowed. We bid good bye to Rams parents.

I offered to help Ram with his luggage but he refused to take help. He wanted to be on his own but just asked me to assist him with directions. I kept saying right, left, slow, fast and we reached the waiting area after all the procedures.

“Are you excited about flying?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I have never understood the meaning of that word. Flying means ‘in the air’ right?” he asked cutting air with his hand.
“Yeah” I was curious to know how the kid felt about taking an aeroplane.
“Ok. I am excited about flying. I will be in mid air then.” He said.

We boarded the flight and the flight took off. I was excited to see how the kid enjoyed the ride. I wanted to make him see all that I saw through my words. I made him touch and feel the shape of a plane with the help of the miniature. I told him how we were rising high from the ground.

“Are we flying?” he asked.
“Yes we are.”
“Flying means in the air but I still feel the floor in my feet. How do you call that flying?” he asked.

He understood things from the touch of it, feel of it; I understood. I explained about how we all fly together sitting inside a flight.

“As we reach higher and higher the city below looks smaller and smaller. Since we are so far from the ground every building looks like a small dot below us. I can see that through a window.” I said.
“So my house also looks like a dot from a flight?” he asked.
“Yes. Everything looks like a dot.”
I explained how the flight looks. He could relate everything I said through what he felt. Finally we reached Singapore, the city of sophistication.

“This is Marina Bay. There are three tall buildings which are connected at the top with a shape like boat.” I said.
“So its like a boat on top of three buildings? It’s so nice.” He said. That’s when I understood how he looked at things, what he saw through his eyes which we say is blind. He could see through what we say.
“Is that right in front of me?” he asked.
“Yes kiddo. It is. You are facing it.”
“I am so excited aunty.” He said. I was happy that I achieved the purpose of bringing him here.

And one could ask me why I want to take him there, instead tell him all the explanations sitting at home. He might not see but he can surely feel and relate the feel to what we describe. So sitting at home and explaining about different places wouldn’t make him feel like he has traveled.

In the night safari they pulled out a cobra from the box on which we were sitting. Upon requesting them, Ram was allowed to touch and feel the cobra. I could see the fear that spread on his face when I described the cobra as he touched it. He immediately withdrew his hands. I took him in the MRT and told him how fast things were moving when we saw through the window. He told me he could feel the speed of the train somehow. In the bird park he enjoyed the different sounds the birds made including the sound of flapping their wings.

He enjoyed Sentosa island the most. The aquarium was a little tricky for me to explain. I drained out all the relevant words I knew to explain to him, even explained how underground aquariums were built or how the animals were fed. Finally he said “It’s just like a big fish tank with different kinds of fish.” I enjoyed the company of this clever boy.

Finally, after visiting a lot of other places and enjoying the sophistication at the hotel, we packed our bags to get back home.

So there ends our trip to Singapore. Hope you enjoyed travelling with me and the kid. See you soon in some other trip.

Creating happy travellers:
This is written as an entry to a contest  for

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