Tuesday, December 01, 2009

This city is not for the disabled

This city is not for the disabled

A wheel-chair bound man forced to cross right through the middle of a street in Bangalore.

Johnlee AbrahamFirst Published : 30 Nov 2009 08:29:43 AM ISTLast Updated : 30 Nov 2009 08:52:05 AM IST
BANGALORE: If the woes of the disabled citizens was not enough for the authorities, testimonies from the participants of the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS), being held in the city, proved how unfriendly Bangalore is for the disabled.
“We had been told in our team briefings that it would be a bad idea to venture out unassisted but it was only when we went out, we realised what our coach meant,” said Adeline Dumapong, a Paralympics heavy weightlifter from Philippines.
“We couldn’t use the footpath as it was firstly totally inaccessible for us and secondly uneven, so we had to take the road,” the wheelchair- bound athlete said. “However, with vehicles plying in from all sides, we really had the adventure of our lives,” she added.
Comparing Philippines with India, 35-year-old Adeline said that even her country is one among the third-world countries and is as crowded, but most cities in Philippines are “disabledfriendly” and roads, buildings, theatres and other public places are easily accessible.
Repeating what she had been told about coming here, Adeline said, “India is not ‘wheelchairfriendly’ and moving around in the city for a disabled is not a pleasant experience and could be hazardous at times, considering the chaotic traffic, and narrow and uneven side-walks. It’s not even pedestrian friendly.” Baderol Hishan from the Malaysian team noted that the road-side pavements were even and wheelchair-friendly in Malaysia. “Here even taking a baby stroller would be difficult,” he added with a chuckle.
As per statistics, the number of disabled people in India is said to be over 20 million. The first step towards betterment of the disabled in India should certainly be making the road to success accessible.
Culture shock: Indian style
Certain behavioural practices of the “Namma Bengaluru“ citizens also didn’t go down well with the participating athletes. Especially, urinating on public walls. “I was shocked to see people urinate on side-walls. Don’t they feel any shame?’’ a Malaysian athlete asked.
“People urinating in public sight’’ was more of a culture shock, the athlete added.
“Aren’t there laws against this?’’ the athlete questioned. He was told there are laws, while with a wink and an embarrassed smile he was told how effective they really are.


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