Utpal Borpujari

November 20, 2009

Braving Handicap to Navigate the High Seas

Filed under: Deccan Herald,Media,Sport — Utpal Borpujari @ 4:38 pm
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By Utpal Borpujari

Twenty-five years ago, when he was a 12th standard student in Allahabad, he was left paralysed waist downwards following a road accident.

But in an exemplary example for those who lose all hope in such situations, Salil Chaturvedi has not only overcome the trauma but also is embarking on a sailing voyage from Mumbai to Goa to negate the perception that physical disabilities hamper a normal lifestyle.

Chaturvedi, a writer who is readying a book of short stories and is associated with the children’s TV show “Galli Galli Sim Sim” as a script writer and actor, will start from Mumbai on November 24, and plans to land in Goa covering 240 nautical miles on December two, a day before the World Disability Day.

Right now training in Mumbai for the trip that can be exhausting even for physically-fit sailors, Chaturvedi, based in NOIDA neighbouring Delhi, is all gung ho about his upcoming adventure which he expects to play in role in removing the usual Indian mindset, which, as he puts it, “gives a ‘bechara’ treatment to people like me”.

Christened the “Godrej Brighter Horizons” expedition – Chaturvedi says the Godrej group has fully backed the daunting adventure – the voyage will be a campaign for equal access and promote the power of collaborations. 

Giving company to Chaturvedi in the trip will be his wife Monika Kshatriya, cousin Shaunik, and friend and sailing enthusiast Umaji Chowgule. They will sail the Bombay Harbour Seabird, a 21-feet sloop type of sailing boat.

Designed in 1920 by Derrick Morgan Giles, an English naval architect, the boat has no modern amenities, apart from a motor, in case of emergencies.  

“It is difficult to quantify the benefit from such a voyage, but if it can play a small role in making people see the disabled in a different light, my mission will be accomplished. Once you know that the disabled can do things like this, there will be some change in the thought process of many. But yes, things won’t change overnight,” he says.

Confident about the successful outcome of the adventure, Chaturvedi is already dreaming of a day when he might represent India in the sailing event at the World Paralymics.  “And yes, I hope one day I will be able to go on an all-India hot air balloon expedition,” he says, his voice brimming with confidence.

Recalling how he got hooked to sailing, Chaturvedi told Deccan Herald, “In 2009, I tried sailing for the first time in Goa, with the help of Chowgule who I had contacted through our friends Suheim Sheikh and his wife Paula in Hyderabad. The first time I did it, our boat was followed by a band of dolphins, and I got hooked to it.”

The idea for the Mumbai-Goa trip, says Chaturvedi, came to him from the legendary comedy film “Bombay to Goa”, and also the favourable wind conditions on the route during this time of the year.

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 19-11-2009)


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