Monday, December 4, 2023

The Broken Wheelchairs in Lalbagh, Brindavan Gardens and Ooty Botanical Garden

Sitting and waiting near the entrance has become common for Farheena 
due to the broken wheelchairs in many places. 

Recently, Farheena, my daughter, went through a phase of feeling very low. I decided to take her to new places to make her feel better. I have always strived to enrich my daughter's experiences and focused on her happiness more than her learning or development.  I was excited to take her to the iconic Brindavan Gardens in Mysore and the picturesque Botanical Garden in Ooty. Before going to any place, I check reviews and gather information regarding the distance to be covered, how even the road is for walking (both Farheena and I cannot manage very uneven roads), and whether we have wheelchairs available. I am inquisitive for information after we got stuck in Lalbagh. Farheena somehow walked into the place when she heard that the wheelchair was broken, but returning after reaching a certain distance became tough. 

When I got to know that these places offered wheelchairs for visitors with mobility challenges, I embarked on our journey with high hopes of creating lasting memories with Farheena and my family. Little did I know that our enthusiasm would soon be dampened by the disappointing reality of broken wheelchairs, not just once or twice but thrice.

In an era where inclusivity is championed, it is disheartening to encounter barriers that impede the experiences of individuals with disabilities. Lalbagh, Brindavan Gardens, and Ooty Botanical Garden proudly advertise their commitment to accessibility, claiming to provide wheelchairs for those in need. However, the stark reality on the ground contradicts these promises, leaving visitors like us feeling let down and frustrated.

Upon reaching the parks, we were eager to avail the promised wheelchairs, only to be informed that the available ones were in a state of disrepair. In Ooty, we did not find anyone interested in answering or guiding us to check those chairs. This posed a significant inconvenience and raised questions about the commitment of these popular tourist destinations to ensuring a truly inclusive experience for all visitors.

It's disheartening to witness the disappointment on my daughter's face as she struggled to navigate the uneven terrain without the assistance of a wheelchair. The broken wheelchairs hindered her mobility and cast a shadow over what was supposed to be a joyous and carefree day. I felt hurt to see her sit on a bench and watch everyone explore the places. In Mysore, we at least got to move around in an electric car, but in Ooty, they said it is available at 9.30 A.M., but it was not working even around 10.30, so we left. 

Parks like Lalbagh, Brindavan Gardens, and Ooty Botanical Garden are recreational spaces and significant public assets. Millions are invested in their development and maintenance, and it is only fair to expect that a fraction of these funds be allocated to maintaining functional wheelchairs. The government should ensure that every place with more than 1000 footfalls daily should have at least 10 working wheelchairs. In a country that has more than 2.5 crore people with disabilities, this is a must if we want to ensure inclusivity. Everyone deserves to spend time in these beautiful places, especially those with mobility challenges. It is tough for them to go on treks or into natural setups where moving around is challenging. 

 Ensuring the availability of working wheelchairs is not just a matter of fulfilling legal requirements but an ethical responsibility to make public spaces genuinely accessible to everyone. At least if we have the knowledge of broken wheelchairs ahead of time, we can make some different arrangements.

The Call for Change:

It is crucial for authorities overseeing these public spaces to recognize the urgency of addressing accessibility issues. By investing in well-maintained wheelchairs and other facilities, they can create an environment where all visitors, regardless of their physical abilities, can fully enjoy the beauty these parks have to offer.

The broken wheelchairs at Lalbagh, Brindavan Gardens in Mysore, and Ooty Botanical Garden are a stark reminder of the work that must be done to ensure true inclusivity in our public spaces. I sincerely hope our experience prompts those in charge to reevaluate their commitment to accessibility and take immediate steps to rectify the situation. After all, everyone deserves the chance to explore and appreciate the wonders of these parks without unnecessary hindrances.

The picture doesn't really show how tired she was.

Sitting and waiting patiently with a smile


Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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