Keeri who loved humans

Keeri who loved humans
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Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Disabled

With the anniversary of the London Olympics this month, the disabled have front-row voices again. The Olympics made me proud of the way this country has regarded its disabled. For a few days all of us forgot that anyone was disabled. They looked so capable of soaring to heights of all kinds of achievement. Their self-possession was amazing. 

     In the succeeding months, slowly, they went out of centre stage. On TV, occasionally, there were murmurs: difficulty of access, public perception, employment - these were unsatisfactory . It seemed the euphoria was quietly ebbing away.

     I think I am a little disabled myself when I am faced with the three flights of steep stairs at a railway station or the vast gap between train and platform I have to negotiate sometimes when I arrive at East Croydon. Well, age is a kind of disability, I think,  though it is not comparable to genuine handicaps: not being able to see, to hear, to walk at all without crutches, or live in a wheelchair all your life. Still, I begin to appreciate the problems faced by the less -abled in our society.

     I cannot these days forget that tattered man who carries himself round the streets of Kochi on a floor level plank, to which he has fixed little wheels. Another has not even that option: he drags himself on his backside, using his hands to propel himself along. The people on the streets toss them coins, but that is as far as it goes. We take our shopping home and forget about them.

     In the orphanages where the disabled orphans live in Kerala there is hardly any specialist help. A kind doctor might spare some of his/ her time, but she has a full time job. No one is paying that doctor to look after those epileptic young men and women at the orphanage. There is barely enough food for the children and their carers. They live on donations, which come haphazardly.

     India is tardy organising itself for the care of its disabled. After all what is the point of exceptional GDP growth if there is no growth in social awareness?

     Compared to the situation in parts of India, the disabled in the United Kingdom are well-catered for. But what they want is to be able to look after themselves, to be employed, to be self sufficient, to have places to stay where they are comfortable, where they have access to friendship and to love. They want the things that you and I take for granted.

      They need entertainment and sport, not just for the few but for all. They need Society to cater for their special needs and treat them with respect.

     We still have some way to go.



     

Monday, 15 July 2013

Volda`

I travelled to Alesund as further North was too expensive, even on Norwegian Air. Everything is that bit more expensive in Norway. I was headed for Volda, where my friend, Lila, lives with her husband, dog, huge cat and arthritis.

   Lila picked me up and drove the 2 hours to Volda. I didn't mind the drive or the ferry; I wasn't thinking , how much further? as I do when I do road trips in India. Relatively flatland in the South gave way to mountains, and the fjords on either side were grey-blue and calm. The wooden houses perched on the hill side defied gravity and were scattered far apart.

   The rhododendrons were still in flower and had reached that blousy stage when the petals are about to drop. By the end of the week when I left, they were all gone. But in my garden in England they were long gone, having flowered a little late in June and disappeared at the first sign of warm weather.

   Norway was 12-15 degrees a lot of the time. Very occasionally it got up to 20 degrees, but the light never quite faded in the night. The dog and the cat decided I was harmless, probably a sucker for them and quietly invaded my room and then my bed. The people smiled when they saw you and there was no turning away or looking through. I was at home there; if I knew Norwegian I would not have stopped talking.

   I had a few arguments with my computer just before I left; I had lost all my e mail - 550+ of them -  in one hacking event. Norway reminded me to get my priorities right. E mails, who needs them? I can do without. Hackers - do you want the rest? It's all silly stuff, not the kind that has any lasting impact on anybody, even me.

  Switzerland was picture postcard pretty in my memory from long ago. But Norway was breath taking. The mountains lifting their peaks above drifting clouds, the glaciers now frozen but threatening, the rocks and boulders on either side of the road as you drove through the valley reminding you of how little you are - it was all majestic.

   I am back in England now, ready for the fray. Cleansed out and hopeful.