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Parvinder Chawla’s solo-trip to 33 countries on her wheelchair

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   “I want to make each day a masterpiece.”  49-years-old Parvinder Chawla, who had finished 33 countries on her wheelchair in the last 10 years, opened her mouth to share her inspiring story.  

      Even though she is labelled as ‘wheelchair-bound woman’, but it had not stopped her from dreaming big, achieving big things in her life. There are plenty of fishes in the ocean, and lots of obstacles, but they will always explore without an alarm-fear. Here Parvinder Chawla is the same, exploring each corner of the world, stepping on all the obstacles.

   “I want to complete 50 countries when I turn to 50 years old.” She encouraged the wheels of her chair to increase the effort towards her big goal.

***

10 years ago,

   “Could you please provide some details about the package available for wheelchair-bound people for a solo trip?” she enquired in a travelling agency.

    “Sorry Ma’am, we don’t have any such package, you need to have a companion while travelling.” His answer did not discourage her, and loads of self-confidence shots were already injected into her bloodstream.

    She always believed if there is a will, there is a way.

***

  “I want to do solo-trip here,” she said to her friends when she was on her Malaysia trip with her friends.

    It was a life-changing experience for her.

     She discovered how capable she is when she was being complete responsibility of herself and her travel-trip. She met marvellous people along the way and made a lifetime connection with everyone. More than places, the people and their cultures had made her trips extra special.

    “If I wait for someone to travel with me, I will end up waiting for a lifetime, I just broke my heart-fear by taking the first step towards the solo trip, and the result was breathtaking.”

    When she came back to India from her Malaysia solo-trip, a new level of self-confidence had gripped her heart. Since then, she has not looked back, gifted herself back to back solo-trips to different countries.

***

   “What should I do now?” She was dumbstruck for a moment in China when she found out the hotel she booked through online had been demolished, and it was almost midnight. 

    But a local helped her to reach to a modest hotel. But she was feverish due to change in weather, and she could not communicate with receptionist due to the language barrier.

      Her condition kept worsening, so she decided to return India, but the flight was delayed for few hours, when she tried to use her stick to walk few steps, and she fell down and had a concussion.

    “Every worst experience gives me more energy to fight back.” This incident had not stopped her from going out of her comfort zone.

     She got even robbed in some of her journeys, but she did not step back from her dream to travel around the globe.

   On every journey, she had embraced both great and worst experiences.

   “If there is no pain, no gain.”

***

   “This is not my limitation, I can do more, I can do this.” She whispered to herself to boost her confidence when she was doing zip-lining in Ecuador and also while doing paragliding in Taiwan. When her body travelled beyond her abilities, her heart also travelled a mile ahead to the matchup with her body.

***
    “I did snorkelling in Port Douglas, Australia.” She checked off her bucket list in 2019. As she flipped through her passport pages,  her heart jumped in an excitement seeing the stamps from different countries – Yes, I did it, I finished 33 countries on my wheelchair!! 

     Some counties were not wheelchair friendly, but she had pushed herself through the difficult moments to have a beautiful breakthrough.

     In her opinion, UAE is the most wheelchair friendly country,  and one of her favourite countries is Melbourne by its nature.

     She has funded her trips on her own by working on various jobs- working at a call centre, babysitting, running a catering service, renting a room for Airbnb etc.

***
Who is she?  What’s her childhood?

     She was born in Ludhiana and the most pampered girl to her parents and siblings, youngest to her four siblings. They had shifted to Mumbai when she was in class 6.

    “Open your mouth fully.” Mom showed anger while feeding Parvinder Chawla whom they call fondly as Pammu.
Even though she tried hard to open her mouth fully, but she could not open it due to jaw lock.

      As months went on, her mother sensed the trouble in her growth and decided to take her to a homoeopath.

     “If you have not taken it seriously, the condition would worsen, it would even reach your heart.” The doctor said and prescribed some medicines.

   But she did not give much importance to her problems and refused to take medication also.

   She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 15 which affected her joints caused to have painful-swollen knees frequently.

***

     “This joint pain is killing me, unbearable.” she grumbled to her doctor,  “I have a 12th class exam tomorrow, I have to write my exams.”

      The doctor injected with a steroid as she did not want to take pain killers. The pain on her wrist and knees increased with the time.

***

   Sridevi’s ‘Mere Haathon Mein Nau Nau Chudiya,’ Song raised loudly in her sister’s wedding in Punjab for which she practised a beautiful dance with her cousin. But while they dance, she moved off the stage before she could complete the last steps of her dance as the pain was severe on her joints.

    By the time she had already realized the seriousness and the intensity of her disease.

    Being a party lover, she loved to invite her friends for small gatherings at her house.

   But when they danced and enjoyed the party, she used to sit in the corner and steam her painful joints.

***
     After her college,  she started to work in a call centre, she enjoyed her job. She always used to take the metro and reach office.

    One day she was taking a walk from marine drive local station to the office,  and she fell on the ground, striking by the wood which caused her to lose her confidence to walk gradually.

***
    Her pain around knees had become severe,  

    “Don’t touch my legs,” she screamed when a kid tried to touch her legs, assuming that her pain would be back if anybody touches her body,  she was not able to move to sides, by the time she was completely bedridden. 

      Her fear was taken over her body, heart and mind. Her parents had been always with her in her most difficult times.

    “You have to be more confident,  you need to take care of yourself,  you have to be independent.” Her dad gave her the greatest gift by teaching her to believe in herself. And things changed when she began to accept her condition, “This time will pass, I will live my life to fullest always, whatever difficulties I may encounter.”

***

In Delhi,
   “Steam therapy is good, I feel better,  I can get up now.” She said to her mother, her body started to respond to ayurvedic treatment.  Her mom had immense faith in God,  she prayed for her daughter day and night. Soon the result was evident.

***
    “I don’t want to waste my energy thinking about my disabilities.” She said to her mom when her mom’s friends sympathized her condition while they were going to temple. And she hated these sympathetic comments. She had never let her health to become a barrier to her wishes,  so she used to take her wheelchair and go wherever she wants without ever complaining about her situation.

***

     After two years of her bedridden, she decided to be independent and settle herself financially.

     “God, Please help me with my interview, I hope this interview will be held on the ground floor.” She used to do a short prayer, prior to her each interview.  

     Soon she landed in her ideal job- call centre job where she can sit and work. 

    After a year she bought her first car, and then she started to focus on her travelling when she was 40 years old, challenged herself every day to fill her life with adventures and to view the magic world.

Her message: “Develop yourself to achieve your dream, or else you will remain as a dreamer till your last breath. Don’t ever let your heart and mind bind to a wheelchair.  If I could do, you can! All you need is take a first baby step towards your dream and believe in yourself. God will be with you all the time, when I throw myself to the challenges, I always firmly believed in God.”

 

I am sitting on my wheelchair,
It’s the daily dress I wear,
I am unaware of the fear,
When I set myself high in the air,
I swear,
God will take care of me.
If you get out of your fear,
There is no life-spare,
Let your body in a wheelchair,
But not heart and mind.

 

Follow her on Instagram to see more adventurous pics : @wheelchairandeye

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