Braving handicap to navigate the high seas

Chaturvedi (left) with Chowgule practising for the trip

But in an example to those who lose all hope in hopeless situations, Salil is embarking on a sea 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 scriptwriter 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 the physically fit sailors, Noida-based Chaturvedi is all gung ho about his upcoming adventure which he expects will play a 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 to promote the power of collaboration.

Giving company to Chaturvedi on 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 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.

Dream

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.

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