Statistics for the number of vehicles in Delhi are staggeringly, somewhere in the region of 8 million. Now if you have ever been caught in a jam it sometimes seems as if at least half of those cars and motorbikes are somewhere between you and where you want to go. Often, on my way to work I see people gently pushing parked cars one a little this way and the one in front a little that way until the double parked cars inside can be manoeuvred out. This mass of vehicles, causing traffic jams and parking nightmares are a terrible nuisance but for some they can be life changing.
Researching for this blog I was privileged to meet Mr. Inderjit lal here in Delhi. He was affected by measles as a child of about eight and was left paralysed with no sensation below the waist.
“There was no measles vaccine in those days and what happened to me was anyway very rare. I was bed-ridden for six months after which the sensation gradually began to return. I had the support of a marvellous doctor and physiotherapist who never lost hope. Dr Bhanu Shankar later went on to be Director General of Health Services to The Government of India and it was he who told me when I was 18 that I should get a driving licence when everyone else was saying I was off my rocker to even try. I feel God has been very good to me, sending me such committed people.”
“As a young man I was able to climb two flights of stairs and as long as I could drive I could get to most places. I worked in tourism for 25 years and used to drive a normal car. About 40 years ago I asked the Lord to help me and be with me on any venture and I have felt his presence, so I was as confident as the next person about getting around.”
“Years ago when our children were only about 1 and 3 years old we were piled in the car late one winter evening coming back from celebrating a birthday. I was driving and just before the Kidwai Nagar and AAIMS junction (that was in the days before the flyovers) we got a flat tyre. I could drive but I could not change a tyre and so there we were, Rita, me and two little ones in the cold and dark with no one around. Suddenly out of the gloom comes a young man whom we did not recognise but who declared that he knew us. It seems he was the son of a former servant and he was willing and able to change the tyre and send us on our way. We know that was God’s good grace and was the reason why I had such confidence in spite of the limitations caused by the disability.”
“I made sure my children could drive and stopped driving myself a few years ago mostly because now there are so many more cars and it is almost impossible to park close to places that I need to visit and I cannot walk far.”
It doesn’t sound much really does it? But giving up driving has narrowed Inderjit’s world and increased his dependence on others.
Of course in a city like Delhi it is perhaps madness to consider the luxury of reserved parking for people with disabilities. I did see a “disability parking” sign outside a row of shops on Aurobindo Marg recently but somehow I can’t imagine it is reserved only for people with disabilities. Lots of congregations across India meet not in special church buildings but in schools and public auditorium so my conversation with Inderjit got me thinking that it would be fairly easy to make a portable “disability parking” sign and have a young church member set it up each week to keep parking spaces close to the meeting place especially for people with disabilities. Of course for those mainline churches that have their own parking it is would be a simple matter to rule up special parking places close to the church entrance and the nearest ramp into the building. Ah but ramps are for another blog post!
I would like to thank Inderjit Lal and his wife Rita for sharing so freely with me their journey as Christians living with disability. I remain deeply impressed and am sure you will be hearing more about them in future blogs