Experience Travel, Beyond The Sense Of Sight!

‘How can a blind person possibly explore a destination? Are you sure they can travel?’ These are the most common questions that arise when a blind person sets out to travel. In this article, Enable Travel’s blind expert Preeti Monga puts an end to these misconceptions by talking about how visiting a place is much more than just ‘seeing’ it. Here’s her take on how she experiences the world.

Say hello to our favourite traveller, Preeti

Say hello to Preeti Monga, our blind expert and favourite traveller

Today, I  am going to  share how all my other senses get over-excited when they get to know I am taking them on holiday, again! I say this most confidently because, despite my total blindness, I hardly miss out on anything. I pretty much use my other four senses efficiently to thoroughly extract all the fun and pleasure that life has to offer! I have trained my senses of taste, smell, hearing and touch, to record and then permanently imprint upon the canvas of my memory everything they continually pick-up and experience. These memories are then stored away as precious four dimensional images, much like real-time videos, which I can replay at will!

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Taste

So first, especially for you, I play back for you one of my favorite videos from the mountains; captured and saved by my delighted taste buds! My eager taste buds dive delightfully into the piping hot glass of sweet ginger tea, deliciously creamy and fragrant with that typical rural mountain smokey aroma! And along with the tea, they happily enjoy chewing on the yummy sweetness of freshly plucked and roasted mountain ear of corn. My taste buds are contentedly salivating, searing as they confront the generous application of fresh lemon juice, red chili and black salt on this tasty bhutta! “This is simply heaven” they delightfully moan.

Before  long,  I hear my taste buds groaning  for a sip of chilled beer, accompanied by succulent tandoori chicken that warms up the chilli mountain air and make me happy! They know it is holiday time, so it is perfectly fine to indulge and luxuriate in the pleasures and yummy treats of distant lands! And, how can I forget to tell you about the delightful surprise my taste buds had for me; the fantastically rich smooth and nut-filled crunchy sweetness of divine pumpkin halwa, the taste of which keeps luring me back to the mountains!

There's nothing better thana freshly brewed cup of tea in the mountains

There’s nothing better than a freshly brewed cup of piping hot tea high in the mountains!

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Smell

And here is my next interesting video, recorded and stored by my powerful sense of smell! The moment I stepped out of the aircraft in Goa, the distinct salty moist smell of the sea, instantly conjured up pictures of gently tumbling sparkling blue-green seas in my head! The beautiful smell of the sea had transported me to the beach right away! But I was suddenly, rudely, jerked back to reality with the unbearable stink of the famous cashew feni. I quickly discovered that this stench of feni was coming directly from the breath of the cab driver, who was offering to drive us to our hotel! With my nose issuing warnings that this guy was probably drunk, I quickly chose not to go with him.

Next, my super smelling powers led me to an open-air eating joint, where they were frying freshly caught fish!  “I can smell lovely fish just around the corner here,” I told my friend. “I  see no such place here, Preeti,” she protested, pulling me in the opposite direction; but I insisted she follow me… and right I was. The path we took actually brought us to a small little stall, where we dove headlong into happily stuffing ourselves with various varieties of yummy fried fish! It’s amazing how this worked out, for I was simply following the direct path my nose had created in my head.

Beaches or mountains? Definitely beaches!

The intoxicating salty smell of the sea, makes beach getaways a holiday favourite for Preeti!

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Hearing

And, here is the next video for you from my memory collection! This one is from Ajmer Shareef, where I went to see, in my own way, the massive antique bronze vessel that had been used in the past to feed hundreds of devotees every day! Here, the recording was done by my sense of hearing, aided by my powerful voice, to be able to actually see this massive magnificent cooking pot.

So, escorted by my nephew, I climbed the steep steps to the top from where one could view this gigantic pot. I sadly realised that there was no way I could touch the vessel to be able to see it, so I activated my other working senses. I gauged the diameter of the pot by listening to the crowd standing opposite us marvelling at its splendor, and then bent over and shouted as loudly as I could, listening to my voice bounce back from the bottom of the pot for an idea of its depth! Right enough, the two different sounds together allowed me to ‘see’ an almost real image of this enormous vessel in my head. It was so large that it seemed as if one could cook a couple of elephants in there, at one go!

Ajmer Shareef, one of the highlights of Preeti's Rajasthan tour

Ajmer Shareef, one of the highlights of Preeti’s Rajasthan tour

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Hearing & Touch

Here is another of my carefully stored away, but, superbly enthralling videos of my visit to Jog Falls in the hills of Karnataka. This one was jointly recorded and stored away by my senses of hearing and touch/sensation; here it goes! On my visit to Jog Falls, I wondered how I was to see and experience the biggest plunge waterfall in India without sight. Apprehensive, I stepped into the concrete yard off our room at the guest house, situated on the hillside directly opposite the majestic waterfall. But the moment I stepped outside, I was totally blown away. I was welcomed by the fine, yet heavy, powdery spray of water from the waterfall across the hill on my bare face and arms. It felt as if I was being sprayed with a gigantic spray gun from heaven above! I was equally astonished at the huge roar of this gigantic waterfall as it fell crazily off the mountain’s edge, from a height of nearly one kilometer! Just being there was enough to make me aware of the vastness and uniqueness of this well-known waterfall!

I was astounded, because I was suddenly able to visualise the splendid phenomenon by, mentally following the sound of the gushing water!  This visualisation was quickly translated into a film that ran inside my head as I followed the thundering noise of the river tumbling down the sheer mountain face, and landing with a booming thud at the bottom of a huge cliff. Here, the noise changed again as the great mass of water continued its journey as the fast-flowing river it actually was in the first place!

The mighty Jog Falls in Karnataka

The mighty Jog Falls in the hills of Karnataka is an incredible experience for every kind of traveller

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Who says you need eyes to explore the world? I do hope you enjoyed experiencing and going through my word videos today? If you have any travel experiences to share, let me know in the comments section below.

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If you love travelling just like Preeti, then Enable Travel says #CanDo to your every travel dream. Take a look at the trips we’ve handpicked just for you!

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Preeti Monga

Preeti Monga is Founder & CEO of the Silver Linings Trust & Silver Linings Services, and, Director Project, of Project Jyoti of the Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital! Blind since childhood, she has made it her mission to empower people with disabilities and inspire everyone to live with dignity. Preeti focuses on the education of blind children, the inclusion of disabled people in mainstream society and the restoration of eyesight through cornea retrieval. She has won several prestigious awards, including The National Award, 2013, and the Exceptional Achievement in Entrepreneurship Award, 2015, among others!

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