Raksha Bandhan Special: Of Sibling Revelry & A Shared Passion For Travel

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Usha and Vicky Rao are superstars at Enable Travel; they are people who inspire us every day. This amazing brother-sister duo has travelled all across the world together, despite their contrasting personalities and her being bound to a wheelchair. And this year, we couldn’t think of a better pair to feature on our blog for Raksha Bandhan.

By: Sarah Merchant

Usha's favourite place; the Taj Mahal

Usha’s favourite place; the Taj Mahal

While the ‘90s was ‘THE’ time to travel (with more welcoming countries and fewer terrorist groups), it wasn’t so for a disabled traveller, especially a young wheelchair-bound girl from India. In a country where the general attitude towards a disabled person travelling was ‘Kyun aye hai yaha marneko’ (why has she come here to die), she dared to be different, to explore. Fuelled by her passion for history, she ventured out to see more of the world. But it wasn’t just her, her brother joined her too as companion, caregiver and guide. This story is about their endless love for travel, one that surpassed the many limitations that came with being in a wheelchair.

So I decided to pay them a visit and chat with them about everything ‘travel’. I was greeted by Vicky, who welcomed me in and introduced me to Usha. Sitting pretty in a bright blue top, Usha gave the impression that she wasn’t comfortable talking about herself, so it seemed like Vicky would do most of the talking. But boy, was I wrong! A few minutes into the conversation, Vicky took a back seat and Usha’s fun personality shone bright as she narrated her many experiences. We (Usha and I) got carried away more than once, talking about everything under the sun, and Vicky had to work hard to keep us from straying off topic.

“You know, when I travel, I feel so liberated. Otherwise, I live a very sedentary lifestyle. There’s no action, but then suddenly, I wake up all excited and it’s an excitement like no other. It’s because I’m sitting in a plane and going off to some wonderful, magical, historical destination. But the journey to the airport and beyond is only possible because of Vicky. And let me tell you, it’s not easy. He need not bother, but he does. He’s seen my love for travel, my love for beaches and new places. And he’s taken it upon himself to take me to all these new places. For me, nothing is inaccessible, my brother just calls people, picks me up and takes me to every fort, palace, temple and beach.”

"The backwaters of Kerala are mesmerising" - Usha

“The backwaters of Kerala are mesmerising” – Usha

The siblings don’t watch the same TV shows, have different interests and tastes, and even argue about who looks younger, so how do they manage to travel together? History!
History is their common ground, bringing them together despite their differences. While Usha, a history major, figures out the best destinations for them to travel to, Vicky takes care of the logistics, right from the time they leave home to the moment they return. This includes getting to the airport 2 hours in advance, arranging accessible transport, checking in their luggage and her wheelchair, researching about accessible places to visit, calling places in advance to ensure accessibility, etc. “Over the years, we have developed a system that works well for us. We have our roles outlined and we don’t interfere in each other’s business. It’s best that way, because when we’re travelling, there can be no hiccups; absolutely none,” Usha says.

She goes on to add, “Organisations like Enable Travel have just come into the picture to help take care of a disabled traveller’s woes, but Vicky has been tackling my travel problems for as long as I can remember. But not everyone has a Vicky; he’s the best brother ever. ”

Vicky interrupts, “Don’t listen to her, I have not done anything special. We love travelling and all our experiences have been fabulous. From our first trip together to New York, to the most recent one to Kerala, I’ve always travelled with her and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I enjoy exploring new places just as much as she does, so I never feel like I miss out on anything. Just please tell her not to wake up at such ungodly hours while on holiday!” This is where Usha cheerily pipes in, “But admit it; it’s only because of my amazing organisational skills that we manage to do everything at a destination.” Vicky rolls his eyes and nods yes.

Our favourite brother-sister duo exploring Delhi

Our favourite brother-sister duo exploring Delhi

That’s Usha and Vicky for you, fun, friendly, explorers and the best kind of siblings! They’ve travelled all across India and tonnes of international destinations. And they’ve done this all by themselves. A lot of research, a little patience, a shared passion for travel and their undying love for each other has kept them going. As Vicky rightly says, “There’s no sibling rivalry between us, there is only sibling revelry.”

Travelling with a disabled person is not all rainbows and sunshine but Enable Travel tries to ease this process with holidays that cover your flights, accommodation and sightseeing. We even have expert caregivers on board, so all you need to worry about is convincing your sister to travel with you to the destination you want. So this Raksha Bandhan, let Usha and Vicky inspire you to give your sibling the wonderful gift of travel. Visit enabletravel.com or call 1800 266 8002

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Sarah Merchant

Tall, lanky and slightly kookie in the head, Sarah Merchant loves mountains, reading, talking (a lot) and history. She has a flair for dramatics and dreams of clicking photos in every part of the world. You can find her on Instagram @hiilolbye

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