Divyanshu Ganatra, a city-based psychologist who is visually challenged, did something last week that many cannot think of. He took a nearly two-minute flight in the skies as a solo paraglider, becoming the first visually challenged person in India to do so, according to his trainers.
The 36-year-old, who completely lost his eyesight due to glaucoma at the age of 19, undertook the flight over Kamshet, around 50 km from here.
“I always wanted to fly and I was upto 700 feet high in the air. It was exhilarating. I was enjoying complete freedom. It was a very beautiful experience which I cannot describe in words. At the most, I can say I was experiencing oneness with nature and its elements,” says Divyanshu.
The adverse conditions in which it took place made Divyanshu’s ride more memorable. “The wind conditions were bad on the day the ride was planned. Eventually, it was decided that I should take the plunge by 6 pm. I could have flown for some more time had the wind conditions been more favourable,” he said.
An avid fan of adventure sports since childhood, Divyanshu says his latest achievement in the field of paragliding reinforced his belief that any disability is insignificant if one has the right perspective towards looking at challenges in life.
“We can focus either on problems or solutions. It is up to our perspective towards looking at things. With this frame of mind, any disabled person can overcome any challenge in life,” he said.
Much to the surprise of everybody, Divyanshu, who has so far offered psychological training to more than 10,000 individuals from corporate and social sectors, has to his credit successful expeditions at Kumaon in the Himalayas and Milam Glacier among other adventurous places.
Anita Malik, business head of Temple Pilots, a professional organisation that offers courses in paragliding, says no record of a visually challenged person undertaking paragliding exists in the country as of now. “In India, paragliding is still a small community and there are no records of a 100 per cent visually-challenged person ever undertaking paragliding. Divyanshu, as per our collective community knowledge, is the first person to do this and has turned out to be a real hero,” she adds.
Anita and her husband Avi Malik, who is the founder and chief trainer at Temple Pilots, provided a four-day intensive training to Divyanshu before his ride.
“Touch and feel were Divyanshu’s plus points and we gave him his orientation considering these advantages in terms of senses. He learnt things quickly and carried out a successful ride, serving as inspiration to many,” says Anita.
Divyanshu, who is already working towards promoting adventure sports among persons with disabilities, now has plans to take forward this effort. “In our country, enjoying adventure sports is still a distant dream for the disabled given the lack of infrastructure. These kind of sporting activities are great energisers and equalisers and I want to promote these among persons with different disabilities,” he says.