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  • Writer's pictureAakash Manokaran

Mini Travelogue – Part 5

We started from our native place Sathupally to Hyderabad to attend a family event. On the way we wanted to meet one uncle (our ex-tenant) on the way. As all the areas are developing very fast, with great effort we could find his house. But unfortunately, Uncle was not available. He was out of station. His neighbours gave his contact number. Immediately we called him. After coming to know that we were at his home, he felt sorry. Luckily he was coming back to his place on that day, he suggested a place to meet where most probably our vehicles cross each other. We exchanged our vehicle numbers. It was an exciting experience to observe the vehicle numbers which were coming from the opposite side. As guessed by uncle, finally we met near the place suggested by him. We all felt very happy for meeting him. After a few minutes of conversation, we started from there with the satisfaction of meeting him.

Near Suryapet, we stopped at a restaurant on the highway, “Rajugari Thota” for lunch. From outside, it looked very beautiful. We enquired there about the availability of a wheelchair for my mom. When they responded positively I felt very happy. But my happiness lasted only for a few minutes. After seeing the wheelchair, I felt that they might have brought it from excavations. One very old and rusty wheelchair they brought. First we wanted to use the restroom. They took us to the ladies restroom. As usual it’s not accessible. But fortunately there were no steps to enter the restroom. Used it somehow. While coming out I saw a room with a big door with a wheelchair symbol on the opposite side. It’s a wheelchair accessible restroom. I could not understand after seeing me in a wheelchair why they didn’t take me there. When I asked them to open that door, I found it very spacious. But it’s not in working condition. Some places we could not find accessible infrastructure facilities. But at that restaurant, the facility is there but not in working condition. After that I spoke to the staff there and suggested them to maintain that restroom properly and also to buy a good wheelchair. I told them that the wheelchair is not upto the standards of their restaurant. They nodded their heads. But no idea whether they have taken any action on my suggestion or not. Whoever is reading this post, when you get a chance to visit that restaurant, kindly verify these two points even though you don’t need them. Staff are courteous and the food is tasty. If they maintain these two also in good condition, it will definitely be a comfortable place for everyone.

After our family event, the next day we finally started from Hyderabad to Chennai. We selected the shortest route via Narketpally, Nalgonda…. Piduguralla... Ongole... Chennai. We wanted to have a halt at Ongole on that night as it’s difficult to travel continuously. But we didn’t know which hotel would be accessible. My uncle J P Raju helped us in finding an accessible hotel in Ongole through his friend.

While travelling from Hyderabad to Ongole, at some place we came by State Highways. At one toll gate, their system doesn't identify that my fastag is having exemption. Then their staff came near to the car with a device, verified and allowed our vehicle to move from there. At the next toll gate there was also the same issue. On the display, it was shown our vehicle is blocklisted. They told us that balance is not there in fastag. I told them about the exemption. They asked for my car RC and allowed us. When we reached the next toll gate, again the same issue. Based on my previous experience, I gave the RC. This time they also asked for my disability id card. But I didn’t have the card with me. I asked them why I should give all these documents when I have the proper fastag received from NHAI. They said that all the documents they asked for were as per their guidelines. Again I questioned them in that case how the staff at the previous two gates dealt with the issue in two different ways. Immediately I called my friend Sai to know if any such procedure is there. He said nothing is required as we have a fastag received from NHAI. They said that they wouldn’t allow us without the disability id card. After a few arguments, finally they allowed us.

Has anyone faced such a problem on state highways with fastag?

Later we reached Hotel Sarovar, Ongole. Staff took us to room no.110. That room is the most accessible room in the hotel it seems. It was a pleasant surprise for me. Even my wheelchair went inside the restroom. I never expected such an accessible room would be available at that place. Staff are also very cooperative. Food is also delicious. Thanks a ton to JP uncle.

Next day morning, before starting from Ongole to Chennai, we went to Alluraiah Sweet Shop and bought fresh Mysorepak and Milk Kova sweets as suggested by JP uncle. Its a very famous traditional 90 years old sweetshop in Ongole. Sweets are very tasty.

On the way, when we stopped at a petrol bunk to fill the fuel, to my surprise I found an accessible toilet in the Bunk. There is a ramp with hand railing and a wide dāoor. Though I didn’t use it, I could observe these things from outside. I never saw an accessible toilet at a petrol bunk. First time iān my life I saw such a facility at a petrol bunk. I felt very happy. It may look like a simple thing. But such accessible facilities always make me happy.

On the way, near Gudur, we stopped at Amaravathi hotel on the highway. Food is good and the staff are very supportive there also. But at that place also one rusty wheelchair. Same thing I observed at some 5 star hotels also. They spend lacs of rupees on the interior decoration but when it comes to wheelchairs, I can’t understand why such a type of inferior treatment.

Finally, by evening we reached Chennai safely. Hearty thanks to Ganesan, the driver whom we engaged for this trip, for his smooth and safe driving and for his helping nature.

Totally it was a great trip with so many unforgettable memories !

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