I met Shama Noorani at the recently held Viva Goa Carnival 2019. I was walking down the streets of Panjim, admiring all the colourful floats on display, when I happened to see her sitting like a Queen with so much swag, amidst all that crowd. Something inside me just made me walk up to her to say hello! I am so glad I did that, because I came back feeling so empowered and inspired after meeting this confident woman, who led a delegate of disabled people of all ages. “This is the first time a float by and with disabled people is taking part in this carnival.We’ve come all the way from Mumbai for this,” she proudly informed me.
She was disabled at a young age because of polio, but that has not discouraged this gritty woman from doing what she has wanted to in life. She tells us that she used to earlier walk about with the help of crutches along with people helping her, but when she was around twenty years old, she decided that she wanted to be independent and not carried around, so she decided to use a wheelchair. “I felt safer on a wheelchair since then. It was my own decision, no one asked me to do that at all and I’ve never regretted it,” she says.
In a very matter of fact manner, Shama tells us that she doesn’t look at her disability with sadness and doesn’t let it affect her, as she feels sometimes even the physically abled people have different disabilities. “We all face challenges and disabilities sometime or the other,” says this amazingly positive lady.
Shama feels that in India, there is a lot that still needs to be done for people with physical disabilities, like making buses accessible for wheelchairs, cinema halls including ramps in their theaters etc. She says, “Cinemas are ridiculous, they haven’t thought of people like us. I was approached by a multiplex chain to help them with making the cinemas friendly for disabled people. They wanted my views on how we could make the cinemas friendly for the disabled. I asked them to take me on board so that I could help them ideate as I would be better able to tell them what needs to be done, as I was experienced and seen what other places around the world had done. They did not take me on board because obviously I wasn’t going to do it for free. But the thing was they ending up spending so much money on equipment that didn’t even work!”
She feels all of it has to be looked at but she is optimistic that things are changing slowly. “The government is getting sensitised slowly but surely. The Modi government launched accessible India almost three years ago so things do look brighter, but the sad part is it’s so slow,” adds Shama.
Enable Travel a vertical of Cox and Kings, which is for the disabled, by the disabled, is where Shama works as one of the experts. Enable Travel is a Travel Specialist for the disabled. She says, “My job is to take care of a lot of things like curating packages for the disabled. I was instrumental in choosing all the different equipments to start off with. I started working here three years ago and I look after everything from PR, admin to sales and organising events.”
Shama says that they provide everything that senior citizens and disabled people would need from ramps to a sign language interpreter or someone to help a blind person.They also enable people with disabilities with amphibious chairs for someone who wants to experience the ocean or swimming pool like all the rest. “The person can actually be in the ocean without the fear of drowning on the amphibious chairs.” Besides that they also have special chairs designed for people who want to go hiking and trekking etc. Shama’s visiting card too is an interesting one. It also has the braille print in it besides the normal print! That itself shows how thoughtful she is.
Along with all that she does, Shama has written a book,’Communications From Your Angels’, she’s a counsellor and also does Angel Healing and workshops. She is also very proud of the fact that she is one of the founder employees of India’s first premium travel specialist “There is no one who has done like what we have done,” says Shama.
What is amazing about Shama is the positive aura she has around her. She’s forever happy, smiling, optimistic and very positive. In a world where even the most abled people keep grumbling about little things in life, it’s refreshing to meet someone like her. This single mom of a 27 year old son says, “I live in the moment. That’s my mantra for being positive because if you live in the moment and believe that anything that happens is for your highest good then you don’t have anything to worry about, do you?”
More power to Shama! We need more women like her don’t we? Happy Women’s Day!