Bound by a wheelchair early in her life, this 48-year-old from Mumbai didn’t let that stop her from realising her dreams of becoming a globetrotter. After travelling 23 nations in 6 continents, she has carved a new path by travelling solo!

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Parvinder Chawla was 15 when she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis according to a report by The Better India. “I was really pampered. So I would love for my mother to feed me. She would keep yelling that I couldn’t open my mouth fully. And I kept reiterating that it was all I could open. She took me to an aged homoeopath who told her that as I grew older, the condition would worsen and it could even reach my heart,” she said.

However, when the pain subsided, she decided to discontinue the medication. “I would sometimes think if I had stuck to the medications, instead of relying on alternative therapies, maybe my limbs wouldn’t be deformed. But what has to happen, happens I guess,” she told.

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Chawla was bedridden for almost two years. “I would tell myself, this was my not-so-good time. I would tell God, ‘Take as much time as you want. Maybe you can heal me, but keep one of my fingers different to remember my struggles. But with time, I slowly learned to accept my condition. It helped lighten the emotional baggage,” she recalled.

She never let the wheelchair become a barrier for her. She worked in call centres, ran a catering service and even babysat to earn her financial freedom.

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It was a trip with her friends to the snowcapped mountains of Jammu and Kashmir when she was bitten by the travel bug. “It was paradise I was witnessing in all its beauty. The connection I had formed with nature told me, the world is beautiful and I have to see it. That’s how my journey began,” she remembered that pivotal moment.

“I told myself – just because there is nobody to take me, doesn’t mean I can’t travel. When I travelled to Malaysia with my friends, I decided to take two days off for a solo-trip. I travelled with the low lying airline AirAsia with the least baggage. Staying in low-budget hotels with no room-service or intercom and taking public transport helped me build the confidence that I could travel alone,” she said about her first solo journey.

Parvinder’s goal is to get the stamp of every country on her passport.

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