Srin's Life and Travel

In Spring 2011, Srin then aged 25, talked about his life and amazing travel experiences. Srin has SMA Type 2.

Hello! My name is Srin Madipalli and I am 25 years old. I live in London and work as a solicitor at a commercial law firm in the City of London called Herbert Smith LLP. I graduated from university in 2006 with a first class degree from Kings College, University of London. Although I require 24/7 care, since starting university in 2003, I have lived independently with the support of PA’s who I directly employ and manage. When I went to university, I was lucky enough to live in halls of residence with a specially adapted room in the heart of central London and was able to make the most of student life. I now live in my own flat on London’s South Bank, which is conveniently near my office.

Even though I work very hard in my job, I also make sure I enjoy life to the full! Living in London means that there is never a shortage of great bars, clubs or restaurants to go to. But I also really enjoy a range of other activities from going to museums, watching live music at somewhere like the O2 or seeing Arsenal play at the fantastic Emirates Stadium.

One of the things that I hadn’t really done much of until recently was travel. It was something that I feared. I feared things breaking down. I feared being manually lifted. I feared the potential lack of accessibility. As a result, it had been many years since I had been anywhere and this was something I wanted to change.

A unique opportunity to take some time off work for few months then came up! By way of background, earlier in the year, my job at Herbert Smith was made permanent. Previously I had been a trainee on a fixed two year contract that was due to finish in September. While I really enjoy my job and all the opportunities it has provided me, one of the downsides is that it can be incredibly tough on hours. The deadlines on the cases and transactions we work on are usually tight and absolute, and often mean working late into night or on weekends for prolonged periods in order to meet deadlines. This can be physically an exhausting experience. So when I and my fellow trainee colleagues were offered permanent roles, we were also offered the chance to have some time off before starting our new roles. As I had never taken any gap years, had always worked during summer holidays and hadn’t really taken a holiday in years, I snapped up the entire four months of leave on offer to go travelling.

I have had the most incredible series of trips that have taken me around the world. During my travels I went to Scotland, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Poland, the US, South Africa, Singapore and Bali. The main highlights of my travels were road tripping through California with great friend and fellow SMA’er Martyn Sibley, going on safari in South Africa and seeing a pack of lions in front of our van and scuba diving in Bali. The scuba dive was the most extreme thing I have ever done, but it was also the most exciting and exhilarating. I have never felt such an adrenaline rush! A YouTube video of my dive can be found on my blog entry on martynsibley.com or on the following link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFDETicgipw&feature=player_embedded.
 

I have learnt so much about travelling with a disability and have pretty much overcome all my travel fears in the most direct of ways! On all my trips, I have only travelled with a single PA, and this was made possible by taking three fantastic pieces of equipment with me. The first is the Molift Smart hoist, which is relatively easy to fold and transport. The second is the Chameleon Shower Chair made by Borringia, which is to date, the only shower chair I have ever found that can be collapsed and folded into a small carry bag. Thirdly and finally, on my travels, I used the Ottobock A200 wheelchair. This little wheelchair is incredibly versatile, manoeuvrable and easy to dismantle, but at the same time is sufficiently robust and tough to withstand the challenges of air travel.


Notwithstanding the importance of a good PA and appropriate equipment, equally vital was finding accessible transport and accommodation. While this is relatively easy in Europe, the US and Singapore, in South Africa and Bali I had to use local tour operators that specialised in disabled travel since wheelchairs accessible vans and accessible hotel rooms with roll-in show chair were not common place.


I have tried to collate this treasure trove of accessible travel information into a website recently created by Martyn and I called Disability Horizons. We made this website to share articles written by a number of contributors on a variety that are important to us such as travel, leisure, going out and simply having fun, which we hope people find both information and entertaining. In this site, we also have noted every accessible hotel and transport provider we have used, as well as other bits of useful information.

Even though I have Type II SMA, I have seldom ever let it get in the way of what I ever wanted to achieve in life. An individual’s focus in life often determines their reality, and as I have always I focused positively on what can be done, and subsequently, I like to think that the reality of my life reflects that approach.

 

This article first appeared in the Spring 2011 edition of our ‘Inspirations’ magazine