Friday, July 28, 2017

The man with a secret

Vineet Saraiwala
Vineet Saraiwala is on a plan to experience everything. Between visiting malls and ride-sharing, he  seldom lets on that he is visually impaired - offering up his secret in his own "fun way" in the end. He was an avid cyclist nine years ago, and is now embarking on the second innings with InSync.  Here is his story.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? What are your likes, dislikes, hobbies, passions and hopes and dreams?
I hail from Jamshedpur and live in a 13-member joint family which has been my biggest strength. I have pursued my PGDM from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) which has helped me excel as an individual and inculcated leadership skills in me. Currently, I am working with Future Retail Limited which hosts the biggest retail chain, Big Bazaar. I am heading various special projects and pricing analytics under the guidance of the CEO, Sadashiv Nayak. I love reading Non Fiction books, trekking the unknown, and challenging the human imagination. Besides this, I am trained in vedic Mathematics, I play chess, and am a Level 3 Reiki healer. My dream is to lead a global organisation and be known not because I am differently-abled but because of my work. Everyone faces adversities and conquers it. Being a visually challenged individual, I am no different from the rest, I have a problem and I have to overcome it. I also want to improve the life of millions of Persons with Disability around our country through raising awareness, improving infrastructure and enabling them to reach their goals.

Tell us about your journey into cycling. Can you tell us a little about your training? What was your journey like?
Adventure Beyond Barriers Foundation (ABBF) is the best thing that happened to me. I met Divyanshu and was blown away by his sheer talk, and he brought me into this fold of adventure sports. Besides this, I was always into trekking and running so cycling was a natural choice. My cycling partner is Ex-Chief of Staff of Southern Command of the Indian Army, Lt. General Surendra Nath. I would have been a fool if I had passed up on this opportunity of learning from him. Training for M2K (Manali to Khardung La) consisted of 5 rigorous Mumbai to Pune trips, in which I would have cycled more than 400 kilometres, 2 trips from Pune to the charming hill of Lavassa and the monsoon beauty of Lonavala. I also went to the gym regularly and followed a moderate diet as directed by the ABBF team.

You're all set to do something amazing with the ride from Manali to Khardung Laa! How do you feel about it? What is your special training regimen like?
Like I said, what ABBF has brought to me is inexplicable.  I am thrilled and feel quite ecstatic at this point. I can’t wait to reach Manali and begin pedalling. It gives me immense confidence and tells me that a spiritual odyssey is about to unfold, one that is about vision and just sight.

Can you tell us a little about your family? What do they think about the new amazing thing you're about to do?
Personally, I know my parents are very scared and still don’t want me to undertake this trip. My parents are my biggest cheerleaders and that is what keeps me ticking. We specially went on a temple tour in Rajasthan to seek blessing of the Lord and pray to all prominent deities. They will be tense till this trip ends but internally I feel they are very proud of this decision and have accepted it. It is quite natural for parents to get worried and this trip is no ordinary one. People fear going to Ladakh in a car and I am going on a tandem cycle!

What have your personal challenges been? How have / do you work to overcome them? What inspires you?

Life is so visual in nature and being an individual suffering from Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a degenerative disease in which vision deteriorates as age progresses, was a tough nut to crack. It is all about a mix of self-confidence, hard work, technology, and motivation which gives me hope to defy the odds. Technology has been a key enabler and I have made sure I always keep my fighting spirit on no matter what the circumstances are. There is nothing which a blind/visually impaired person can or cannot do because human imagination always has a surprise in store. I never thought that I would do high level analytics without even seeing the screen, travel independently, or even clear the Common Aptitude Test (CAT) without a pen or paper. I am inspired by my brother who is also visually impaired and is working in investment banking. He is rocking this inaccessible industry. Who knew that a visually impaired person can succeed in Investment Banking?