[AI] Article from The Telegraph

Sruti disAbility Rights Centre sruti.darc at gmail.com
Tue Aug 17 03:20:45 EDT 2010

Article from The Telegraph

Husband and wife Rajat and Geetika Dalmia start their day at 10 in the
morning. He heads for his factory in Taratala. She takes charge of her
travel agency in Ballygunge. Back home after a full day’s work, evenings are
spent watching television and Facebook-ing while weekends mean poker,
clubbing and fun.

So what? Both Rajat, 31, and Geetika, 27, can barely see. The couple from 1
Mullen Street, near Lansdowne, are battling degenerative retinal disorders
that have robbed them of 80 per cent of their sight.

“I was preparing for my Class XII board exams when I realised that I was
having difficulty focusing on the lines in my book or on the TV screen. I
was taken to a doctor, who diagnosed retinitis pigmentosa (a retinal
disorder in which blood circulation in the eyes slows down and vision
deteriorates),” recalls Rajat, whose grandfather, aunt and elder brother
have all suffered from the same condition.

Geetika was also 17 when she discovered that the reason for her failing
eyesight was rods and cones dystrophy, a retinal degenerative disease that
causes the deterioration of photoreceptor cells in the eyes.

“Rajat and my problems are very similar. The cause is different but the
effect is the same,” explains Geetika, who, like Rajat, is left with 20 per
cent vision.

With only one-tenth of normal vision left, Rajat and Geetika can at the most
distinguish “light and dark or a wall and a large object without knowing
what it really is”. The rest is all a blur, though lack of sight has not
diminished the couple’s ability to visualise what they can’t see and lead
happy, successful lives.

“I am very fond of blues and blacks,” chirps Geetika, reaffirming that
colour is very much a part of their lives.

Rajat is now the proud owner of Plastechnics, the only supplier in the
country of transparent plastic covers for Philips streetlights and

“I needed to regain my confidence, which I did by joining the family
business. Four years ago, I completed a BBA correspondence course and wrote
my exam with the help of a scribe,” he recalls.

Rajat uses talk software on his computer to keep track of all official
documents and accounts. “I also touch and inspect each product for defects.
No one can trick me,” he insists.

The same talk software also played Cupid for Rajat six years ago. “I was
looking for the talk software when someone recommended that I get in touch
with Rajat. That’s how we met,” recounts wife Geetika, looking pretty in a
stylish satin top teamed with metal and pearl danglers.

“Yes, she came over to my place and we bonded instantly. We dated for two
years. I used to take her out for meals and then we decided to get married,”
adds Rajat.

The couple’s favourite memories from those days are of their honeymoon in
Goa, when they went water scooting and bingo riding.

“We make sure we don’t miss out on the things that everyone around us does.
We go on holidays whenever we find the time,” says Rajat.

For Geetika, who did her graduation from Rani Birla Girls’ College and
finished a travel and tourism course before floating Geetika Travels Pvt Ltd
in 2005, travel is both work and play. “I have always loved travelling and
this seemed like a great thing to do,” she says of her four-member firm.

Another thing that binds Rajat and Geetika is music. Despite their busy
week, the duo have reserved Thursday for music lessons.

Geetika has been learning to play the synthesiser and Rajat the guitar. “We
have already performed at Kala Kunj twice. We have also started recording
the music that we play,” smiles Rajat, pointing to his new acquisition: a
music mixer.

Poker is the couple’s latest indulgence. “Every weekend we play poker with
friends. We have even got special tokens made to help us differentiate
between the different tokens,” reveals Geetika.

So is there anything else that Rajat and Geetika desire? “A breakthrough in
silicon retina chips, gene therapy and stem cells to restore vision.
Scientists are working on it and I am sure it will come through soon,” says
Rajat, the city co-ordinator for Retina India.

“Our job is to build a database of those suffering from retinal disorders
and spread awareness about the need to bring micro-chip implant trials to
India,” he signs off.

*Do you know of more such real heroes in the city? Tell *ttmetro at abpmail.com

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