For Judy Norbury, travelling by wheelchair has offered her some opportunities she might not have had otherwise.
The Comox Valley resident has recently chronicled one of her adventures in her book, Sometimes I Kiss My Feet – Wheelchair Adventures in Pakistan and India.
Norbury was born in India and was there with her family until age four. In that time, she contracted polio. In the introduction of the book, she writes, “Over the years, my disability has taken me to places I could never have gone were I able-bodied.”
Her latest book chronicles a trip she took back in 2007 and 2008. It follows up on a previous book from a trip a decade before, Come Back, Judy Baba: Memoirs of India, in which she worked in her mother’s story as well. Both times she went for just over three months. She explains she was able to have more intimate exchanges and experiences especially in Pakistan, ones she expects she would not have had in these places were she a walking person.
“To be welcomed with such warmth by our hosts in Pakistan was an honour and a rare opportunity,” she writes. “None of it would have happened had I not had polio as a child.”
She visited with people in the disabled rights movement while she was there for 10 days of the trip. Then it was off to India, where she went back to her childhood home. She said the country is making some in-roads into accessibility but it has a ways to go.
“They’re making an effort, but it’ll be a long time before it’s a truly accessible country,” she said.
She did notice some differences in the 10 years between visits.
“One thing that was a huge change was cell phones,” she said.
Previously, many people used phones at designated outlets. These were gone when she went back as people were carrying mobile phones.
Through the book, she recounts adventures including visiting a KFC for lunch in Karachi run completely by the deaf and speech-impaired community, being showered with flowers at a school in Pakistan, celebrating Christmas in Mirzapur, realizing how Western notions of bungalows are very different than in India, visiting the Ellora Caves – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – or travelling by rickshaw through Varanasi-Benares.
Norbury, who has also recorded three albums of music, held a book launch at the Courtenay Museum yesterday. Other appearances include a talk for Rotary, and she plans to hold a book-signing at Courteney’s Laughing Oyster Books in December.
Sometimes I Kiss My Feet – Wheelchair Adventures in Pakistan and India is available at Laughing Oyster, Blue Heron Books in Comox, as well as through Amazon (also as a Kindle e-book). For more information, see www.judynorbury.com.