By Hitesh Shetty
Raghavendra Peri used to run a Web business, but works with tech giant IBM these days. Despite a visual impairment, he works at IBM as an Accessibility Specialist – a role which helps many others. He runs long distances and is even planning to study at Ivy League University Stanford soon.
Here is his inspiring story.
Techgoss (TG): Please share with us your educational and IT work background?
Raghavendra Peri: I did my B.Com from IIMC Hyderabad and later did an Entrepreneur Development program from XIME Bangalore. Before joining IBM India I was an entrepreneur and managed my own web marketing business which I started during my final year of the college. Currently at IBM, I work as an Accessibility Specialist where I closely work with designers and developers to create more accessible web and mobile applications.
TG: How did you stumble upon the idea of starting a blog ' Raghava's Blog'? What kind of audience does the blog attract? How has the response been from the Patrons?
Raghavendra Peri: I started blogging some time during 2006 but what I did during those days was part of my web marketing business. Once I quit my web business and joined IBM, as part of my job I moved to Bangalore, there I lived alone and when you are someone with visual impairment you don’t have much to do. Since I am a web freak I use to read a lot of personal blogs which I use to browse through blogadda.com and indiblogger.in. These personal blogs used to fascinate me a lot with all the stories of pain, joy, reviews, opinions etc.
Then I started looking for blogs written by people with visual impairment in India, I was disappointed as I haven’t found any. So I started raghava.in on my 23rd Birthday and started sharing my journey of life. I have a lot of dedicated readers and with each post the readership grows. Social media really helps a lot in taking the posts viral and since I write a lot of my personal stuff some say they get inspired, some even ask why I talk about these things publicly, few friends who are differently able say they draw strength and hope by reading my blog.
One day out of no where I got a call from a person who is becoming blind and highly depressed. He told me that he thought of committing suicide but after reading your blog I decided to live long and fight. These things keep me thinking and make me move forward with more determination in life so I keep writing whenever possible. I write to kill my loneliness and yes there are people like me who are not able to express what we go through but I got the power to change this slowly...
I must say this first reader for any post that I put will be my dad; his daily routine includes checking if I wrote anything new.
TG: What triggered the pursuit of 'bucket list of 101 things? How many of them have you achieved till now? How many are underway?
Raghavendra Peri: I always wanted to do things that have not been done before and when I read Jessica’s blog she motivated me to make my own bucket list. The challenge is to write those 101 things and then figuring how to do them. When I started writing the 101 bucket list I was not able to go beyond 35-40 but when there is Google and people who are trying to do the same it is easy to find out all that you need. I think I have a lot of time to pursue all that I want to do in that list but as of now my concentration is to do a lot of running, trekking and apply to Stanford mostly next year…
I am already working on an amazing web portal for the differently able community and cycling is on my mind… I need to find a partner for my cycling and there are few things on that bucket list for which I need little or a lot of help from the universe. So it is taking time, I need to self motivate and how to do it, make a bucket list and keep seeing it daily…
TG: At what point in your life did you develop a passion for running, which further fuelled your desire to run 10K, Now Half Marathon and ultimately aiming to run a Marathon one day?
Raghavendra Peri: I use to go for a short run every day and due to my eye sight deterioration I fell down one day and realized that I lost a considerable amount of eye sight. I was trapped in my own body both mentally and physically because each time when I lose little eye sight I need to relearn each aspect of my life. During 2012 when I was reading some thing on how blind people run marathons I came across an article on how a blind marathoner found his partner through Facebook. I applied the same strategy and found Santhosh who run’s this amazing community called Runners High. I started in last October and we developed a system of running with sound, touch, rope etc. At Runner’s High, I was trained by Kanishka who coached and taught me a lot about running and then Santhosh made me run with a lot of runner’s so I can run anywhere and with anyone with out a problem.
It is a slow transition initially I found it difficult to run few hundred meters and today I can run 16-20 KMs without a problem. It took a lot of encouragement from Runner’s High and I simply love them….You don’t have much of a physical activity to do when you have visual impairment so I use to have a lot of unspent energy and time, so I use to get frustrated with routine. Running changed this a lot now I get enough sleep, there is peace of mind and even my anger has come down to an extent. My goal is to do a full marathon but as of now I am settling with couple of half marathons and I will run the Hyderabad Marathon which will be my first half marathon. To make this decision of running half marathon a lot of friends supported me and as I moved to Hyderabad, runners in Hyderabad gave all the necessary support.
When people ask me what is the reason for running? There is no answer it just keeps me calm and I strongly feel this is one way to let the world know that when you set your mind to something you can achieve it. My friends who are blind are still scared of running butt this will change slowly, parents will understand more about disability and will help their children to push their limits, society will see me and will get enabled…I am doing what I want to do and one day I want to participate in a Triathlon. Running is just not my passion it is an obsession. My friends Deepa & Yatin are wheel chaired, they are very close to me and during my each run I think of them. I thank god for enabling me to run so I dedicate my each run to those who are not able to run / walk because of some physical disability…I just can’t see the trail but “who needs eyes to run we need legs”.
TG: Where do you look to go from here?
Raghavendra Peri: A very tricky question. As of now my goal is to run as many marathons as I can and then go study at Stanford. As I always say to my friends life is a journey not a destination so I did not plan much. Of course, there is money to make, bucket list to pursue, desire and dreams to fulfill. But I always think of the end what will be like? I asked this question a lot of times and I decided to transform the lives of 1 Million men & women…..yo a huge number it looks like but I think it is possible. If I can add value to the world and leave it a better place than what I found here I will go peacefully.
Techgoss note: More details at this blog and Facebook page