The Spoken Word

Why I am joining the audio conversations community. Transcript in Preformatted Text below.

Hello. My name is Padmini Chennapragada. If you are listening to this audio recording, you probably are a part of my social network. And before I go into telling you why I have joined the audio conversations community, as I would like to call it, I would like for you to have a brief insight into who I am. 

I started my career as a Physiotherapist in India and combined with my interest to be working with persons with disabilities, pursuing a career in physical therapy in India was defeating to say the least. 

The challenge to learn more about the disabled community while studying in an allied Health field in India is something I still struggle to recover from. Because, one, the curriculum was deficient. I did not have faculty members or teachers who were interested in thinking about people with disabilities. So when I started in 2005, it was quite a complex educational experience for me. 

So one thing led to another, and with that kind of a start in the profession, in the professional career, I kept looking for answers in areas nobody was able to help me within India. And that is how I have become a disability sports professional today. Because I believe movement is medicine. I believe exercise is the solution to maintain the best lifestyle possible. Having said that, I also would like to confess that I am not a highly fit person who pursues highly structured form of exercise or a physical fitness regimen.  But having made that confession, I always have seen the power of being able to speak about engaging in exercise and physical activity. And I have met people who have benefited from from knowing that from me. So, with that being said, as my brief context, I would also like to now tell you why I have started being more active on the audio conversations community. 

About a year ago, I met a person who had introduced me to this app called Clubhouse. And it was exciting. I mean, post pandemic Second Wave phase, beginning to use Clubhouse was like, wow! I could be gardening, and I could still be having a pair of headphones on, and I could be speaking to people across the globe. I would not have to worry about how I looked. I did not not worry about how I was dressed, or was I looking good enough, or would people judge me by my looks? All that mattered was, that I was able to add my voice onto the topic that was being discussed. And that was exciting for me because I have always been a person who did not like that I was judged for my looks, and nobody cared what was inside my brain. That that's, like, largely the ecosystem I grew up in India, and so to come out of that struggle and to become part of conversations where it did not matter how you looked. So, Clubhouse was exciting, but, you know, like, every new thing, human interaction with new things, something that's new, it's short lived. And then the other problem with Clubhouse was that I was slowly beginning to notice that it is hard to build an exclusive audience for conversations with people that I was already enjoying the conversations with, because that also meant I had to force a lot of people with disabilities who are my network to join Clubhouse, which was not accessible. Whereas now, having explored most of the audio conversation spaces, I have recognized that podcasts are something that a lot of people engage in. And while I would not like to call this a podcast, I would like to call this a conversation I'm having with each one of you, because I don't want to go into the science of programming and attractive looking, attractive sounding Audio file, which requires a lot of investment. While the topic gets diluted in the process of having to fit into the norms of being a podcast. I have always been a square peg in a round hole, so I do think things my way and if people like to engage with it, they are free to engage with it because most of the times I don't put my stuff behind Paywalls. I confidently believe in an open source community when it comes to activities like sports and community based programming. So I will not call this a podcast. These are audio conversations. These are like our meetings in local communities where we would all sit together in open house verandas or under a tree or at a park. I have grown up playing in parks and running around trees and old dilapidated in buildings with my friends and family. So I strongly believe in this need for a community where we feel we can talk openly on matters that we are not able to find the right kind of conversations around. Or we are not able to find the right kind of people, you know, where we can openly say something and be able to have an active dialogue around it. So that is one of the reasons why I had to start this. Because if I would do an audio space on LinkedIn and I can't be like recording it, if I do it on Twitter, I can. But then I will have to force most of the people who don't like to use a lot of apps in the community to download those new apps and engage in a dialogue with me there. Whereas if I could do something like this, I can always have somebody communicate back. And this has happened to me in the past. I would record something, I would probably be sending out tons of audio recordings. And sometimes I shuddered the thought of my voice being in so many people's phones. And then I'm like, I'm really putting myself out there, right? And I'm talking to people about things that they are not able to find help for in the disabled community. And sometimes I shudder at the thought of all these recordings being someone's phone and at some point being misused. So and I think as we move ahead as a community, I see the perils of data privacy. I mean, the challenges that surround data privacy. I'm concerned about somebody in their toxic environments that violate their human rights, coming across these recordings and saying, you have instigated my daughter. You are putting thoughts into my son's head that he can do this and that. And so here we are talking about individuals who have minds and hearts of their own and who are seeking to engage with people like me and are being prevented by their family and friends to actually seek growing pathways to alleviate their own suffering and isolation. And having had those experiences where I had to deal with toxic parents, toxic partners who said, you cannot be answering their questions, why are you giving them thoughts? There is a reason why we keep them where they are. And oftentimes, you cannot show light to people who don't see the importance of same opportunity for everybody. And when you cannot alter those ecosystems, I mean, no human being is powerful to alter an ecosystem. And I am always aware of what I'm not capable of more than of what I am capable of. Because what I can do, I can always do. But what I cannot do if I recognize that, I will reduce a lot of the burden I will be putting myself under. And with that thought, I felt audio conversations like this being put out will enable people in India's disability rights community to have more honest one on one conversations with me. It is important for me to keep those conversations going, whether they can gain me higher social media following or not. So I will be putting out these audio recordings on SoundCloud and like I am going to start working around different ways to put this information out into the community. 

And if you are somebody who doesn't like to engage on social media openly, please feel free to contact me over my email or my phone number through WhatsApp. And we can always keep the conversation going. The most important part of these audio conversations for me would be is if you can engage with me in a dialogue after you listen to the audio recording. That is going to be the biggest success for me for investing these ten minutes each time. 

I hope you all have a brilliant day and don't believe that you're not ever capable of anything you want to do.


Radio Interview with Radio Udaan’s Danish Mahajan. Languages Spoken: Hindi and English

Online Conversations with Palms to Pines Parasports, California. Languages Spoken: English