1) Hi Dilara, and congratulations on being featured as a globelle gal in focus! Can you tell us where in the world we can currently find you?
Thank you for having me! I’m currently discovering the hidden nooks and crannies of Auckland, New Zealand during the rainy seasons of winter and spring.
2) What inspired you to first start travelling?
Lots of things. I wondered a lot about how far I could get, really. Graduation scared the bejesus out of me. Full time work wasn’t really what I was ready for and leaving home didn’t seem like such a big step for me – I’d already seen beyond swimming pools and neat terraces on the seaside front.
So it seemed like a natural option to me. I also knew I wouldn’t love how I was leading my life unless I left and discovered as much as I could about what, and who else was out there.
It irritates me greatly when people say I’m brave. Would you still say that if I were male, tall and not deaf? Carry on. (HQ: Preach!)
3) What's been your favourite place to visit, and why?
There are just too many! I’d rather say I have a collection of really special moments from all over the world. Life is great when I’m experincing something that truly awes me; be it the buildings in Rome, the pink of Jaipur in India, the feeling of climbing the highest mountain in S.E Asia, or driving for days across the middle of Australia in the desert. All of these wonderful things i've been fortunate enough to experience, I can’t compare to one another.
The people are the best part though. They humble me. One memory that stands out – I had been desperately homesick that day (incredibly rare for me, but it does happen) and I was alone, walking down the alleys of Saigon. Four men were eating together and suddenly I was eating with them. They insisted I tried every dish and every single time any one of us drank – we had to say cheers and drink together. It cheered me up so much, exactly when I really, really needed it.
4) Who would you say has been the most influential person to your travels, and why?
I've had a good example from the day I was born: within my first week of my life, I was on a plane to Turkey!
Needless to say, the most influential person for my travels has been my Muma – she was the one who showed me how to do it.
Her passion for the world is infectious and at even though I didn’t realise it at the time - 13 and whining about the prospect of not getting home after 3 hours of driving down a mysterious dirt track in Cyprus – it showed me how to throw off the shackles of being unadventurous. I’ve done it just like that ever since.
Me, I guess, as well. I’m the one who is here, doing it. Every single person I meet though opens my mind and challenges me to explore and see how I can contribute to the world. Travel is confronting.
5) What is the worst thing that's happened to you since being on the road? How did you deal with it?
Woo! Time to get real. I could say it was so many things. Heartbreak of all kinds – I’ve been in love and out of love, family have died, been slightly homeless…
But I would say the hardest thing – not the ‘worst’ thing as it wasn’t an isolated event and each struggle was hard in its own right – was when my depression came back with my vengeance. I left the UK in the throes of recovery and I managed to enjoy my life very much for a long time. I ‘escaped’.
When it returned, I was so disappointed – this time, I had no familiarity to cling on to. But I did have the most incredible support network of friends (new and old) and family. I dealt with it by accepting that I literally had to get to the root of it and work through it. I couldn’t run away.
I feel exposed and vulnerable even writing this now but many things have changed the course of my life (many good things too!). Anxiety and depression were just a couple of these things, but their effect was profoundly debilitating. That’s why it’s so important to talk about it.
The unconditional support, helplines, therapy and honesty helped me deal with it properly and I finally managed to work through the manifestations (in) which it had created. Sometimes when you’re far away from home, it’s easier to believe that you’re being silly or ungrateful for not being able to enjoy the amazing journey you’re on. The (absolutely normal) loneliness of being on the road solo can be even more overwhelming. It’s a senseless illness.
I’d encourage anyone feeling this way to reach out – people care about you. You can absolutely get better and manage it even though the good days feel like light years of your life.
6) Obviously life on the road is about fewer possessions and more moments, but what is the one thing you can't travel without?
My speech processors! I can’t hear a thing without them!
7) Since being on the road, you've set up 'The Pickle Sandwich'. What's the aim of this project?
Having a laugh with my best friend is the main aim! You couldn’t make up half the trouble we get into and we really wanted to share that.
The Pickle Sandwich grew from there – awareness can be raised purely from hearing my voice. A deaf person CAN talk! A legally blind girl CAN laugh at how she knocked over a hat stand in front everyone! We’re both actually pretty funny?! Who knew.
Now it’s growing into a platform to educate and advise other people out there on jobs, dating, travel (J is a full time musician, youth worker and manages a creative agency and I’m a travel writer and development officer for an organisation). The beauty of being a YouTube channel – you can reach literally anyone in the world. We have many exciting plans for The Pickle Sandwich and have connected with awesome people.
At the heart of it, though, we’re inviting others to join the discussion about disability and all its facets. That - and to laugh with us. It’s ok to laugh about disability (we’ll tell you when it’s not).
8) We're all about raising awareness to important issues here at GT. How has having a hearing impediment impacted your travels?
Accents, man, accents. I hand out quite of blank stares. I have to go about things a bit more bluntly. Going up to a stranger to ask them why no one is at the gate anymore is quite usual for me – public announcements are not my friend. Deafness can be a blessing though.
A 10 bed dorm? Not a problem! Off my speech processors go! I’ve been known to sleep through fights, drunken midnight entrances and howling dogs. Tired of the person next to you talking on the 12 hour bus journey in Vietnam? Non-issue. Fire? Issue. I always have to tell the reception that someone has to save me (please).
Many people haven’t met a deaf person before, or even heard of a cochlear implant. So, a lot of conversations are spent answering their curious questions – which are (nearly) always a delight. I don’t get tired of it – how can I, when they only want to know more? It’s not rude – but making assumptions is.
9) What do you hope to achieve one day through all of your hard work? And how does The Pickle Sandwich figure in your daily life?
We already achieved it! This guy, Charles Carter, who I follow on Instagram – wandergasm – also has a YouTube channel. He asked us if it was worth it to put subtitles on his videos and after my essay reply, basically saying YES, he was inspired to put them on all his new ones! That’s all I want – people willing to create access as much as they can.
It makes my day when people go the extra mile – and the more people do that it then becomes normal and a standard. I believe we should all have high standards of each other.
As for how The Pickle Sandwich figure in my daily life, it kind of goes like this: I’ll phone J to pester her for the rough cut, I’ll delete stuff from my Dropbox to make room for it (every single darn time),
I’ll send back bossy notes, she’ll take the ones she thinks are decent suggestions on board. J then writes the transcript (deaf issues) – I put the subtitles on the video. I’ll then bug her to tell me what on earth the song is saying and to please remind me to swear less because I think my boss watches it. I’m not sure but I don’t want to ask. Then we get all excited and tell everyone we have a new video for them.
10) What does travelling mean to you?
It’s my passion! I can’t really imagine doing anything else, not anymore. There is far too much to see and far too many people to meet.
11) If you could offer one piece of advice to those travelling for the first time, either as part of a group or solo, what would it be?
Can I throw some words out there for anyone with a disability? You can do it, just as much as anyone else. Be that person annoying everyone and telling them what needs to happen so you can enjoy the world just as much as everyone else. It’s yours just as much as anyone’s.
Then come find me, tell me how awesome the world is (I’ll say “I KNOW RIGHT?!”) and give me a high five.
There isn’t really an excuse not to go. If you want to go, make enough money for the ticket and visa with £1 extra. That’s all you need. That and your gut instinct.
12) And finally, how can girls get in touch with you, and follow your adventures via The Pickle Sandwich?
Follow us on YouTube and Facebook! On Twitter, we are @thepicklesangie. (Mixture of sarnie and sanga – get it?)
If you have stories, questions or just want to say hello, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We like it when you like our stuff.