Farah Khatoon
Live life on the fast lane; that’s the mantra. Riding, yes you heard it right, on the trendiest bikes and zooming past the rest of the people on the road is not just the passion for men anymore. Women too have given into this temptation.
‘Pretty women don’t ride bikes,’ no longer holds sway. The image of women as pillion riders has been belied by some female bike riders of the city. Throwing caution to the wind and getting close with nature — women are taking the roads by storm.
When Youth Hostelling Association of India organised a biking trip from New Delhi to Ladakh as part of the grand celebration, Sukanya Paul, a 20-year-old sociology student from Lady Brabourne College was the only female biker from Kolkata. Apart from her Anita Rao of Vizag was also among the 110 participants scheduled to cover 2,500 km to reach the world’s highest motorable road.
There are many young women like her, thirsting to try the unconventional. More and more urban women are now trying their hands swiftly on the two-wheeler that was so long dominated by the masculine man. Kajal Bango (28) who won a bronze medal in Boxing, proudly rides her Bajaj Platina. For her the bike is a companion that gives her immense strength as she cuts through the road and makes her way to her workplace at Alipore.
“Riding a bike is like riding a bull. I feel very energetic and confident the moment I hold the clutch and accelerate my bike,” she gushes. But she has not limited herself to merely riding the bike. She is keen on doing stunts and goes out with her neighbourhood mates at Hastings for practice sessions.
“I do burnout, which means making the rear wheel spin, heating the tyres and produce smoke. I also do pop wheelies, i.e. lift the front of the motorcycle off the ground, perform stoppies and hands-free riding,” she points out explaining her smooth grip over the bike.
Breaking free from social barriers by reversing the status quo and racing against the wind is what Gen-X women are looking for. The bikers are not bothered about the gaping spectators anymore.
“It hardly matters whether people are looking at you as the speed of the bike veils it all,” said Priyanka Motwani, (25) who owns a 125 CC TVS Flame.
Kakuli Ghosh (32) of North Kolkata has been riding for the last 10 years. “For me biking is a passion. It does not give me any extra confidence. In fact I have the confidence and that is why I am riding a bike. For me it is a transport medium and a lot better than Scooties,” she says.
Kakuli recalls how people used to talk ill of her when she was a student of Vidyasagar College. “Though my neighbours behaved normally there were others who thought differently. But with time everybody has become receptive and accepts my female presence,” she says.
Whether it’s Sukanya, Kajal or somebody else, in India when a woman shifts gears and zooms off, heads still turn. MTV Stuntmania, a reality show based on stunting, is giving such women a chance to display their skills on national television. When MTV auditioned for the first season of this show across six cities, 15-20 per cent of the applicants were girls.
However, the percentage was higher in cities such as Pune and Bangalore. Kolkata does not have abundance of women bike riders but more and more women are trying out the unconventional sport.
Riding motorcycles is no longer a ‘man’s thing’ because the women are doing it with style. Move over Easy Rider, the ladies have arrived.