The Journey of Six Women Travelling From Southern to Northern Indiaby Opinion Express August 27, 2018 0 comments
Travelling from southern to northern India, a group of women from Kochi learnt about their limits. They tackled a number of harsh weather conditions, potholes, and traffic to draw a conclusion.
Like Valkyries they rose. Six women started their 20-day journey from Kochi to Delhi on their Enfield motorcycles to spread the word about women empowerment and equality. And then the deluge happened and Kerala was flooded the worst in history. But the women did not return as riding back would have cost more time with little possibility of affecting a practical consequence or impact. So they continued on their mission which could still make a difference.
Along the path, which ran across eight states, they visited multiple NGOs where young girls and women lived or visited. They were welcomed to bhangra music, were adorned with turbans, a stark contrast to the rest of the outfit, and swords. They were covered in all black riding gear. Gloves, jackets, shoes, the attire made them look sturdy and ready for a challenge, which the trip had been.
Right after leaving Kochi, they met young boys in Salem, who, after reading about the six women riders in the newspapers, waited to speak to them so that they could convince their parents to let them go on a trip to the North East. Somewhere in Gujarat, they met a young mother and daughter who took pictures with them. The mother told the child to be more like these riders of destiny. “Mostly, people know about us and while we travelled through the highways, they waved to us,” they said.
All of them are employees of the Federal Bank, which supported them in this undertaking. The youngest among them was 22 and the oldest 41 and a mother of two. She left her children in the care of her mother and sister during the 20 days. When asked if they believe that women need to pull each other up, the oldest of the group chimed in that the support she got from her group is an example of that. Seetha said that because of her health, she often lagged behind the others but they would emotionally push her forward and encourage her.
They would also stand by the road if they had gone ahead without her. Before she came on the journey, she had a million doubts but was assured by the women in her family that her children would be well taken of. These factors motivated her to complete the trip.
Most of the women had not stepped out of Kerala on their bikes before. Equipped with some hands-on training with minor repair of the Enfield Bullet motorcycle and practice of 10 days, they took this up. One of the girls, Sangeetha, shared how people would question her about her ability to manoeuvre the bike despite her short height. She said that it did not matter because you are supposed to move forward with the vehicle not stay stationary.
Merilyn Hamlet, 27, a former finalist of Miss Kerala, shared about the worst riding experience during the trip. While they faced rain, potholes and traffic everywhere, the travel from Pune to Mumbai was “terrible” even though it was the shortest one. They were trapped on a highway in pounding rain for several hours.
“The people we met on the way were very inspiring,” said the riders unanimously. They were approached by two older women even during our conversation with them. The older woman blessed the riders and said that they inspired them. Their takeaway from the experience was that women could do anything, regardless of age, health and family. They also want to carry on the journey, the second part of which would be from Delhi to Ladakh, at a later date.
Writer and Courtesy: The Pioneer