Sporting a leather jacket with gloves, she revs up her bike randomly before taking on the long road. While whizzing along on two wheels, she gets a fair share of odd looks as a gaggle of children amusingly wave at her as she zips past. “Don’t wait for your male counterparts to encourage you to learn bike riding, you can just go out there and explore it all by yourself” — she says as she takes off her helmet, revealing strands of her curly highlighted hair escaping its ponytail.
She is Amrutha Kashinath. She, along with another rider, Shubra Acharya has pulled off a remarkable feat of the fastest south-north expedition on motorbikes. The 129 hours of the expedition has registered itself in the ‘Limca Book of Records’. The sight of her thundering on her bike is sure to get your pulse racing. ‘Inspirational much!’ I nudge her. She turns back, tosses off a quick smile and delineates how she had once fallen for the calm, sturdy grace of bullets in college.
Amrutha had no formal training or any adult guiding her, but fate transitioned her from riding a light scooter to vrooming on the road. “I started biking in college. Initially, it was of course always about studies. But then my family somehow found out that this is my passion, and that this gives me a different kind of learning and exposure. Then they let it be,” smiles Amrutha, adding that her parents soon started encouraging her to take on long expeditions.
There were fears to overcome, she avers, but it was not something of a bother. Having a mutual understanding with Shubra has helped her take on long journeys, “We have been riding together for 9 years now. We understand each other. She understands my pace well, I understand her pace equally well,” says she, while crediting the rise of strong female leads on more than one instance with the society’s increasing receptiveness to the concept of women ruling the road.
‘A dare master of sorts’, I told myself, as I gulped down the last sip of my coffee at her place. But when did the rebel in her decide to break stereotypes toward women in one fell swoop? To which she smiles radiantly and then says, “My first trip on a motorcycle as a biker was from Bengaluru to Gujarat and Rajasthan. With this journey, I started becoming more confident about myself.”
A motorbike is independence personified, and so is the one riding it, exemplifying the incarnate of sheer freedom. But what if you are a woman rider? Does riding on a bike empower you? “What I have heard from the majority of women in India is that they always want a male partner by their side when they are riding, either their husbands, brothers, fathers, or friends. It need not be that. When you take on expeditions, there need not be a male partner with you. It is as simple as getting a bike, hopping on to it and starting to learn to ride. It is that easy.”
One is certainly hopeful that we could be limping our way into the light that acknowledges the fiery spirit of those like Amrutha and Shubra.
It’s never too late, ladies! Let’s go va-va-vroom.