International Women’s Day is not only about celebrating women or womanhood, it is also about celebrating equality, progress and achievements of the amazing women who help make the world a better place.
Motorcycling has mostly been associated with passion, hobby, or even career for men. However, a community that was niche a few years ago for women, has immensely grown beyond proportions, in recent times.
On March 8th, as we celebrate the extraordinary women who play multifaceted roles, across the globe and move towards equality, here are few Hyderabadi women who are breaking the gender stereotypes, one ride at a time. In a society where women are generally discouraged from anything that goes beyond ‘societal norms’ and brings in borderline adrenaline-rush riding, let's read about these extraordinary women of Hyderabad breaking barriers.
Singajogi Satyaveni is a 25-year-old female motorcycle rider, who pursued motorcycling to beat depression and anxiety. She was an aspiring tennis player and a state champion too. Her life took a drastic turn when she met with a bike accident in 2008. Post which, she completely slipped into despair and sadness. Her mother was determined to recover her from the dark shadows of depression. During this hard time, Satyaveni forayed into motorcycling and got herself a Royal Enfield Classic 350. This is how a new chapter was opened in the life of Satyaveni, it was that of biking.
After six years from now, Satyaveni is a biker. She goes on long rides, teaches women riding, and also does custom designed artwork on bikes. Being part of a city-based women’s bikers club called Bikernis, Satyaveni, along with her 20 fellow riders, have been teaching women in the city how to ride. From a machine that destroyed her life to the same machine that is a reason for her to be alive today.
Shanti Susan, a single mother, fighting against all odds continues her passion for riding. She recalls her first ride in 2003 while pursuing her high school and how she used to go for triple rides as there were not too many restrictions. She mentions how her elder brother had intrigued her interest in motorcycling and taught her to ride. Fortunately, she always had her family’s support towards her passion for motorcycling.
During her initial days in the police force when she was stationed at the Begumpet Police station, she used to commute from Malkajgiri to Begumpet on her Classic 350 and how she was appreciated by the traffic police for her being a women rider and remembers being introduced to the Bikerni group where she started with occasional rides. Soon Susan became part of the rides organized by the She Team. SHE Teams is a division of Telangana Police for enhanced safety and security of women. They also work to prevent child marriages in Telangana State. As part of the Bikerni, an association of women bikers, she has ridden more than 17,000 km, covering 11 states, 5 countries with other women bikers as part of the ‘Road to Mekong’ expedition. The intent of the expedition was to promote cross-cultural diversity and Indian tourism.
Susan feels that freedom to her means having the courage to follow your passions. She doesn't believe in the concept that women cannot ride motorcycles or cannot do something, just because society says so. A woman can achieve any heights only if she is determined and focused on her goals and Susan discovered her freedom through the joy of motorcycling. Susan, like us, has a regular job with the Hyderabad city police and is a single mother who loves to spend her leisure time with her daughters. She has been associated with the national volleyball team and loves to play during her leisure time. Her motto is to inspire young girls to feel free to dream and achieve their goals.
Kiran, like most of us, has a regular job. She is a psychologist by profession and a voracious reader who would want to own a mini library at her place. She has a knack for music, dance, and loves playing guitar in her leisure time. Kiran may be a perfect example of how she is breaking stereotypes in this world of motorcycling predominately spearheaded by men. She recalls her incredible first ride to Kanyakumari to Kashmir which coincided with the world motorcycling day. She cruised herself up to Kanyakumari through the rains and her eagerness was to reach Kashmir by July 18th as it happened to be her birthday. She covered approx. 14000 km in her maiden ride and became the first woman from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to have covered Kanyakumari to Kashmir in her first solo trip. Her convenient escape on her Watson (her Royal Enfield Thunderbird motorcycle) are the mountains in Coorg, Madikeri, and Western Ghats. She rode solo to Khardongla and is the second woman in India to have achieved this feat. She feels that Motorcycling is an Art and how riding can be both liberating and meditative.
Chameli Nadella is a 24-year-old Hyderabadi rider pursuing MBA and a moto vlogger based out of Hyderabad. Her first ever two-wheeler experience was when she rode her grandfather's TVs. It’s still a memorable moment for her riding in her village, holding on to the motorcycle riding among the paddy fields. She narrates how she used to always love traveling since her childhood days. The motorcycle that she currently owns is Royal Enfield Classic 350 cc Gunmetal Grey. It has been part of her journey from the beginning. In my recent ride to Ladakh from Hyderabad I had some wonderful experiences. She is the first female rider from South India to ride through Atal Tunnel. It was an adventurous ride, riding in Ladakh as it was during winter and she rode in drastic climatic conditions at -15degree and -20degree. Motorcycling gives me that experience. She mentions that riding and travelling gives a much deeper experience. She feels like there are a lot of life lessons that can be learnt which shapes us strongly when someone rides.