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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Women in India ride "Man's Motorcycle'

Reporter Sugandha Pathak of the Mumbai Daily News & Analysis reports that women in India are unafraid of the macho image of riding the iconic Royal Enfield Bullet:

College student Arati Vikas Samant, who got into biking for a new experience, has been hooked to it for the last six months. She says: “My dad rides a Royal Enfield, but I couldn’t understand his craze for them. Once, a friend who belongs to a biking club asked me to come along for an experience.” That, more or less, sealed it for Samant.

“It was independence day, and we rode from Churchgate to Borivali,” she says. “Riding a Bullet, I was ecstatic. Now I have my own Enfield, which I’ve named Gabbar.”

If women are doing something different, raised eyebrows and unwanted comments are to be expected. But there seems to be a shift in the way men think of women and motorcycles in the city. Reema Poreyana, a working woman who faced a comment or two when she first started biking, four years ago, says, “I see a major change. When guys look at me now, they give me an encouraging smile or a positive vibe. The problem happens with truckers on highways. But we must ignore them.”

Rajeev Shah, vice-president of Indiethumpers, a motorcycle club, says, “It’s really appreciable that women today don’t hesitate to ride a Royal Enfield, a bike which, in popular perception, is the tough guy’s choice. And the whole idea about women being bad drivers is untrue. We can’t associate bad driving with gender.”

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