Today is International Women's Day and people are obviously talking about respecting women. I will too, but I'll be urging them – to ride bikes. India is not used to seeing women on motorcycles. People in my country have less of a surprise on their faces when they hear of a sex change operation than when they see on girl ride a motorcycle. After all, it has a manual gearshift! I'd like to take this moment to tell you women (who don't ride a motorcycle, and the number is stupendously large) that it isn't as difficult as they say it is. If you ask me I feel better control on a motorcycle than on a scooter, especially because of them tiny wheels. Anyhow, why do I want more women to ride motorcycles, you ask? I don't know if you asked this question in your mind, I'll tell you anyways.
To a person not in the know, a woman who rides a motorcycle in India must have a feeling of exclusivity because there aren't many. But this exclusivity is what hurts us the most. Since people aren't used seeing us on bikes, they end up staring at us. And it isn't a subtle gaze, it's a stunned face.
My clothes when I'm on my bike are more like a boy. Am I ashamed of being a woman? No sir! I just don't want to be spotted and then cat-called after. So, if female riders become a norm on our roads, I'll be able to sport a pink shirt for a short ride in the city.
Another reason is that I want women to stop being scared of motorcycles. All of my friends are afraid of bikes, one of them actually has her blood frozen when she's sitting on one. It's like a big scary dog. If you give him chance, he will behave like a cute little pup and you'll love him.
Change begins at home. Growing up I never heard my parents talk about me riding a bike or when I spoke of it, my dad would always be too afraid that what if break a leg while learning. If you have a little girl in your house, introduce her to motorcycles at a young age. Don't let her believe that bikes are only for boys. And if she likes them, let her have her first bike (at an appropriate age) like you would buy your son his first bike.
Marketing plays a huge role in Indian women's choice of two-wheelers. A scooter or rather a 'scooty' is the appropriate two-wheeler for a woman – this marketing strategy has worked so well and has been shoved down our throats so many times, that women don't even think twice before buying a scooter. A motorcycle is not even an option.
Women, break out of this notion and I assure you, your motorcycle can be your best friend. Mine is to me. I may be in a bad mood, but when I go full throttle on my bike, it makes me really happy. And there's a scientific explanation for it, really! When you're doing something exciting, your brain releases dopamine and that in turn gives you the feeling of happiness. And motorcycles are exciting.
It doesn't have to be a big and heavy motorcycle in the beginning, you could start with a little motorcycle and then eventually move on to more exciting machines. Believe me, you will not regret the decision. And who knows, you may get interested in motorsports or long distance touring. I've ridden my Kawasaki Ninja 250 R from Delhi to Kathmandu. I never planned I was going to do it, but I just did it. A bike will open a lot of these opportunities for you. Try it.