Hyderabad- based women bike riders share their stories of motorcycle expedition in a book authored by Jaya Bharathi, the driving force behind the adventure
An expedition that started with zeal to prove that women are no less in anything, is now lending itself to a book 'Road to Mekong' that narrates stories of experiences that are an unforgettable memory for the bike riders.
Jaya Bharathi, the women behind the 17,000 km motorcycle expedition pens down a story that is untold until now and is surely inspiring to aspiring women riders.
How did you get the idea of sharing your story in a book?
The motorcycle expedition started off with a small thought where we wanted to go on a trip to Thailand that led us to this expedition.
Exactly two years ago on July 15, we went to an event where Principal Secretary, Tourism Venkatesham said that he would support us in our expedition and so what started as a small idea went beyond.
We have gone to six countries including India, covering around 17,000 km in 56 days and everyone returned in single piece.
So, people are not aware of what happens during such trips as we cannot record the whole thing and that is the reason I have written this book.
Tell us about your team?
I am Jay Bharathi and I have been travelling and motorcycling has been my passion and now passion has overtaken the rest of my life and I see myself going more forward. Otherwise, professionally I am an architect.
Shanti, who is a constable with Telangana police is a single mother, then we have Priya, who is a mother and she is 40 plus, and she had to leave her kids and come to the trip during their exams.
We have Shilpa from Mumbai; she used to ride with us from Hyderabad, who is a solo rider. All their stories are mentioned in the book.
How do you think that this book would inspire women riders?
For all the women, a bike depicts independence. The reason why the book is in Telugu is because generally people in the Telugu states think that these kind of activities are done by others and we from the State are not capable ofdoing it.
Even though, we have lot of potential, we suppress our thoughts. If we need a change, it should start from the home ground. So, I penned my experience in a book which is in Telugu. I have written it because there are very few books like this.
In fact, there is no book which describes the life of a woman who went on a motorcycle expedition. Later I would also be releasing this in English.
I will soon be starting an initiative which is called 'MOWO' – Moving Women, I want to move women in their thoughts, which is an obstacle I always see every women faces.
Two wheels changed our lives; let's see if it could change yours too. My book should be an inspiration to break fear of riding a bike. We will distribute these books to all the government colleges and every woman possible.
What message do you give for people who stereotype women on bike?
I think as an individual, whether a male or a female, everybody can do everything.
As a society we categorise certain things and and then think that this person is meant to do that particular thing and nothing else and so we categorise men and women doing certain things.
Today we are in an inclusive world where women and men work on equal footing. Similarly, riding a bike for women should become a norm. In our city it is actually seen as a norm.
What answer do you give for all the trolls made on women riders?
If you own and ride a bike, just do what you like. You do not have to tell anyone that just because a woman is riding a bike, a man should not have the thought that I need to own a bigger bike than her. Just ride the bike and abide by the rules.
What were the challenges on the trip?
There were a lot of challenges and it was not a cake walk. The biggest challenge was crossing the border on land and they were new borders for India.
The border at Myanmar to Thailand was not opened for regular usage and they are handful of people who have crossed India- Myanmar border on two wheeler. There are no set rules. Of course we had the letters from the government, but the real challenges on ground were different. At every border rules and regulations were different.
For example at Cambodia to Thailand border, our bikes had the permission to cross, but we were not allowed; and no one knew about it. Then we figured a way, and plans changed. How we overcame the hurdle and carried forward - you will get to read it in the book.
Are you planning to make a movie out of your journey?
We have actually taken a production crew on the journey, and so every bit of it is documented. But, if you read the book you will know the kind of funds we had.
I was given a choice just before the trip that there was a crunch in the fund allocared and only four of us should go on the trip. I did not want to leave any one from this team for any reason.
So, I somehow managed to take everyone and in the process, we could only complete the production part of our film and the post production part is at a halt. But, we will definitely make a movie out of the expedition.