I took my sister on a ride yesterday on my Scooty Pep+. It was the usual ride from my house to hers – one kilometre long. We’d done this ride a thousand times.
This time, however, she suddenly exclaimed at my riding. “Why you riding like a lunatic? I’m in no hurry and I don’t want to die. Ride slowly. I hate people who ride like this,” she said.
In another 30 seconds, while still in motion, I took off my helmet and kept it at my feet. Again, she showered me with some cuss words. “This is how people have accidents. Continue doing all these antics while riding and go crash into a tree!”
That’s when I realised I had started riding like a boy.
I’ve been riding in Bangalore for the past 10 years. Malleswaram, Vasanth Nagar, MG Road, Koramangala, Jayanagar, JP Nagar, Kanakapura Road, Bannerghatta Road, Bellandur, Hebbal, name it, I’ve been there on my 85 cc bike. I’ve mastered the art of weaving in and out of traffic. All this with zero accidents. (Yes, touch wood.)
I’ve been jeered at, that women can’t ride, I’ve been angered by that comment, then gotten over the anger and have eventually seen a few girls behind the wheel and thought, “Ok I guess women really can’t drive.”
Now, I’ve reached a been-there-done-that phase, where I couldn’t care less about what people think of my riding skills.
The thing is, even though I know that I’m awesome at riding, people on the road look at me, a girl, and think, “Oh there’s a girl riding. Surely, she’ll do something ridiculous on the road.” No matter what I do, they’re going to think it’s ridiculous simply because I’m a girl. So I take that as a license to ride however I want – whether I want to ride really slow on the right lane or whether I want to zip past vehicles by cutting across them rudely – because hey, I’m a girl and I ride like a lunatic!
Well, I could do all that, but I don’t have a general disregard for rules. So, right now, all I do is overtake vehicles, be it in slow moving traffic or fast traffic. I glide smoothly from the right side to the left and overtake trucks, cars and buses alike. I ride like most of those boys that sit on the back seat of a Dio or Activa and stretch their legs in front of them.
It’s actually very liberating to do that and to get told that I ride like a boy. To stand out of the stereotype that girls can’t ride. In fact, I’ve been told that before too. When I used to play football in college, my coach once told me, “You play football like a boy!” I beamed at him. In fact, I was so happy that I came back home that very day, opened my diary and made a note of his compliment.
Now, I’m not saying that girls suck at riding or at playing football. I’ve seen girl footballers that can run circles around defenders or execute neat freestyle moves. I’ve also seen girls who can pull off some wicked stunts while driving (only in videos). But these girls are rare to find. Anyway, I’m sure all girls who have been riding for years in India will relate to this.
The thing is, I’ve always battled with myself about whether I should feel happy about being told I’m like a guy or whether I should be all feminist and get pissed about it. But no matter how much I try to get pissed at the statement, I don’t. Well, it depends on what the compliment is for. If someone tells a guy that he multi-tasks like a girl, then he should be very proud. On the other hand, if someone told me that I carry myself like a guy, I’d be very sad. So, that’s kind of what I’m talking about.
I like being told I ride like a guy. Since I apparently have the skill, I have now started riding an RX-100, my dad’s newest buy. Well, it isn’t a new bike, obviously. I’m sure it has been owned by at least six people before. My dad is the master of buying second, third, fourth, fifth-hand things. After buying them, he repairs them, paints them, modifies them and makes them as good as new.
And guess what! It took me just 90 seconds to learn how to ride the motorbike. It’s so simple! Even my friend, Nisha, took 30 seconds to learn to ride a Bullet!
So, once I figured out the bike, my first question to my dad was why girls don’t ride motorbikes. Just why?
It’s so liberating! That krranng sound when you kick-start the bike, the smoothness you experience when you shift to third gear, the idea of laughing at lameass guys who ride dabba motorbikes, it’s amazing!
I really think girls should start riding like guys, and start riding motorcycles too. I want them to be revolutionary, so much so that a few generations later, men should be complimented that they ride like women. (Actually, if someone told a guy, “Dude you ride like Swathi,” then it’s already a compliment. Haha!) I wish there are more girls who’ll take that extra step and be awesome at this seemingly male-dominated skill.
Nothing can make you feel more independent and awesome. Trust me.
So, come on girls! Time to be badass!