Friday, May 26, 2006

A Woman Bus Driver.. Novelty? Rarity? Yes In India But There Is More....
Audio link to BBC's Outlook program..
In India female bus drivers are pretty thin on the ground, so Vimlesh Sharma in Rajastan still attracts a few raised eyebrows - though not as many as when she started out. The BBC's Geeta Pandey joined her on one of her journeys to hear about her life.

I heard her story while driving and like some stories that grip you right away, this one did too. I can't get the audio link to work at work :), so am trying to recount it from yesterday.

Vimlesh lost her husband and son to Typhoid and had no means to support herself. She tried doing odd jobs until she finally decided to start driving a bus. As a woman driver in India and in the patriarchial, male dominated society that makes up Rajasthan this is no mean feat.

She talked about issues she had when she started driving. At road side pit stops dominated by male truckers and drivers she encountered downright hostility, sexual innuendos, harassment but in the face of it all she persevered till she was finally accepted for what she was, another bus driver who just happened to be good at her job. She described how she was ostracized by her family, friends for her new career. She was essentially disowned had to leave home, even had to sleep on the streets. All in the pursuit of her desire to be her own master and earn a decent living.

The reporter mentioned how popular her bus is. She drives the route from Rajasthan to Surat an 18 hour journey. Her bus is popular partly because it is a novelty of sorts and a lot of women ride it, because they feel safe doing so with a female driver. The job is hard and after the 18 hour journey the return trip begins in about 6 hours. India’s chaotic roads add to the mix as well.
She talked about how the job has helped her buy a home, get her sisters married off and be her own person. The interviews with her co-workers showed respect, admiration and acknowledgement that she was at least as good and even better than them in some respects.

Oh and she loves swearing. I know some people have an issue with that but whatever

If you have a chance hear the interview, it is a lot more gripping and my recounting the story does it no justice whatsoever. It touched me more than I thought it would.

Call me too sensitive or whatever but it got me a bit misty eyed listening to Vimlesh and the reporter tell her story. Reminded me of the women in my life near and dear to me like my mom and sis, who have never had it easy and in the face of overwheming odds have managed to make their own and others lives better. My mother had no formal education yet managed to run a successful home business that helped us get through school. To me Vignesh is a hero and a great role model(a term bandided about too much these days.. but it is apt here).


Viewer said...

Yeah certain stories realy touch us in some odd ways may be bcause we do see our/our dear ones stories beingtold in their own way :)

Teri said...

What a great story. Thanks for sharing it. I'm off to listen to the BBC story now.

karmic_jay said...

Thanks folks.

Id it is said...

Women power!
Never does it faze
and never fails to amaze!

sebia said...

Was in the most excruciating state of toothache..and ws thinking abt how i am the most doomed person on the face of earth..and thn i managed to land at ur place with an unexpected thud...after tht..i felt so embaressed at moi shallow state of self pity..we always think..that our problems are wrse thn anything in the wrld..such a naive way of self indulgence..until we see people..passing through much more thn us..and still they gt the face the odds and looking in the eyes of the pain..they combat..solely through there own will..and rise victorious..its true..only those who dare to dream can elevate themselves frm the mundane pathoes of life..
hats off to those ladies..fighting against odds..for something they believe in..and making a difference in there lives..there nearest and dearest ones..and for the ppl not so brave to take the initiative on there own..
and wht a powerful expression u pen it down..
btw..i a sebia:)

karmic_jay said... said it.

Thanks for stopping by Sebia. I was very moved by the story. I am glad I was not the only one.

Aditi said...

Great story, reminded me of a woman who was india's first truck driver as well
thanks for sharing.. definitely inspiring

Dadoji said...

KJ: Agree 101% with you. The hand that rocks the cradle...

White Magpie said...

Amazing!! You really keep us clued on all the interesting happenings near and away. You love the news dont u?

karmic_jay said...

Thanks for the kind comments. :)

Shitrint said...

hey i had seen an interview with a woman truck had made it to the papers as well.
and thnx for posting this shows there is hope and admiration for women in this male-dominated world that i encounter each day.