For the longest time, a woman sitting in the driver’s seat of a taxi, auto rickshaw, bus, or an airplane was hard to imagine. Women driving public transport or heavy vehicles is considered unconventional and against the norm. But it is immensely surprising when she does so and a woman from Mumbai is turning heads as she breaks this stereotype!
24-year-old Pratiksha Das has become the only woman in Mumbai able to drive a BEST bus and has received a license for it.
According to a report by TOI, after having completed her education in Mechanical Engineering, Pratiksha wanted to become a Regional Transport Office (RTO) officer which required her to be able to drive heavy vehicles. Soon she found herself learning how to drive a bus from a BEST trainer at Goregaon Bus Depot.
“It is something I’ve been wanting to master from the last six years. But my love for heavy vehicles is not new. I started off with bikes, then larger cars, and now I can drive buses and trucks. And yes, it feels good”, she said.
Pratiksha reveals how initially her trainers were tensed about whether she will be able to drive a bus. It takes a lot of strength to drive a bus. Steering the wheel alone is a task because it isn’t as smooth as that of a car’s.
“Yeh ladki chala payegi ke nahi”, the trainers kept on asking.
Her training was scheduled for 30-days starting from basic to advance levels. On her first day, Pratiksha just had to roll the bus on first gear within the bus depot without halting. They were impressed when she was able to do it without difficulty. On her second day, she was driving the bus on the Eastern Express Highway for 16kms!
People turned to stop and stare, but I ignored that and I told myself to concentrate on the driving. Once I am behind the wheel, it’s just me, the bus and the open road.”
Her next plan is to learn how to fly an aeroplane! She is saving money to join the flying school in Mumbai. She is also getting ready for a bike trip to Ladakh, and guess what? She is the one leading the gang!
“Who said women can’t be on the driver’s seat?”
She is the kind of badass women we need!