VIJAYAWADA: As Vaishali Kulkarni More (49), retired teacher kick-starts her big black superbike near NTR University junction here, a small crowd comprising of men and women gather around. Some start clicking photographs of her, while others look on with curiosity.
Kulkarni along with two enthusiastic bike riders Sonal Bhat (25) and Anagha Sant (45) was in the city on Monday, while heading to Kolkata from Pondicherry to promote ‘Be Bold for Change’ initiative as part of International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8.
The women bike riders started their journey on February 23 in Pondicherry and will reach Kolkata on March 7 and participate in the Women’s Day Celebrations being organised by the Women and Child Welfare Society of West Bengal.
Sharing her bike journey with Express, Kulkarni said that earlier she had heard about the prominence of the city, but now she was excited after staying for a while as part of the ride. “I took VRS as I just love riding long distances on my 220-CC Bajaj Avenger Cruise bike that has been christened ‘Ellie’ (abbreviation of the French word Esprit Libre meaning free spirit). Riding a superbike is not about speeding. With safety as the priority, we share the spirit of togetherness, leaving our routine professions,” she said.
The former school teacher said that she started her journey from Visakhapatnam and reached Pondicherry on February 22. Meanwhile, Sonal Bhat and Anagha Sant, residents of Pune (Maharashtra) and members of All India Women Bikers Group messaged Kulkarni on WhatsApp that they were interested in joining the ride. “As part of our ride, we have met various organisations and biking groups and shared our experiences and interacted with the villagers to sensitise them on various women’s issues,” Kulkarni said.
“During halts, I take off my helmet and that is when people say ‘Oh, it’s a woman’. I smile at them,” says Sonal Bhat, another bike rider.
However, riding alone on my 350 cc RE Thunderbird has not posed any problem till date, several truck drivers and petrol pump owners have indeed provided us food and accommodation at their place during the journey. My ultimate dream is to promote the riding culture among women in our society as several of them are still living in fear,” she said.
Responding to the alleged comments made by the AP legislative assembly speaker Kodela Siva Prasad on women in the society, a retired LIC employee, Anagha Sant said: “Motorcycles are most useful when they are on roads not when parked.”