KOCHI: For Thoppumpady native Radhamani T K, age is just a number. The 69-year-old is probably the oldest woman in the state who has over 11 licences to her credit and knows to drive more than 20 types of heavy vehicles.
She took a light motor vehicle licence in 1981 and a heavy vehicle licence in 1988 at a time when there were not many women behind the wheel. Radhamani drives almost all types of heavy vehicles, including earthmovers, forklift, mobile crane, rough terrain crane and trailer.
A driving instructor, she owns A2Z Heavy Vehicle Training Institute, which started functioning in 1978. Her husband started the venture in her name and she used to visit the institute frequently and slowly developed a passion for driving heavy vehicles.
“She faces a little difficulty while climbing on to the vehicles these days. But once she is behind the wheel, she becomes a very different person. I learnt a lot from her,” said Aravind Milan, grandson of Radhamani.
“There is a common notion that women cannot drive like men. That is wrong. Women can drive as good as men and are more careful too. However, the number of a woman driving learners is still less,” she said.
Radhamani loves to drive trucks and buses.
“I still remember my driving test in 1988. Everyone was so surprised to see me. They cheered for me while I took the test. My husband motivated me,” she said.
“Usually, on the licence, there is a space for mentioning only seven vehicles, but she has more than 11 licences, and that is something unbelievable even for MVD officials,” said Aravind.
In her 32 years of experience, there has not been a single accident.
“I was a little nervous while loading and unloading using a JCB. But now I am used to it. I want to drive a tower crane now. I haven’t tried to climb on it as it is very tall. We need long ladders to climb on it,” she said.
Initially, autorickshaw and bus drivers used to tease me. They also used to tell me to sit at home. But driving is my passion and I will continue doing it,” she added.
She got a diploma in automobile engineering at the age of 68 and knows almost everything about a vehicle.
“Women, who want to go abroad, are coming here for coaching. They have a lot of job opportunities abroad if they know how to drive heavy vehicles. I have trained a lot of celebrities too,” she said.“Though I can ride all heavy vehicles, I don’t know how to ride a bicycle,” she said with a smile.