Passionate about heavy vehicles, she drives bus for free -- meet Ann Mary from Kochi

Ann Mary Ansalen is a familiar sight for the Kochites. She helms the steering of a private bus every evening and Sunday through the city roads

Published: 26th July 2022 06:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th July 2022 12:16 PM   |  A+A-

Ann Mary Ansalen a student from Ernakulam Law College drives the private bus named ‘Hey Day’ every Sunday through the Kakkanad-Perumbadappu road. (Photo | Express)

Ann Mary Ansalen a student from Ernakulam Law College drives the private bus named ‘Hey Day’ every Sunday through the Kakkanad-Perumbadappu road. (Photo | Express)

Express News Service

KOCHI: Ann Mary Ansalen is in her element while speaking about her passion. The Ernakulam Law College student explains her side hustle — driving a private bus. Driving heavy vehicles is generally considered the job of a man. Now, the 21-year-old is breaking stereotypes everywhere she goes and on every road, she passes. 

She helms the bus named Hey Day every Sunday and cruises through the busy Kakkanad-Perumbadappu road. “Other days, I drive the bus to its home every evening. Those days, the driver parks the bus at a nearby fuel station. After class, I take it to its owner’s house, who is my neighbour,” says Ann. 

It’s been around eight months since Ann has been cruising through this familiar route. “I still remember the first day I drove the bus. People were shocked and terrified seeing a woman driving. In the initial weeks, I was a novelty. And many were scared to see a woman driving. They thought an accident was sure to happen. However, now they are used to seeing me driving through this route every Sunday,” Ann explains. 

She says, initially other drivers were not that receptive to a woman driving. “They used to chase and try to overtake my bus. It was very discomforting. Many of them also used to make bad and offensive comments,” she says. However, now she is a familiar sight and has made friends with many fellow drivers. “The other employees in the bus, such as the conductor, are now my friends. After every shift, we also eat together,” she says.  

“There is a bad impression about all bus drivers. There are both good and bad people in every field, the same is the case here,” Ann adds. 

The beginning
Ann was always passionate about vehicles. “I was crazy about large and heavy vehicles. Lorries, trucks, buses, you name it. That is why I drive the bus for free,” she quips.

That is true. What matters to her is being a bus driver and taking it for a spin through the town. Ann began her romance with driving at 15 when she learned to ride on her father’s Royal Enfield Bullet. “I learned it at 15 and then had to wait till I turned 18 to ride to college.”

She has all the support of her parents in her unique endeavour. It was her neighbour Sarath M S who encouraged her. “He taught me to drive and control a bus and patiently let me practice. My grandmother Maryamma also encouraged me since childhood. She knew about my love for vehicles,” Ann adds. 

The bus’ original driver is Sarath. “He is the one who gave me the opportunity to drive the bus,” she adds. “I am bit of an introvert. However, I always want to see things through and make sure I learn something fully if I develop an interest. That is why I am now learning law and driving the bus at the same time. My dream is to become a judge,” says Ann, whose mother Smitha George is a district additional judge in Palakkad. As it will be difficult to manage both her career and passion in future, she is determined to make the most of it, now. 

Apart from driving, she is also interested in music and dance and is a regular at the gym. ”I like being busy all the time and utilising free time productively,“ says Ann. Ask her about a woman driving buses being something of a revolutionary step and she says, “We should normalise women doing all kinds of jobs. There is no specific work a person can’t take up, be it a woman or people from any other gender,” Ann adds. 

However, Ann says, even now many question her choices. “Why am I driving and studying at the same time? Am I from a poor family? These are the questions I face everyday. For me, it is a passion rather than a profession. Gender shouldn’t be a barrier to your dreams,”she adds. 


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