24-year-old Pratiksha Das has become the first woman to drive a BEST bus in Mumbai, Times of India reported.
“It is something I’ve been wanting to master for the last six years,” Pratiksha said.
Even today, a woman driving buses is a far fetched idea. Not long ago in India, it was rare to find a woman driving bike, auto, or even cars. However, it is Pratiksha’s love for heavy vehicles that inspired her to learn bus driving and break the stereotype of women driving heavy vehicles.
“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 says.
Pratiksha holds an Engineering degree and aspires to become an RTO officer and to apply for the job requires a person to have a driving license in heavy vehicles. And that turned out to be a perfect excuse for her to learn bus driving.
“Since I had been wanting to learn to drive a bus, it was perfect. In fact, I want to drive various vehicles on the road. I started with my mama’s (maternal uncle) bike when I was in grade eight in my village. To his surprise, I picked up riding in two days. ‘How can you ride this in two days?’, he asked,” told Pratiksha.
“Who says women can’t be in the driver’s seat? I dreamt of this and here I am.’ In fact, anyone can achieve their goal, they just have to set their minds to it,” Pratiksha adds.
‘Yeh ladki Chala Paaygi’?
Turns out, trainers were more worried about providing training to a girl. “I remember that the BEST bus trainers were tensed about training a girl for the first time. They kept saying, ‘Yeh ladki chala paaygi ke nahi?’,” said Pratiksha.
Trainers were very unsure whether they should go ahead with the training or not. On the first day of training, they asked her to drive the bus in the depot. “I could see that they had this big question written all over their faces — Should we train her or not? During the initial stage of the training, you should not stop when you start a vehicle and get into first gear. They just wanted to see if I can keep the bus running and not let it come to a halt,” Pratiksha said.
However, trainers were satisfied, when Pratiksha successfully completed the test. On the very second day, she got the chance to drive 16 km on Eastern Express Highway. And thereafter, she slowly gained their confidence and trainers started allowing her to take a bus in traffic conditions.
Pratiksha’s next goals include training to drive an inter-state luxury bus and learning to fly an aeroplane.