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Women on scooters: Ride to freedom

Wednesday, 14 November 2012 - 10:14am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Reasons abound but the smiles of satisfaction sported by women scooter riders, has behind it a tale worth telling.

Remember Priyanka Chopra asking with a mischievous grin — “Why should boys have all the fun?” in a TV advertisement for a scooter brand? With higher disposable incomes and mobile lifestyles, more and more women seem to be asking the same question.

Be it for work or study, women are  stepping out of their comfort zones in the hope of shaping new identities. Scooters are proving to be the vehicles that are aiding women’s search for freedom of movement, style and emancipation. Leena Naik, an HR professional does not want to depend on her husband or driver for her frequent trips to the market. “We have a car at home but I use my two-wheeler for trips to the beauty parlour or simply to drool over the latest collections on display at the mall. These things would bore my husband, so I rather go alone!” she grins. Also, with the increasing petrol prices, it makes more sense  for Leena to alternate between her car and scooter. “Being a middle-class family, we have to be mindful of our budget. Scooters give  better mileage than cars, so I don’t go on a guilt-trip when I look at the monthly fuel expenses, anymore.”

Along with mobility, new scooter technology is resulting in light-weight and easy-to-maneouvre ride options to navigate through congested urban roads. “I prefer taking my scooter over my car as I can easily zip through traffic without getting stuck. It is also easy to find parking space because it fits in almost anywhere,” says Maryam Farooqui, a mass-communication student. She also feels that her two-wheeler is  a viable alternative to the city’s bursting public-transport system. “With the auto fares having gone up and the overcrowded trains, I prefer riding independently on my scooter.”
For 18-year-old Priyal Gala, a scooter is the best gift that a girl can get. “Last year my parents gifted me one and I use it to commute from home to college and also for tuitions. It saves me the hassle of waiting for a bus and has cut down my commute time considerably,” says the Sophia College student. Speaking about safety, Priyal adds, “My parents are less tense about me than before. I think that driving on my own is safer than being driven by a stranger. All I have to do is keep my eye on the road.”

Women buyers are fuelling a boom in India’s two-wheeler market. “With more women taking the driver’s seat, the market is catering to women’s tastes with peppy colours, stylish designs, gearless and light scooters that are easier to handle,” says Sumit Gupta of a prominent automobile company. Needless to say  auto players are cashing in women’s growing aspiration for mobility.

Like Leena, Maryam and Priyal, many Indian women are experiencing the freedom to conquer the roads on their own. Of course, each one has a different reason for kick-starting her scooter but the smiles of satisfaction are mirrored in almost all their eyes. jayoti.soor@dnaindia.net

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