Archana Timmaraju is a hearing and speech impaired art teacher and biker. Born and raised in Hyderabad, she completed her primary education at Vidyaranya High School, while also undergoing speech therapy, before moving to Bengaluru at the age of nine.
Talking about the city, there’s a fondness in her tone. “I continue to feel connected to the city because of frequent visits and long stays at my maternal grandparents’ house, which is like a second home to me. Whenever I am in Hyderabad, I catch up with my childhood friends and we all hang out,” she says.
Archana, who is currently employed as an art teacher at the Aditi Mallya International School in Bengaluru, has just completed an 8,000-km “silent expedition” on her motorcycle from Bengaluru to Leh and back. She was accompanied on her 30-day journey by her colleague, Daniel Sundaram.
“I’m glad that I have successfully completed the expedition. There’s a sense of gratification. Though it was physically exhausting, it was a fulfilling experience,” says Archana. Though her love for travel and adventure are motivation enough, Archana’s reason for undertaking the expedition was to positively impact people’s understanding of hearing disabilities. “I have participated in several trekking, scuba diving and biking events. But this time, I wanted to create awareness about hearing and speech impaired issues. I want to increase inclusion of hearing impaired persons in the community. I also want to encourage women to travel and explore the endless opportunities that are available to them.”
Her preparation for the expedition was more of a mental task, rather than a physical one. “I got all the equipment and safety gear that I needed. But I knew it would be difficult for me to stay away from my family, so I was preparing for that.”
But a woman on a mission is a force to reckon with. Amid tough conditions, Archana was able to reach the highest motorable point Khardungla (18,380 ft). “Coping with the rapidly-changing climate, driving through rough terrain, inavailability of food in remote places was not easy. But our purpose kept us going. We stayed calm and composed. And we sought help from members of local riding clubs to figure out the route because we didn’t have any cellphone network,” she says.
As part of her mission to catalyse a change in society, she has co-founded a company called Silent Expedition. “The main aim is to create more opportunities for the hearing impaired to explore themselves and the world. During my journey, I had the opportunity to meet several people who are hearing-impaired, and people from diverse cultures. We discussed the opportunities available to them, and their feedback has been amazing,” she says....