The highway maiden

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | RASHMI RAJAGOPAL LOBO
Published Feb 7, 2016, 12:06 am IST
Updated Feb 7, 2016, 7:22 am IST
She is travelling across 17 indian states, alone on her bike to dispel myths about women’s safety, while exploring the hinterlands
Esha Gupta
 Esha Gupta

A heavy duty rucksack carrying bare essentials, a camera, her best friend Mikey (the bike), and an indomitable spirit are all Esha Gupta has taken along on her on-road adventure. And it’s a big one.

Bengaluru-based Gupta is the first female solo rider in India to ride across the country — having taken off from Bengaluru on January 26, the intrepid traveller aims to cover 17 states in about four months.

 

“With this ride, I want to send a message to all who say India is an unsafe country for women, that it’s definitely not. I know it’s a controversial topic but having travelled extensively, I found out first hand that it’s not true. I am not trying to challenge the miscreants, but we as a country, are concentrating so much on negativity that we have forgotten that we are surrounded mostly by positive and good people,” says the daredevil, who last year, completed a 40-day solo ride covering Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Udaipur, Varanasi and other cities.

During this time, she had the opportunity to meet students, school kids and corporates and talk to them about why the issue of safety is something that has been blown out of proportion.  

For someone who took to riding barely two years ago, Gupta’s efforts are commendable. And like every true travel junkie, the sudden urge to master the art of riding came after she realised that she needed to be independent to be able to extensively explore the country.

“I was backpacking through Ladakh back in 2013 and it was then that it struck me that there are so many beautiful places that are best explored by a two-wheeler. I realised I was missing out on so much simply because I was dependent on public transport. So when I got back to Bengaluru, I made up my mind to get my own ride. That’s when I got Mikey, and the two of us have been quite happy together ever since,” jokes Gupta.

Currently zig-zagging her way through the towns of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Orissa, Punjab and Rajasthan, Gupta reveals that she quit a comfortable corporate job four years ago to follow her passion — travelling.

“My mum was Malayali and my dad was from Uttar Pradesh. My two sisters and I practically raised ourselves as our mother passed away when we were young. Our father, who expired about 10 years later, was a government doctor and a busy man. So, I think growing up under such circumstances, you are forced to face your worst fears and that makes you a different person. I think that has toughened me up,” says Gupta, who is also a fitness trainer.

On her challenges on-road, she simply shrugs it off. “As a woman I never faced any trying times, so to speak. Yes, people stare. But most of the time, I feel they’re looking at me in admiration and awe.”

Back to her adventures, Gupta points out that the idea is to interact with strangers, stay at people’s homes and experience places from a local perspective. “I was riding down from Kodai-kanal.  When you come down from there, Theni is the first place you hit. I hadn’t even heard of this town before, but it just took my breath away. Surrounded by mountains,  and water bodies, I was so impressed,” she says.

While she reveals this is also a world record attempt, she’s currently living in the moment and reveling in her love affair with the great outdoors.

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