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This talk by Namita Gokhale introduced us to terrific female drivers on the fringe

A riveting discussion at the launch of Lady Driver: Stories Of Women Behind The Wheel revealed exciting tales of women drivers who overcame oppression and subjugation by the dint of their courage and hope 

Lady Driver: Stories of Women behind the wheel

Cover of Lady Driver: Stories of Women behind the wheel

‘Women are reckless drivers,’ convention has it. Challenging such notions, the launch of Lady Driver: Stories of Women behind the wheel at Oxford Bookstore, Connaught Place, celebrated stories of lady drivers who despite being gripped by hindrances are thriving in their profession. The book, edited by Jayawati Shrivastava brings together stories of 12 such women drivers. The event was curated by noted author and Jaipur Literature Festival co-director Namita Gokhale and was moderated by author Srinivas Rao.

Lady Driver: Stories of Women behind the wheels

Panelists (from L-R) Female drivers Sunita and Geeta, Deepti Priya Mehrotra & Srinivas Rao

“I used to work as a driver but my husband and parents forced me to leave the job. I resisted initially, but had to give in to as I had to take care of the family. Later my husband drank poison, had to be rushed to the hospital and due to his bad habits, developed mental problems. It was a tough task to take care of him and my 4-month-old daughter at the same time. It was then when it struck me that I need to resume my work as a driver to care of my family. Since then it has been three and a half years, and my vehicle isn’t ready to stop anytime soon”, said a confident Sunita who works as a driver with the help of the initiative by Azad Foundation.

The panelists also included celebrated writer Deepti Priya Mehrotra and lady drivers, Geeta and Sunita. The stories published take the reader through various ups and downs of women who despite living on the margins of Indian society have successfully taken steps towards liberating themselves.

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Geeta, another lady driver shared her experiences with the thrilled listeners. “It is amusing when you see people react in amazement to a lady driver behind the wheel. Initially, it used to get awkward but now things are easy. I feel confident enough to stand up for what I want, be it while ordering food at a roadside dhaba where you see only male drivers or when someone tries to intimidate me at home or anywhere else”, she said.

'Lady Driver: Women behind wheels'

Unveiling of the book ‘Lady Driver: Women behind wheels’

The women featured in the book painstakingly claim a relationship with the road, it translates into claims for identity, for dignity, for a livelihood. The book talks of women in subjugation and the various ways by which they gain status. Beautifully edited, instantly engaging, this is a book that is honest to its core and is a must read for everyone who believes in the power of determination.

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