Women are breaking the glass ceiling. From Katie Bouman discovering the first-ever image of the black hole to Bhawana Kanth becoming the first woman fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force, we’re getting inspiration from women excelling in different fields around the world.
If we’re talking about women embracing unusual professions, then it’s important we talk about Mumbai’s first female bus driver Pratiksha Das. The 24-year-old woman has become the only woman in the city who can drive a BEST bus and has even received a license for it. How remarkable is that?
Pratiksha has just completed her mechanical engineering degree from Thakur College in Malad. Expressing her love for vehicles, she said, “It is something I’ve wanted to master for the last six years. But 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.”
According to a report by a leading daily, after having completed her education in Mechanical Engineering, Pratiksha wanted to become a Regional Transport Office (RTO) officer which required her to be able to drive heavy vehicles. Soon, she found herself learning how to drive a bus from a BEST trainer at Goregaon Bus Depot.
“After completing my engineering degree, I was planning to become an RTO officer. For that, I needed a license in heavy vehicles as it is compulsory. Since I had wanted to learn to drive a bus, it was perfect," said Pratiksha in an interview.
Her training was a 30-day course, covering basic to advanced levels. On her first day, Pratiksha just had to roll the bus on first gear within the bus depot without halting. They were impressed when she was able to do it without difficulty. On her second day, she drove the bus on the Eastern Express Highway for 16kms! That’s the kind of badass women we need.
For Pratiksha, driving around a six-tonne bus around the city is a ‘leisure activity’ and the best way to unwind. She has been driving ever since she was a child, “I want to drive various vehicles on the road. I started with my mama’s bike when I was in 8th grade in my village. Even he was surprised, how I learned driving within two days.”
In the interview with the daily, Pratiksha talked about her first training drill with BEST drivers who were questioning her abilities and skills. She spoke about people saying things like “Yeh ladki chala paaygi ke nahi?” to the others who made fun of her height by saying she was too short to ride a bus. Talking about the obstacles she faced, Pratiksha said, “People use to stop and turn when they saw a young woman behind the steering wheel. Keeping my focus clear, I ignored the stares. I told myself to concentrate on the driving. Once I am behind the wheel, it’s just me, the bus and the open road.”
Pratiksha proved everyone wrong with the ease with which she drove the bus. She went on to say that women who set their mind on something can make anything possible, it's all about will and determination: “Who said women can’t be on the driver’s seat? I dreamt and here I am. In fact, anyone can achieve their goals, they just have to set their minds to it."
That’s the kind of inspiration we all need!
The next thing on Pratiksha’s bucket list is to go on a bike trip to Ladakh with her gang. After that, she wants to fly a plane and plans to join a flying school in Mumbai.
Featured Image: Instagram
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