Travelling makes your leadership qualities better, makes you intelligent and broadens your mind because you get exposed to new culture.
She was 26 when she took up a ride from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. During those years, she was nestled in Bangalore and was working in an IT firm earning a good amount of money. One could find her traveling in and around Bangalore during weekends. As a lady, it was a difficult decision of riding solo but Roshni Sharma did it for herself and became the first solo female motorbiker to ride from one end of the country to the other.
Roshni Sharma is a travel freak, adrenaline junkie and an ardent motorbiker. Born and brought up in a small town of Narora Uttar Pradesh, she is now happily married and settled in Amsterdam. Since now she is in India, she misses no opportunity to pack her bags and be on the road. Soon, she is planning to motorcycle cross length and breadth of the USA and is looking forward to experiencing the thrill. In an exclusive interview, she talks about her inspiration, her love for bikes and gender stereotyping during travel.
- What inspired you to take up biking and why?
Roshni: Well, since childhood I have been fond of adventure. It may be biking, hiking, cycling or any other sort of adventure. I always eagerly waited for my father to buy me a motorcycle. I was 16 years old when my father bought one. I didn’t take much time to learn it and in fact, my father was the one who taught me how to ride a motorcycle.
- In India where Bikes are meant only for men, how did your family react when you expressed your love for bikes?
Roshni: Yeah it’s true that motorcycle is considered only for men but there are few exceptions always and my family is one of them. They are/were highly encouraging, supportive in all aspects of life.
On the other note, things like riding a motorcycle don’t totally dependent upon the family or parents. It’s also up to you how passionate, confident you are to achieve something in life, riding a bike can be one of them. So what I am trying to say is that sometimes we tend ourselves to pull back even if our families are supportive.
- You were quite young when you took a ride from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, how did that happen? Who all accompanied you in your journey?
Roshni: I was 26 when I did Kanyakumari to Kashmir and I was working in Bangalore. I was independent, earning a decent amount of money. I felt free like a bird. You would see me every weekend on some or the other hill, cycling to some places or biking to some random places without any plans, solo and sometimes with my friends. This urge to travel increases day by day.
In one of the motorcycle journeys with my best adventure buddy, Roshan, I discussed the idea of going solo for long-distance motorcycling which has been bothering me for quite some time and that’s when k2k came up as Roshan informed that this would be a record as no girl solo had achieved that feat.
I started preparing for k2k, gathered all the information- a road map and so on. My friend, Mr.Kaleem, a biker and a retired officer from the Indian army from the biking community helped me. Most of the people supported but many of them questioned me why do I wanted to do it alone and not with a group. I was advised to avoid Jhansi, Gwalior route as it may be dangerous.
It took me some time to convince my parents about my offbeat experience. But in the end, they understood and supported my idea. I had to take extra care of my diet and follow a fitness routine.
One fine morning of June 2014, I was ready to be flagged off and be on my way to Kashmir. People were so supportive all over the country and thrilled to see a solo female motorcyclist. Women felt so proud of seeing me on the road. I never ever felt unsafe however every coin has two sides of it so there were few moments where I regretted my decision. Every off beat path is not as easy as it might appear but in the end, you come out undefeated, stronger than ever and fearless.
- In a country like India where gender stereotyping is always an issue, how do you think we can minimize this issue?
Roshni: Gender stereotyping is something that we are brought up with because since childhood we are told that girls are fragile, weak or Girls should behave in a particular way, should only play with a Barbie. While for boys it’s the other way, boys are strong, boys don’t cry, boys can’t wear pink because it’s feminine. We see so much discrimination based on gender on a regular basis. So I guess, the problem is at a very root level, if our parents, our relatives, everyone around us could change their mindset and teach right things to their kids, then gender bias won’t be a problem anymore.
Having said that, even as a kid, after a certain age, we should be matured enough to decide ourselves as in what’s right or wrong and speak for ourselves and not following someone blindly.
- Do you face gender stereotyping during your travel? If yes, how do you manage that?
Roshni: People are mostly generous, encouraging and go out of their way to help you in the best possible ways. People give a lot of respect and salute to the spirit especially when they are a solo female traveler. I experienced this everywhere on my 10days motorcycle expedition.
Having said that, I remember a few incidents where I had a tough time to find accommodation in Kerala. And in Punjab, people stared at me in a way that it didn’t seem very encouraging.
- Many women want to travel the world, however, they are laid back due to society or family. Any message you would like to give them.
Roshni: Well, there are many factors to that and how we approach it.
First of all, we should be daring enough to speak out for ourselves. Sometimes, we pre-assume things and sit back without even trying for it. We don’t talk to our parents because we are scared. Have a dream, chalk out, make a strategy, and discuss it openly. You never know what life in the store has for you.
Second thing could be finances, do budget travelling, and read more and more to gain knowledge about places, join travel communities to connect with other travelers, to find a motivation to get inspired.
It may sound very filmy 😉 but I do believe in this dialogue from OM Shanti OM, where Shahrukh khan says, kehte hai agar kisi cheez ko puri shiddat se chaho to puri kaynath use tumse milane me lag jati hai.
- What is travel for you?
Roshni: Travelling is one thing that I am most passionate about because it connects and gives me an opportunity to explore and appreciate the beautiful world. It gives me an opportunity to explore the place from scratch and make my own perception away from all the stereotypes that I heard and read about. Travelling makes your leadership qualities better, makes you intelligent and broadens your mind because you get exposed to new culture. So for me travelling is as important as breathing and if I don’t travel for sometime, I feel something is missing in life. I am lucky to live in Amsterdam, I leave no stone unturned to avail the opportunity as much as I could. Having travelled to 15 countries, Greece is my favourite for its beautiful blue watery beaches, amazing history, awesome food, and its wonderful warm people.
- Any steps you have taken to increase the number of women travelers in the country?
Roshni: Well, I did k2k solo motorcycle expedition back in 2014. I feel humbled to inspire many women and prove that traveling is not as dangerous or unsafe as we think it is. I helped a few female travelers, who contacted me, educate on how they should start traveling. I also maintain a travel blog where I am regularly sharing my traveling experiences.