Sunday, March 11, 2012

Going steady in bus driver’s seat


 KOCHI: Siji Sunil sits confidently behind the wheel of ‘Ashwamedham’ bus, the first private bus service exclusively for women, in the state that was launched three years ago in the district. The ease with which she drives the vehicle is enough to prove the fact that contrary to the prevailing jokes and one-liners, women are better drivers than men.

When ‘City Express’ catches up with Siji during one of her trips, she is all smiles and speaks about her vocation. She says, “This profession is what I wanted all throughout my life. I am passionate about vehicles and it is my love towards them which brought me here.”

Siji clears that it was not the necessity to have a living out of driving which prompted her to take up this specific profession, but pure passion. “I was crazy about vehicles right from my childhood days. It reached its zenith when I started riding two-wheelers at the age of ten. Since then there was no looking back. I learned to drive all vehicles,” says Siji. When asked why there are fewer number of women bus drivers, she replies that it may be due to the misconception that heavy vehicles are difficult to handle for woman, which is not true.

“Those who know how to drive a car can easily manage heavy vehicles,” she adds.
Siji says, “Though I was interested in driving, it was sheer coincidence that took me to the helm of ‘Ashwamedham’.” The idea for a bus service exclusively for women was born, when K A Devassy, the then panchayat president of Maradu Panchayat decided to think out of the box and do something substantial which involves participation of women. “There were ten women, who invested money in this venture and I was one. Since I was interested in driving, I applied for the post of driver and I got it,” Siji says.

Siji who hails from Ponekkara is married to  Sunil, an auto driver by profession. The woman-driver is quite content with the good response that she is getting from all quarters. ‘Ashwamedham’ has every reason to smile as it has a clean record on the road.

published in The New Indian Express

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