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Meet Pratiksha Das, A Woman Who Can Drive BEST Buses, Heavy Trucks And Bikes. Was That The Sound Of Stereotypes Breaking?

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When you’re born with a uterus, in a highly male-dominated country like ours, you’re already handed a list of things you can’t and shouldn’t do. At least, that’s what they’d like you to believe. They say women can’t drive, can’t climb the corporate ladder, shouldn’t be out at night, and the list is basically a bottomless pit. If you buy that shit, you will fall into a Bermuda triangle of sorts and the confidence inside of you will never really make it out. Which is why, when one of us queens goes ahead and does something that traditionally a woman has been discouraged from, our hearts break into a happy dance sequence. Pratiksha Das – who is quite a star and totally deserves all the applaud she has been getting lately – has us all quite awestruck! This 24-year-old Mumbai-dweller, with a mechanical engineering degree, has gone ahead and become a certified heavy four wheeler driver.

Now, you won’t find her navigating the streets of Mumbai in a BEST uniform because she hasn’t taken it up as a career. Das is the first woman to learn how to drive a bus or a truck, from Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST). And before she did this, it never struck me that there are no lady drivers in BEST. Pratiksha revealed that she got a lot of judgmental stares from people, because they just couldn’t deal with a woman driving a heavy vehicle. She revealed, “…after several rejections from private training centres (just because m a girl they were not ready to provide me heavy vehicle training) I somehow got to know about BEST and joined it…the BEST people didn’t react like others did and positively accepted my admission.”

It’s not easy driving a heavy vehicle; you do need physical strength for it. But just assuming that all women wouldn’t be able to handle it, Pratiksha will serve up your small mind in a platter. We have women on top of their game in sports, fitness and the defence forces. We have the strength to carry a child for nine months, and getting it out of our vaginas but not to drive a heavy vehicle? Nope. Not buying that.So, why don’t we have female bus drivers? Pratiksha gave us some insight into this, “Women who are interested in driving bus/truck don’t get that support from males. That’s what I faced while looking for training centers. They think it’s not meant for females…but they are unaware that if given proper training women can start driving buses like men do.” She further added that she hopes her story will inspire women to join BEST. “I would be happy if women who are interested in driving BEST buses will get motivated and start joining BEST as more than 1000 seats are reserved for females but none are occupied.” The situation is that bad! It’s really great that our government is being supportive. This can seriously help several women to get on their feet and be independent.

Pratiksha Das is an adventurous soul, a go-getter who masters what her heart seeks. She recently completed a ride in Khardungla Pass which is world’s highest motorable pass. Today, Das can handle any bike. She was part of India’s first female bike racing team in 2016. What a woman! I think people, irrespective of their gender, who are able to follow their dreams and passion are super inspiring. But as sad as it sounds, the truth is that women have a few obstacles than a man does. It’s like we have an entire bunch of naysayers who try to pull a progressive woman down with so much passion, it almost feels like that’s their primary job with a very attractive remuneration package. So kudos to this woman and several others who are breaking stereotypes!

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Now that we are so invested in Pratiksha’s story and interests, we asked her what she’d be doing next. “I would like to learn to drive Volvo buses and then other heavy vehicles like cranes, trailers etc. It’s just in my bucket list to learn all the vehicles that run on road.” Such a star, man. So, being further inquisitive, we asked what she would like to do professionally. “My dream is to become an RTO officer.” Years down the line, when the story of Pratiksha Das has developed further, I hope somebody makes a movie on this!

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