Thursday, June 25, 2009

Travel Notepad – The Scooter Women of Udaipur

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The Scooter Women of Udaipur

Weekend getaway in Rajasthan.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

While holidaying in the lake town of Udaipur in Rajasthan, about a night’s train journey from Delhi, I noticed a curious phenomenon. It is not to be seen in the Capital. So many women were riding on scooters: old and young; in saris, burqas and jeans. Most were alone; a few were with their friend or daughter or mother, or perhaps the mother-in-law. Some even had a man on the backseat.

But Udaipur is in Rajasthan, a region whose history romanticized widow burning in a tradition called suttee. Even today women figure low on the priority list in this touristy state. According to the figures available with the Rajasthan government, female literacy at 44.34 per cent continues to be low in comparison to the national average. Adverse sex ratio of 922 as per Census 2001 is a cause of serious concern. The mean age at marriage for girls, too, is low at 17.7 years. Traditions such as child marriage, dowry system, feticide, and infanticide are still followed.

Yet you would find it hard to believe all these depressing statistics while watching the scooter women of Udaipur whooshing their way through Jaatwadi, Hathipole and Chetak Circle. To be sure, there are more men on the road than women. But, at least, they are visible.

“Driving on my own gives me a feeling of self reliance,” said Dr Priyanka whom I stopped as she was riding down a lane in the old town. “I don’t have to depend on my father or brothers to take me to places.” But Ms Khushi, her head covered in a dupatta, had a different reason. “I ride on my scooty because it’s easy to drive,” she said. “You see, there are not even gears.”

An old lady who was parking her scooter simply shrugged when asked why she has taken to driving. “What’s the big deal,” she said. “Don’t girls do that in Delhi?”

Actually, they do not. What could be the reason? “Simple,” said Ms Mohini Dutta, a Jangpura resident in Delhi, “Because the girls here have their dad’s cars.”

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

On the fast lane

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

Hey, you are underage!

The Scooter Women of Udaipur

8 comments:

Rima Kaur said...

arrey this is fairly common in rajasthan. in kota, where my nani stays, every girl has a scooty/scooter. its become a coming of age gift, i think!

Anonymous said...

1. You have to be 16 to ride a Scooty.
2. You don't need a licence to drive a Scooty.
3. Scooty has training schools (for women by women) in every city. You can learn to ride before u buy a scooty. Check out its website.
4.Cost : Starting from Rs.30,000.

Piyush said...

It is extremely common in madhya pradesh as well..i lived in ujjain for about three years and frequently traveled to indore. there every household has scooty for the girls..and they love driving it.
we used to call them phoolen devis, cauz they cover their entire face with dupatta, only the eyes were visible..but most wore sunglasses. and they had these long long gloves..upto well above their elbows..

BTW mayank..seems u went crazy clicking, so many photographs..i almost gave up looking for the comment section..

Rajiv said...

if ab SHOLAY bani to basanti scooty wali hogi:D

y shud men hav awl da fun???

Bharat said...

Female scooter riders are far more common in smaller towns than Delhi, I have always noted this fact. My guess is the same as the lady said..papa di gaddi. I also think that smaller towns have shorter distances and poor public transportation that may contribute to the fact. I also think that smaller towns have a better sense of safety and security compared to the anonymousness of big cities.

LumousP said...

“What’s the big deal,” she said. “Don’t girls do that in Delhi?”

my reaction completely.
girls here are like zipping away on the roads all the time.

Kaushik Chatterji said...

Yes it is indeed a more common sight in the smaller cities such as Pune, Baroda, etc.

quixotic.knight said...

Awesome Entry.....I'm ur fan already...And OMG there are THREE sitting on tht one small scooty....nice work with pics.....


I'm following ur blog..totally

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