Relations between India and Pakistan have been complex ever since the partition. Political bureaucracy of both the countries results in the suffering of common people. However, we are like those best friends who fight all the time, but also love each other. We have so many things in common like the Rich Heritage, Tall Mountains, Food, Culture and both of us follow one religion: Cricket. If we crossed borders, we will probably need google maps to confirm that it’s a neighboring country because of the startling similarities between both the nations.
We spoke to Zenith Irfan, a passionate female motorcyclist from Pakistan and Ambika Sharma from India, an entrepreneur who is also an adventure freak. Both these women are breaking the stereotypes to change their own lives and inspire other women and girls around them. Women have multiple roles and at any given time they can be Mothers, Leaders, Students, Decision-makers, Farmers, Workers, Voters and much more. Motorcycling is becoming a popular choice of adventure among Indians and Pakistanis. But riding is seen majorly as a MAN thing. Zenith and Ambika are both challenging the odds and proving the world wrong.
Zenith has a unique tale to tell the world. She is a 21 year old motorcycle fanatic who lives in a wanderlust spirit. She is currently majoring in Marketing and Finance from Lahore School of Economics. “Dear Society, I raise my head up and tell you, I am proud to be not your ideal girl. I am the voice of millions. I am the power of women. I am proud to be different. I am proud to be challenging enough to suppress a thousand conflicts at once. I am strong. I am invincible. I am a WOMAN.” says the girl from Lahore. She is the first woman to ride solo on a motorcycle across northern areas of Pakistan.
Ambika Sharma on the other hand is a thorough bred marketing professional with an experience of over 15 years and leads Pulp Strategy Communications as the Founder & Managing Director. This first generation entrepreneur is accountable for integrated planning and implementation, improvement and consolidation in the organization and strategizing the creative communication for brands. Ambika is a published author of articles in leading business and trade magazines. Her versatile disposition makes her nurture a passion for bikes making her the proud owner of a Suzuki GSX–R1000 & a Harley Davidson Road King. Her mantra in life is, “Everyone gets just one life, live yours every day!”
PASSION FOR MOTORCYCLING AND MOTIVATION
ZENITH: I did this for my father. He passed away when he was 34 and wanted to travel around the world on a motorcycle. However, he couldn’t as he got married off pretty quick. When he passed away, my mother told me about his unrealized passion and that is when I decided to do this on his behalf and carry his legacy.
AMBIKA: Biking is an inherited passion for me. My father, himself an avid biker, encouraged me to ride my first bike – a Royal Enfield – at the age of 12. That first ride marked the beginning of a love affair that has stood the test of times; I today own 2013 Suzuki GSX-R1000 1 Million Commemorative Edition and a Harley Davidson Road King.
CHALLENGES OF BEING A WOMAN RIDER:
ZENITH: It can get challenging to ride across the country as a woman but to be honest, I don’t let the fact that I am a ‘woman’ stop me from achieving what my father always wanted. In fact, being a woman liberates me and motivates me further to break all societal boundaries and see the world out there for myself. So what if I am a woman? A woman is phenomenal and capable of doing so much more than just bake chapattis at home.
AMBIKA: I do not think women ignore their passion for biking for their family’s sake anymore; in fact, being adept multitaskers, they are very capable of juggling their family duties, professional responsibilities and a passion for bikes with ease! I have seen married women on their bikes with their husbands riding pillion or cruising on the open road with their toddlers in tow. It is just a mental barrier which needs to be overcome.
SOCIETY ON WOMEN BREAKING THE STEREOTYPE:
ZENITH: Everyone has been incredibly supportive and encouraging. I do get a few hate comments online but they motivate me rather than discouraging me. I know what I am doing is creating a happier version of myself which is why, I don’t pay heed to negative comments.
AMBIKA: The only thing I would like to say to women who feel constrained by their familial and social restrictions is to move with the times. Today’s women are not only matching men on equal footing, but are in fact outperforming them in many spheres of life. There is nothing and no one holding you back from pursuing your passion, and if your belief in yourself is strong enough, your family and society will support you in your endeavors.
THE BEST EXPERIENCE SO FAR:
ZENITH: It was when I rode 16,500 feet up till Khunjerab Pass; the border gate that connects Pakistan with China. It was one of the most enthralling experiences because I proved myself wrong. Initially, I thought I wouldn’t be able to ride with a motorcycle as small as 125cc up to such an extreme height, however I did and proved myself as a winner rather than a failure.
AMBIKA: There was this one time when I was in a petrol pump in Uttar Pradesh. A guy came up to me and asked me to get off the bike, just so he could test ride it. Wanting to avoid an altercation, I told him that the bike was an aviation fuel-driven test machine which was configured to my fingerprint. Thankfully, he bought the story and went his own way.
Ride suggestions for each other:
Zenith: Zenith Irfan, who overcame all the odds against her and became the only woman to ride across the northern areas of Pakistan, suggests Ambika to experience the splendid beauty of her country by riding across the Hunza valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan
Ambika: Ambika Sharma, on the other hand has made a bucket list of places which Zenith should experience in India. It goes without saying that riding in Leh is the mecca of all motorcycling enthusiast across the world. She also recommends taking a royal riding experience from Delhi to Ranthambore proceeding from Taj Mahal in Agra to exploring cities in Rajasthan en route to one of the biggest national park in Ranthabore to see the Royal Bengal Tiger in all its glory.
WISHLIST OF PLACES
Zenith: I would love to visit Kerala (also known as God’s own country) because of the ethnic and traditional sense to the place.
Ambika: In Pakistan, I am really looking forward to covering the distance from Islamabad to Naran in Kanghan Valley, covering Abotabad, Mansehra and Balakot. I have heard a lot about this trek from my friends in Pakistan and would definitely want to explore, once given an opportunity.
MESSAGES FROM ACROSS THE BORDER:
Zenith to Ambika: “Go on woman! Tell the world that you’re happy in your own craziness and that nothing can stop you from achieving what you have always dreamt of. In times of sadness and despair, just close your eyes and listen to the nature around you that yearns for you to explore it.”
Ambika to Zenith: “My dear Zenith! Many congratulations for continuing the journey we female riders have had over the years. You belong to the roads and roads belong to you. Continue to chase your dream, your destinations, one after another. Continue to remain fearless, unabashed and unapologetic and following your dreams! More power and success to you!”
We as people need more women like Zenith and Ambika. They are ones who give strength and inspire people around them. They light up the surrounding with positivity and hope. A Ghoongat and a Burqa is not just what women should be limited to. We encourage more women to follow their heart and achieve what they dream of. After all, there can be nothing more powerful than a Woman’s desire.