The Indian-driving scene has been mostly male-dominated for a long time, but now even females are stepping into the field. These women are an enthusiastic lot who want to earn a living as cab drivers. I caught up with one such driver at the airport and her experiences are a revelation of a female cabbie’s life.
“I started working as a driver four years back. My father who was a driver himself taught me how to drive a car. When he met with an accident, driving was all I knew to earn a living from,” said Sarita Dixit, a Meru Eve cab driver.
“It was a struggle to get a job as I was a woman”
It has been almost two years now since Sarita started working for Meru, one of the reputed cab agencies in India. Sarita, who just finished her graduation from IGNOU, has dealt with a myriad of challenges while working as a cab driver and yet she has come out as an inspiration to other women. Her passion for driving motivated her to dismiss all the animosity around and keep driving on.
Dressed in a pink and grey Chauffeur’s uniform, Sarita looks tough and skilled. She is equipped with a pepper spray all the time to handle misbehaving male passengers. She was also trained in martial arts right at the beginning of her career to deal with unfortunate situations.
“I have even taken classes to learn martial arts organised by the Delhi Police. I am skilled at how to attack, defend, ways to move on the Delhi roads at night, appropriate usage of pepper spray etc. Since, I took those classes I have felt a sense of power needed to deal with violent or wayward situations,” says Sarita
Among the many incidents that have happened to her, I asked her to tell me the few things she gets to hear the most and here’s what she says, “Initially when I started working as a cab driver, I felt really positive about the work. People used to encourage us so much, it was just great. But after some time, it all got washed away, men cabbies started pushing me away and laughing at me saying ‘you should try to manage the utensils at home and not drive cars’ it felt horrible, but now I just go on and try not to acknowledge such comments.”
We think that women cab drivers will prove very safe for other women who travel for work at late hours, but what if these women (men included in a larger way) only discourage the drivers. “No doubt I have heard words of praises from a lot of people who respect the kind of work that I do. But there have also been times that I have been judged highly for being a woman driving a taxi,” added Sarita.
“I have been asked about my experience as a cab driver and there goes a great amount of energy into convincing customers, including women, that I can drive a car.”
Sarita earns about Rs 15,000 a month from driving. She says at the end of the day, I feel honored that I know driving, it is a much reputed job than doing household chores at other people’s houses.
In Sarita’s family, she is not the only woman driver. Her older sister Vankadarath Saritha is also a bus driver. Both the sisters have chosen this unusual field of work. V Saritha also works in Delhi and lives with her sister.
Sarita has been awarded by ex-IPS officer Kiran Bedi for being one of the few female drivers
She has not met with even a single accident in her career span. She hopes to keep driving. Her only wish is that people give more chance to women. “It is a great time for women to start driving professionally on Indian roads,” says Sarita proudly.
Picture credit- MapsofIndia