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A TRAILBLAZING RIDE

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Indian Meenakshi Das on an Odyssey

By Raji Unnikrishnan

Inspired and determined, Indian rider Meenakshi Das is weaving a daring tale as she endeavours to etch her name in history by embarking on a solitary odyssey through 67 countries.

While in Bahrain, her fifth stop, the 41-year-old mother from Guwahati took time to sit down with Bahrain This Week to share about her riding experience and her dream.

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Meenakshi is fuelled by an unwavering resolve to achieve her ambitious goal, seeking to sow the seeds of strength and independence in her 14-year-old daughter Nishita and women across the globe.

“I tried getting support from various entities, but in vain—maybe, as a woman, they did not take me seriously,” said Meenakshi, seated in a desert camp in Sakhir.
“Women in my neighbourhood also surprised when they heard about my plan to ride solo; they could not believe it. But I wanted to take it as a challenge and prove to the world, including my daughter and the thousands of women out there, that it is possible to achieve your dream if you are determined.”

Meenakshi is thankful to her supportive family—her husband, Bedanta Rajkhowa, daughter, and mother.
“My husband also asked me if I surely wanted to do it, and he supported me. I told my daughter, who is 14 and has grown up to take care of herself, to give me one year to do this. And I urged my mother to stay healthy until I got back home.”

Taking an interest in biking at the age of 18, Meenakshi’s first ride was from Guwahati to Umling La Pass in Ladakh, which is the highest motorable road in the world.

She started her current mission on December 18 from her hometown, Guwahati, Assam, riding a motorcycle to Kathmandu, Nepal. Then she went on for over 2,000 kilometres to Mumbai and then took a flight to Dubai and subsequently to Bahrain.

In Bahrain, the small Assamese community hosted Meenakshi, helped her see the kingdom, and also put her in touch with local riders. She also got an audience with Indian Ambassador Vinod K Jacob, who flagged off her ride in Bahrain.

“It was a very nice experience to meet the ambassador and also the local riders, which is very encouraging. When I go to a country, I make sure that I see the place and learn something about the geography and culture, which helps in my blogging. So I usually stay in a country for two or three days. Bahrain is beautiful, and I and the people, both my community and others, were exceptionally nice.”

In terms of financial support for the trip, Meenakshi said that she did not have any major support.

“People think I have saved enough money to do this trip, which is not the case. I am a fitness trainer, and I have my limitations, but I will pursue my dream amidst challenges. I am adventurous, and I take on challenges. The only help I would need is accommodation in the countries that I visit; thus far, people have been very warm to me. The Assamese community in Bahrain and Dubai was very hearty.”

Meenakshi was supposed to ride to Riyadh on Friday; however, it got delayed by a day due to bad weather.
“The weather is the biggest challenge. I ride 500km a day, and in the morning I do my warmup to ensure that I am physically fit, and I take care of my food intake as well, as it is important to remain fit,” said the fitness trainer professional.

Meenakshi rides a Bajaj Dominar 400, which she purchased for the solo trip. The military green bike has the names of the countries that she is riding through painted on its fuel tank. Proudly holding a helmet sporting an Indian tricolour, Meenakshi is confident that she will succeed in her goal of creating history as the first Indian rider—male or female—to ride solo in more than 60 countries. She has her map ready and plans to ride through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, the Netherlands, France, Russia, China, and several European and Asian countries. She is scheduled to return to her hometown in November of this year. If successful, her journey will be listed in the Limca Book of Records.

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