India’s unity in diversity is not the stuff of textbooks. It’s an enduring reality. Twenty-six-year-old Radhika Rao would vouch for it because she knows that India exists in its warps and wefts. More so, because her motorcycle carried her through the heartland of India, touching all 29 states and five union territories.
The freelance photographer’s solo ride has seen her cover 22,000 km, clicking images of what makes India a tapestry of cultures and colors. Her camera is a kaleidoscope of people and places.
The reactions to a young woman’s solo motorcycle ride were as diverse as the diversity of cultures. But the welcome from all quarters was overwhelming. People were more than willing to help. The ride took off from Chennai. Once she gets back, she plans to hold an exhibition where pictures mirroring India in all her beauty will be on display.
Though a native of Neyyatinkara, Radhika was raised in Chennai.
Beautiful Kerala, terrifying traffic!
Kerala is beautiful, she gushes. It’s Dulquer-land too. “I like it here, but the traffic is so scary. The buses go tearing down the narrow roads as if they are going to run you down,” she says. The driving is callous and careless. One would feel that the buses are all set to mow down smaller vehicles. One comes across such driving in Uttar Pradesh. Even with the wide highways there, the driving is crazy. What’s needed is a right driving culture, she says.
Dengue-hit in Rajasthan
Radhika lost 10 days to Dengue in Rajasthan. Though hospitalized, she was determined to be back on her bike once she got better. Though her parents decreed that she get back home at the earliest, Radhika refused to toe their line. Instead, she asked them to travel up to Rajasthan.
However, with the help of her father’s friend, she was able to get back on her feet. But the fever had taken its toll on her health and further travel was exhausting. There were days when she had to drive for more than 350 km. Her trips to the North-East took her to the Kerala Samajams where she stayed.
Radhika rode off on her adventure trip on April 9. And it’s been a life-changing experience. She was well cared for and respected wherever she drove to. But there was a lot of skepticism too. Why this trip? Why a woman?
“I’ve always held on to the conviction that women should chase their dreams and try to go for their aspirations. This matters more than a permanent job, a hefty salary or other material considerations,” she says.
Travel and music are what keep her going. A post graduate in sociology, Radhika is also very much into music, which she learned in Kalakshetra.