You limit yourself only in your own minds , nothing else can ever bind you otherwise! 29 Yr old Ms. Manisha Behera has walked the talk with her grit, determination and a ‘never say die attitude’! It was an honor for me to interact with her and this story is something that the world needs to know for sure ! Not all heroes wear a cape and we can find such heroes who set their life as an example to prove a point. And the point in this story is ” We can and We will “. Manisha, is a brave warrior who , despite having 64% auditory problems , has successfully defeated any kind of disability through her extremely strong mental prowess.
She has carved out her own niche and identity as a brand ,known as “Bikewali” and is the co founder of the group “Odisha Bikerni “, odisha chapter of “The bikerni, association of female bikers of India “ .Her prized possession is her Bike, the beast ,Yamaha R3 ,which she has named as ‘Titli ‘, after the cyclone Titli that hit Odisha in the year 2018. Of course, she is a storm herself!!
Born in the Koraput district of Odisha, Manisha is currently working with the The State Government of Odisha as an engineer in the Urban and Housing Development Department of Odisha. It was not at all easy to reach this feat for her. When I asked her about how it all started, she quickly answered saying that ,”I was in 6th standard when I asked my dad to get me a cycle as my friends used to have a cycle. Dad challenged me to get the 1st rank in class and promised to buy a cycle ,only if I do so. Well, I could not secure the 1st rank. But, I started rolling my Dad’s bike early in morning and kept it back silently before he even woke up. One of my uncles discovered this and helped me learn how to properly ride a bike. I then started riding my father’s bike (a Hero Honda ) to my school and even to my tuition classes . People kept staring at me and I could never understand the reason behind it ! It was only when I was described as a brazen girl in the locality , I understood that I had already entered into one of the so called male bastions; the bike riding scenario ! But by the time I realized this, I had already fallen in love with my passion of riding the bike and there was no going back!”
But how did she manage all this while having 64% of disability in hearing ? She promptly answers that ,” I am just differently abled with auditory issue because I was a premature baby. My problem was detected by my parents when I was about 7-8 years old when I did not respond properly to any voice . I faced a lot of difficulties in studies due to this impairment . I still face difficulty with sound identification . However, I consistently worked on handling my lacunae and with regular practice, I currently manage riding my bike ! I take all precautions for safe riding. Nowadays, my disability is not at all a problem is all I can say.”
For someone wanting to break barriers or glass ceilings it never comes easy . The first thing is to face resistance from the society and its forever present prejudiced mindsets. Manisha recalls that though her parents never restricted her from biking, they wanted her to focus on studies. As she hails from a small village, where girls are generally conditioned to get married and need to settle down without any individual dreams or identity of their own, her relatives and neighbors too prohibited her from riding the bike. ” It’s like falling down from a scooty or cycle is okay, but falling down from a bike is sin! “, she adds this with a hint of irritation in her voice . However ,she never listened to them and kept on pursuing her dreams. To answer a question about women safety, Manisha replies ,” By God’s grace till date I have never faced any adversity except tolerating the general public staring at me as if they have seen an alien .India is currently safe for adventurous solo female riders is what I feel. May be, because we are associated with other bikers from other states and have a solid network within various districts in the state as well. This bond among us ,makes a lot of difference as we are just a call away to help each other. Hence our stay, even in remote corners of the country is completely safe. However, I suggest that women should always have defense equipment ready with them as every thing is unpredictable. Apart from safety issues, I have faced a lot problem due to lack of female restrooms / toilets in the vast stretches of national highways or village roads.
She might be known as Bikewali for her passion but she has yet another feather added to her crown. She is an IIT, Bhubaneswar ( Yes , the prestigious IIT !) pass out having successfully completed her B.tech in Civil Engineering! She had struggled a lot during her school time in her classes due to her auditory disability and was bullied and harassed by her teachers and friends. She lacked even the basic confidence to face people ! She had to mug up the entire books, as she was unable to listen even a single word in the class. With focus and hard work, she managed to get into IIT, where her friends dreamt of getting admitted into. This was a turning point in her life which boosted her confidence. She got encouragement from her professors and her classmates. She worked upon herself and learnt new tricks of communication with people like ‘lip reading technique’ and practiced for hours in front of mirrors to be able to function as a normal human being. So ,nothing came easy for her! But she never gave up.
As the saying goes, when one dream is fulfilled, a new dream takes over. So ,Manisha went on doing the same. Yes, she dreamt big when she co founded the Odisha Bikerni Group ! My question to her was ,”You are the Co- Founder of Odisha Bikerni “, odisha chapter of “The bikerni, association of female bikers of India .Tell us more about the group and its members. And how did you think of starting this initiative? Manisha, with a sense of pride quickly answers that “I was aware of “The Bikerni ,the association of female motorcyclist of India” from social media. It has chapters in different states of India. In Odisha, there was no such chapter for female bikers. In 2016, I met fellow enthusiasts, Ms.Proshis Golyan and Silvana who basically hails from Italy and is currently based in Bhubaneswar. The three of us thought of having our own Odisha Chapter of the Bikerni Association. Soon, Odisha Bikerni started with three of its oldest members, Proshis, Silvana and I. Other female bikers joined us and took the journey forward. We have rode for many causes and purposes like :Anti molestation Ride, Acceptance of Rape survivors in the society, Plantation Ride is carried out twice every year, Women’s Day is celebrated with Ride and charity to orphanage and old age homes. Two of our team members Amita singh and Silvana took up Madhya Pradesh Tourism Promotional Event ride and brought pride to our club by becoming Brand Ambassador of Madhya Pradesh Tourism . Other members in my team are Silvana, Shikhyata, Satadru ,Farheen Sweety Priyanka & Amita singh. As the co-founder of the group its my responsibility that I don’t hinder their personal identity . Simultaneously, we carry out our rides with a specific mission and purpose & strongly believe in sisterhood to help each other for our own personal growth. I have also understood that there are many girls who wish to do biking and come forward to join a common platform .The Odisha Bikerni, aims to fulfil those brave dreams! Each one of us have individual identity yet we are mature enough to carry on doing individual events while keeping the group intact and support each other. “
Talking about her future dreams, Manisha adds that ,”We all are Bikernis, members of Odisha Bikerni group , yet we have different perspectives of biking and life; hence we are all independent but a team and a family at the end of the day .We will try to maintain the grace of our club and help each other in personal growth as well. We will continue riding with purpose to help and inspire other young girls or women who want to make a difference . We do not want them to burry their dreams not knowing that they have all the strength and power within them!”
She has many more feats to achieve and hence she continues to dream on . She also has few expectations from the State Government to make the process of obtaining license a little hassle free for the differently abled people . The Odisha Tourism Dept. can also promote women safety in travel and tourism sector by conducting bike rides by the Odisha Bikernis . This surely will boost confidence and create a lot of buzz and visibility for the tourism space in Odisha, encouraging women solo travelers to also take the plunge. Odisha can surely redefine its space in the tourism sector with much élan!
She giggles with laughter and oozes with energy despite all hassles ! A vibrant personality , Manisha also loves treasuring her experiences her travel stories on her blog https://bikegirlzstories.com/. She loves to write in Odia as she believes it connects more with her target audience at present. The only thing that has made the difference in her life is her mental strength. As per her, mental strength is the only weapon can make every human being successful . Life is a challenge and hence one should have a very positive outlook towards living it. That is how, one can live life to the fullest and cherish the taste of victory. Being grateful is another key and she herself expresses her gratitude to God for giving her a beautiful life. Being happy with what one has is important. she makes it a point to focus on the blessings she has in life and that has helped her get peaceful sleep every night. She thanks her Parents for supporting her but more than anything she praises the Almighty to have guided her so far in her endeavours.
Women have always been treated as second class citizens despite proving themselves in all spheres. Being a woman and having been able to stand up for her own beliefs is something that Manisha has done. So , I was intrigued to know her view points on Women related issues. Hence, I asked her ,”Women are Weak. The society keeps thinking this. what is your take on this? ” Manisha, with light in her eyes confidently answers that ,”Maa Durga is considered as Shakti .We, women are her human avatar . How can even think that women are weak ? Only a woman is equipped to form a new life within her body , bring it on this beautiful earth, nurture it and make sure the life form thrives . One who does all this can never be called weak! Women can be addressed as soft hearted because they understand emotions better, but never weak!”
Well, to just let you know that this girl does not dream about a knight coming on a horse for her, rather she aspires to own a DUCATI PANIGALE !! She and her team members get the best feeling while having their bikes serviced! They have also trained themselves all on their own to quickly fix the basic failure of the bike , if need be, while they are on a journey .What touched me was the inspirational mantra that gives her all the required strength! And her Mantra is “Cherish your Flaws .” And hence , what better caption could this article have, if not what it is?
Ms. Manisha Behera is a youth icon who has proved that impossible itself says I am Possible !! I wish her all the best in all her future engagements. May she continue to carve out her unique path and inspire women to believe that, they too can pursue their own dreams and make a difference! Here’s wishing all my readers a very Happy Women’s Day; though I personally believe that each day is incomplete without the femme power !