Woman from Assam on a solo world tour on a bike – The Hindu

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Meenakshi Das is a little over 40 years old, a fitness trainer In Guwahati, Assam and a biker. In December 2023, she set out to see the world, solo, and on her motorcycle (a Bajaj Dominar). Her goal is to create history as the first woman on a solo bike ride across the world. 

Riding 10 hours a day, she is currently in the United Kingdom (UK), after having covered 28 countries of the 67 she has targeted to cover. All she has on the journey are two sets of riding gear and a couple of thick jackets and clothes for herself.  She says she has learnt one thing : “No one cares what religion I follow when they offer help’.

Over a phone call from the UK, Meenakshi says, “I told my family to give me one year to do this solo bike ride across the world. I wanted to do something that no woman has done so far. It is also to overcome my fears and tell the world that women can do whatever they want if make up their minds.”

The decision was tough, with no sponsor and no family outside India, but she was excited about meeting new people, learning new things and doing something that is not quite a fun holiday. “The first country I went to was Nepal. From there I rode to Mumbai and took a flight for me and my bike to Dubai. That was the only flight I took to get out of the country. I had butterflies in my stomach but was excited at the same time,” she says. 

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Meenakshi Das
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Special arrangement

Meenakshi’s journey across the world is also on a tight budget. She says she is saving as much money as possible for fuel, sometimes even sacrificing meals. “But I have met such wonderful people who have opened their homes for me. I have been helped by many young men in Muslim countries; they offered me food and shelter. I once stayed at a bus shelter in Oman, with four men who protected me like their family. In Jordan, a young Malayalee girl let me stay in her house for nearly 15 days when I had a visa issue to travel to Iraq. So many people from Kerala have come to my help. They are all absolute strangers so I have experienced humanity first-hand. My ride has shown me beautiful places, amazing buildings and more. It also helped me meet beautiful people who didn’t care about my ethnicity or religion. When I met with an accident in Armenia, the Embassy of Armenia came to my help; it offered me a good hotel stay to recover,” she recollects.   

Physical challenges

As a fitness trainer, Meenakshi had prepped for the long rides. “Fitness isn’t something that can be stored like a bank. It needs to be fed constantly. I still work out when I get the time to keep me going. Sometimes I am too tired to even think of fixing myself a meal. My back hurts at the end of the day, my goal keeps me going. Plus I am taking my time. Sometimes due to weather or visa issues, I have to stay longer. That works as my rest days. When Indians, especially Assamese people, see the Assam registration plate, they show true Assamese hospitality by making me their house guest. I have met and stayed with families in Germany and now in the UK.” 

Meenakshi on one of her stops

Meenakshi on one of her stops
| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

Meenakshi was to travel to Switzerland from Germany, but since her Schengen visa had expired, she had to come to the UK to apply for an extension; she is now awaiting a response from the visa authorities. “I am tense and excited about making a trip to the North Cape on my bike. I might be the first Indian to do so. I should be proud of that as well.”         

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