Two wheels. And a revolution.
Two wheels that are leading to a silent revolution in Gurgaon.
Optimism is a rare animal today.
When we were kids, we lived in a world filled with it. But along the way, over years and years of frustration, it was replaced by cynicism.
As we grew up, we realized that some things had changed forever. Gone were the days when we looked upon the world as our playground. When we dreamed big. When nothing seemed impossible. When the future was what we chose to make it.
Yes, a lot changed over the years, when one realized that though we may personally strive for change, positivity, development, modernity and an evolution in our thinking, the rest of the world around us didn’t agree.
So the cynicism set in. And it flourished.
I was tired of seeing the unfair rules that the world played by. I was upset at the inequality around us. I was angry at the lack of empowerment of the poor, needy and most importantly women.
Then something changed me. Gave me hope. Helped me look up… again.
Something insipid. Something small. Something low tech. Something that we are all familiar with. Something that we have all grown up with. Something that I had taken for granted all my life, but never realized the power it held.
Now before you judge this as a blog post about a two-wheeled contraption designed to give children hours of fun, let me clarify… it isn’t.
It’s about something much larger. It is about freedom… and empowerment.
I stay in upmarket Gurgaon. And as with every snazzy and happening location anywhere in the country, it also has a hidden side. The side that hosts those who serve the privileged. Those who make a living out of working as maids, drivers, cleaners and guards.
And it is here, that I found the inspiration to hope again.
Gurgaon has never had a reputation of being safe for women. With the limited public transport, the entire workforce of women, who work as maids in the islands of modernity that we have created, have always needed to walk for miles to reach their workplace. Some get dropped by their husbands. Some suffer through a rough and rowdy experience of public transport. But most of them used to walk.
Till someone had a brilliant idea to buy herself a bicycle. Like a steed that gives you mobility, the cycle gave her freedom.
In the late 1890s, the cycle created uproar in the west. As the cycle gained popularity, women were suddenly not restricted to their neighborhoods anymore. They were now capable of traveling longer distances, of seeing more of their world. This contraption sparked a change which gave birth to the ‘New Woman’ – one who looked upon herself as an equal to man – and redefined many norms of those days.
Quite like the revolution that it brought about in the west, the cycle has made a difference to many of the women in Gurgaon.
For one, they are no longer restricted in what they can or can’t do, where they can or can’t go.
Secondly it has helped them save a lot of time. And time, in their case, is money.
Thirdly and most importantly, it has helped to reduce their dependability on a ‘man’ to escort or drop them everywhere they need to go. They do not need to depend on their husbands to drop them anymore.
Now, every day, one sees hundreds of women on bicycles, pedaling their way to work. Pedaling into a new empowered future.
This may sound like a small thing, but trust me it isn’t.
It is empowerment… to be able to lead her life on her terms. And this empowerment is what will eventually lead to a change in attitudes among men… at home and in the outside world.
Yes. We have a long way to go before there is equality among Men and Women.
But in my opinion, this is a step in the right direction, because every small step takes you closer to the final destination.
Because positive and lasting social change doesn’t come from the top, it comes from the grassroots.
As with all big social changes, it usually starts small.
It doesn’t make an announcement when it arrives… it tiptoes in silently.
One minute you’re hoping for change and the next minute you exclaim…
Hey! It’s here!
This is my Look Up Story… an entry for the Look Up Contest, hosted by Housing
Housing envisions a world filled with positivity.