The first time I met Firdaus Shaikh it was at the Duster 4WD drive to Lavasa near Pune. She was the only female to have driven the beast all alone but a veteran these toys had amused her since long.
It is not always you come across ladies donning leather riding jackets, riding pants and riding boots. She is one who has broken the hackneyed feminine impressions and revolutionized the definition of femininity. With a fiery attitude in her belly, a thirst for adrenaline high coupled with love for travelling, this gal has a long way to go. From doing stunts in MTV Stuntmania to starting an all women bikers group Firdaus is a package that stands out distinctly in the so called men’s arena.
She is an epitome of the quote You can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive and the focus.
This is the first post in my series of People with Passion who have broken the conventional and gone against the odds, meet Firdaus Shaikh the crusader.
How would you describe yourself?
I’d describe myself as a wanderer with an immense passion for automobiles. I love being on the road and traveling to places without any destination in mind! You have the globe to explore so why just stop at one point is the funda I live by. Spontaneity is something I thoroughly believe in. I’m impulsive, modest, caring, loyal with minimal tolerance to bullshit.
What is your first love?
Without doubt – motorcycling. I love the feeling of being on my motorcycle and being able to ride wherever I want. It gives me a sense of freedom from the daily chaos of life. It’s my meditation and escape from the daily monotony that most of us are subject to. To phrase it, “it’s is a never ending passionate love affair, that’ll last a lifetime”
How did you get into biking?
Motorcycling is in my genes. Both my parents were active motorcyclists and my dad and uncle were into Motorsport. I’ve always been drawn towards automobiles since childhood and its my mum who has honed and encouraged this passion in me since I was 2! So it was pretty obvious that I’d follow suit in my parents footsteps, except that my family wasn’t OK with my doing this. They wanted a daughter who’d ride a scooter and be all feminine. It was a little difficult for my father and uncle to digest the fact that I’d developed a love for motorcycles and was headstrong about riding them.
How has the biking journey been till date? Has your family been supportive?
So far the biking journey has been amazing. Its not been an easy ride as I struggled quite a bit on the family front. None of my family members except for my mum were supportive. It was my mum who got me a motorcycle first. Dad was against it; its just 2 year back that he’s accepted the fact that I love motorcycling and won’t part ways with it. He’s come around eventually. When the family wasn’t supportive, friends filled in with their encouragement and belief in me. That helped a lot. Also the fact that I’m a strong headed helped.
Which trails have you taken in India?
I’ve ridden to Ladakh twice, also covered Kinnaur and Spiti valley. I’ve ridden across the coastal route as well till Coorg. Of all these Ladakh remains my all time favorite. There is something very intoxicating about the mountains. Riding to Ladakh is addictive, and fascinating as the terrain and the conditions keep changing every year.
Do you plan to ride outside India?
Yes, I do plan to ride outside India. There are plenty of routes I want to do, but Eurasia is first on my list.
How do you find traveling?
I find traveling to be exciting. It teaches you a lot about yourself along with perseverance and planning. I get more organized with each ride and have become a better planner too. I have implemented these attributes into my professional life as well.
Your love for automobiles reflects in your work. Is it an extension of your passion?
I’m lucky to be in a profession where my work is am extension of my passion. I’m an automobile writer where my job is to test Cars and Bikes and write travelogues. So this pretty much makes it a fun job as I’m surrounded by machines all the time.
Tell us about Bikerni
Bikerni is an all women motorcycling group that I co-founded 4 years ago with an aim to promote motorcycling among women and help those passionate about it meet others on a single platform. It has been immensely successful and I’m glad that women are not coming out and pursuing their passion for automobiles which was until now restricted to only men.
Risk Factor would be quite high in this area what is that craziest thing that you have done?
The craziest thing I’ve done is extended a 3 hour ride on a whim only to land up in Goa with a single pair of clothes that I was wearing. It was insane and when my mum found out that I landed I’m Goa instead of Kolhapur, she blew her top off! I was dreading to come back home. But it was fun nevertheless.
What are your future plans?
Future plans include more riding , more traveling and writing. I’m working on my website right now and it should up soon. I’m also working on my cafe racer build and hope to finish it soon. Its a dream I’m nurturing for a while now
Any valuable advice to the younger lot
Do what you believe in, even if others are against it. And truly believe in yourself. Its only when you’re happy that others around you will also be happy.
Note – All the photos in this post belong to Firdaus Shaikh.