Dubai: Indian solo rider plans to travel across 67 countries, makes UAE her second stop

Meenakshi Das was overjoyed with the support she found in Dubai's Assamese and riding community

by

Rituraj Borkakoty

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Mon 29 Jan 2024, 6:00 AM

Meenakshi Das parked her motorcycle and held India’s national flag aloft as she smiled at the camera with the Burj Khalifa gleaming in the background.

This was not an ordinary tourist capturing a moment with Dubai’s iconic landmark.

Das is no ordinary woman. This 41-year-old rider from India’s remote northeast region, who is a mother to a 14-year-old, just kick-started the most challenging phase of her mission to ride solo in 67 countries.

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Her journey, which started from her hometown, Guwahati, Assam, on December 18, saw her first ride to Kathmandu, Nepal.

After ticking the first foreign country off the list, she rode more than 2,000 kilometres to Mumbai before taking a flight to Dubai.

Now it’s from Dubai that she begins the most gruelling part of her mission that will see her navigate the roads in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Netherlands, France, Russia, China, and many other European and Asian countries.

Riding a Bajaj Dominar 400, Das is attempting to write her name in the history books as the first Indian rider — male or female — to ride solo in more than 60 countries.

“I am scheduled to return to Guwahati in November. So this is going to take me 11 months. If successful, my journey is going to be included in the Limca Book of Records,” Das, who has made no modification to her bike, told Khaleej Times before leaving for Saudi Arabia.

With no sponsors to back her on this voyage, Das is carrying only a few essentials like clothes, visa papers and some medicines in her saddlebags.

“I knocked on every door for support at the government offices in Assam. But they only had empty words for me. Maybe no one believed that a girl could do this,” she said.

Das has never been deterred by such obstacles or challenges in life.

“When I went to apply for a job as a gym instructor, they asked me if I was serious because it was perceived to be a job for men. But I have always been like that. I like to break the stereotype. I like to set an example for others,” she said.

But Das admits that she would have never been able to attempt something like this without the support from her husband, Bedanta Rajkhowa.

“He is also a biker and martial arts athlete. Together we rode from Guwahati to Umling La pass in Ladakh, which is the highest motorable road in the world. We have always been in this together. But this (riding in 67 countries) was something I wanted to do alone and he just said, ‘Go, do it',” she said.

While her husband has always been by her side, what warmed her heart was the support she has found in Dubai.

“The Assamese community in Dubai has been so helpful here, they have given me a place to stay. And when Dubai’s riders’ community came to know about me, six of their members came to meet me and encourage me,” she said.

“The bikers were mostly Europeans. They were so happy to see me and learn about my attempt. They wished me luck. It was a heartwarming gesture from them.”

Das is also a travel vlogger who shoots videos while riding and edits them in the night before sharing those stories with her 26,000 followers on social media.

“I am travelling to promote my country and region. But I am also going to promote the tourism of every country I will visit,” she said.

“Of course, everybody in the world knows about Dubai, it’s so famous now. But what many people still don’t know about this place is the culture of tolerance here."

“I heard there is a place (Jebel Ali) where they have built mosques, churches and a Hindu temple in the same area. It’s so beautiful and I am going to promote this in my vlog, so people can learn how mature this country is.”

Finally, the mother in this brave rider kicked in.

“My daughter is very mature for a 14-year-old. But I miss her when I see a beautiful place. The other day, I had tears in my eyes when I saw the gorgeous Blue Waters island in Dubai,” she said.

“But I have taught her to be brave and independent. When I return, hopefully, my journey will inspire her to become a strong person.”

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