For 22-year-old Zamrood Parveen, hailing from a conservative background, life changed and financial difficulties ended when she took up driving with Uber. Zipping through the roads of the Capital behind the wheels of her cab, Zamrood is now a confident and independent girl with no financial pressure.
She grew up in a conservative mohalla in Bijnor and lived there until she completed the eighth grade from Muslim Kudrat Girls Intercollege. She then moved to Delhi, along with her mother and three younger sisters.
"My mother always wanted me to do something and be a free woman. When she heard about Uber, she asked me to learn driving as she herself always wished to. But due to societal pressure and problems in our community, she could not. Then she stood beside me and took me to driving class. Now, not just me, my mother also knows how to drive," said Zamrood, who is doing the final year of her graduation by correspondence from Jamia Milia Islamia.
Zamrood, who drives from 6 a m till 9 p m with a break midday, has become an inspiration for many other girls in her community.
She said, "My family has been very cooperative and passengers are equally nice, though they are sometimes shocked to see a woman driver".
Mahalakshmi (29) from Bangalore had always wanted to contribute towards improving her family&’s finances. While scanning through job opportunities, she came across Ola. The convenience and flexible timings led her to start her journey as an independent driver with Ola in the city.
"My life changed and now I am able to support my two children in their educational needs," said Mahalakshmi, adding that though traffic is a problem, as and when required, she drives at night too. Shabana has been driving with Uber for a year.
She secretly took driving lessons without telling her parents because she loved driving. When she decided to become an Uber driver her parents were shocked but she convinced them. Asked whether she had ever felt scared, she said, "I have martial arts training and can beat up any guy if he tries to act funny. Men and women are equal and it’s up to us to lead by example".
Some students also take to driving cabs to finance their higher studies. Monica Yadav, 22, who is an Uber driver, raises plenty of eyebrows when she picks up passengers. Yadav, who is an architect, is pursuing her Masters in Civil Engineering, and wants to become a commercial pilot. This busy bee is also preparing for her Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) exams and is the first woman driver in Ahmedabad.
"People in Gujarat are very nice and friendly. I have driven for more than 20 hours a day and have made money. Now many of my friends are also trying to get into driving," she said.
Thirty-year-old Kanchi, who took up driving around one-anda-half-years ago juggles between two professions of event management and driving. An electronics and telecommunication engineer, Kanchi’s husband and other family members encouraged her to drive on the Ola platform as she is extremely fond of driving.
On the problems she faces, Kanchi said, "Being a woman driver, passengers, especially male, take extra precautions. They continue to guide me and instruct me how to drive. This at times irks me but this is the mindset this society has".
Kanchi prefers the evening shift. "We have an Ola driver helpline and cabs are GPS connected and well monitored so nobody dares to do any mischief," she said confidently.