Hello Folks! Today i bring you my interview with Vaishali Kulkarni More. She is an ambassador for Pinkathon, one of the mainstream women bikers of India, a teacher who has taught many valuable things to many students, and most importantly a woman who has been the face of women bikers and an active promoter of the Pinkathon Movement started by Milind Soman. Let’s get into the blab:
Q. Tell us about your background
A. I was born and brought up in Pune, did my schooling, degree in Pune with a short stint in Delhi during the primary school years due to my Dad’s transfer. I have taught from LKG to Grade 12th within the span of 26 years serving in many prestigious schools of South India and Port Blair. I have been positioned in important administration posts too. Just celebrated my 50th birthday. I have a son who is 25 and my husband is a Comdt in Indian Coast Guard. Made the City of Destiny my home about 18 years ago.
Started motorbiking at the age of 17 and enjoyed doing bike stunts. The guys in college who had motorbikes always captured my attention more than the girls and their girlie talks. Joined the group Night Hawks as the only female rider. I did many one-day rides with them on borrowed bikes from friends. Parents were not aware of it, as belonged to a conservative brahmin family, so used to bunk college to pursue my passion. Used to ride RE, Yamaha, Yezdi bikes till the age of 23. After my engagement in 1990, left motorbiking and pursued it again in December 2015 after I took VRS as an educationist after 26 years of service. My son Sahil, motivated me to follow my passion and hobby and thus bought my first bike and started motorbiking again since then at the age of 47.
Post my VRS, I started My solo motorbiking for various women related issues across India, did about 7 treks with YHAI, out of which three are in Himalayan ranges. I have trekked with a group of trekkers in the Himalayas. I took the life membership of YHAI. I became a Pinkathon Ambassador and have been contributing in getting the women to get fitter and take their health seriously.
I became a Rotarian after coming back from a successful trip to USA as a GSE team member and bringing in the highest grant of 18 lakh for Dist 3020 which was used for 3 municipal schools in Vizag. I work as a volunteer for Speaking chalk that teaches communicative English to the underprivileged students for just one hour per week. I am also a fitness enthusiast and swim and run regularly. Participating in 5k and 10 k runs every year!
Q. Starting your career in the field of teaching to becoming a woman known for her passion towards bikes. What made you shift base and how was the experience during this transition?
A. I was a biker first before I became a teacher after my son’s birth. I used to do dirt biking and stunt riding from the age of 18. It all took a back seat after my engagement and motherhood. That is when I took up teaching.
Due to ill health and few surgeries I had to take a break from my teaching profession and that is when my son encouraged me to not go back to work but pursue my hobbies as he had started working and could take care of himself. Thus, i went back to Motorbiking, I didn’t have to shift at all because even though I touched a two wheeler after 28 years. I had never lost the biker in me…it all just came back the moment I sat on a motorcycle and took control of my bike. I was born to be a teacher and I was born to be a biker!!! I still teach Social science through my motorbiking, outside the class now and beyond the textbooks, I believe.
Q. How did your family take to your decision? Who were your support system?
A. My husband still gets worried when I am on my rides and thus no more night riding to help him be at peace when I ride. My son is the main reason why I started riding again. He convinced me to get back to my passion and live my dreams. He had seen my routine for 26 years…home, school, my students and he were my only life …I had pushed everything aside and dedicated myself to this little world of mine.
But today close friends, my son and even my students support me totally. Though my relatives were very apprehensive with what I was doing initially, there is a shift in their attitude towards me too and I would like to believe that they are proud of me as a biker too.
The biking fraternity is a big support too…I am known as the biker mom or biker Didi within the various clubs of the country and have earned respect for my contribution as a biker and for women welfare.
Q. Your experiences during the days of you being a teacher.
A. It would be difficult to put my experience of 26 years across 5 schools of South India in just few words here. Frankly speaking, I can just say that it was the most rewarding, humbling experience of my life. My students made me a better person each day, gave me a reason to smile through tough times and helped me gain more knowledge.
They brought out the best in me, always. They taught me compassion, empathy and innocence. They are the reason today I know the definition of love, respect, dignity and sincerity. I am glad that I chose this career not just cos it’s the noblest but cos it gave me my true identity, it gave me more knowledge, more confidence. Every student I taught has a little piece of my heart with him/her. I love them all and keeping in touch with many of them even after two decades gives a sense of belonging and a family and special bonding. I am still a teacher riding a motorbike, learning each day and teaching each day.
Q. You have made road trips to Hyderabad. Few anecdotes upon the same
A. The road to Hyderabad is one of the best roads. The reason I love the highway is I like to take a halt at the food court “7” for the best coffee in the world. The traffic is disciplined in this sector and very friendly people at the petrol bunks and the village that I pass through en-route. It is a Bikers delight to ride to Hyderabad for sure.
Hyderabad is extremely special for me for many reasons:
- Hyderabad gave me Sana Iqbal, the late cross-country biking crusader who spread happiness and started the fight against depression through her ride.
- Hyderabad gave me a wonderful working family of People Combine and one of my mentors Raj Sir (my last job was at Oakridge International School, Vizag campus)
- Hyderabad gave me some wonderful bunch of trekking friends who were a huge support during my highest trek so far to Chanderkhani pass at 15000 ft. They pulled me along and cheered me every step of it on the last day climb till I reached the camp safely.
- Hyderabad gave me one of my best friends in Pinkathon, Sirisha, who now is responsible for many sporting events being conducted in Vizag too. And through her I met some more amazing people in Hyderabad associated with marathons and Pinkathon, and are a family now!!!
- Hyderabad is home to many of my ex students too, so coming to Hyderabad is always a pleasure as I get to meet them often.
- Hyderabad is exactly half way through to Pune, so a must stop for me!
Q. You are seen taking active part in Pinkathon, which is known as India’s Biggest Women’s Run. Can you let us know the importance of Pinkathon?
A. Pinkathon is more than a Marathon. It is the seed of change. It is the beginning of a movement carried forward by a growing community of empowered women across India, who share a belief that a healthy family, a healthy nation and a healthy world begins with empowered women.
The first step in empowerment is taking control of your own health, respecting yourself and understanding and celebrating the value you bring to your family and society. Empowerment is not a gift of society; it is a gift you give yourself. It is an all women run and this movement is the brainchild of the Ultra man and Iron man Milind Soman.
Pinkathon is also not just a once a year event, the trainings happen throughout the year, It has supported, trained many women to run ultra runs between two cities over few days. In February three women Devyani, Vaishali Mane and Poonam from Hyderabad ran 280 kms from Vijaywada to Hyderabad over 5 days to prove that ordinary women with proper training of 6 months could achieve it.
Q. Could you describe in few words about your journey with Sana Iqbal, the late cross-country Indian biker who hailed from Hyderabad?
A. I still haven’t got over the sudden and tragic death of Sana Iqbal. She was like my back bone in motorbiking. A 24×7 helpline. We both connected during her All India ride when she had a pit stop at Vizag. After that we kept in touch on regular basis. Every time I passed through Hyderabad I stayed with her. I had introduced her to the Rotary clubs here when she raised some money for her campaign, when she was in NE and needed help, my army friends had pitched in immediately. All this helped our bond to grow stronger. When I did my rides, and would not have any reference in a new city, Sana would put in a word for me and I was taken care of!!
Sana was the one who instilled confidence in me to go solo biking after 28 years without fear and always with a positive attitude. Her loss is irreplaceable for me in biking and at a personal level. She was more than a sister for me!!! I will always miss her. I wish to take her mission forward of spreading happiness through my rides now and keep her alive in spirits!!! I will also ride to all the places that we had planned to ride together, in her memory, dedicating the ride to her!!! The Hyderabad Biryani, the Falooda, the spots where I would wait for her to come and meet me while on my rides in Hyderabad and all the memories of Hyderabad with her will always remain special to me.
Q. You always rate Milind Soman high, who is the founder of Pinkathon. Can you put focus on him as a person, and his support towards this initiative?
A. I became a Pinkathon Ambassador as I was always a big fan of his since his “Made in India” and modeling days. But after I became an ambassador, got involved in the work he does through Pinkathon made me realize his stature and my admiration and respect for him grows with each interaction. His down to earth persona, humble nature and dedication to make every woman of this country fit and healthy is just spell bounding and impressive.
He keeps pushing the mark of fitness not just for himself, but for everyone around him. His mother is the biggest example. If the families are getting fitter today, we owe it to him. Fitter women do lead to fitter children and families. He has helped ordinary women change their mindset, give some time everyday to their health and well being. Today thousands of women are taking their health seriously because of his motivation and drive and one day he wishes to see every single woman fit in this country. Ordinary, middle aged women have become ultra runners under his guidance today and the tribe is increasing every day.
There are very few famous men in this country who have turned their female following into something so noble and healthier. Just a small example, if only every celebrity asks people to do 20 pushups for one selfie with him/her like Milind and take his style forward, we would have a fitter nation and more successful one.
Personally, he is my mentor, my guide and like an elder brother who cares for my health and well being as a pink sister and constantly motivates me and inspires me to push my limits. He also is the reason that I have the most supportive family of Pinkathon Ambassadors across India who are my biggest support system and stand by me as a woman! I am ever grateful to him and love him more.
Quick Shot Round:
- Bikes: My passion and my source of meditation and fulfilling my dream
- Teaching: My identity and gave me my most precious students
- Pinkathon: Together we will do more!!! Most supportive family
- Women: Fit women for fit families. My women friends are my biggest strength.
- Health: Top priority and most important.
- Milind Soman: My idol and my Mentor!!! My highest regard for him and his mom
- Risk: Calculated ones! Without them, no adventure. I like to explore the unknown
Q. What are your upcoming events?
A. Vizag’s 4th edition of Pinkathon which is scheduled on 28th October 2018. Campaign for save our one horned Rhino along with a riding brother Julien from Assam. Few long-distance Bike ride across India soon and some interesting rides are all lined up. Doing the 100-day Adidas fitness challenge from end April. Celebrating 2nd anniversary of Pinkathon Training on 7th April in Vizag. Getting myself fitter, post my bad ankle accident which had restricted my leg movements for about a year now.
Q. Anything you would like to convey to all our readers?
A. Stay fit! Exercise, eat right. Take your health seriously. Live your dreams. Follow your passion. Age is just a number. It’s all in the head. Push your limits, you might surprise yourself. Practice compassion and Empathy. Be nice to people. Focus on getting better each day. Never cease to learn till your last breath. Read good content and develop inter personal skills. Invest in experiences and travel than materials. Live life to the fullest! Stay positive and Happy! Love yourself the most!
Q. Few words about Hyderabad Local:
A. I have read your content and enjoyed it thoroughly. It is interesting, and enjoyable. Most importantly the man behind Hyderabad local is very special to me as Sandeep is one of my precious students and I am extremely proud of what he has developed his passion into. Wishing him many more such successful projects and Hyderabad Local rocks just like him!!! Thank you Sandeep and Umesh for this opportunity and for considering me for this feature. All the best!!!
-Interview by Sandeep Rao Kanukolanu (Sandy)
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