Nothing Can Stop You If You’re Strong Willed: Shazia Ansar
We’ve seen and heard about women who have emerged strongly from the lowest of phases and transformed their lives. Shazia Ansar’s is one such story. The 37-year-old is a professional corporate trainer and a proud motorcycle rider. She is also an active member of the JAWA Yezdi Motorcycle Club in Bengaluru.
SheThePeople.TV spoke with Shazia Ansar about her love for bikes, her family, a rough phase and how she regained her strength all over again.
Love affair with bikes
Being a JAWA mechanic’s daughter, Shazia grew up watching her father, Ansar Baig, work in his garage. She was ten years old when she was awestruck by something she saw in her father’s garage. “I was in grade four. I often saw this mother-daughter duo coming in with their bikes to my dad’s garage. They weren’t Indian. One day, I saw them riding these huge bikes and my admiration grew,” she recalls.
That’s when her passion for riding began. “I told myself that someday, even I would own an Rd 350 bike. Time passed and I finished my schooling and college. Once I started working, I wanted to purchase a bike of my own,” she says.
Her brother too shared her passion and together they saved money to purchase their own bike. And then there was no looking back. Shazia, who is a vintage bike lover, does not relate much to the new technology bikes. “Maybe I belong to another era,” she laughs.
While riding a bike keeps her buoyant, it is her family which helps her in this. “I can’t begin to tell you what an important role my family has played in my life,” she says.
“Any decision I’ve taken, personal or professional, they’ve stood by me,” she says.
Now, mother of a son, Shazia’s life changed in 2016 when she injured her face and spine in a car accident. The accident not only scarred her face but also her spirit. She was on bed rest for quite some time.
“While I was unable to to move, the only thing I wished for was to get back on my bike and experience the same fulfilling feeling. The accident was traumatic and unfortunate. But I knew there was no chance of giving up on hope,” she reflects.
Shazia regained her strength back with the help of her family and immense willpower. She still has a tailbone fracture which, she says, she may live with for her entire life. Although this does not stop her from riding. “Took me a while, but I emerged out of it even more stronger. It was during the rest period when one fine day I was so frustrated I literally wanted to get back on my feet. It was then that my brother handed my the bike keys and said “go, ride”,” she recollects.
“Soon after, my brother introduced me to the JAWA Club in Bengaluru and then I found the courage to move forward. It was because I met people who shared the same love and interest. It reinstated my spirit and then there was no looking back,” she adds.
Shattering more than one stereotype
Shazia’s experiences instilled more confidence in her. This, she believes, also reflects in her job as a corporate trainer. She balances her passion and her professional life well. Her most valuable time spent is that when she rides with her son.
Talking about more women taking to riding bikes, and the stereotypes that come with it, Shazia says she has seen a change over the years, but not a drastic one. “We have a long way to go when it comes to equality. The thing is now it’s women who should start taking charge. They should not stop themselves from doing what they want,” she urges.
“We women need to show that we can do everything that everyone believes only men are capable of doing”
Shazia says it surprises people that despite being a woman and a mother and belonging to a Muslim background, she lives life on her own terms and has such distinctive passions. “I won’t lie. People are surprised even today. And that is where lies the problem. Why people still can’t relate to a woman leading her own life her own way.”
“Every woman should understand where her happiness lies and follow that path”
She believes there will always be roadblocks and when it comes to women, there will be plenty. “Difficulties never leave your side, you have to speed past them. What I would advise young girls and women is that try and understand your passion first and then find a way to live it. Nothing will change overnight, but starting somewhere will solve half the problem,” she says.
Shazia intends to inspire more women to ride a motorcycle. She says the only thing that stops a person doing from what one really wants is the person herself. “I want to bring a change and I’m starting by teaching my own son,” she concludes.
While Shazia riding a heavy motorcycle still makes heads turn, it is when people stop looking with surprise and doubt that we will attain the space for acceptance and equal measure.