Life begins at 40. And apparently, Pratima Poddar took this a bit too seriously. The 46-year-old started driving buses through Kolkata and Howrah’s crazy traffic around seven years ago, leaving behind a comparatively safer job of driving cabs and ambulances. And today, Pratima feels proud when she sees other women taking up her line of work. “I am proud of Pratiksha Das and am glad that women are coming forward and choosing this profession. It’s a big step forward for society,” she said with a smile.
She, however, rued the fact that women in the city are not keen on driving buses. “I’ve seen that men tend to a bit reckless while driving. They often flout traffic rules and even drink and drive, and put their passengers’ lives at risk. But more women drivers would mean more safer buses, as women won’t display such reckless behaviour,” she said, adding, “A few days ago, a girl from Dum Dum came to me and expressed a desire to learn bus driving. I agreed to teach her, but also warned that it’s a time-consuming process and she must have patience.”
Pratima’s average day starts at 3.30 am, when she and her husband, Shibashish, also a bus driver, go to work. “We work till 8.30 am and return home, as looking after our two daughters is top priority. Our elder one, Rakhi, is pursuing graduation in mathematics from Jadavpur University. She’s also a swimmer and diver. The younger one, Swati, who will sit for Madhyamik next year, is a gymnast. They need my attention. In fact, it’s because of them that I started driving. There was a time when our family needed a bit more money and I started pitching in by driving professionally,” she said.
Pratima got her driving license in 2006 and soon she submitted her documents to Rashtriya Paribahan Sanstha. Initially, she drove cabs and ambulances and then started driving minibuses on the Nimta-Belgharia-Howrah route. “It’s a long route. So, after finishing my morning shift, I do my household chores, and in the evening, we go for the next shift. When I drive, my husband is around as a backup and I do the same when he’s on the wheels,” Pratima signed off.
Source: Times of India