Motorcycle diary: First Pakistani girl who dared to ride solo
Marketing student, 20-year-old Pakistani girl writes on her Facebook blog - 'Zenith Irfan: 1 Girl 2 Wheels'.
That summarises the story of Lahore-based Zenith Irfan's life.
Defying social taboo this young woman set on a journey through the Kashmir belt on the Pakistani side.
What made her solo travels even more unusual is her choice of vehicle: a motorcycle.
Wearing a white helmet and backpack carefully tied at the back of her motorcycle, Zenith raced along the dangerous terrain of northern Pakistan.
Inspired by the dream of her deceased father who "wanted to travel the world on a bike", Zenith traveled through Kashmir, riding different motorcycle models including Honda 125, Honda CD -70 and Suzuki GS-150.
On her Facebook page she wrote: "He wanted to travel the world on a bike. He wanted to experience every emotion and tantalize every sense he was capable of. I was 10 months old when I lost him and at a very tender age I understood that "some things just don't last forever". My mother accepted it quickly and we all knew this was all we had; 'each other'. With my brother still in her womb and with me cradled in her arms, she fought and raised us. I guess it's the whole emotional roller coaster that ignited the inner biker girl. I was 12 when I first rode one. All I could remember saying was "How do you stop this? How do you stop this?" With the twist of the throttle, the shift of the gear, I went to places carrying my father's legacy. If I fall, I have to get up by myself. Dust the dirt caused by my own failure and face the raging road again. There is no helping hand. You are the designer of your own catastrophe. We all try to find our escape routes. We all try to seclude in something or someone. For me, it was motorcycles."
She describes herself as a 'free hearted soul', which is evident from her Facebook pictures, in which she can be seen crossing a river, spending time among remote tribes, playing with village children and admiring the brave truck drivers.
Zenith started her six-day journey from Lahore on June 14 and completed it on June 20th.
Her blog is the testament of her adventures. Describing the challenges of backpacking in Kashmir, she writes, "Rocky plains, rugged landscapes, broken roads – a natural combination of all trails is presented to you and you have to ace it."
Zenith said she did not come across any resistance when she decided to make this journey.
For Zenith, riding a motorcycle is synonymous to challenging social norms, "A social taboo is enforced on them (female motorcycle riders) by creating a sense of disgrace and shame."
This is the very perception that Zenith aims to change and dared to destroy gender stereotypes of Pakistan's society and embrace the freedom of soul.
In her own words, "With my motorcycle adventures, I aim to elevate and encourage them (women) to embrace their passions and goals, with open arms."
"I won. In the eyes of those who considered me of lesser strength. Who said I could not ride 20km continously, I won. I proved the world, I was no different and that a woman like me can in fact, ride a motorcycle."
In coming weeks, she will travel all of north, funding mosques for necessary renovation and providing aid to the flood victims in Chitral.
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