“‘Taunting’ is one way communication, so no need to reply back, and its not even worth paying any attention to—people around may speak about us- it is what they think about us at that moment —— times change – people’s thoughts change and so do their words -everything changes with time. Ignore what bothers you and keep moving ahead,” -Archana Chigullapally -former air hostesses, solo-traveller, a biker, a trainer and social-entrepreneur———holding a degree of Masters in Business Administration she loves two things- riding bikes and training people for biking. Born in a businessman’s family in Bengaluru, Archana grew up with her brother —— her homemaker mother and businessman father brought up both the children with equal value and ideology. Archana completed her schooling, and did her graduation from Loyal Academy, Hyderabad—she got her masters degree in business administration from ICFAI. In her childhood, her father embedded in her the noble thought of ‘Knowledge Sharing’ and inspired her a lot about the concept of ‘Giving Back’——Archana started tutoring at home, and became a home-teacher for friends in her early school life.
“When I was in the Sixth-Standard, my father taught me to ride his two-wheeler Chetak scooter, and at that time I was the only girl riding geared two-wheeler in my society ——— And when I was growing up I started riding bikes alone, I started training my friends in bike riding,” she remembers. Since she already knew how to ride a bike, she was often asked to train family members too.
Post marriage Archana gave her entire attention to her family and also dedicated herself in caring for her two daughters. Around the year 2018 she realised that many institutions have vehicles but women never drive those commercial vehicles——one of the social taboos that women cannot drive the vehicle; second, the women who wished to learn and do so -they cannot afford its training fees. Archana Chigullapally took up a task in hand, she professionally started training women in NGOs with nominal fees and if any one couldn’t afford that too, then she trained them for free. Archana’s family- her husband and children are great supporters of her teaching passion, and as she is the only female trainer who can train women to ride gear bikes- they encouraged her to take up that responsibility too.
Archana has a unique way of training in bike riding— she never sits in the back seat of the bike to teach her student; she has a one week training period, where within an hour she teaches the basics and then for the next six-days the student practices to ride the bike. Till date, Archana has trained seventeen year old teenagers to seventy-five year old seniors. She also has provided her training services at the government recognised tribal schools in Hyderabad. Today, Archana has different bike riding training modules where she trains differently to those who want to pursue jobs in the delivery service industry, and differently to others who just want to get trained for their personal riding purposes. Archana initiates her training by gauging the students’ personality—if someone has a phobia or has encountered some bad experiences, such people need to be taught with understanding and empathy. Archana teaches five students in a one-hour batch, giving them individual attention, and her students come from Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Vikarabad and Karimnagar. ‘Driving and Traffic Rules have to be followed strictly, and always’, and that’s Archana’s strong belief.
“I go on solo bike trips—I am grateful to my husband and my children for all that freedom and support,” she credits. Even though she has been felicitated by many organisations, various prestigious newspapers, magazines and electronic media have covered her story umpteen times- but, the love and respect that she receives from her students -that she considers as her greatest achievement. Passing her professional span of two-years Archana met a group of IITians in August 2019, and together they have come up with the idea and company ‘Stree Rides’, aiming to increase the mobility for women, the goal of ’Stree Rides’ is to build a safe and reliable commute for all the women -with a belief that ‘Nothing is more reliable than a woman driving on her own self’. The ultimate vision of ‘Stree Rides’ is to build a community, where women can travel on their own, find fellow women drivers to carpool with, use last mile connectivity effectively, women taxi drivers to rely on, and women delivery agents to accept them into our homes without fear. “This will increase the mobility and access for women to work and travel easily, this also will make them independent, and break stereotypes of taking the jobs which people say they shouldn’t,” -Archana affirmed.
While concluding this conversation when asked Archana in her signing off message to women says, “I still remember people calling me as ‘driver’—it has been a challenge to prove myself as a Professional trainer. Many a times to fulfil my professional responsibilities I have to miss many functions and people around me taunt me — but see ‘Taunting’ is one way communication, so no need to reply back, and its not even worth paying any attention to —people around may speak about us- it is what they think about us at that moment —— times change – people’s thoughts change and so do their words -everything changes with time. Ignore what bothers you – keep moving ahead. And one more thing, ‘Be Yourself’ -never compare yourself with anyone——comparison kills. Each of us has our own talent, be unique and you will see yourself growing leaps and bounds”.