Ms Barman says that her fascination with two-wheelers began when she was a young girl. "Since there was no one at home to teach me how to ride a scooter or motorcycle, I joined a training institute in Patparganj," she tells NDTV. That's where she heard of Pillion, a Delhi-based startup that runs India's first battery-operated bike taxis and provides metro and bus passengers last-mile connectivity. At the time, the company was actively looking to hire a woman driver. "I went in for an interview, took a few tests, and was hired," Ms Barman says.
That was nearly a year ago.
Since then, Ms Barman has taken countless rides around central Delhi and says occupying a traditionally male-dominated space has been surprisingly easier than she expected.
"Passengers generally compliment me and tell me I've made a very courageous choice in my career," she says. When she pulls up in on her two-wheeler in traffic, she says she is often greeted with surprised faces and curious stares on Delhi roads.
Her day usually begins at 8 am, when she picks up commuters - typically students and office-goers - who often struggle to get to their final destination after exiting the Delhi Metro. "I ferry only female passengers on my bike," Ms Barman explains. "They tell me they feel safe with me, and say that the bikes are a better alternative to crowded buses and rickshaws." She estimates she takes nearly 25 to 30 trips a day, usually winding up by 5 pm.
Ms Barman says she feels fortunate she hasn't faced any harassment on Delhi streets and says part of her training with Pillion included tackling such situations.
The company says it hopes to hire more women in the future. "I encourage women to come forward and take up this challenge... and create a mark in this field as they have in others," says Ms Barman.
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