- Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Menal Sadia Yeasmin Chowdhury, a passionate biker with avid love to travel, a media professional, and a proud travel blogger. Academically I have done my Masters Degree from American International University, Bangladesh in Marketing. Right now, I am working at HAVAS Media Bangladesh as an Assistant Manager for the last three and a half years. HAVAS Media has been one of the top-notch media agencies in the media sector of Bangladesh. Previously I have worked in various companies, like Asiatic Mindshare Limited, MEC to name some. I am a media planner by profession and a biker out of passion.
- What made you get inspired to be a biker?
As a person from my childhood, I have thought of myself as an independent soul. I have never really taken much help from others which helped me grow as a self-dependent individual. Unlike other girls, I was more outgoing from an early age. I grew up playing several sports, cricket, and football being my favorite was mostly played with my elder brother and friends. I have played basketball and volleyball in the later years as my family has always supported me noticing my athletic capabilities. They always treated me equally to their son, showing no discrimination between a boy and a girl helping me grow with a liberal mindset. When I was studying in my seventh grade, I tried to ride a motorcycle in an open field with my uncle instructing me while I was on a vacation, visiting my grandparents in my hometown. The bike had a tag line written on it, it stated “Why should boys have all the fun?” giving me a certain inspiration to choose biking as my passion. That is the first time I felt that bike give me wings to fly, be free as a bird in the open sky. It was a life-changing experience that inspired me to become a biker later on.
“…as a girl, I had to face criticism, negligence, and sneers from the surrounding which included other bikers as well.”
- What would be that one thing you would like to change about the biking scenario of Bangladesh?
The mindset of the society surrounding us that still thinks that only guys should ride bikes. To break the norm, we have to step forward so girls can enjoy their freedom. We girls must have the right to choose our vehicle and mean our transport.
- How was the journey for you as a biker till now?
The journey is an endless learning experience. At the beginning as a girl, I had to face criticism, negligence, and sneers from the surrounding which included other bikers as well. It has been more than five years now that I have been riding successfully on the streets of Dhaka gathering experience and with the growing skill I have observed people’s acceptance towards bikers (who are female) has increased. Not only that, but respect is also shown to those who ride despite being a woman.
- What traveling means to you?
The other name for traveling is Oxygen and Peace. As a biker traveling means a lot to me, seriously it is my oxygen. I use to travel with or without my bike after every one month or two to refresh my mind. Till now, I have managed to travel to various places in Bangladesh that include Cumilla, Srimongol, Munshigonj, Tangail, and Cox’s Bazar with my bike. Other than that I have traveled to a popular tourist location as well. To know more about my tours, subscribe to my YouTube channel “Ninja Menalism”
- Which trip is the most memorable to you?
I must say that the YRC Presents Cox’s Bazar Riding Fiesta has its place in my heart. That was the biggest bikers’ get together that has happened in Bangladesh. Organized by Yamaha, almost 750 bikes with 1200 people joined the 4 days long program with lots of engaging activities planned throughout. The best part about this event was, users of other brands were also allowed to participate in this program. Their arguments included briefing to bike servicing along the journey in different points of Cox’s Bazar to providing food and accommodation made the trip one in a lifetime experience. Bikers joined from the far most locations like Joypurhaat, Panchogar, and Thakurgaon which inspired many other bikers to join in later. The concert, Firework, games, and sport kept everyone busy in those four days making it an unbelievable experience that everyone present on the trip still recalls to this date. Other than the journey from Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar I rode my bike across the various place, of which Marine Drive has the be the most beautiful road I have been at. I completed 1000 km along the whole journey in just 3 days with my scooter that later proved to be a huge milestone for me.
- What motivates you to continue biking? Does your family support biking?
See, biking is my passion and it hardly needs anything for me to get motivated about biking, it comes from within. I am blessed that I had been being supported by my family members from the very beginning to do whatever means can do, which includes biking as well. My family never thought of putting restrictions on me just because I am a girl. Truly I am blessed to have such a progressive family with such a liberal mindset.
- What are the challenges you have faced while biking in Bangladesh?
To start with, it has to be the roads. The roads couple up with the traffic control mechanism are yet to be perfected for bikers. We have to deal with both mechanical and manual vehicles while we are on the roads. Highways are dangerous as people like to cross the road casually or sometime by running across upcoming moving vehicles. Objects are kept on the side of the road and those antique means of transport like Votvoti and Nosimon often come from the wrong side of the road makes it difficult for us to bike. The highway most of the time has markets on both the side of the road making it more prone to accidents happening very often. Highways in foreign countries are isolated from the residential areas, they are more sought after keeping in mind the safety of the commuters. Increasing lanes and widening the road will only make it unsafe if restrictions are not created to stop anything from approaching the highway from a different point. Driver’s consciousness needs to be prioritized as being the only one conscious will not result in anything fruitful as other mistakes will lead to accidents as well. Rules need to be strictly followed.
- Do you consider adding “Female” in front of rider or biker sexist?
I do not support adding the gender before a biker. A biker must not be segregated by a person’s gender. Bikes do not know who is riding it, all that matters are how a person rides a bike.
- What would be your favorite quote and why?
“Life is more precious than time” is one of my favorite quotes. The meaning of these simple words is very deep and insightful. I believe that our life is more precious so do not rush or over speed just to save some minutes of your commute time while putting your life at stake. No matter which bike you are riding or how powerful the engine is, the thing that only matters are riding within your control. So I suggest not to ride exceeding your controlling capability.
- What bike do you have now?
I have a Yamaha FZS Fi V2 and Yamaha Ray ZR Street Rally Scooter.
- What is your dream bike?
Due to my height disadvantage, I cannot manage many bikes but I wish to own a Kawasaki Ninja someday and that is my dream bike.
- What do you wish to buy next?
My next bike can be a Suzuki GSX-R or a Honda Repsol CB150R. Wish me luck!
- Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Please always maintain safety for yourself and your pillion as well. Use a full-face certified helmet and all necessary safety gear. Do not cheap out on safety gear and please follow traffic rules. Highway riders should always use a certified helmet, knee, and elbow pads as the studies say it helps rider survive even in major accidents with minimal injuries. Thanks a lot.
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