Dear Bike Lovers, this enthralling story of Veenu Paliwal who is The Lady of Harley (Dunes Harley-Davidson) will surely be a thrilling treat for you. Breaking all the stereotypes of a woman bike rider (that too, the best like Harley Davidson), Veenu shares her exciting journey of following her ‘chah’ (desire).
On a chilly Friday afternoon I, fully dolled up in a leather jacket and bling shoes (in a biker’s mode), met Ms. Paliwal at her Chah Bar– a Victorian Tea Room Lounge (owned by her, yes she is a hands-on entrepreneur too).
Veenu Paliwal, who has been riding a bike since her college days, shared her roller coaster life’s journey with us. With all ears, I sat like a curious child to hear it out.
Me: Tell us how your bike journey started?
Veenu: My father who is an avid bike rider laid the foundation of my passion. He used to take pride in taking my mom along for the rides.
Me: So has your family been supportive of your craze?
Veenu: My father was dumfounded when he got to know, as biking is a serious sport and one has to ride very safely. He obviously still shares the same concern. He calls me putrika (combination of putra & putri) – that’s soooo sweet. My daughter has accompanied me during a ride and shows the same passion. However, my son isn’t much keen to be a biker, which is surprising according to societal notions. Both my children are proud of me as I am living my dream and setting an example for women by breaking the stereotype.
Me: Talking about stereotypes, how do people react when they see you riding a Harley?
Veenu: I get asked silly questions like if I am trying to fight for gender equality. I want to tell them, I am just following my passion, just like you!
Me: Which has been your best ride till date?
Veenu: Every ride is unique and memorable for me.
Me: So how come you are referred to as H.O.G Rani? (My inquisitive mind popped up this question!)
Veenu: In Rajasthan Chapter, which is Dunes Harley-Davidson, I am the only woman rider (in Jaipur as of now). So a friend of mine who is from BBC named me as H.O.G Rani. And, I am treated like one, too!!
Me: Who is your inspiration?
Veenu: It has to be my friend Bunty Tanwar (then Director HOG), who ignited my drive to live the passion and I owe all of it to him.
Me: Any particular incident that you would like to share with us?
With a pause, Veenu started laughing and shared an instance that indeed was worth treasuring.
Veenu: On one such NWR – North Western Ride, I came across a woman, an Enfield rider, who was getting the tank filled. With the gesture of thumbs up to each other, she asked me, “Can you ride Enfield wearing patiala (a traditional apparel of women in North)?” With a roar of laughter, I replied, “NO, I can’t, and that’s why I salute you.”
Me: That’s hilarious! If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
Veenu (grinning): That’s a good question and difficult too. I don’t know what else I would have been doing except following my passion.
Me: Tell me, which all places would you want to explore now?
Veenu: I am looking forward to road trips to Leh, the Rann of Kutch, and Bali!
Me: Exciting!! Which is your next ride?
Veenu: The next ride is not a bike ride, it is a Women Car Rally organized by Rotary Club which I am participating in. The other upcoming events that I am desperately looking forward to is India Bike Week, which will be held in Goa in February and the Rann of Kutch Festival.
Me: Let’s switch to talking about your entrepreneurial journey. How is your Chah Bar doing in Jaipur?
Veenu: I have received good response from Jaipurites and very soon I will be launching new offerings under Chah Bar.
Me: The name fascinates me. What’s the story behind?
Veenu: Well, chah means desire and in Bengali it also means tea. So one has to have a desire to follow the dreams or aspirations, this is what I believe in!
Me: That’s interesting! What’s next lined up for you?
Veenu: I want to enter politics and to change the notion that it is a bad world, and one shouldn’t dwell on it. I don’t believe in cribbing, rather making a change.
A lady with a mission.
Me: Finally, any message for riders or aspiring riders?
Veenu: I want to spread a social message of Driving + Riding with safety. And to women who have been trying to come out of their closets, I want to tell: You have to do it to overcome it.
I ended this wonderful rendezvous with Veenu, gulping down cold coffee about which I entirely forgot. We salute Veenu for her courage to be a freewheeling woman who chose to pave her way.
Photo Courtesy – Himanshu Goel