Motorcycle Grandma

During her recent two-week road trip from Kathmandu to Delhi and back, people who had heard of Pushpa Lata Acharya’s journey through YouTube lined up by the highway to greet her as she roared past on her Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle.

At every stop along the East-West Highway there were long queues of youngsters who wanted to take selfies with the easy-riding grandmother astride her powerful 350cc Bullet.

The 61-year-old is an avid biker and has travelled to 70 districts across the country on her preferred mode of transport. On this journey, she rode the 700km Delhi-Agra-Lucknow circuit on a single day, averaging 400km every other day. She travelled the 3,200km roundtrip with her son Andip and his friends, but met them only at the end of each day, preferring to ride on her own.

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“There is just something about travelling alone, being independent  and carefree,” says Acharya, who is now busy planning a Mechi-Mahakali motorcycle traverse of the country from east to west.

Acharya first learned to drive two and four wheelers in 1988. By 1997, she was riding a Yamaha RX on the streets of Kathmandu, and since then has changed her ‘ride’ three times.  She bought her latest, the Bullet, in 2017 for Rs600,000.

Acharya says she never liked being a pillion rider, but used to ride on the back when her husband Atma Ram Acharya was still alive. When he died five years ago, she defied custom by not wearing traditional white. Many bad-mouthed Pushpa Lata, but she is the type who doesn’t care what others say about her. 

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This sense of independence and empowerment is her personality, and through motorcycle trips she has become an inspiration for other, much younger, Nepali women. Acharya is also demonstrating to Nepali widows that life does not stop after the death of their partners, and they should live life to the fullest.

Pushpa Lata has been undertaking ever more adventurous trips on her Bullet, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Besides cross-country and cross-border journeys, she also uses her two-wheeler to distribute books to schools in rural areas whenever she is free.

Preparing to drive off from Kathmandu to her parental home in Ramgha of Lamjung recently, she told us: “Every time I ride, it is with the message that each and every woman should take a step up to rise above their station in life.”

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