Bharati Silawal Giri, an independent consultant on Gender and Social Inclusion with decades of experience in social work and policy, has been a powerful woman behind the wheel for over 18 years. In conversation with THT Auto Plus, she shares her experiences on Kathmandu’s bustling streets
How long have you been driving?
I used to drive a motorcycle – Honda Trail 90 cc way back in 1976. I have been driving cars now for 18 years.
Tell us about your first car.
My first car was a Nissan March. I liked the fact that its bonnet was straight so I could see the length of my car from the driver’s seat, which made it easier to manoeuvre in heavy traffic and park. Nowadays, the bonnets of cars are designed to be aerodynamic so the bonnet slopes quite a bit, such that the front of the car is no longer visible and likely to cause accidents.
What do you like about your current ride?
Currently I drive a Maruti Suzuki WagonR. I like its design, the bonnet does not slope as much and it has a higher suspension making it ideal for driving around the potholes in Kathmandu. It has a compact design making it easy to park in small spaces. It has low maintenance costs and a spacious interior.
Which automobile brands appeal to you and why?
Volkswagen, but it has low suspension. I also like Renault. They are both sturdy and strong.
What is it like to drive in Kathmandu?
It is very risky. Traffic and civil sense are lacking on Kathmandu roads. There are no proper zebra crossings for pedestrians, so they have to take a risk while crossing roads. Motorcycles just zoom past aggressively and overtake from any side as per their convenience without showing consideration for pedestrians and other vehicles. Public transports are also in a rush to collect more commuters for profit and do not observe traffic rules.
The only solace is that honking has been prohibited, so at least the cacophony of horns does not contribute to the enhanced stress of driving on Kathmandu’s streets.
What is your dream car?
BMW. It’s classy and has a powerful engine. The design has not changed much over the years, especially the bonnet.
Do you believe women buy their own cars later than men?
It depends on their economic status. Women also prioritise family expenses over opting for an individual car if they already have a family car. However, now that women are more educated and have their own careers, having a car to enhance their mobility has become a necessity.
What’s your opinion on the statement — men drive better than women?
There is a perception that women drivers have less driving expertise because of their gender, but research points out that women drive better than men.
Is it easy finding parking in the City?
Not easy at all! Especially in New Road, one has to be lucky to find a parking space.
A version of this article appears in print on August 29, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.