LAHORE (Nudrrat Khawaja) – Defying societal boundaries and norms, a 20-year-old young woman set on a journey through the Kashmir belt. What made her solo travels even more unusual is her choice of vehicle: a motorcycle.
Inspired by the dream of her deceased father who “wanted to travel the world on a bike”, Lahore-based Zenith Irfan traveled through Kashmir, riding different motorcycle models including Honda 125, Honda CD -70 and Suzuki GS-150.
When asked about her decision to ride a motorcycle, she defiantly replied, “Why not?”
Wearing a white helmet and backpack carefully tied at the back of her motorcycle, Irfan raced along the dangerous terrain of northern Pakistan.
The daredevil started her six-day journey from Lahore on June 14th and completed it on June 20th. On her return, Ifran documented her journey in a personal photo blog on Facebook, “Zenith Irfan: 1 Girl 2 Wheels”.
Irfan said she did not come across any resistance when she decided to make this journey. “My mother is a very liberal woman. In fact, she was the one who motivated and pushed me to ride a motorcycle,” said the braveheart.
For Irfan, riding a motorcycle is synonymous to challenging social norms, “A social taboo is enforced on them (female motorcycle riders) by creating a sense of disgrace and shame.”
This is the very perception that Irfan aims to change with her motorcycle adventures.
She describes herself as a “free hearted soul”, which is evident from her Facebook pictures, in which she can be seen crossing a river, spending time among remote tribes, playing with village children and admiring the brave truck drivers.
Irfan’s personal blog is the testament of her adventures. Describing the challenges of backpacking in Kashmir, she writes, “Rocky plains, rugged landscapes, broken roads – a natural combination of all trails is presented to you and you have to ace it.”
Despite the difficult terrains and rocky mountains, one thing she found challenging was “public stares”. She said that being a Pakistani woman there are certain limitations, “I have to calculate my speech and body language.”
Her carefully documented journey can serve as a guide for future women adventurers, who dare to destroy gender stereotypes of Pakistan’s society and embrace the freedom of soul.
In Irfan’s own words, “With my motorcycle adventures, I aim to elevate and encourage them (women) to embrace their passions and goals, with open arms.”
In coming weeks, Irfan will travel “all of north, funding mosques for necessary renovation and providing aid to the flood victims in Chitral.”
For more photographs and updates on Zenith Irfan’s motorcycle adventures, connect with her on her Facebook page.
Photos: Zenith Irfan