The image that pops up in your head when you think of bikes is young guys, riding, with probably some cool stunts, and swag.
Motorbikes are considered a man’s vehicle, but Archana Timmaraju, shows us otherwise. An adventure enthusiast, Archana, is hearing-and-speech challenged. And she didn’t let that adversity affect her life or her passion.
She’s the first hearing-and-speech challenged female motorcycle traveller in the world. With over 20,000 km of motorcycle touring experience, she rode from Bengaluru to Leh and back, covering 8,300 km in a single shot during the month of April-May of 2018 along with her friend and colleague Daniel Sundaram.
We live in a world, where, even though most of us are perfectly healthy and capable, we live with insecurities and fear. We let these insecurities hold us, but Archana was different, inpsite of being born ‘hard of hearing’, she didn’t consider herself less in any way. With true grit, sheer hard work, and of course with substantial support from her family, she grew up as a normal child – comfortably conversing (in English) without seeking the help of ‘sign language’, though she has gained expertise in it.
Archana Timmaraju was born at Hyderabad and did her initial schooling at “Vidyaranya School” in Hyderabad. Right from her childhood, Archana had a passion for ‘adventure sports’ and participated in various trekking, scuba diving, and biking events. Starting with riding/driving scooters and small cars, she took up driving her friends’ motorbikes and her father’s jeep.
After her schooling, she joined the famous “Karnataka Chitra Kala Parishath”, in Bangalore, where she completed her Masters in Visual Arts (MVA), specialising in ‘sculpture’.
Furthermore, Archana participated in a month-long workshop on metal-based sculpture at ‘Shilparamam” in November 2011. Works done by her at this workshop are installed at “Sculpture Park, Shilparamam” for public viewing.
Experience Sowed Empathy
From her personal battles, Archana developed a deep understanding of the issues faced by children who are born ‘hard of hearing & speaking’ particularly children who are not as lucky as her to have received ‘speech therapy’. She started several initiatives to create awareness and instil confidence among hearing-and-speech challenged people.
Her trip to Leh was motivated by the desire to spread awareness about different forms of communication, non-verbal in particular. This led to Archana co-founding a company called Silent Expedition.
Silent Expedition is aimed toward creating awareness amongst the general public on the issues faced by the ‘hard of hearing community’ and to enhance their confidence levels. It lays emphasis on inspiring and building confidence in people with hearing disabilities through motorcycling or any other means to explore the world outside.
Ask Archana why, and she replies promptly, “When I see normal people riding motorcycles or commuting with headphones on all the time, they’re still able to make it without having to hear the traffic sounds. If everyone else can, why can’t we?”
Her accomplishments on her Royal Enfield Thunderbird surely support her claim, with an east-to-west southern coastal ride to her credit as well, during December 2018.
Archana currently works for ‘Aditi Mallya International School’ a reputed school in Bangalore as ‘Art Teacher’ and thoroughly enjoys working with children.
Motorhead: Love For Bikes
Archana’s first love was a Yamaha RX-100, which got her to motorcycling almost 15 years ago. But now, she rides for a reason: Bring a paradigm shift in the Indian education system for the hearing impaired. And that is why in early 2022, she will be going on a mammoth 50000 km ride covering 45 countries including India, Southeast Asia, Mongolia, Russia and across Europe, with the finish line at Portugal or Africa. The objective of this ride is to understand how the universities, economy, the government and its people in these regions influence the deaf communities, and how she can use that collective data to bring about a transformation back in India. In that pursuit, Archana will be visiting close to 60-plus schools and institutions and will be interacting with teachers, sign interpreters, students and other support functions.
The Roadmap Ahead
Archana’s equally pressing need is to use this international platform to raise awareness about the many concerns India’s hearing-impaired people face vis-à-vis inadequate education facilities, access to everyday life and the disrespect meted out to them. According to her, this would help increase the attention of the service organisations who can assist in generating funds for improving the education and economic upliftment of the deaf in India. “My main aim is to drive home the point that deaf and hard-of-hearing children need to study exactly the way hearing children do – but in sign language,” asserts Archana.
She says, sign language is their best way to think and express themselves, which will enable them to learn and grow in equal competitiveness with the rest of the world. Archana concludes, “But the love and respect for my people in my country are far from reach, and I’ve got to do something about it. I want to be the best reason for their better tomorrow.”Archana is an inspiration not just for the hearing-and-speech challenged people, but for all of us. Her remarkable courage and strength, combined with empathy for the less privileged, is a virtue each of us should embody. She didn’t let the society or the patriarchy hold her back. She didn’t let her disabilities pull her down. She set her goal, donned her helmet, started the bike, and rode into the sunset with flying colours.
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