Kolkata’s Only Female Uber Driver is Busy Smashing ‘StreeOtypes’

28-year-old Sushma is Uber’s only female driver partner in Kolkata, and she has completed over 500 trips.

2 min read

(This story was first published on 15 September 2018. It is being republished for International Women’s Day.)

“Yeh Uber hai kya?”, asked my cab driver as we pulled up next to a white Maruti Suzuki Alto that I had booked. My “yes”, was followed by a “Auraat chala rahi hai?!” - a reaction that Sushma Midde is used to hearing.

28-year-old Sushma is Uber’s only female driver partner in Kolkata, and she has completed over 500 trips.

I was doing a bunch of odd jobs, but couldn’t put my mind to it. One day, I was just generally chatting with an Uncle and he got exasperated  and said, “Go! Be a taxi driver!”. He meant it as a joke, but the idea stuck to my head, and I was thought, “ I have to be a driver now!”
Sushma Midde

Married to a disabled husband, Sushma says she put her 13-year-old son to in hostel, after which she completely devoted herself to prepare for the life of a driver.

I didn’t tell my parents that I was choosing this life, but my husband was completely supportive. Now, of course, my parents are very proud of me. This car is my life. If it gets a scratch, it’s like my soul hurts.
Sushma Midde

Sushma says she’s used to the surprised reactions of her passengers. “There was a customer who was giving me directions and finally got frustrated and said, ‘Stop wasting my time and pass the phone on to the driver’. I couldn’t stop laughing! Who did he think I was all this while?”, she says while narrating many such stories.

And, how does she handle people who say women can’t drive?

Well, there was this one time when a man told me that women only look good in the kitchen. This was while I was trying to reverse my car. I reversed all the way to where he was standing and gave him a piece of mind.
Sushma Midde

Sushma says that all she wants in life is her own roof over her head and for her son to grow up to be a good person. “That’s it. I have no big dreams”, she says as she drives off to win the streets of Kolkata, once again.

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