The Telegraph
Thursday , December 27 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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CIMA Gallary

Girl gang in driver’s seat

Saraswati Mondal used to work for a tailor and had never touched a steering till 2010. The 24-year-old now feels at home in front of the wheel.

Sampa Dey’s husband did not want her to become an ambulance driver like him. The 22-year-old now claims to drive better than him.

The two are members of the all-women valet parking desk at Medica Superspecialty Hospital, off the EM Bypass. Be it a burly Ford Endeavor or a more mundane Maruti Alto, Baby Roy, Shibani Das, Saraswati and Sampa park them with ease.

“Remember, they always park in the reverse and nine times out of 10, between two cars. It’s usually one smooth movement,” says hospital chairman Alok Roy, who came up with the idea of employing women to park vehicles.

The four, from economically backward families in the neighbourhood, had never thought of entering “the man’s world of driving” until they heard of the vacancies from people Medica had asked to spread the word.

The valet desk started functioning in late-2010. Recognition came for the four in the form of the trophy for the Most Inspirational Women Drivers, given by Bajaj Allianz. The ladies from Mukundapur, who participated as one team, secured the most votes among the seven finalists shortlisted from 70 entries posted on the Internet.

“Most people are taken aback when we offer to park their cars. Some hesitate to give us the keys, but once they see us do our job, they approach us with a smile,” says 24-year-old Baby Roy.

Convincing their families to let them take up the opportunity was tougher for the women. Two years on, every one is happy. “When some of my neighbours see me, they tell their young daughters that they should learn to drive like me,” says Baby.

The hospital had begun training the four soon after it was inaugurated in 2010. “They enrolled for classes at driving training schools and also learnt from their relatives. Simultaneously, they started parking cars belonging to the hospital employees,” said an official. There were some nicks and dents initially but soon the women were as good as any male valet.