A captain at work, a wanderer at heart
Shazia Jamal joined Careem almost 3 months back with obvious concerns about her safety and security in mind. Careem was able to convince her by offering her regular clients and clients who had no record of behavioral misconduct.
I had a pleasant encounter with Shazia and thought who else would know what it means to to be behind the wheel all day? With so many questions pouring into my head I could not stop my inquisitive self to start a conversation.
Though this happened weeks before the Saudis finally decided to start living in the 21st century by bestowing upon their women the permission to drive, but somehow the day I read the news, my mind associated it to the story of this particular Careem captain and the timing to write about it seemed perfect.
Shazia applied for a job in Careem before her husband passed away. She genuinely thought driving is a skill that she not only masters but also enjoys and can put it to a good use.
After the sudden demise of her husband Shazia decided to be a full time Careem captain and steer the ship out of a storm that life had sent her way.
Based on the satisfaction in Shazia’s tone and the positivity in her attitude I assumed that she was having a good day at work and I planned to use the opportunity to ask her more about her job, take notes in my head and write about it soon.
Shazia admits that initially she doubted the society’s reaction to her new role but guess Simran was wrong and to her surprise the same society helped her step out of her comfort zone and gave her profession the respect it deserves.
What was Shazia’s first day at work like?
Speaking to a modest yet confident woman almost my mother’s age about her audacious driving skills on the roads of the twin cities(Rawalpindi and Islamabad), I really wanted to know what her first day at work was like.
On her 1st day as Careem Captain Shazia took 4 passengers and all turned out to be women, they all were very helpful and considerate about the fact that it was her first day. One of the passengers waited 45 minutes for Shazia to reach the pick up location and also guided her continuously without showing any signs of annoyance. See! This world isn’t a bad place after all 😉
By the end of her third day on the job Shazia was much more confident since all her passengers that day were men who gave an equally positive response and appreciated Shazia’s efforts. A few of them thought Careem should increase the number of female employees so women feel more comfortable using the service.
Would Shazia have re considered her decision based on the society’s reaction?
Shazia believes she enjoys what she does and does not look for any one’s approval but encouragement from every individual does count irrespective of their gender. Girls today have much more exposure compared to what Shazia’s generation had and they are much more firm when it comes to making life decisions but even then support and appreciation is always welcome. Given the nature of her job, Shazia agrees that it is near to impossible for her to enjoy it if she does not have the society’s support.
What is Shazia’s favourite part of the city (or cities) to drive around?
Though Shazia’s aim is to complete as many rides as possible daily, she does enjoy exploring new parts of the city and enjoys driving in Islamabad more. Sorry “pindi buoys” but she cannot be blamed, the city is 20 minutes outside Pakistan.
Does Shazia see herself doing this for long?
It has not been long enough since Shazia started working as a Careem Captain and her passion for her job has already grown to a new level. She plans to become a professional tour guide side by side. She has already taken two student groups separately to Arang Kel in Neelum Valley and Ratti Gali Lake and wishes to do more trips in the future.
Does Shazia think that our country has less opportunities for women to travel alone safely and our culture endorses that?
Not that I wasn’t already impressed by this lady but at this point Shazia dropped the final bomb at me that not only is she fast and furious, she is also a women’s activist and one of her reasons of stepping into this field was to break stereotypes. She wanted to prove that women can be brilliant drivers, be completely fine being on their own and enjoy while being at it. It might sound like the smallest of our problems with the acid attacks and all sorts of physical and mental abuse but it is a good start to bring about change in a male dominated society. There should be more opportunities for women to travel alone, feel safe and have a chance to meet the daredevil that hides somewhere deep inside.
The role of a careem captain is undoubtedly demanding but Shazia loves the challenges and adventures her job has to offer. Despite the stress of being on the road for a good part of the day her cheerful personality is proof that she is a wanderer at heart.
Travel Diaries Pakistan wishes Shazia Jamal all the best with her endeavors and we look forward to have her as our tour guide to some beautiful location in Pakistan.