Published: 07th March 2020
Everyday Sheroes: Meet Rupa Choudhury, the first female Swiggy delivery personnel in Kolkata
In our run-up to International Women's Day 2020, we curated this series of stories of women who aren't extraordinary — but our world may stop going around smoothly if they call it a day
A failed marriage and the deaths of her parents and sister in an extremely short span of time couldn't deter Rupa Choudhury from making history. The 32-year-old's aim in life has always been to be a good human being first and only then anything else. She is the first woman in Kolkata to join food delivery provider Swiggy as a delivery person. She joined Swiggy around September two years ago, in 2018. In January 2019, she also joined Ola as a bike-taxi rider which was also a first for women in the city.
Born and brought up in Santoshpur, a neighbourhood in the southern part of Kolkata, Rupa currently rents an apartment in Baghajatin. Rupa studied at Hirendra Leela Patranavis School (formerly known as Better High School) in South Kolkata. Her childhood was difficult and traumatic, to say the least, as her mother had suffered a cerebral attack while Rupa was quite young and was then paralysed for the rest of her life. Adding to her woes, she has a 10-year-old son (a product of her failed marriage), whom she is not allowed to meet on a daily basis as her divorce case is still pending. Her son stays with her husband in Barasat in the North 24 Parganas district, more than 30 km from Kolkata.
Women, especially, are overjoyed when they see a woman delivery person or a driver. I guess they feel safer. Some of them have also taken me to their houses, introduced me to their families, treated me like I was their own. That's what I feel is my biggest achievement in life. Also, getting to know new people every day is a perk that comes with my job
Rupa Choudhury, delivery personnel and cab driver
Rupa, unlike the others at her age, was interested in technology and technical work such as mobile repairing and working on computers. Due to economic constraints and her parents' health, she could only finish school and has not yet got the chance to study further. Their family had to sell their own house when her father needed a pacemaker to help control his abnormal heart rhythm. Rupa had already begun searching for work then as her father could no longer serve as the breadwinner of the family. In order to take care of her father as well, she could only afford to do a part-time job. That's when she applied for the job of a Swiggy delivery person as the shift for female professionals was from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Rupa has no formal training in riding a two-wheeler. "I have been cycling since childhood, so I just bought a second hand scooter when I could afford it and began riding. The first two days were a bit scary but after that, I got used to it," says the 32-year-old. Her experience with Swiggy has been overwhelming since her first day, she says. "I didn't expect at first that they would call me for the interview at all. Later, when I reached their office, they said that I could join them if I felt comfortable. I could see only men around me and I won't lie saying that I wasn't a bit taken aback. But I felt a bit proud of myself too as I was the only woman there," she adds.
Rupa found the appreciation and understanding she craved for at her workplace that she had not found in her marriage. Her father was hospitalised when she began working for Swiggy and they understood her time constraints and helped her manage work accordingly. Currently, Rupa has no fixed timings in a day, neither is there a fixed target that she has to achieve in a day. Speaking about what she enjoys most about her job, Rupa says, "I have always loved riding, so I enjoy doing that every day. And one major advantage is meeting new people every single day on the job."
When people ask her why she doesn't look for a full-time office job, she always answers that she loves what she is doing despite it being hectic and uncertain. As for her future plans, she aspires to start a business of her own but hasn't decided specifically in which segment.
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