For their ‘work trips’, US women diplomats in India have ditched armored vehicles, and have been seen driving autorickshaws on the roads of Delhi. Their “out-of-the-box” idea is not only creative, but also comes with subtle messaging.
The female US diplomats who are taking the common man’s commute are – Ann L Mason, Ruth Holmberg, Shareen J Kitterman and Jennifer Bywaters. Not only did these women learn how to drive autos in India, where the traffic is drastically different from US, but they have also made personalized additions to their autos.
Ruth Holmberg, who drives ‘black beauty’, loves to go to market in her auto and meet people, which she thinks is her own way of ‘diplomacy’. “I enjoy driving the auto very much and I love it when other women see that I am driving it and I like that they see this possibility for them as well. For me, diplomacy is not all that high level,” she was quoted saying.
Darby Mason, another US diplomat, said that taking the common man’s commute is not only for fun, but to also send a message. “One of my overall life goals is women’s empowerment,” she said, adding that she has two daughters, and one of them is here with her, and also drives the auto.
The Facts of the Matter
The next time you’re in Delhi, and see an autorickshaw with a diplomatic number plate, don’t be surprised. You’ve just seen one of the four female US diplomats, who have been driving auto rickshaws to both set an example, and go to their work using the common man’s commute. These four women are Ann L Mason, Ruth Holmberg, Shareen J Kitterman and Jennifer Bywaters.
Living Life Queen Size in Autos
While Anne and Ruth both drive black coloured autos, Sherin, who is a Karnataka-born woman, drives a pink auto. While the idea of driving an auto was implemented by Melba Pria, a Mexican ambassador, these four diplomats have gone a few steps ahead, and have made their tuk-tuks, their way of living life queen size.
— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) September 9, 2022
What Prompted US Diplomats to Drive Autos?
The diplomats recently spoke to ANI about their PR campaign, what prompted them to drive autos, and how fruitful the experiences have been for them.
“When I was in Pakistan, before coming to India, I was in armoured vehicles and they were big, beautiful vehicles. But I would always look out on the street and I would see the autorickshaws going by and I always wanted to be in the autorickshaw. So when I got to India and had the opportunity to buy one, I took it immediately,” Ann L Mason was quoted by ANI.
When asked about what prompted her to travel in autos for her work-related trips, she said that her mother is her inspiration, who instilled the trait of taking chances in life.
“My inspiration is my mother, my mother always took chances. She travelled around the world, she was in the Vietnam War and she did so much with her life. Life and she always taught me to do interesting things and take a chance because one you might not get another opportunity and two you never know what you might experience,” she said.
Diplomacy Done Right
Meanwhile, Ruth Holmberg, who drives ‘black beauty’, told ANI that driving in an auto and going to market is her own way of ‘diplomacy’. She mentioned how people are impressed to see a woman driving autos, and they see a possibility for them to do something more in their lives.
“For me, diplomacy is not all that high level. Diplomacy is people meeting people, people getting to know each other, and getting a chance to build relationships and that’s what I can do with the auto,” she added.