Audrey Maben, India’s first female microlight flying instructor, and her daughter Amy Mehta share more than just a penchant for adventure. Sadaf Shaikh discovers a resplendent family heirloom that the pair hopes to pass down the generations.
Two identical pairs of chestnut eyes greet me when I meet the mother-daughter duo of Audrey Maben (43) and Amy Mehta (19) who shot to fame last November for being the first Indian women to attempt a circumnavigation expedition in a microlight aircraft. They spare me only a cursory smile before plunging headlong into conversation with each other. Having flown in from Mysuru, the city that she calls home, Audrey cannot wait to swap stories from the past few months with her daughter, who has driven down from Pune where she is currently pursuing a degree in visual art and photography. it is some time before the two bring each other up to speed on their lives and are finally able to give their attention to the shoot.
Ideally, the pair should have been able to spend a great deal of time chatting with each other if they had been given the opportunity to be together in a cockpit for almost 80 days during their dream journey. However, as it goes with bureaucracy in India, there wasn’t enough time to get the paperwork in place for the quest and Audrey and Amy's lofty ambitions could not be fulfilled. The matriarch wistfully states, “if one takes a hard look at the lives of the women in India, they would realise that we are a long way off from uplifting our gender. For me, flying is quite symbolic; it involves emancipating women from their chains. When I was approached to take on this mission, I didn’t bat an eyelid before accepting because I had complete faith in my capabilities.”Amy, who has been airborne since she was a practically a foetus, is all praises for Audrey’s determination. “She instilled an enduring sense of self-confidence in me and groomed me into a responsible, independent individual at a very young age. I was free to explore my likes and dislikes and she always encouraged me to articulate my conclusions with assertion.”
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