If the title of the post lead any one to believe that I was going to elaborate on my exotic Driving experiments(like riding a bike on the back wheel or doing a car stunt in the well of Death etc) here, then I would like to clarify that this post is merely a boring account of me and my almost non existent driving skills.
My parents never owned or drove any vehicles. This naturally made me a public transport patron. I am that kind of person who always finds ways to get into the most crowded bus or the one who wedges a seat between passengers in a tightly packed general compartment of a passenger train.Any one from India or who has been to India, would be quick to admit that this is definitely a very useful skill, though many might write me off as one of those ‘irritating types’. My acquired public transport compatibility might be one of the reason why I regarded driving own vehicle as an ‘unwanted luxury’.
The first vehicle that I learnt to drive or rather ride was a cycle( like almost everybody else.). I was 11 or 12 and it was during the summer holidays.A major part of my holidays used to be spent at my mothers place(So many memories there, may be I should write a post on them later). My uncle had bought a second hand cycle for us cousins to learn riding. I was not very interested , until I saw my cousin, 4 years my Junior, tame the two wheeler and ride around the courtyard giving me occasional mocking grins. This infuriated me and my hurt ego prompted me to retaliate. I acquired the so called ‘cycle balance’ in the matter of days(I always had the talent I guess :)) and there I was, happily riding within our compound. But that was it, I remained within the boundaries and never dared to go out on to the road(not NH or anything, an ordinary village muddy patch called road)for a ride.
My Uncle on numerous occasions encouraged me to ride the cycle to the near by temple or to the rice mill or the shop or anywhere.But I did not.
Learning to ride a bicycle made no big difference in my life.I still walked all my way to the school. I once told my Father that I wanted to go to school riding a cycle( only cool kids went to school on cycles those days) .He replied that it was not safe to ride a cycle because of the heavy traffic on the road to my school. I did not persist, I guess I myself was not very keen about trusting two wheels and a shaky handle over my robust and reliable feet.
Years passed and I was in my fourth year of college. A group of girls from my hostel decided to join a driving school.Since it was a group registration, the school had promised a decent discount. Just for the sake of it I joined them and there began my first expedition with a scooter and a car.
From the day one , I realized that the four wheeler drive was not for me. Scooter, I knew I might manage, but I was an absolute disaster at driving the car.I got shouted at, was made fun of and even on one occasion got pinched(yes he did that, I considered reporting a harassment case but decided against it when I understood that he might have done it merely out of fear for his life) by the driving school teacher.
The funny part was that I did okay on the ground, took a decent H(that’s how it works in India, you need to trace an H in the car, in between rods pitched to mark the way, without hitting any rod off) and excelled in tracing an 8 with the scooty (between the rods).
But the moment I was on the road, that was it. My heart would start pounding at the sights of super fast buses buzzing past and I would jump every time somebody impatiently honked . Every time the car would jerk , as I took my leg off the clutch. I always drove in the first gear( I don’t know what the petrol prices were then) forgetting to change gears and my speed never went over 20-25 kph(I was more comfortable at 10-15). I disregarded the mirrors, I don’t remember ever looking into them and never took my hands off the horn.And when I was asked to pull over by the side of the road, on more than one occasion I ran into a ditch or almost hit a tree or a post.
My friends used to ask me teasingly how my ‘hunt’ was after I returned back from my driving classes(though I kept the details of my classes a secret, somehow they guessed).
My college was about an hour from my uncles place (the same Uncle who had initiated me to my cycle riding) and he kept on volunteering to give me some extra coaching on the week ends.My uncle is not a patient teacher and after the first lesson with him I decided that he might disown me if I continued my ‘coaching’ and hence made up reasons to not get into his car( more over I did not want to ride a car that did not have extra brake control at the side passengers end, you know what I mean :))
My youngest cousin(he should have been 5-6 then) one day encouraged me to ride my Aunt’s scooty. Uncle and Aunt were not at home as I was more or less confident about my two wheeler skills, I agreed. I started the scooty and was trying to ride around the house , when I lost control and landed in the ditch dug around a coconut tree. I barely missed hitting the tree,fell down and looked around for my cousin, who was no where in sight. I was struggling with the heavy scooty when one of the Uncle’s helpers( at his shop ) walked by (to my relief) and he helped me push the scooty back to it’s place. I walked back home to see my cousin happily watching the TV and when I inquired about his disappearance, he just shrugged.”Well, a friend in need is a friend indeed” I solemnly muttered to him(well ,it applies to cousins also!!)
And finally the day arrived. The day of my license test. I arrived at the test center with my hostel mates.I had visited three near by temples and one church. My forehead was smeared with different shades of vermilion and sandal pastes.I felt very nervous.
The test began.I traced 8 with the scooty, without pushing off any rod or putting my foot down.It was apiece of cake(though after tracing the 8, I was little over excited and drove straight into the inspector forgetting to brake, but well that was a minor faul!).As expected I traced H in the car without any issues. My real problem was riding on the road, The inspector got into the car with three of us candidates. The other two (both from my hostel) smoothly finished off their rides and then came my turn.
I started the car and as usual when I took my leg off the clutch, the car jerked forward. I saw the inspector shake his head and immediately I lost the last ounce of self confidence that I had gathered. I was driving forward, my eyes seeing nothing, my hands shivering. I heard him asked me to change gears and I am very sure I got it all wrong.
Then he asked me to turn left. Now let me reveal something- a big secret that only myself and my husband know. Its an extremely embarrassing thing; but here it comes – I get confused between left and right. When somebody asks me which direction ii is, I can’t immediately say.I have to make a small writing gesture and identify my right hand.Well, (I have tried googling the same and read about a condition called Dyspraxia- well I just hope I don’t have it because that would mean I can never ever drive a car-more over people with Dyspraxia cannot ride a cycle,but I can yay!!!) .
So back to my test. I put on the right indicator , almost turned right, gasped, put on the left indicator, tried turning,had to apply hard brakes as I saw an Auto coming from the opposite and to sum up -I messed it up.
Did I get the license- well the inspector made me carry all his files back to his office and kept on lecturing me about how driving schools bring candidates who are not yet ready to the tests. And when I was about to return back , he told I have to improve a lot etc etc and then gave me pass marks.I was humiliated and would have been happy to take the test again, but no- I was given the license (may be in return for carrying the files or out of pity)
I got a drivers license after all.I have never showed it off or anything, because did not deserve it. The license never increased my confidence and remained an id card, instead of being a ticket to ‘transport independence’.
I can drive.Yes I can. If all the vehicles and people are evacuated from the road and if I am allowed the luxury of having the road to myself.I don’t know if better practice and little more of moral boosting could have helped me better.
Anyway this is not the end. There is more to my ‘driving stories’. Because there entered a husband in to the scene who was persistent that his wife should be able to drive. And did he succeed? May be I will tell you in a different post. I have made too much of embarrassing revelation in here 🙂