July 22, 2004

Driving Miss Daisy

Though the title has nothing to do with any of this.. a part of it does... I was reflecting on how I started my being mobile lessons and that had nothing to do with cell phones since only pagers existed and a rare Nokia 1150. I was new to Bangalore and my brother and bhabhi convinced me to learn driving. According to my genius of a brother learning how to drive would help me learn to take the control the steering wheel of life.. LOL and yeah I guess in one way he was right. My bhabhi was great .. gave me her Maruti to drive around.. Now the whole challenge was to learn the controls.. enrolled myself in a driving school and had an instructor coming to pick me up in the morning. At that time in 1996 it was only Maruti, Fiat and Ambassador.. Now one has a great range of choices.. and I remember there was no concept of fifth gear... Me: aprehensively taking the wheels Driver : Ok Amma , try now.. daunt warry you will driive and Aie am there.. you drive no... Me: OK ( having my heart hopelessly bleeping.. where have I got myself into As we are driving through Old Madras Road we were faced with heavy duty traffic.. I am frozen at the wheels watching the big trucks coming at me ( I know exactly how it feels for a deer who stands still even it knows when it is going to be hit) Driver: Go go go Amma... I am there no ... ( I see him pjuggling with two pedals right and left.. up and down and I think to myself " if I have to do this.. I am never going to learn how to drive) As we are driving through Cox Town , Cooke Town... Me: How nice ( I say to myself) .. this is such a nice place.. ( i remark) Driver: ( with an old been there done that expression) yes yes yes Amma .. Drive Me: Oh this is beautiful.. so many trees ( here I am fresh from Shillong.. seeing all the greenery reminded me of home and I could not go gushing) where are we ? Driver: (looking at me strangely) okok madam this is Cox town but we are not here for a tourist trip you drive no... ( pushing the Break and the other thing called Clutch.. Now I was only doing Break and Accelerator..) ok amma push the accelerator strongly.. Me : ( pushing the break as strongly as possible) SCREEECHHHHHHHH the car stop.. but thank God he immediately takes control and carries on and stops at the side... Driver: Aiyyo da Aiyoo Enamma ... ( all that was greek to me then) you doing beautiful beautiful and see you dont listen..see this Break and this Accelerator... Me : ( sheepishly) Yes Sir. And we plough along.. As we are driving round Ulsoor Lake... Me: ( Now I have the hang of Clutch Breaks and Accelerator and Gear. ) Screeech.. i forget everything and just press the break... my heart beating fast... blip blop blip blop.. Driver: What happened what happened ? You should never do that.. why didnt you press the clutch.. Why did you stop ? Me: ( pretty Angry that he was so blind ) Cant you see that puppy crossing the road... how can I go without letting him cross.. Driver: (now quite frustated... ) Amma, you go dog gig no waiting.. no you kill but you go ... you dont wait.. understand... blah blah.. ( i got a long lecture but was I glad that the puppy could cross.. he he) And thus continued my classes. My driver was pretty good actually. Helped me a lot during the test and then I finally got my license. But the wait and the stifled conversations with the inspector and many strategic moves... made it quite tiring but worth the while. After that a continous practice of driving ... and yeah a lot of hits and misses..(including threats from the thella wallas to take to their politician leader.. threats from the public, one broken bulb of bhabhi's car) later, I was a full fledged driver. I still remember one incident in Vasanthnagar when I was bringing back my niece from school. I dont remember but it was something she needed.. so i stopped at a small steep. told my niece to sit inside while I got the stuff. My niece was happily sitting there .. I was about to cross the road when the car started sliding backward. To my horror and then good fortune.. the window was open and I immediately opened the door and pressed the brakes. Would not have hurt much but I would have broken another of the break lights... I can still sketch the expression of bewilderment in my niece's face.. it taught me to always put on the hand brake no matter what in a Maruti when you are on a slope.. and she never lets me forget that to this day.. :) Tall little lady that she has become... Valuable lessons learnt and today I am a much confident driver and I thank my brother and bhabhi for that... Of course I owe them thanks for many other stuff... but this was one of my important milestones in my life.. for which I will always be thankful.... Though now I also owe my learnings.. and believe me I am still learning the finer tips of meandering through the traffic with my Silverline and that credit goes to me hubby who promises me that I shall never drive like a lady drives.. and he also vows to make me a good driver with good skills. Yes without bias, he is one the best drivers I have come across... he will be crossing 100 in the speedometer and you will never realise it and his control over the wheel is something I really envy.. highways, forest, ghats, included.. yeah he sighs and tells me that when I am driving for more that 15 years I too shall become like that ... SIGH 15 years a long long long time ... LOLOL I guess just like swimming all it takes is practice practice and practice... PS: To think that learning how to navigate would be so important.. Back home in Shillong we never needed a car... out of ten houses one would be having a car. And today it has become a way of life.. But given a choice I would always prefer a bike.. no matter what..