Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On The Road

I had started driving lessons some time ago but as most of you might be knowing (those who are following me on Facebook anyway) it was only recently that I got my driver's license. Reason being I could take my lessons only during weekends because of work. And trust me, taking ANY sort of lessons during the weekend is something I am going to do away with in the future. There were times I wanted to hang around, do some shopping, go for the movies or do something entertaining on my off days but these plans had to be sidelined or canceled out because of... well.. my driving lessons. Those who say driving is a stress-free affair should come meet me. I am improving each day (drove 30 kms the other day, yay me!) but driving is something which has not become "stress-free" for me as yet. I drive with such utmost concentration, I'm fairly sure that if you were to look closely you will be able to see fumes coming out of my head. I even get dreams nowadays of driving my car straight into potholes. 

After years of avoiding driving, I finally made up my mind to go for it and I was all set for my learner's license test. The instructor had told me it would be downright easy and that least preparation would be required. Keeping that in mind, I just breezily went through my manual and landed up at the RTO the next day only to find that the other aspiring drivers were preparing ardently making it appear like a college/school exam. It was like entering college all over again with the hall filled up with students doing their last minute cramming.

A: "Da.. what is the maximum speed allowed for private vehicles in Kerala?"
B: "80!"
A: "Ayye.. no no! 70!"
B: "Shit man!!!"

Getting the learner's license was easy, but now came the tough part. It was a bright sunny (and terribly humid) day when I started my actual driving classes. More than driving, I was concerned about whether or not driving 'saar' will allow me to switch on the a/c in his car. It was blazing hot! The other students in the car didn't seem bothered about the weather at all... and they all looked like they had some sort of internal air cooler switched on. In between all this weather cursing, I didn't realize my turn had come and I quickly headed to the driving seat.

Instructor: "So, do you know where the clutch is?"
Me: "No"
Instructor: "Do you know WHAT a clutch is?"
Me: "Err, no" (this is where I entered a flashback mode thinking whether I had been taught all this at school or college)

...And the instructor just rambled on about the technical aspects of driving -- digging deep into the engines, RPMs, gears, clutches, brakes, their mechanisms and how they work the way they do. Most of it bounced right off my head but he seemed to be enjoying the teaching part so much that I never even bothered to stop him. In my later classes when I found out that he was giving too much theory, I stopped him and said "Please Babu ettan! I'm a girl! I don't want the boring part. I only want to learn how to drive carefully on the road!" He just chuckled away to glory. Maybe I just confirmed his belief that girls are not that into cars as compared to guys.

Coming back to my driving, the only objects that freaked me out on the road during the first few days were heavy sized vehicles. They more or less appeared like monsters to me. My grip on the steering wheel would tighten and I would only breathe out when these "monsters" safely passed me by. But that all changed with practice. Now I'm scared of other "things". They own the road, mind you! They are the kings and they don't care about signals, traffic or any rules or regulations. They come and go as they please. They jump right in front of your car caring two hoots about whether you're an experienced driver or a noob. I'm talking about the cows, elephants, buffaloes, goats, monkeys, dogs, and other animals. There was a moment when I encountered a cow right in the middle of a very narrow road and there I was waiting for it to pass by. It just stood there and stared. I stared back and I waited.. and waited. This is where vehicle horns come to use mind you. In fact, this is what horns are actually meant for! To scare away animals off the street. Who would've thought eh?

P.S: Since I am not a fan of long posts that drag endlessly, I'm putting a stop to this one right now. Next post is all about taking the much dreaded H, the practice that followed and the big test day! Stay tuned..