Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Driving Away!

When I was a kiddo, I got chauffeured around.
Either Dad or driver was always there to take care of me and my outings. Hence I never realized what went into driving on the roads...especially Indian roads.

It was in Los Angeles, in late April when I figured out that surviving my professional life without a car or driving experience would be next to impossible. Thus enlightened I set out to discover my latent driving talent.
I found that it wasn't latent. It was non-existent.

The driving instructor I hired to coach me in LA had "the time of his life" on the first day I touched his steering wheel. "Have you ever driven before?" he asked me before we set out."No, never." I honestly replied as I belted myself tightly.He gave a benign smile and added, "That's why I am there to teach you." And smiled a little more.I smiled back, not so confidently."Lets go", he said and off we rolled.
I am not sure what happened first. Him screaming or me going zig-zag in my lane. Sticking to your lane comes intuitively to most people-like drawing a straight line. To me it sounded impossible.Holding a steering wheel to keep yourself going straight!!! -how could that be done? Hence I wavered merrily about.
We practised turns in an empty parking lot next. "Right...left...right.....right...left..straight...right!" and the drone went on. He was satisfied after 10 minutes. We hit the busy road. I took turns, I went straight, I stopped in the middle of the road, I came close to other cars, I wavered in my lane, did everything a first-timer could think of and more, while holding onto the steering wheel for dear life. When the session ended, not only was I tired, my coach was tired too. He heaved a sigh of relief to hold his steering wheel.
If he didn't love his job, he probably would have given me up.

These sessions continued, After 3 of them I felt confident that I could drive a normal car. (The learner's car are usually fitted with an extra pair of brake and accelerator). I convinced my Chinese friend to trust me to drive her new car.She did. The very fact that you and only you are in control of the car and the fate of the other passengers - makes your task heavier.To top it, I didn't realize how bad I was until I was driving in my friend's car. My turns were terrible. Making a left turn I almost hit the oncoming traffic lane.Wavering in my lane I was about to hit the curb. She decided she had the "time of her life" as well and hence I had to quit.

I experimented my driving with a total of 4 licensed instructors and numerous unsuspecting colleagues. The instructors wished they got more students like me 'coz I was a source of steady income. You keep practising till you get it and if you don't your instructor earns!
My colleagues valued their lives, their work, and their family more dearly. They looked at nature with greater respect, life held new meaning for them, once they had a driving session with me.

Then came the driving test. California allows you to take 3 road test for every written test. I flunked 3 road test with ease. While in the first written test I had 3 mistakes out of 40, in the second I had none! Brilliant performance - one would say. Uncannily I failed the driving test almost periodically. Every time it was a right turn at a red light that got me.

Finally, the examiners at DMV gave up. On my fifth day, the rather plump disgruntled examiner, grunted away for 20 minutes of my test and finding inadequate grounds to flunk me- declared me "Passed!" Wow what a joy that was - for them.

When I reported it to my colleagues, everyone unanimously vowed that they wouldn't ride my car now as I was a "viable and licensed threat to the road!"

Funnily I had bought my car without a license almost 2 months before I finally got my license!
My driving adventures continues and I always end up with the weirdest things that can happen to one.


Enakshi said...

I loved your post...Hopefully, you hold your life and family dear too. PLease take care while driving.


Meenakshi said...

I just wanted to say that there were many people who believed in me even when I felt like giving up.
One Mr. N is such a prominent person.
And the list continues with the following alphabets..Mr. B, Mr. N again, Miss X, Mr. A, Mr. C, Mr. J, Mr. S, Miss J, uh...I might as well say all the 26 alphabets!!!

Xi said...

I dont really know whether it is good thing or bad that u r free on road...

Vikash Agarwal said...

its really a nice post. keep up the good work. with best regards, er. vikash agarwal.

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Jitesh said...

Gr8 expeirience I guess and I believe every wiord of it! Coz u are sometimes clumsy:-)