It was on 3 November 2012 that I passed my driving test and was branded a legal driver! A month later, I got the DL as well. And then, just twice I got behind the wheel, the husband in tow — once with the dear friend, Queen of Subtlety; once just good self. The first time, husband said he is at peace when she is driving, but I give him the jitters. After the second time, he refused to sit with me anymore. Apparently, he just could not muster the courage to sit with me 😦 He said I was free to take the car out by myself and go (like I needed his permission for that, pffft!). I joked that I would do just that and if I hit someone, I would give him a call. He said “Don’t call me!” Bah!
And that was when my confidence and hopes of driving the car my myself found their way slowly into the drains of Koramangala! Many months passed. I continued taking the bus and the auto, when not riding pillion or sitting on the left front seat. Every time I opened the wallet, I would see my DL. I’d think of how my mom also has an over 30-year old DL sweetly sitting in her wallet. began considering getting mine framed and hanging it on the wall!
And then, I moved house. Husband left the country to pursue studies. I was on my own. With two little kids 🙂 And THAT is when it began hitting me. I felt handicapped. Everything was becoming difficult. And it freaked me out that if something were to suddenly happen to Pumbaa or Khloe, there was no guarantee that I’d be able to get them help as quickly as they may need it. I’d have to depend on autos and in this country, no one cares for animals and their lives 🙂 Several people promised to come sit with me and help me practice. But no one ever found the time. And truth be told, I myself wasn’t confident.
Every morning, I’d get ready for work, leave the building, cross the road and wait for an auto — and I’d look straight and see my car in the parking lot. The frustration then, aaarrghh! Once every 2-3 days, I’d start the car, move it a bit, reverse it back into position and go back home. Just so the engine doesn’t forget it has the capability to come to life and move! As each day passed, I was itching more and more to just take the car and drive off.
On April 12, Saturday, the dearest friend finally took pity on me and accompanied me on a driving practice session. When I said I have not driven in a year and 4 months, I could see the 😮 in the eyes and a “GULP” go down the throat 😀 We went on to NICE Road, from where I took the car and drove to Electronic City. We were hitting Bommanahalli and I was warned it could be bad. I expected mad traffic and madder people crossing the roads like it’s their courtyard. What I did NOT expect was to get bang in the middle of a MAJOR traffic jam 😀 Well, one had to get out of it, and I did. And then I drove all the way back to J.P Nagar, took the car into the apartment complex and parked it. Exhilaration like HOW!
Of course, I wasn’t perfect. My sense of judgement of the width of the vehicle…especially on the left side was not too great, and I had trouble stopping the vehicle from rolling back on a slope and not realizing/reacting quickly enough to hit the brakes. But I had a strange sense of calm, of not getting worked up and scared and unsure on the road. That surprised me! I expected to get unnerved and go blink blink in the middle of the road. I was extremely worried that my friend would be hanging on to dear life and being immensely uncomfortable — but apparently, that was not the case either. Hmmm, not bad, I thought. For someone getting behind the wheel after nearly a year and half, I did a decent job. We planned to practice the next day too, so I could address me ‘areas of improvement’ and start driving to work from Monday.
Plans are also meant to be broken. Practice session wasn’t happening. But I was not willing to lose that tempo and all that confidence again.
On Sunday, I woke up, made up my mind, took the car and drove off! Just me and the car. I started off from J.P. Nagar 7th Phase and went all the way to Koramangala — through the crazy main roads and via Silk Board (if you know Bangalore, you’d know how crazy Silk Board can get) — and came back home. No casualties, no scratches, no traffic holdups, no getting yelled at, absolutely no glitches.
And all the while, I could NOT believe I was driving on real roads (read scary Bangalore roads) all by myself. With no one to depend on. No one to support me if I were to get into a mess. And every once a while, I’d have a smile on my face and loudly go “YAY, I’m driving!” I got a few odd looks from people on the road — but what the hell. I was too happy to not go YAY.
I was BEAMING as I walked back home. Reached home, thanked my friend profusely for sparing those few hours the previous day (darling, you have NO IDEA how grateful I am to you, eternally so!), and then called my parents to tell them. Hehe. They were shocked. My mom of course did not believe I did something like that. My dad was thrilled and super proud of me. My brother was thrilled too. I was, of course, on Cloud 29 😀 Late evening, i again took the car out, to experience “night driving.” Starting Monday, I began driving to work. Yay.
I also took Pumbaa and Khloe in the car, ALL BY MYSELF, to a pet stay before going on a team trip the past weekend. All you people who told me it is ‘difficult, dangerous and impossible to drive with two dogs by yourself’ — ha! You all told me “someday when you have to do it, you’ll know what we mean” — I did it, as a mere 6-day old driver, and I STILL do NOT see what you ever meant. Always know that if you throw a challenge at me, it’ll be taken (even if a little late)! 😛
I am at peace now. I can drive.