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Driving made easy. A humorous and true account of my driving lessons.

September 6, 2006

car-in-tunnel_2_1.jpg

There is no doubt that some men have a ‘thing’ about cars. Call it a fetish if you will. It comes close to emotional involvement. They actually Care. They listen intently to her engine and are tuned in to her every dysfunction. ‘Something’s wrong,’ my husband often said, stopping a perfectly running car on a lonely road at high noon and disappearing under the hood. It would be half an hour before he would emerge, a satisfied look on his face, oblivious to my impatience. ‘She is fine now,’ he would mutter after a while, as if that explained everything.

However, I am not ashamed to admit that to me a car is a car is a car, and will always be just that. That is precisely why my better half was not too thrilled at my insistence that he teach me to drive. I understood his concerns about his dearest possession slipping out of his hands, meaning his car ofcourse. So I let him off when he said he had no time to teach me.

I enrolled in a driving school. Thank heavens, my driving instructor, Stephen, had no hang-ups about cars. His was a healthy attitude, which I could relate to. To start with, it did not matter to him if the care made funny noises, if the door did not shut properly or if the wipers did not work. Stephen only concern was that the car should move. Period. So used was I to obsessive perfection that after I got over my initial uneasiness, I started enjoying this tension-free method of driving, and the lessons progressed smoothly.
Lesson number one: Left foot on the clutch. Lesson number two: right foot on the accelerator and brake, accelerator and brake, accelerator and brake…considering the state of Bangalore roads I suppose his way was the best.

My greatest drawback, according to him, was my nervousness at the wheel. Seeing me panic at the sight of a double decker bus used to upset him. ‘Drive straight into it Ma’am,’ he admonished. ‘Nothing will happen, and you’ll lose your fear! Try it!’ Inexperienced as I was, I obeyed blindly, reassured by the fact that he had a set of pedals on his side of the car. To my surprise he didn’t need to use them. The bus screeched out of the way. If anybody had panicked then, it was the bus-driver! Stephen’s reassuring words, nothing will happen ma’am, held me in good stead through following lessons. Those were words which would instill confidence in the meekest driver. In fact, his casual manner at the wheel, right elbow jutting out, his eyes admiring his filmi hairstyle in the wrongly positioned rear-view mirror, was a sure fire way of getting rid of anyone’s nervousness. Driving seemed a lark.

‘Always drive in the centre of the road,’ he advised me time and again. ‘Don’t ever get bullied.’ ‘Don’t let anyone overtake, ever, it will slow you down,’ was another gem of his.
It was not long before I became the perfect driver, in Stephen’s eyes. ‘She is one of my best students,’ he raved to my disbelieving husband. ‘You should see how much control she has over the car, watch her blast through the market place, observe her overtaking techniques…’

After demonstrating the above mentioned talents to my husband, I was a little surprised when he suggested that my driving needed a few ‘finishing touches.’ He had plenty of time to teach me, he said.

(Published in the Deccan Herald as a middle)

Photograph taken inside a tunnel on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. It’s copyrighted.

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