Several things have happened since I last wrote here. Like I started driving. When I say driving, I don’t mean I am learning driving or going to driving classes or that I took the car out for a spin one early morning, when the roads were free of folks who value their lives – because that is stuff I have done before (like two years ago). What I mean is that I now own a car and that I drive it to and from work everyday and on the odd weekends to the mall as well. It has been an oddly exhilarating experience, scary (very scary) in the beginning, moving on to being surprisingly fun once the music and confidence kicked in, and then to frustrating – which was just this Tuesday when I finally inaugurated my ‘stuck in a jam’ account and took 45 minutes to cover the 2.5 kilometers to home.
But it’s good to be able to have ticked one thing off the wish list – more of mom’s and The Dude’s than mine, but still. Because both of them somehow felt it was absolutely essential that I independently handle a freaking metal contraption on 4 wheels that needs your hands, feet, eyes and ears to work in synchronization, while your brain prays that no idiot cuts you from the wrong side or tries to fit in his SUV in the 2 feet wide gap you left between yourself and the divider. And this, in an age when we have Uber (ofcourse I am conveniently forgetting the surge pricing and new-to-the-city drivers).
So having made excuses for a long time, I finally gave in, and we have the unbelievable phenomenon that is the Hyderabad summers to thank for that. The manner in which the sun treats you within 20 minutes of interaction (in my case, that’s how long it would take on my trusted bike) is kind of inhuman. There were times when I was actually convinced that I might have lost a couple of layers of skin on my legs while waiting at traffic signals. And then I would jealously look at the people next to me – chilling in their air conditioned cars, listening to music of their choice, not feeling the brunt of the sun. And while they might reach work much later because we all know just how long it takes to take a u turn on these roads, atleast they wouldn’t be semi-cooked.
And so, I bought myself a car. It met my specifications to the T, which was basically “second hand Hyundai i10 automatic in any color but white”. And after going through quite a few Olx and Quikr ads, I finally got one in our own building complex. It was a smooth negotiation, and except for a minor bump (literally) on the bumper, a day before they handed over the car to us, it was all good.
Once you have the car, you pretty much don’t have an excuse, or rather, you dare not have an excuse, because The Dude doesn’t take excuses when there is a cash outflow. Which meant I embarked upon supervised drives in the morning, which were quite comfortable and useless because we all know that your car doesn’t matter on Indian roads, the cars of the folks around you do. But we waited for a bit so that I could be convinced that we don’t need 3 feet of empty space around the car at all times while driving. And that we don’t need to cruise at a speed of 5 kmph inside the parking lot. And that every turn doesn’t require a complete brake and stop. And that you don’t need to hold the steering like you would hold the edge of a cliff after losing footing.
And finally, once we returned from our big fat German vacation in May, I started driving to work. Again, with supervision for a week, until one fine day, when I had some work, so I decided to take the bike, and it wouldn’t start because who would when you have been ignored and cast aside for a whole week. And The Dude had already left, which meant taking the cab, and that’s what I would have done, but The Dude said “Take the car! You have to, someday!”.
The rest, as they say is history. Only not so much, cos this happened like a month and a half ago. But good news is, I have been driving every day to and from work. I started with driving while chanting shlokas (I’m not kidding), hanuman chalisa to be exact, the whole time while on the wheel. I then cut it to chanting it one whole time, and following it up with music. And I finally graduated to offering a shorter prayer, just before I start, and then getting the music on.Which I still do.
On the whole, I think it was a good move, moving on to the 4 wheeler, because of many reasons. Like the weather – because I was a wee bit late and the terrible summer came to an end before I started, I was on time for the rains. Because I think I am over the ‘riding your bike while it pours’ stage (and age). Also, my hair in it’s current situation can really do without a helmet crushing it so it resembles a black straw hat by the time I am at work. Plus I think I have consumed enough grime from the air for this lifetime. Lastly, music while you battle traffic is a big, big boon, even if it means spending those extra minutes waiting in line behind cars, when all the bikes squirm through the 5 inch gaps. That, by the way, has also made me extremely aware of just how annoying I would have been when on the bike. The next step is to be able to remove the ‘L’ from the windscreens, which would really mean that I have certified myself as a non-newbie driver.
But ofcourse, the final certification of being a true driver will arrive only and only when I will be able to curse on the road with the same level of confidence as I used to on the bike. And for that, we have some more time and driving to go.