Not so fast and furious

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.


11 thoughts on “Not so fast and furious

  1. What a marvelous account of battling the traffic, as well as your own reluctance to drive. Far, far away, in Seattle, Washington, USA, we face similar traffic, though the sun is less brutal than in Hyderabad. You have such a way with words that I felt myself right there beside you, muttering curses and prayers as we plunged into the river of cars and humanity.

  2. Dearest Rhonda, having driven both in USA and India, driving in traffic in LA/Seattle/East coast is a piece of yummy cheesecake. And I am truly grateful for that because I am a scaredy cat and So Cal has public transport equal to nil.
    Girl, my heart goes out to you. But anything is better than the helmet head-hair. My priorities seem quite set.

    1. Hahaha! Avoiding that hair is a BIG plus yes. That being said, I guess the problem with traffic here is more to do with the chaos than the volume, and I don’t know what I’d prefer. Though for a newbiew, a little more sanity even in bumper to bumper traffic would be highly appreciated.

  3. The Other Side of Life

    Aiyyoo! Same pinch. Grand i10 automatic. 😀
    I remember this feeling when I started driving last year. I used to chant Hanuman chalisa too. 😀

    But I can also tell you what you will feel next. After a few days, you will start getting angry when people take you for granted on the road. They will squeeze you out of your own lane. At first, you will cry. Then you will get angry. One day you will tell yourself that you have as much right to be on the road as them. And then, you will introduce yourself to the man’s favorite thing in the car. The horn.

    “This is my lane. I will be here.” Honk.

    “It’s red light. I am not going to move.” Honk.

    “Bike won’t fit in this space. Do what you want.” Honk.

    It’s fun but. 🙂

    1. :D:D Same pinch indeed! It’s a pretty cool car really, and meets my needs perfectly!
      And sigh, about the horn, I hate the horn and I can totally see myself using it a lot soon. In fact last week I super honked at a pedestrian who thought it was ok to cross the road without looking, and while talking on the phone, and wait for it, PAUSING while crossing to look at the phone! 😮
      Yeah, overall it’s fun! 🙂

  4. Congratulations girl! Driving gives you the kind of freedom that nothing does. Driving a small compact car is a smart choice. Till date, I will always pick smaller cars over bigger ones. Not because I can’t drive big ones, but because parking those are a pain in most Indian cities. I have graduated to mid sized cars but I still hate the very ‘long’ ones for Indian roads. Very frustrating to park in Mumbai atleast.

    As awesome as driving is, I personally do it only because I think I have to. The day I can afford a full time chauffeur, I will stop. Driving makes me a bad person. I cuss like nobody’s business. Hindi works better than English on the road. I can put truckdrivers from UP to shame with my Hindi swearing. But I don’t like who I have become 😦

    Good luck to you though. Will wait for more driving tales and stories..

    1. I was very particular about a small car. Our ‘our’ car is a pretty long sedan and I cannot understand how we manage it. I love long cars – if I am not driving 🙂 But for my use, I think the small sized cars rule and at most I might want to upgrade to a Jazz (I love that car!)

      I doubt I will ever get a chauffeur, or maybe someday. For now it is sorry, and excuse me, and trying hard to not cuss – which I am already getting into, but not so much just yet. Also, hindi cuss words rule – and think of it, I am from UP afterall! 🙂

  5. Pingback: Making way for the new year – And that's what it's all about

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