Started this with a part 1 as I know I will have many parts to follow.
The first time I sat in that dreaded seat behind the steering wheel was when I turned 18. My Annu (dad) wanted me to get a driving license. He took me in his car early morning one day to a barren land and asked me to try my hand. I still remember my first attempt at trying to do a U-turn, which went on to become an O turn as I didn’t even know that the steering had to be maneuvered back to straighten the wheels after the U is complete! I hated shifting gears to the core. The car would behave like a living being with it’s own mood swings as it would stop oddly out of the blue. My dad got me enrolled in a driving class to teach me how to tame the strong-willed monster. I finished my course and somehow got the license, don’t ask me how. I never drove again!
Marriage happened, kids happened, moving cities happened and we bought our first car Bulu in Bangalore when I was 25, which was 7 years after I had received my DL and had stopped driving. Abbas went to a driving school, learned to drive and got his DL. He encouraged me to go too and I obeyed. Again I went for a few classes and discontinued on the pretext that I wouldn’t be able to drive with such young kids in tow. (But actually I chickened out, I thought it was not my cup of tea). I would tell Abbas that if I would learn to drive, he would not be left with any responsibilities that he can’t easily shove on me.
Cut to life in Sydney. I was super happy to know that most cars here are Automatic. My biggest pet peeve with driving was shifting gears and the car shutting down while I did so. That fear was eliminated now. Abbas took his lessons and got his DL here at his 4th attempt. That did discourage me as I really admired his driving skills back in India. The fact that a skilled driver like him flunked his first three attempts was reason enough for me back out yet again. But Abbas encouraged me saying that it would be easier for me than him. Because he had to unlearn a lot of habits of flouting rules in India and then learn to follow them, while I would be learning from the scratch and he thought I was good at grasping and following instructions.
I went ahead and booked my Driver’s Knowledge Test (DKT) and passed it at first attempt. That was such a morale booster. Abbas encouraged me to quickly book some classes and get going. I must also mention Harvy and VJ who motivated, pushed, threatened and checked on me to grab the bull by its horns, errr steering wheel! I booked a class with the guy who had taught Abbas. He was an old man with a weird sarcastic sense of humor (or the lack of it). I really couldn’t follow what he tried to tell me. Every sentence of him was heavily loaded with oodles of sarcasm that I wouldn’t know if the rule he told me was for real or if he said it ironically. He was a bit chauvinist too in his thought process and I detested him to the core. I went for two classes and told Abbas that I would never go with him again.
Then came a gap as I had forgotten about driving again. Slowly when my 30th birthday was approaching, I told myself that I must get my DL at least before I turn 30. With a sudden burst of determination running through nerves, I enrolled yet again to another driving class. This time the instructor was a very patient guy who was very methodic in his way of teaching. I enjoyed the classes and went regularly. After a few classes, he told me “You are driving well. You know all the rules but you just need to practice more before going for the test. You have a car and your husband has a license. Why don’t you regularly practice with him? I have taught you everything but you just need to practice to get a steady hand and more confidence.” I really appreciated his honesty, unlike some other driving schools that try to discourage people and in turn make them book more classes. Happily, I thought I would practice with Abbas and book a test soon.
The practice never happened for some reason or the other. Maybe we didn’t give it so much importance. Once when we went out for dinner, I told Abbas that I would drive. He sat in the non-driver-seat in the front for the first time in many many years. He started yelling that I was going to hit all the parked cars on the left. His voice affected me and I just couldn’t drive as smoothly as I did with my instructor. I gave it back to him and thought we must try during day time in an empty area first. That never happened at all!! Because we became busy with planning our India trip. My 30th birthday flew past without any mention of my weak goal….
To be continued…
PS: If you are hoping that this series will end with me talking about how I finally got the DL, then I’m hoping the same as you. I haven’t yet booked my driving test. Started this series to document the journey and to receive some inspiration and encouragement to give the driving test.