Practising with Abbas pretty much came to an end after that incident. Then came the month of March and I picked up the phone to call the driving instructor my friend had recommended. It was a landline number and nobody answered my call, I left a voicemail with my number and requested to call me back. A few days passed but there was no response. I called back in the second week of March and Mr.H picked up. he said tht I was too fast in saying my phone number that he couldn’t comprehend my phone number, gah! Unfortunately I was too late and he was going to be out of the city the following weekend. And I could only take classes over the weekend. So I booked classes in the 3rd weekend of the month.
In the first class, I drove quite decently. I asked H if I should postpone the driving test as we hardly had any time to prepare as there was hardly any time to practice.It was too early for him to say anything but Abbas told me that there is no rush and it was better for me to reschedule the test. We moved the test date to 11th April. With some breathing space, I took 6 classes in all over three weekends, 1 hour class every Saturday and Sunday. H’s way of teaching was so plain and simple that I could easily grasp. I grew more and more confident with handling the four wheeled demon.
On most Saturdays I would drive like a dream. H used to say “You are really smart. Well done” And the veyr next moment I would make one mistake after the other. It was funny sometimes all the silly errors I would commit. Once H told me to take the right most lane and I had the right indicator on even after changing lane. I was under the impression that he wants me to take right turn. H said “Why don’t you turn the indicator off?” I retorted with “Because I want to turn right”, And guess what, he pointed towards a couple of big bright signs right in front of my eyes that read ‘No Right Turn’. I was always good at 3 point turn and kerb side parking but sucked at Reverse parallel parking. H taught me an easy way to reverse parallel park and I started doing it perfectly. And guess what! That day he made do a kerbside park and I did a totally crappy job.
H was a funny man, he would sometimes get stressed when I made mistakes but immediately try to lighten the moment. If I ever sped up and exceeded teh speed limit, he would say “If you like pushing a lot, don’t push the accelerator, push me out of the car”. If I rotated the steering wheel more than necessary, he would say “The steering wheel is not your husband. Control your emotions”. There is this one place where the speed has to be less than 40. As soon as the 40 zone ends, H would say “After this sign, you can increase the speed. But that doesn’t mean you can push accelerator to 100. Keep it below 50”. It might not sound funny when I write it here but when H spoke with his Iranian accent and his dramatic expressions, it was hilarious. When I would crack up, he would say “Are you laughting (read laugh-ting) to me?” H would keep telling me that I either stop my car too close to the stop line or too far. I started working on it and was getting better. Once at a traffic signal, I stopped at what I thought was the right distance from the stop line and at the very same instant a car came to my left and stopped way ahead a of me. I asked H “Have I stopped at right distance?” He nodded in agreement. I asked him “What about the car to our left?” He instantly replies “He already has the DL. Once you get yours, you can also do that!”
In between the classes, I drove a couple of times with Abbas and even he could feel the difference in my driving. But his passenger vision had not gotten any better and he still thought I drove too much into the left side of my lane. And the very next class I started intentionally placing the car towards the right and H freaked out and asked “What happened to you?” When I told him why I was driving the wat I was, he said “Don’t drive with your husband any more” Hahaha. As days passed, Abbas started saying things like “You might get your DL in second attempt”. Nobody, known to us, had ever passed the driving test in our suburb in the first attempt as it is known to have difficult routes. Abbas had passed at his 4th attempt. The day before the test, Abbas said “In the remote likelihood that you get the DL tomorrow, I would be doomed for life”
So folks, the D-day finally dawned and I had taken the day off. The test was to begin at 10 AM. I hadn’t had a good sleep the previous night. H came at 8:45 to practice for an hour before the test. I drove well by consciously remembering all the mistakes I had done in the previous classes and not repeating them. Though I committed a few new trifle ones instead. When we reached the RTA at 9:45 and got out of the car, I had a stomach-churning feeling. I was very nervous. But I observed that H was even more stressed than I was. When my name was called out, he accompanied me. The officer my signature on a form and said go to your car, I’m coming. H wished me good luck but he was visibly worries for me.
I got into the car, put my seat belts on, started the car, officer did the customary indicator checks and got in. He just said that we will drive around the local area today. Whenever I ask you to turn left or right, do so. If I don’t say anything, keep driving straight. He did exactly that like a robot. I kept telling myself that I will not forget anything, and give my best shot. I drove at the right speed as per the road marking, used indicators diligently, didn’t miss a single shoulder and mirror checks. I might have stopped a bit close to the stop line once. And one mistake I did was during the 3 point turn (which apparently was my strong point) after going forward, coming backwards and then I was supposed to go forward. I used the indicator, did my head checks and observations but guess what I forgot to change gear. As I slowly let go of the brake, I felt that the car was slightly moving backwards. Immediately I changed gear and moved forward.
After we came back, I parked the car. The officer and I went back inside RTA. H came almost running to know how the test went. I told him that I was alright. The officer called out my name and I had butterflies in my stomach. He said, with the same robotic expressionless voice, “Congratulations, you passed”. Believe me, it sounded too good to be true. I just couldn’t wait to tell Abbas and make him fall off his chair. H was finally relieved and was very proud. That, my friends, is how I succeeded in achieveing what I thought was not my cup of tea.
PS: For those curious, Abbas is still not able to believe that I got the licence.
PPS: I have kept my precious I-got-my-DL-in-the-first-attempt trump card to use in occasions if and when he tries to show me upper hand while driving
Special thanks to all you lovely people (you know who you are) for the encouragement. Wouldn’t have done it without you.