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Driving diary – Part 3

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2:

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.

Love,

Seema

 

 

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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Driving diary – Part 2

Continued from Part 1 here:

After my initial goal of getting my driving license flew out of the window, it left us alone till I turned 31. That one year went by with endless running around over the weekends for house hunt, selection appointments and tonnes of other commitments. As the next birthday dawned I realized how I had one item on my checklist before I turned 30 but a whole year passed by without me sitting behind the wheels. I wondered if I would ever get that box ticked ever in my life (Yeah, I can get a bit dramatic from time to time). Whenever I would look at women driving on the road so confidently, I would tell myself how I had failed at learning this life skill and had to always be dependent on Abbas. I had given up the slightest hope of driving. Let alone aiming at getting a license.

And then the universe conspired to slam me with so many of my friends and acquaintances getting their driving licenses. Although I was happy for all of them from the bottom of my heart, it drove me nuts and made me feel like a total loser. I slowly started asking Abbas to let me drive and practice when we went out together. But husbands, I tell ya! Abbas would pant, yell, sigh, scream, hallucinate in the passenger seat and make me go bananas. He once shouted at me thinking I was driving too much towards the left that he thought I was going to bang all the parked cars to my left like some Rohit Shetty movie. We would then return to our designated seats to regain normalcy.

One of my friends informed me that she had got the DL on her 5th attempt. She told me how the officer almost yelled at her saying “You will kill me”. She insisted that if she could do it, anyone could. The only key is to not give up. It stuck with me. Also there were posts by RM and DM about how they got their DLs and the thought of getting DL started haunting me. One of my friends M got her driving license in February and told me how her instructor was amazing and gave me his contact number. I declared to Abbas that I was going to book my driving test first. I would keep procrastinating otherwise. If I had a date fixed, I would certainly work towards it. So we booked 31st March for the driving test.

There were almost 2 months at my disposal to get ready to face the demon (In this case the Driving Test Officer). We had too many things going in February, so I decided to start taking lessons from the instructor in March. I thought I would practice with Abbas in February. Abbas would let me drive only in quiet eerie streets as he would lose his mind as soon as he sat in the passenger seat. One evening when I was in high spirits about driving, I said that I would drive to our favourite restaurant. All was well till I did some silly mistake and Abbas yelled at me. I totally went blank and my mind wandered elsewhere. I jumped two signals, Abbas snapped! He lost his temper and I was too stunned to react. I don’t know how we reached the place. We parked the car and had our meal without any conversation with each other. We were only talking to Mantam and in our own heads. I kept asking myself how I could jump signals and that I had been a hazard on the road. One voice in my told me that I must never drive ever again in my life, the other backed Abbas and supported his reaction, and the last one calmed me down and asked me to get the keys and drive back home again or this incident would prove a major setback again in my driving journey. I had to overcome it by driving again at the earliest.

When we walked towards the car park, two voices in my head were battling with each other – to drive or not! As we reached the car, Abbas, who was silent till then, brought his right hand towards me and handed me the car keys and smiled. I grabbed it, I just had to! I drove decently back home although he had to park the car as I was still confused about the direction in which the car moves in reverse gear! Sigh….

To be continued….

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Driving diary – Part 1

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.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Pain in Abbas’ neck

After discussing about overcoming our driving fears at RS’s blog, I declared at home yesterday about this challenge. Mantam were more excited than me and agreed to wake up early in the morning also to keep mum while I tried to drive.

Last night when we hit our beds, Abbas started fiddling with his mobile.

Mannu calls out from her cot – “Baba, what are you doing in your mobile?”

Abbas – “I’m playing a game”

Mannu – “Don’t play any games Baba. Just sleep or else you won’t be able to wake up early in the morning”

Abbas – @#!$%#!$

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Early in the morning, I woke up with a shudder when Mannu shakes and wakes me up…

Mannu – “Mamma, get up, get up quickly… You need to learn driving na?

Me – “Uh, oh… Why don’t you wake your Baba up? I can’t learn on my own unless he gets up”

Mannu – “I told Baba not to play games last time. He didn’t listen to me”

Abbas murmurs under his breath – “I wasn’t able to manage one, there is one more in the making!!!”

I retorted – “Oh yeah, you wished for our offsprings to be like me… That is why they say to be careful when you wish for something… It might just come true! Go figure now…”

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16 Comments

Posted by on January 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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