Sunday, November 14, 2010


noun,plural-er•ies. 1. a display of driving prowess. 2. showiness, splendor, or magnificence by driving.The Urban Dictionary

I beg to differ when someone says women are bad drivers. But I hate to admit one thing: that I am a bad driver and happen to be a woman. Or at least I was a bad driver until a couple of days ago. Rather let me put it this way: May be I wouldn’t have been a bad driver had it not been for the few incidents in the past.
Scene one: As a child, I was as carefree as I could get on the road, when the wheel of an auto rickshaw ran over my feet. Though it was just the skin that got terribly bruised, deep inside my mind a bruise remained: A fear of vehicles. Since then,even if I spotted a lorry or any tiny vehicle a kilometre away, I would get off the bicycle, wait for fifteen good minutes for the vehicle to pass and then ride the bicycle.
As soon as I turned eighteen, I made sure I enrolled myself in a driving school and had a really wonderful instructor who taught me how to drive. From changing tyres to opening the bonnet to have a peak into the machinery, he taught me most of the driving basics (Though I still don’t know what to do after opening a bonnet and having a peak!).
Under his guidance I managed to pass my driving licence test. Driving test in Mangalore is a serious affair. At least it was to me. There was a theory exam where the first half of the paper was on road signs and the second half of the paper was questions and answers. When I landed in the RTO office in the Maruti 800 that the instructor drove that day (because I was too tensed), I was in for a surprise. I had just memorized a few traffic signs and the significance of red, orange and the green lights. There I see boys and girls of my age with books preparing them for this test with a lot of theory and chapters! I only hoped that my good marks at school would rescue me. Indeed the road signs part of the theory paper was a breeze. And I found myself qualified for the next round of the theory paper. Some of the questions in the paper are still so vivid in my mind. There was this question on what do you do when you see cows in front of you. Do you honk? The correct answer is no, you don’t honk when you see a cow because the cows wouldn’t know that you are asking them to move away. Instead you get out of the car and shoo the cows away from the road and then drive! What a learning!
There was another question on when you are speeding a bike and are on a turn, do you accelerate and turn right or left? I remember writing timidly on the paper “How am I supposed to know?, I have applied for a four wheeler licence!”
The examiner must have been impressed with my wit rather than my knowledge of the roads, I cleared the theory exam. The driving test itself was pure fun. The officer who approves the licence sits by a window next to a steep sloping road. So the test was to drive on the sloping road, stop in front of his window, give him a “ I know it all” smile, then declutch and move ahead, without moving an inch behind. Since I was specially trained for the exercise, it proved easy too!
The instructor had instilled in me the kind of overconfidence that was just needed to overcome my fear. Before I could master the roads, one day, I hear a breaking news that he has run away with the driving school’s money. I sympathized with the instructor rather than the owner of the driving school. More than that, I sympathized with myself for having lost such a good instructor. But teachers are for life! Even now I remember him when i break or declutch, like i remember my dentistry teachers, every time i give an inferior alveolar nerve block or prepare a class I cavity on a maxillary molar.
Scene 2: With my newly acquired skill of “drivery” , I offer to reverse my dad’s car out of the gate. The only next thing of the incident I remember is a loud thud noise and a huge dent on the side door of the serviced and polished car. My dad didn’t say a word. May be, had he scolded me for it, I would probably not have developed the fear which lasted ever since.
When I moved to Gurgaon, I hired a driver to drive me to the college that I teach in Ghaziabad( UP). Now driving in UP is a totally different ball game even for an experienced driver by profession. Reaching the college at eight thirty in the morning bypassing all the trucks that carry potatoes and onions is a new challenge every day. The first week that I went to college, there was a red colored bus that hit my new sedan from behind. The entire bumper was destroyed; the chassis of the car bent! I was new to the city, but I did not want to give up. I remember this incident happened in a placed called Khichripur. I knew the amount that would have to be spent on the car would be much more than a few months’ salary, but I had to do justice to the car. I couldn’t spot a cop around, but I managed to click a picture of the bus driver on my mobile, and managed to send my driver to find the nearest police station. In the mean time I also managed to deboard all the passengers of that privately owned bus. Not bad for a first time in the city eh? Now it’s the question of a brand new sedan! My driver managed to find a constable after a good one hour, and we drove to the police station along with the red bus. Exactly four days before this accident, I had also managed to get robbed of my new Nokia N72 at a mall. All my contacts were on that phone, and it meant a lot to me in terms of my professional and personal life. A cop in Gurgaon absolutely refused to file an FIR, so I already had an experience.
The cop in this police station in Delhi was quite nice to me. I told him that he better file an FIR, and that i have lost trust in Police. I remember his words even to this date “Hum Dilli Police hai ji! Dilli aur Haryana Police mein faraq hain” He filed an FIR, seized the documents of the bus and made the bus park outside the police station. Though there was a very deep sadness inside, I was quite pleased with what I managed to accomplish.
The next day on the same route to college at fifteen minutes past eight, I was in for another surprise. The same red bus was behind my car, this time at a distance of five meters away from my car! I realized that I cannot beat the corruption in the city, and that was one of the lessons that I learnt for the day!
For another three years, my car managed through the roads, after sustaining a few major dents every month. I also realized that the maximum any person who has caused a loss of 50,000 rs. would pay up would be 500 rupees!
Scene 3: Ten days before my son was born, my car got hit by a truck on the side that I was sitting. My car was again crushed on the side, this time in the middle of the maddening traffic in UP. I got out of the car, not minding the huge traffic jam that it had caused, and started scolding the driver of the truck. When I turned to my right, I saw a convoy of vehicles belonging to the faculty of my college. I was so proud to have their support, when one of them asked me to get back into my car, as they were more concerned about me than my car. That is when I decided it was time for my maternity leave.
Drivers have come and gone over the years, I am not sure, if it is my HR skills that I need to hone or that of my driving! But not being independent has really crippled me. I break out in sweat when I get a call at seven thirty in the morning from my driver to tell that he is not going to turn up for work. Rahul has asked me, what am i afraid of? Death? He’ s been telling me to get independent. But I don’t know what scares me.. The thought of getting crippled, or may be, more than that the thought of getting dents on my car.. Rahul’s even offered that he would repair all the dents that I cause if I start driving.
A few weeks ago, i happened to read a book called “Many lives, Many masters” by Brian Weiss. I call a self help book good, when I am able to relate the book to my life. After realizing that we all go through so many lives, I decided, I have to overcome my fear, and I started taking my car out. Two weeks ago i also bungee jumped. The whole exercise was to overcome my fear.

Though learning never ends, Iam quite happy with my progress. I have been instructed by Rahul to keep on the left side of the road. That’s the side that I hate the most. You have the slowest vehicles in front of you, cycles overtaking you from your left and overspeeding vehicles overtaking from the right. That's why i have decided to be on the extreme right on the fastest lane. I drive at fifty five kms/ hr on the fourth gear( because my first classes were on a Maruti 800,and it did not have a fifth gear). Never mind the dirty looks the drivers of other cars give me because I am slow. A few days ago, they would lower their window glass, pop their heads out and give me looks. Now they just give me looks through their rear view mirrors: A clear sign that I am improving each day. When they honk, I just lower my window glass and yell “ Uncleji horn kyon baja rahe ho?” I hope to be a good driver very soon, and I will still beg to differ!:)


  1. Can totally relate to it... kriti.... ur posts are super entertaining..!!! Love it!!! :)

  2. nice write up..impressive ..i loved the 2 wheeler question u answerd .. fit for a IMA role ! other wise ..good and any body who drivescan relate to it ..!! Keep writing..ur good at it ! have some more blogs to read.. :)