I am glad to say that I have finally learnt to drive a car. For many, it might seem like just another, rather mundane thing- say like learning to make a dish. For me, it is more like a milestone. This is why: it has taken me years to learn it (I can count at least 9!). I started out learning to drive during my 12th standard (Indian Standards) holidays. I drove along the streets of Vellore, Salem during my initial still-new-at-driving phase, since my dad was posted in those places at that time.
But then two things happened. Once, I drove the car straight to the wall of my house’s parking lot after one of the practice sessions. The second is that, one breezy evening, again during my still-new-at-driving-phase, I had taken my mum to a rather sparsely populated locality nearby to drink tender coconut water at a shop, and I had parked the car just at the edge of a slope. Parking was a walk in the park (!) for me.
I was still new to the whole the half clutch when driving at a slope and the clutch-brake-accelerator manipulation thing at a slope. I thought I had learnt the intricacies, but turns out I didn’t. And because of that on that day, the car went backwards when I tried to start and move it forward. Behind the car was a rather large thorn field (Ring a bell, anyone?). I tried thrice to bring the car up, but finally decided to call one of my dad’s drivers to come fetch us. But a stranger who was also at the shop with his wife offered to help us. I drove back to my home, but my confidence was shattered.
One thing I will always remember is that when I had driven the car to the wall as mentioned earlier, and I had cringed away in shame coz it was rather stupid because of the way it happened, my dad never once scolded me. Frankly, I was a little scared that he might say something since I knew he needed the car that evening to attend a wedding, but when he came home and was told of what had happened, he quietly made alternate arrangements without so much as a word or the slightest hint of disappointment at the discomfort.
Months or perhaps years later, when my dad made fun of me about this, saying that he didn't have another 30K to spare for my car driving exercise, all I could ever sense was affection. Of course, a dad scolding his child for something like this cannot be considered as lack of affection and a word of caution uttered to his child is pretty understandable; but the thought that my dad did not scold me or say anything at all always warms my heart. He always encouraged me to drive.
My brother who is two years younger than me, who started to learn driving after me, during his 12th Standard holidays, picked it up instantly. While I was both struggling and reluctant to learn it because of my insecurities he surpassed me and went forward to drive himself to work after driving us all occasionally during the four years of his college life. And he seemed to excel in this realm.
Of all the people who ever drove me around over the years- of all my dad’s numerous drivers over the years, my cousin brother (elder one, coz I have referenced my younger cousin bro later), and my dad even, I have felt safest when he was behind the wheel. Of course your younger sibling surpassing you in any sphere does make you feel a little inadequate and does not bode well with your parents who make jokes at your expense (all in good spirit coz I never once felt bad about it and strangely felt gleeful whenever they made fun of my driving).
At one point of our lives, my brother and I drove (he drove) 40 km each to and back from our work. He tortured me with impossibly loud English pop music to the extent that my ears hurt from all the noise and sometimes even my head was pounding; the thought of which still annoys me. He is now at Uncle Sam’s, doing his Masters there. Wonder how he is doing with the right hand gear system drive there. Should ask him next time I speak with him.
I must admit that I don’t know to drive a motorcycle. My dad had a Royal Enfield bullet when I was little and I used to take a bicycle to school. And then my family moved on to cars; my family and I completed skipped the step of buying me a motorcycle. Transport for me was never an issue until now coz I was always driven around and when I was in Bangalore it didn't seem to matter that I took the public transport because I had friends to give me company, whose company I loved, not to mention all the bus stops were close by and I enjoyed the commute.
But now I had to do something about commute. It was beginning to become an issue. There were times I considered giving up car driving and buying myself a motorcycle coz I kept hearing that for someone who knows cycling learning to drive one would be very easy for me.
As an aside, I feel sorry for the Royal Enfield these days because it is not loved enough (what with my bro away, my dad having transitioned to being driven in his cars because of the nature of his work, my cousin bro who lives with my parents at the moment coz of his studies in Chennai, away from our home town Salem, doesn't seem to know these things and as for me, I can’t even imagine handling that much weight without being crushed). I just wish it is took out more and looked after more.