Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Confessions of a driving instructee:
One of the greatest demons that I need to exorcise is the fear of driving cars.

The saga of my drving lessons started some 3 years back with Rohit trying to teach me how to drive, it was very late around 2 in the morning and there werent a lot of people except the MCH sweepers cleaning the roads. Rohit was trying to teach me how to drive and we started at the foot of Banjara Hills road number one towards the erst while Krishna Oberoi. It all started well with Rohit telling me whats the clutch, brake and accelerator and thata car has 4 wheels and the steeering and everything. In the dead of the night I turned the ignition and the car purred to life (it was a maruti 800), I put into first gear, (left and down) and slowly eased the clutch and maintained a steady pressure on the accelerator and the car inched forward and we picked up some speed, by tthe time we reached the incline I had changed into the second gear and maintaining a good speed, then I switched to 3rd gear without any help from Rohit, I wondered at that time that car driving is so frigging easy... we got over the incline and the road had a slight turn to the left and I was at about 40kmph and I slowed down to take that turn. Then...
For some inexplicable reason, I pressed on the accelerator and Rohit shouted "Hit the brakes!!" and some synapse in my complex brain failed to perform its role and I froze with the steerting turned towards left and my foot planted on the accelerator. The car zoomed towards the foot high pavement and the concrete wall, rohit shouted "hit the brakes", but dint register...
He immediately grabbed the steering and threw it to the right, but even he wasnt sure whether we will miss hitting the pavement and toppling over or crashing into the concrete wall, but he swerved all the same and the synapse reconnected and I eased on the accelerator and the car luckily stopped in the middle of the road, diagonally parked in the middle of the road, we dint talk for a minute and just sat there....

Since then, dint try to drive for various reasons, may be the gap induced the fear of driving or whatever that might be.
I have been bugging Anita to teach me how to drive since the time I met her and she has been steadfast saying she cant. But in the end she succumbed and agreed to try, Darling she is! Today, we started at the same foot of Banjara Hills and drove towards Jubilee Hills this time, Anita actually asked me to take that absolutely crowded road for the first spin in 3 years but I said lets go to some less crowded road, we drove to the back road of KBR and she stopped and I took to the wheel. The moment I got in she asked me, which one controls what of those three pedals and I had no idea and blurted something, she got the sense of what she was getting into at that instant, but she was brave enuf to let me give it a go.
I started the car, put into the first gear and eased into the second gear and was very nervous looking around for people, trees, everything moving and non-moving but not once during the drive did I remember what happened with Rohit on that night.
Anita was telling which gear to change when to press the clutch and that I should use the same foot for the brake and the accelerator and that I shud always put the hand brake and I shud drive on second gear or third gear on an incline and a lot of fundas like that.... which helped and I drove for a about 3 or 4 kms without any incident, other than the fact that even autos and cycle walas were over taking us. I asked Anita a lot of times whether I was doing ok for a learner, she said that as she wasnt shouting her head off, I must be doing ok. Then we reached this very crowded junction not like a railway station but crowded enuf for a greenhorn car driver with people spilling on to the road. I negotiated the first few meters pretty well and then...

There was I just heard a commotion on the left side, ... I had just brushed a scooter and broke his indicator, I dint have any spatial indication of the width of the car so as long as I could see the road clearly in front of me, I thought all was well. and then there was this guy walking along slowly pushing his cycle at his side. Suddenly before I could realise whats going on, I had hit the bicycle. All the while I was happy that I dint hit the accelerator and kill and few people, I thot it was some small scratch and if I can just get out and handle the situation, I can get out in a few minutes max, I got out with these burly people trying to intimidate me and then I see that the front wheel had come to a stop completely crushing the cycle. Then thought I had to pay my out of here, haggled with the cycle wala about how much damage there was and I fibbed to him I have a cycle exactly like that at home so I know how much it will cost to repair, and in the end concluded the whole thing after giving him rs 200 and came back to the car with Anita. I was all sweating and tense as it al struck me like an avalanche of events.

Then comes the sweetest thing. I was ready to get into the passengers seat and have a nice comfy drive and Anita says, "Now if you dont get into the drivers seat right now and start driving, it will be difficult for you to learn how to drive". I was amazed and I protested and in the end she won and I took to the wheel, opened the windows hoping to dry the sweat. I drove for sometime a few 100 meters and stopped. I asked Anita to drive again and sitting in the comfort of the passenger seat I had some pensive moments with Anita telling me that it happens and she will still make me drive tommorow.
I will drive her to a dinner the moment I can do it
Anita, you da coolest... Hope your dad doesnt read this blog... ;-)


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