04 July 2011
That’s what my husband & his friends, on drunken Saturday nights, wish for! After all, I never fail to brag that I’ve a ‘valid’ driver’s license (which they don’t). Then, why don’t I just do them a favor, take up the job & drive them around town, while they make merry & avoid being caught for drunken driving?
Because…uh…hmm… I can’t drive!!! Ouch! There it is – the ugly truth!
Sathya did attempt, very hard, to teach me. I kept insisting that I'd ALREADY learnt to drive ‘officially’ in a ‘recognized’ driving school & had a ‘valid’ DL to prove it. He'd say, “Shove it up your ass” (in Kannada it sounded funny & not in the least insulting). This was in 2005. He'd take out our Maruti 800 into Milk Colony’s open ground in Malleshwaram, force me into the driver’s seat with dhamkis & gaalis (I find all his gaalis in Kannada funny!!), ease himself into the adjacent seat & take on the role of instructor.
All I’d do was start the engine & steer left or right, as he instructed. But braking or changing gear or handling the clutch, ahaa…that was way beyond me. The wheels would screech to an abrupt halt & the body of the car would jerk for a few seconds. It was like a mini-earthquake when I applied the brakes. I just couldn’t get to brake ‘gently'. Going on a reverse …no, he never went that far. He knew teaching me that would take another lifetime!! Once, he even abused the poor instructor from the driving school saying, “show me the man who taught you to drive & got you the license” Of course, Sathya doesn’t give up easily & this whole exercise was carried out every weekend & continued for a month. Then finally one day, his friend Bidda, a regular, silent observer of our driving class, told him, “Bidu maga. (Leave it man). The car can’t take it any longer”
I never touched the steering again.
I won’t deny how I stare at women drivers. To me, they are all ACHIEVERS. Whenever I see a woman zip past in a sedan or an SUV, I go, “Wow!” I genuinely admire them all: they look so composed & confident holding the steering in their manicured hands. I am in awe of even the 40+ ‘aunties’, in their delicate saris clinging against their bulky frame, who race against the 40+ uncles in their Luna. Sathya unfailingly sniggers at me, whenever we sight a young woman/old woman/thin woman/fat woman, whatever woman riding along or across. “Can’t you do even this much? Look at her! Pickle your ‘valid’ DL” (this in Kannada). Shame on you.
Yeah shame on me, indeed! What’s it with me & the machine? We just don’t get along! Sathya, an amazing rider, says you’ve to feel the machine; you’ve to own it, you’ve to listen to it! The only thing I want to “feel” about a car is the steering. The gear, the clutch, the brakes, arrggg! Can’t I just “own” the steering wheel & keep going straight ahead, without having to manoeuvre those obscene U turns, & atrocious reverses, & switching the gear, & pressing the clutch? No, Pls don’t suggest me to go for one of those auto-gear cars. You see, I want to “feel” the machine with all its natural ruggedness. But I just don’t want it to be so hard to figure it out. I guess, it’s just not in my genetic make-up.
On the other hand, my daughter Tanvi, who is now 5, has naturally gravitated towards machines from a very early age. She stands on the kinetic & even rides it sometimes, while her father catches up on a call. Vroom she goes! She knows to start the engine, give accelerator & is now slowly learning to brake. She insists on sitting on her father’s lap & driving our Zen even though turning the steering fully to one side takes all the strength she can muster in her tender arms. She loves it! Sathya says by the time she is in 5th Std, she will do both: ride a bike & drive a car. You wait & watch.