Thursday, August 04, 2011

A Year of Independence

It's been a year since I started driving solo.  I keep wondering why I took so long to do start driving (Actually I know why - there are many valid reasons, but I wonder "why" nevertheless.)

My life has changed in many ways - most expected, some unexpected.  It is so liberating to be free of rude, cheating auto-drivers, and so good to not depend on S to drive me around.   Good for S too, I suppose!

I have inspired at least two others to plunge into driving, and two more are waiting in the wings.  One of my friends who has started driving called last month to thank me, and told me that the word I had used - "liberation" had never been so literally true for her until then.  If there's anybody else out there who's dilly-dallying and getting scared of Bangalore traffic - I suggest (at the risk of adding to the congestion) - go for it!

The first few weeks of driving was physically painful - I had headaches everyday.  Just as I was despairing of it, things got better magically - my hands didn't clutch the steering wheel any more, my breath became more even, my shoulders relaxed, and the headaches vanished.

Initially I went from apprehensive mode to confident mode to over-confident mode - and during this last stage, I had a couple of minor scrapes within a span of a week - and that pushed me right into cautiously confident stage, where I've been ever since.

In the beginning, I just drove in the familiar comfort zone, like a horse with blinds - not looking here and there - concentrating totally on the clutch and the gears and the traffic.  But as time went by, all this became second nature, and I gained enough confidence to look around, look for directions while driving, and found my way back with ease if I got lost.  Except for parking troubles, things are pretty cool around here.

Driving has got me wondering - is the way a person drives indicative of his personality?  Does an aggressive person drive more rashly?  Is a driver with a blemish-free record a careful, planning person in real life?  It does sound like it must be true - but I am not too sure.  What do you all think?

But driving in a place like Bangalore must surely change personalities at some level or the other.  I am a mostly a non-aggressive, non-argumentative, non-confrontational person.  But being such a driver in Bangalore won't get you around much - so have I changed at least a fraction after I started driving?

I do remember something that rattled me once.  I was trying to turn right into a main road from a narrow side road.  As some cars were parked atrociously on the left side of the road, I was trying to make the turn from the right side of the narrow road (the wrong side.)  A car came in from the main road wanting to turn into the road I was in, and found me blocking its way.  A moment of thought would've told him why I was on the right side (the wrong side) of the road, but instead of waiting, the driver blocked my path, switched off his engine and glared belligerently at me.  I was tremendously angry, but with an effort, maintained my cool, avoided eye contact with him, maneuvered the car out of the muddle and went my way.   The annoyance stayed for a couple of minutes but then I forgot about it.

But that night, I dreamt that I was back in that situation, and was repeatedly crashing into that man's car in anger - much like a jealous Herbie crashes into the new car in The Love Bug.  I awoke quite shaken.  If this is what driving is doing to me, I won't drive, I thought, in a moment of righteous indignation.  But thankfully, that feeling passed, and I haven't had such violent urges since.

Makes me wonder, though.  What do you think?


Lavs said...

a timely post. I am thinking of signing up for a driving class-its been ages since i learnt something new. you inspire me.

sandeep said...

neatly written - especially liked the last section :)

though i drive quite a bit outside the city, i dislike driving within the city and do it only when absolutely necessary. discovered my own 'liberation' when i started using bmtc bus service for commute :)

Abhipraya said...

I've been wanting to do start driving since you first posted about your driving experience. But every day I find reasons not to do this. Probably because 'liberation' comes to me in bits on my bike rides :) But you've definitely given me food for thought.

And yes driving (esp in maddening conditions that we have) changes your personality. But will only be overwhelming if you are not conscious.

Shammi said...

Oh, getting rid of violent feelings through your dreams is a good thing :)

Shruthi said...

Lavs, thumbs up to you. All the best!

Sandeep, I know just what you mean - I think BMTC is wonderful when you have bus stops close to your source and destination!

Abhipraya, since you have already experienced two-wheeler liberation, four-wheeler liberation isn't too big a thing!

Shammi, heh heh, yeah!

austere said...

After some twenty years I took a license again, took lessons again... am a long way off from confident driving, but yes, am taking Pretti (my wagon R) for a spin all by myself. Even if it is only at 6.30 in the morning. Not short of a miracle!

Prashanth M said...

Every time there is a talk of driving in Bangalore and lady drivers, its hard to not to remember/think about one person - Veena & her adventures :)

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