It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything here or updated the Must-Shareable page (I promise to update that soon!), so apologies to my scanty albeit precious readers. I have been doing quite a bit of traveling actually (I have such a lot of interesting accounts and photo stories to share!) and engaging in novel, eccentric hobbies and gearing up for life ahead. I’m back home now and I have been meaning to write about my recent escapades and experiences. I have such an incredible lot to tell but I’ve been too busy living the stories to narrate them out to world. I choose to decidedly correct that today. I’m going to begin by writing about the most immediate thing that I dealt with right today morning: driving school and the entire tribulation of being a novice driver in the bustling, cow-and-pedestrian-infested streets of Ahmedabad.
So one fine day, when the sun was in its usual summer avatar of nasty scorching broiler, I finally decided that I must learn how to drive cars. Given that I am one of the extremely scarce 21 year olds in my acquaintance, who is yet to earn a drivers’ license and still depends on the munificence of family member cum drivers and Ubers not bailing out on her, I decided it’s high time I earned myself the enticing gift of independence that comes with driving one’s own car.
I live in the beautiful, almost metropolitan city of Ahmedabad, as I like to call it – well, almost metropolitan, only not quite there yet. There are a lot of reasons for making that statement. I was refreshingly reminded of some of those reasons during my pursuit for the precious license.
To begin to learn driving you have to get your learners’ license first, which, if you’re in Ahmedabad, promises to be an unforgettable experience. You travel to WIAA Castrol Institute of Motoring to be greeted by a massive queue of people with terrifyingly jaded countenances. Find yourself engaged in small talk with the teenager before you in the queue and learn how he had been failing the test for the last couple days. Listen to him rant about his unfortunate encounters with the evidently cantankerous old man in charge of verifying identification documents needed for the license. Learn from your new teen friend that a failure means standing in the massive queue and going through the entire ordeal again. Consequently, be terrified of failure and make a mental note to perform in the test like it is an engineering/university entrance exam. After a good three hours of rotting in a teeny, jam-packed room with abysmal air conditioning and fifty other frustrated aspiring drivers, find yourself in front of an ancient 20th century computer monitor flashing questions to you about road signs, traffic regulations and road etiquettes that are almost never followed outside the WIAA premises. Make sure you answer them correctly; you do NOT want to come back here like the unfortunate teen you had befriended a couple hours ago. Flee in pleasure and relief when you finally earn your learners’ license – a tiny white, rectangular paper with cherry-pink printed alphabets and a ghastly black-and-white picture of yourself.
Then comes the exciting part, or so I thought – actual driving on the streets of Ahmedabad. I joined a driving school and chose 10 AM to be my preferred timing so that it aligned with my habitual, unhealthy routine.
There you go – mistake, mistake, mistake.
Have you seen Ahmedabad roads at 10 AM? What was I thinking? I had never even ventured on the road as a driver before; I’ve never driven two-wheelers. I’ve always been the perfect passenger; I change radio channels to find perfect music and plug my own music and make witty observations about the ambience which probably go unnoticed by people on the drivers’ seat. The idea of being in the drivers’ seat had never occurred to me until recently and I had never paid the slightest heed to anything people in the drivers’ seat actually do. So choosing to learn how to drive amidst swarms of cars, pedestrians, and cattle wasn’t exactly the wisest thing to do – in a 10 AM traffic scenario, you tend to hit the brake more than the accelerator.
Anyway, on my first day out as a novice driver, in all honesty, I was excited. Aren’t there songs written about fast cars and the complete aesthetics of living the world and contemplating life decisions while driving one? I couldn’t wait to arrive to that romantic moment of being the poetic driver in a fast car, with the perfect song accompanying the cloudy, pleasant weather outside the car. Besides, I had always imagined myself as an excellent driver, ever since my pleasant go-karting experience in Hong Kong and ever since I have been playing NFS as a graceless teen (I was the NFS CHAMP, no exaggeration). How different could driving real cars be?
Very different, apparently.
I was intimated on this detail on the very first day by my obliging driving instructor.
“You’ve never even driven a two-wheeler and you’ll learn driving at 10 AM!,” she uttered when she learnt about my situation. “Erm, hehe, is that a problem?”
“Very, very big problem. Let’s move now. What else to do?”
And just like that, it all began.
To put it plainly, I have learnt a lot of must-nots. I reckon my entire experience of learning how to drive on Ahmedabad streets at 10 AM can be summed up into this list of must-nots.
Here’s the list of must-nots:
- You must not assume everyone else on the road with a driving license actually knows how to drive.
- You must not underestimate the arbitrariness of pedestrian’s feet movements at 10 AM or any AM or PM.
- You must not ignore the presence of that stealthy, headfast cow refusing to budge no matter how hard you honk.(By the way, if you ever get your head too high in the clouds, an encounter with the cattle in Ahmedabad will always be the helpful humbling experience.)
- You must not think driving is going to be as joyful as Maren Morris makes it sound in My Church.
- You must not assume that your driving school instructor will laugh at your quick joke when you’re trying to make a life-threatening U-turn.
- You must not assume that your driving school instructor will sportily handle how your erroneous fast driving on bumpy roads amplified the instructor’s chronic back-pain.
- You must not possess courage enough to try learning how to drive cars in 10 AM Ahmedabad traffic, especially when you have nil driving experience. (I have never driven two-wheelers, you see.)
- You must not ask your driving instructor if he/she has ever played NFS and you definitely must not elaborate on your gaming accomplishments if they’ve not asked for it.
- You must not accelerate on a turn at all.
- You must not ask your driving instructor if he/she can teach car stunts too.
- You must not try to converse about mechanical engineering details of the car with your instructor when a car behind you is honking at yours.
- You must not laugh at the car for making that funny noise when you press the accelerator and clutch together. (In my defense, it WAS funny in that rickety old driving-school WagonR. It went waaaoooo-waaaoo.)
All said, I have been practising driving for quite a while now. My instructor thinks I have definitely gotten better and that I am positively ready to drive on my own, without supervision. I am yet to get my actual license though, and I wonder what vicissitude hovers ahead, as it always seems to do in my life. But I’m a little positive about this one, if I may say so.
After all, my not-exactly-amiable driving instructor told me the other day – ‘Don’t worry. You’ve learnt how to drive in Ahmedabad in the 10 AM traffic. You can do anything in life.’
My driving instructor sure is a person of very few words; even from among that little directory, this is definitely the nicest thing she has ever told me, or any nice thing she has ever told me, for that matter.
Cheers to that!
And cheers to driving safe! With hands on the steering and gear. Don’t the let the gif mislead you.