Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Driving Lessons

Driving Lessons.

Yes, I have enrolled for them. No, I don’t plan to buy a car or find work as a driver. I enjoy riding a bike and have become adept at it. If I am driving, I find travel relaxing and pleasant. I was planning to go to either Goa or Uttranchal this December. My plans of going there on a bike, fulltoo Roadies ishtyle were met with laughter, ridicule and stern no’s. The stern no coming from my dad. Crushed, I planned on going to Goa by hiring a car. Learning how to drive a car was the next step.

The thing that I love about this country is that people care. We are concerned. We like to give advice. Nine times out of ten, we voice our concern. And the advice bit gets a full ten on ten.

Upon inquiry, I decided to learn driving from Kini Motor Driving School. That wasn’t easy. Earlier on, a pal suggested that it was a waste of time. “X has a car. Ask him to teach you. You will be able to learn quickly as you know how to ride a bike. It’ll be a 5 day affair.” He spoke with such conviction that I virtually saw myself in Schumacher’s shoes after the supposed 5 day training.

I was a tad skeptical about asking X for his new car and use it to hone my driving skills. Well -actually-use it to learn driving with. His face became pale and I am sure his blood pressure either lowered or rose up when I told him what ‘Y’ suggested!

“I don’t mind at all, but you see, I would suggest you join a driving school. They are professionals and will tutor you properly. Y is an imbecile. NEVER take his suggestions seriously” He had begun sweating, so I quickly changed the topic. I am sure while going for a drive in his car later on, when I caught him cussing someone under his breath, the cusses were meant for Y.

I then started my search for a driving school. Opinions were divided. Some school’s offered lesser days. Others trainer was not up to the mark. Some were too expensive. What I learnt from this exercise is: Limit your inquiries to a few people who are your well wishers or have the required domain knowledge (A girlfriend told me that Z motor school did not have any training cars in red so it was meaningless even contemplating learning there regardless of its lowest tuition fee)

I said well wishers because some of the people I inquired looked at me with ‘so, now you want to learn to drive, you silly fellow you’ look or the ‘Gosh, you must be buying a brand new car and I am so jealous’ look or the ‘What makes you think you even deserve a car?’ look.

Domain knowledge is equally important. One doesn’t have to ask an Automobile Engineer but someone who knows which training school is reasonably cheap and has proper trainers. The colour of the car is not very important if you only plan to sit in it for 22 odd days and learn driving. But hey, that’s me.

Finally, as I mentioned before, I chose Kini Motors. The Instructor, Mr. Parkar (We are not yet on first name basis. Well, he is, I’m not) came highly recommended. Their Santro was outwardly in good condition and the fee was equal to the other schools. Moreover, it was a kilometer and a half from my home and good exercise on days I set out there walking. Make that walking briskly.

It’s been 5 odd days and I have learnt a few valuable lessons. I shall summarise a few.

Yes, driving a car is a tad easier if you know how to ride a bike. For someone who does not know how to ride a bike, learning how to drive a car will be easier of the two. For one, you don’t have to balance a car so you don’t have to worry about falling down. Secondly, you don’t have training schools for Bikes, none that I’ve heard of anyway. You either have to borrow a pal’s bike or learn after buying one yourself.

Most choose the former and India being such a great and helpful country, most people do have genuine friends who not only lend their bike but volunteer to teach. There may be a possibility that your dear, helpful friend isn’t much of a rider himself and may misguide you. Even if he is a regular Rossi, he doesn’t have additional brakes and clutch, a luxury (if one might call it that) that motor school tutors have. Also, you don’t have to worry about the repercussions of crashing your training vehicle into the fat old lady. Why?

In all probability, your Instructor will stop the runaway car. Even if you don’t give him that chance and crash into something or someone anyway, you have a learner’s license and people expect it from you. (Practically, I have not yet experienced the repercussions, as I have not bumped into anyone although I have come perilously close on many occasions. Hence I don’t know, who pays, what happens. My trainer has ensured such a situation won’t arise) Youngsters on Bikes are considered to be Devil incarnate. If you were to ever bump into something, and by something I meant something inanimate, run. If the specimen were to be a living person, I would suggest faking a heart attack. Actually, this advice goes to all bikers, learners, novices or experts.

All in all, driving a Car has its joys. I’d prefer cruising in a Car while it’s raining. There were days when we used to wait for the rain to ride our bikes on wet roads. Maybe I have finally grown up.



© of Kartikeya Dwivedi 2008

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