If someone asks me what I was looking forward to the most about being an adult, my answer would be driving. (Well, it would be A-rated movies. But what do I look forward to the most besides that? Driving. Definitely driving.)
You see, in my head, driving has always been the coolest part of being an adult. (I was kidding about the A-movies by the way :p) As a child, I have cribbed to be allowed to sit in the front seat: a privilege my mom would always enjoy when my father was driving. Later my dad began to allow me into the front seat when he was parking. Calling himself pilot and me co-pilot, he would ask me to help out with little things like if we were parallel to the wall or if there was a vehicle approaching. (This was before reverse assist.) My childhood fascination with driving diminished with time, yet vestiges of it remain. Hence learning to drive was something I had been looking forward to for a long time.
I was 14 years old when people around me like some of my seniors, classmates and slightly elder friends started learning how to drive. Some of them were underage, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t find it cool and that I didn’t wish to learn to drive too. Driving had always been the first order of business as soon as my 18th year’s summer started. Due to a couple of trips (and general sloth-like behaviour on my part,) there were a few delays but I finally got my hands on a steering wheel and began driving lessons 2 weeks back.
My first lesson was a novel experience for me. (My first struggle was the seat belt: I am so used to doing it left to right when I ride shotgun, I was struggling to buckle in. ) I had expected it to be sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, simply being introduced to the controls and maybe being told how and when to use each one so I was extremely surprised when I was instead told to sit in the driver’s seat, turn the keys in the ignition and get into first gear. I would be driving from get-go! I was flooded with sensations from the vehicle under me. Every bump and jerk was magnified in my excitement. The monsoon breeze against my face, soft music on the stereo and the low rumbling of the engine behind it all felt wonderful! I could barely contain the wide grin spreading across my face. (This was a cause for concern for my instructor as during all this I had consistently been accelerating in my excitement. Well past the set limit of 20kmph he had given me while grinning like a maniac, no wonder he has now labelled me as a speeding risk. Ugh) Yet, nothing could have prepared me for the sensation of acceleration as I pressed down the pedal for the first time. I had been anticipating the kick, yet I was surprised when it came. Usually, it just happens to me but this time I realised I was the cause of it; realising, in the process, how very different the two were.
When I am being accelerated, there is no control in my hands. Now yes, the more anxious amongst us worry about whether the person driving is capable or whether he startling sensation as the car leapt forward and I suddenly came face to face with the sheer horsepower I was sitting on. (Okay maybe a little power. Fine with great freedom AND power comes great responsibility.) To be honest, that was all I took away from my first lesson as I was almost completely focussed on just that the entire time. Surprisingly, I barely noticed it from the second lesson onwards; it has never bothered me again.will get you killed, yet for me this is easier to handle as either way, responsibility rests in his/her hands. That means even if an untoward incident occurs, I am in the clear. (How optimistic!) But when I am the one with my hands on the steering wheel, the responsibility rests on my shoulders. To hell with power, its great freedom that brings great responsibility. Now that I have had a few lessons, I am more accustomed to the sensation; but the first time? I remember the
Driving is LIBERATING. I feel like there are a million options in front of me: I am free to explore the world around me. The nearest you get to this kind of freedom is with cycling. (OOH flying must be better… Got to get my hands on an airplane!) But there again you are limited by lower speeds and your own stamina, and that is not the case with driving. Driving isn’t taxing, it requires focus and alertness, but at the same time it doesn’t take up too much RAM leaving your mind free to wonder and pick its teeth, metaphorically speaking.
Now, it isn’t all rosy, I do have complaints. Mumbai in the rains means two very big nuisances for every driver: Potholes and Traffic. Roads are choked all the time, you can barely move your foot off the breaks. I have never driven in 5th gear and 40% of my time is spent in traffic. But then again, I must admit: the monsoon does has its own charms.
The rainy season arrived a month back in Bombay. Ever since the weather has been a TREAT. It fluctuates between torrential downpours and weak sunlight, with deliciously refreshing breezes carrying in the petrichor and a few droplets of rain through lowered windows; merely describing it is making me smile with joy. Give me a muted radio playing melodies older than me over the sound of raindrops hitting the windshield, a cool breeze playing across my face, wide, empty roads and a good companion and I could drive on and on forever.
College will be starting soon, so I will have to leave my lessons incomplete. But I do live in the same city, so I guess I shall be completing them when I come home for the weekends. Its a pity that I won’t be able to continue driving everyday but now I have one more thing to look forward to on the weekends! I think I have found something that I won’t ever stop enjoying. Ever.
How was your experience learning how to drive? Any cool stories? Tips for a beginner driver or even a playlist to recommend for when I am in the driver’s seat? Do reach out! I look forward to hearing from you.
Until next time.