Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hi Amma's Car... Happy to you!

Last year, yesterday, we took delivery of our car.

I still remember the wet december evening that I went with a friend to the saleshouse to inspect the car. Raghu joined me there. We had no idea what to inspect in the car. I was going to be driving for the very first time without a qualified instructor and a second brake beside me. I was being guided by Raghu, who had no license. It was a classic case of the blind leading the blind.

We managed to take the car home and heaved a HUGE sigh of relief.

Those first few weeks, to go out and drive was a TORTURE. I was a nervous wreck. The very second day, I got in the car, switched the gear to "D", released the hand brake and tried to crank the ignition and the car wouldn’t start. Panic set in. Whom do I call? The instructor? The dealer? Any mechanic nearby? Luckily, a wee bit of common sense prevailed and I decided to try again. This time, I cranked the ignition before switching gears and it worked. Of course, but how was I to know?

I needed a chaperone to drive me to and from work. In Raghu's words, I needed someone to call out "Ooram Poo". I totally depended on this someone to help me with switching lanes. And once they gave me the go ahead, I would give the steering wheel one yank and take a 30 degree angle into the other lane, to the accompaniment of blaring horns from other cars. I was too nervous to shift my gaze from the windscreen to inspect the mirrors. My knuckles were white from clutching the steering wheel. I would spend the whole day at work stressing about the drive in the evening and the whole night stressing about the morning drive.

It did not help at all that I hit a car the very first time I took the car out all by myself. I indicated to change lanes and then ever-so-slowly started moving to the other lane. An all-important driver who couldn't afford to be delayed 20 seconds by this new driver in front of him accelerated to overtake and I hit him. My confidence which was at perhaps 5% was set back by about 100%.

It's been a year since. While I am no formula one driver now, I'm happy to say that I'm alive, as are my passengers, as are the others on the road around me. (Knocking HARD on wood!) I actually enjoy my drive now and I look forward to taking the driver seat. I hear the music that's playing while I drive. I have driven in another country. I have clocked over 14,000 km and I can truthfully say that nearly 14,000 of those have been pleasurable. The car fits me. I can actually look back at those first few days with a detached sense of humour.

Since we are moving to Australia, we will have to sell the car soon. This is our first car and will always have a special place in our memories. If I had to pick any car out there on the road and make it mine, this would be the one. Not this model, this very car.

It's been a great ride.

(Was I so comfortable driving that I managed to snap pictures of the road??!)

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