I learnt to drive at the age of 13. Pestered my brother M for approximately one month and fourteen days till he finally gave in just to get me out of his hair I guess. So one fine Saturday morning when my Mom and Dad were out and my eldest brother was in college we set off in my mom’s car for my first lesson. It was a Maruti 800 so my feet could reach the brakes and the accelerator. Now, M is not exactly a patient teacher but I think the thrill of teaching me reckless driving right under Dad’s nose must have enthused him to undertake the job. After he had patiently demonstrated the use of the clutch, gear, accelerator and brake in about tweleve and half seconds, we set off slowly down the road with me behind the wheel and my Lhasa Apso Bubbles in the back seat.
After numerous instructions like:
Do you think Roopa saw me?
Do you think Aparna saw me?
When we pass Ramesh’s house I will duck ok?
If anybody asks, I am here because you blackmailed me into this ok? etc. I was doing pretty well. It didn’t help my driving a bit, but I wasn’t complaining. Beggars can’t be choosers especially when it comes to choosing their siblings.
Learning to drive from an expert is tough, especially if the expert was born with the steering wheel in his hands. And if the student is your sister who was born without the steering wheels in her hands it leads to some uncomfortable situations, especially for pedestrians some of whom are still alive to tell the tale to the cops if I don’t bring the green blouse with gold border from that tailor down the road or provisions from the Iyengar provision shop only or marry their sons when I reach marriageable age. I am still paying a heavy price for my driving lessons that were supposed to be free.
To begin with I could never get the difference between the brake and the accelerator inspite of my brother’s best efforts and crystal clear instructions.
Look out Hump ahead!!!
Press gently on the brake
Hey why are you speeding up?
Oops sorry Pai uncle can’t stop and help you pick up the onions
Oops sorry Venkatesha I will pay for the vegetables and the cart
Aiyyo Shobha aunty did that hurt?
I said BRAKE not ACCELARATOR FOR GOD’S SAKE!!!!!!
Look out nooo.....* thud *
The *thud* was Nair uncle taking off into the blue yonder Hero cycle and all, losing thrust and landing back successfully on Mother Earth. In fact Nair uncle had a better landing record than NASA shuttle missions during my ‘driving lesson’ days.
After this incident M drove back home and wrote B for brake and A for Accelerator on a piece of paper which he struck on the brake and accelerator.
We set off past Uncle Thomas who shouted “ I am going to tell your...” his last words were lost in the wind as I mistook the accelerator for the brake again. Besides I was too petrified to take my eyes away from the road and read B for Brake and A for Accelerator and WELCOME on the Kerala Coir Board mat. I kept my eyes firmly on the road and foot firmly pressed on the accelerator and learnt to steer, overtake, turn left and right and reverse etc at a pacy 60 mph and higher. My brother was hopping mad and if a genie were appear and grant me three wishes I would have asked for a Remote Control with the options to “Shut him up” “Lower His Volume” and “Shut the dog up”. But since there was no sign of a genie approaching I devised my own remote control to get away from his incessant nagging and shouting. I would say “Duck, I think Gaurav is coming" and M would slide down the seat and stay there for some time while I experimented with the brake and accelerator to my hearts content. After I felt I was fairly sure of this combination I would say, “ Ok, you can come up now, Gaurav is gone”.
So the next few hours M kept sliding up and down the seat while I practiced releasing the clutch slowly while pressing on the accelerator gently, changing the gear while stamping on the clutch etc. After many an “I see Anita on the road” and “Preethi is coming this way” etc., I was fairly sure of how the whole thing worked. I felt as pleased as a punch that had just learnt driving.
On the 3rd Saturday of driving my brother crazy er... driving lessons we were driving into the road leading to my house when my Dad happened to drive by. From the expression on his face when he saw us I could safely surmise that my brother was grounded. But the resultant turns of events? Brother and his bike and his sister and her dog were grounded. Guess I am not very good at face reading.
( Bubbles who would jump into the car the moment anyone opened the car door, developed an irrational fear of cars. The Vet thought and I agreed vehemently, that it was because of the emotional trauma of being grounded. The Vet has since given up practice and now works in a Call Centre)