It's a U-Turn.
The highway, rolling out in front of her till the earth curved, the wind in the air and the music rising up her senses. So, this is how it feels!
To drive a car without driving the fellow drivers crazy. She watches the Blue Tower pass by as she hums along the radio.
Oh My God! Wasn’t she supposed to turn right from here? Where’s the road? She stares through the windshield, the road ahead is gone. Instead, there’s a steep fall in front of her, and the pathway is so narrow, it’s impossible to take a U-turn. She releases the accelerator and feels for the brake, but there’s none. She remembers brakes failing in Hindi movies, but disappearing?
The car goes out of control, skids and hits the pavement. She tries to open the door but it refuses to unlock. She bangs the window and lets out a cry but there’s no sound.
She opens her eyes and tries again. “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp!”
Phew! A dream.
Sia is alone in the house, thankfully! She was taking an afternoon nap, while her husband was out at the driving school, giving his assessment test.
Kunal has been driving for the past 10 years. In India, that is. In India, you don’t need training to pass the driving test, just a car. The traffic rules are different at every crossing. Some cities even give you the freedom to make your own traffic rules. Every driver is the owner of the road – and why not, he pays the taxes! The bigger the vehicle, the greater say you have in the dynamic rulebook. The lanes are interchangeable, as per your convenience – in case of heavy vehicles; and as per थे space available – in case of smaller possessions.
Driving on Indian roads is like appearing for an exam everyday, and 10 years’ experience makes you nothing less than a Ph.D. in Drivology.
Then why this Kolaveri Di, er… I mean why this training?
This is the third time that Kunal is appearing for the test. They don’t give grace marks in Dubai. And he has decided to quit if he doesn’t get through this time.
“They’ll teach me how to drive? I’ve been driving from the moment my legs managed to reach the accelerator!” Is Kunal’s argument.
Sia is taking the classes too, but only on her dear husband’s constant urging. She is in no mood for multiple trials and has decided to quit after the first test.
If only these classes would end! But since she has practically no previous driving experience, she has to go for double the number of classes. She has two more weeks to go, before she can flunk her test and quit.
“If they won’t pass someone with years of experience, who am I to even hope for a license?” Is Sia’s argument.
Two weeks later, Sia watches her fellow learner drive smoothly past the towering buildings and meandering lanes. She is next, and as the car goes further away from the lanes, she is convinced that it’s not going to take long.
Ten minutes later, she is on the driver’s seat. It’s a highway, and although she is prepared to fail, she is not yet prepared to die. She puts on her seatbelt and wishes to advice the backseat passengers to do the same. Slowly, she releases the clutch and lets the engine take control. It’s easy when you don’t have to worry about doing the right thing.
A few kilometres later, the instructor asks her to take a U-turn from the next crossing. In an instant her recent nightmare flashes in front of her eyes. The Blue Tower, the missed turn, the end of the road. She blacks out. A few seconds pass by before she remembers that she is not alone, and prays to God that she finds a U-turn ahead, and not the scary, steep pit she saw in her dream. She squints her eyes to bring back her concentration on the road. There’s a U-turn all right, and she has enough time to save the car from banging in elsewhere. Carefully, she indicates left and changes the lane before turning 180-degrees.
Mission accomplished. No causalities!
She lets out a sigh and checks the rare views to see if she is safe. She indicates again, for the benefit of the poor fellows driving behind her, that she wants to move to the right lane. The instructor asks her to pull over at the next block and she does so. She needed a break and she is glad, she is getting one.
“Thank you.” Says the instructor and asks her to sit in the back seat.
Yes, she passes the test. In the first go! Maybe she is lucky. Or maybe, she is just careful. Kunal hasn’t given up yet and will be giving his fifth test, a week later.