Drivers license and I

You know? They keep thinking about the functioning of an automobile. Some guys. They know the gear functionality, car dashboard operations, tyre removal and such.I can’t even think beyond these functions in a car. But I can adjust my car seat well.

In 2004, between my last day at college and first job joining date, I decided to enrol in a driving school close to my house. One Mahaveer Driving School. On the first day of the class, I took a bus to the school. The receptionist wanted me to sit on a bench. I sat. Waiting.Just then a man walked in. Oiled curly hair covered his eyes. Beard covered rest of the face. His shirt was buttoned only from the chest. Then there was a thread hanging from the neck. Trousers — one folded till the calf , other till anklet. “Oh! they are training people for commercial driving also”- I guessed. A little later- “Vrinda!!” the receptionist called. “Basavaraj is your tutor!”. She pointed towards the man I was analysing a minute ago.I was not expecting a uniformed, English speaking, polite tutor coach me- but you see..

My driving lessons were nothing but horrible hours of abuse for not honking at pedestrians especially school children and aged vendors, not agreeing to remove footwear when driving, not speeding to clear the yellow signal and also for some genuine reasons as not changing gears when required. On the day of the driving test- out of the 20 pupils from the same driving school, only two failed- one was an old man who just had a cataract operation and the other one- yours truly!Later in the evening, I went to the driving school again to collect documents after failing. The old uncle also had come. Evening, they ask the failed students to come. The receptionist asked me if I would like take the test again in a fortnight or pay Rs. 150/- to pass the failed test in a week.Soon, I got the drivers licence, in a week.

Fast forward- 2016. California, United States.

I practised driving everyday- within my apartment complex- parking my car at every given open parking slot, around a play park, a residential neighbourhood- round and around. I did not take any formal classes. It was expensive. I was frantically reading all the materials and videos available on the Internet on California DMV. I had no doubt I would pass.

There are eight “critical driving errors” during the “behind the wheel” test. If you commit even one, you are out! There are other errors not really “critical” that you may go up to fifteen. But beyond that you are out too!

First attempt, I failed- with one critical error and eight other errors. I was not maintaining a distance from the stop sign line. Which was “disobeying traffic signals/ signal”, apart from not “fully stopping” at a deserted road with a stop signal.This hurt my ego, my confidence, my everything. And there is certainly no option to pay the “fees” to clear a failed test.

Second attempt- I went and parked my car in a plot meant for test driving. My fingers were cold in the 62.6 deg F (17 Cel) temperature. Halloween season had the DMV office full of toy skeletons and jack-o-lanterns in different shapes and sizes. It looked like they are all grinning at me.“Okay!- so, second attempt?” the staff asked. I nodded in agreement.

Democracy at its best!

After the fee payment, I came back to my car and there was a fellow- test taker who had parked his car. I could not help take a picture of his graffiti on his car. “Power of democracy”. I thought. Okay, coming back to my test, slowly I moved the vehicle towards a waiting inspector. “Good Morning!” I said to seem relaxed.After 30 minutes, I committed no “critical errors” but a whooping 14 “not so critical errors”, with one more error to spare. I don’t remember breathing during this time. My mind had no chance to wander, my fingers were warm. When I rushed to submit the results back to the office, the Trump Party Worker with that huge vehicle also had passed.

Democracy triumphs..