As one completes his bachelor hood era and enters the twilight zone of marriage era, lots of planning needs to be done. Examples include housing expansion, transportation expansion, expectation reduction… the list is endless and lest a possible bhakara escape getting married – we stop here.
We lived in a small house and Grihasthasrama meant expanding by a new bedroom. This was impossible for the given squeezed condition of the house. So, I embarked on a house expanstion by building a new house.
The next problem provided myrid options like taking an Auto, hiring a city taxi etc. Having some hindsight of married life, I decided that before my spouse pressurises by sweetly saying “Every body is going around in cars, I like that Pink colour – why dont we buy one too?”.
First problems first. I did not know driving a 4 wheeler. Full stop.
Guided by my able friend Prashanth who asked me to enroll into a Driving school which serves twin purposes – Learn driving and also get a licence – at a fee.
I paid my first installment, asked for a Maruthi only – Tsk tsk Ambassodors and Fiats are old you know!. I was assigned driver muniswamy. Since I could take the lessons only on two days known on earth as weekend, I landed up having solo lessons most of the time.
Muniswamy oozed of experience. After the honemoon period of sitting straight like a ram rod, listening to the oratory skills of muniswamy and fearing that I would hit somebody and kill something, life was quite nice at the 1st and 2nd gears.
Introduction of one more reverse gear was the most hated thing. Most students did not know how to drive the car forwards – what with the trainer taking control of clutch, brake – you are taken for a raid!!
This painfull thing meant arching ones back, acting to see at all 240 degrees including invisible footpath, sleeping dogs and still make the damn reverse such that nothing scratches and you escape with your life.
After the frustrated left and right reverse’s I could see muniswamy swetting under the torture. His shouting, scolding was not working and he decided to tell me the truth. Sir, why dont you hire a driver and forget all these problems?
No – I put his suggestion down. It is a pride to drive personally all people insane was my motto!
Finally the driving classes got over and I scored very good brownie point when I asked how muniswamy felt driving day in and day out with luckless trainees like me. I could see the tear at the edge of his eyes. He said he was quite good driving his brick lorry till fate took over and he lost the confidence with the owner and had to do this for a living.
I was aghast at this. Not that I had good feelings towards his occupation but the miserly, downly driving school had palmed me off a lorry driver as an instructor!!
Having sensed my anger, muniswamy told me. Sir, these classes are all hogwash. Why dont you book and take delivery of the new car. I will ensure to coach you personally and it just takes time to master this skill. I nodded in agreement as that was my plan too. But, sadly muniswamy forgot or was intelligent NOT to mention the scratches on own vehicle.
Prashanth my good friend said, dont take the driving lesson so soon. Buy a car ( after all I was a software guy and who has heard of these tribes not buying the swankiest of the wheels on roads). One wisdom of prashanth was too good. He said “No learning is without scratches and dents – good example was the cycle we both learnt togather”. To add the cutting edge to his words he spoke in hushed words – Mohan, you will allways spoil that clutch set while learning. So buy a 2nd hand car – learn and discard it.
That was sound advice. We went and hunted down a White maruthi whose owner – an Astrologer negotiated the deal. I was wondering through out since he was a astrologer, he should have known the right price and struck to it – why bother haggling over it.
Between these and mani – our trusted mechanic who helped in striking the deal told us over hot coffee outside his house “sir.. he is a cheat. He does all pujas to cheat people”. See that Ambassdor diesel, he uses that for commuting and this White maruthi is just to show off – he cant afford to pay the petrol prices. This was when petrol was a cheap 36 rupees per litre. It seems he was upgrading to a new Santro and hence selling off the maruthi.
Prashanth drove the vehicle home in all pomp and glory with me beaming in the front seat like having acquired my new Jet, got the mandatory Ganesha’s blessing and put it in the garage.
I used to sit alone and memorize all the damn gadgets around. This thing had special fittings from the astrologer friend which was advanced for year 1999. It had special foot padals resembling the harmonium of yester years… 3 reeds in a row for Acceleartor, Brake and Clutch. It had the most advanced Autocop imported from Singapore. I will not mention much about the impoted stereo system though.
I just ignored muthusmamy’s offer as already I had been spoilt by his lorry driving ways. However, this comes handy even today. He has taught me a couple of tricks with which car driving in raged bangalore roads is simple. Thank you muni.
I brain washed prashanth into helping me out – wasnt he the one who put this demonly idea into my mind?. We took out the car for the first spin from our residence as the car was also low on petrol. We had to reach the bunk near the ring road and prashanth sat next to me in the driver seat.
We just ambled off nearly knocking off the tulasi pot when I reversed. All the kids waved Ta Ta to me. I smiled like a michale schumaker and before I could say Ta ta to them, the damn vehicle took off. Thanks to those harmonioum reeds.
Prashanth instructed like a co-pilot. Press the clutch, release the hand brake, look forward, dont hit the poles, they dont have legs. A sharp turn at end of road missing an auto by wiskers made prashanth skip a beat but I was tasting first blood which was not my own anyways!
We started drifting freely down the road. Like I used to switch off my Kinetic honda, I simply switched off the car which was in Neutral and wanted to enjoy the show. MOHAN shouted prashanth. Since I had mastered to talk without looking at people, I asked ‘what?’ did I run over any dogs?
Switch the damn engine on – NOW. Full clutch he commanded. Something vicious in his voice made me do it, the engine chugged back to life. Never ever do that again he admonished me. The brakes will loose traction when you switch off the engine. This is NOT your kinetic honda or TVS 50 OK? I wondered why my BTS pushpak driver did the same thing and nobody scolded him!
After 30 minutes, we covered the 1 Km in 1st and 2nd gear. The first Red light had just turned amber and planning to go red. Prashanth said. Slowly accelerate so that we can cross this road before it turns RED. I pressed something but still the vehicle did not gain momentem and prashanth said OK man. You didnt hit the accelerator hard enough. Atleast brake now as the light has turned red.
He was speaking as if I was in full control of the car!!
I successfully located by looking down at my legs to find where the accelerator was and took my leg off the pedal. Mohan shouted prashanth. Never look down. Allways look front. OK but how to locate these damn things then? I will find that out later I thought.
Brake mohan, brake shouted prashanth. The car was in the front since most other drivers who could drive had gotten away under the amber light, and the cross road traffic had started off.
I panicked now seeing a huge wave of traffic, what with the white clothed police man at the crossroads.
BRAKE screamed prashanth and yanked the stearing hard to left so that we dont collide with the BTS bus. This worked like magic on me and the car stalled and stopped somewhere inbetween the traffic and ring road. The police man was blowing the whistle hysterically asking me to drive back as I had come to centre of the road – little did he know about my reverse driving skills.
Prashanth just yanked the door open, in 23.5 nanoseconds he had opened my driving door and just said ‘sit back’. I was overcome with so much panic, just obeyed his order. He just apologized to the cop saying some trouble with clutch and we wanted to go to the bunk opposite for rectification. The cop got back to his post and prashanth just reversed little bit diagonally so that traffic could move.
Prashanth was white as if he had seen a ghost. We just said 5 liters and paid. No words said. Prasnhanth drove back with skill to his house where everybody was waiting. He went on to scold me in front of everyone and said, if 2 more seconds had elapsed he would have pulled the hand brake and slowed down, lest we got moved down by the big BTS bus!
He finally got the car back into our house. After that incident his wife did not agree to coach me further – infact none of the friends were ready to lay down thier life for my driving skills.
I took upon the responsibility of driving myself. After lots of practice on the then empty hosur road, since there were no human beings, poles – I could even drive without occassional police enquiring for my Driving Licence.
Just 1 week before my Learners Licence was to expire, I decided to take up the test.
to be concluded….