Since the time I’ve started working (regularly) which is close to a year now, I haven’t really picked up a skill or a talent. Too bad, cussing the boss, the media, and the politicians doesn’t account for real talent or else we would’ve been a country with maximum laureates and aficionados represented by the likes of Sir Mahesh Bhatt and Madame Shobha De. However, as I type this, I can’t resist the temptation of adding Driving On Delhi Roads in my Curriculum Vitae for the acute amount of mental-training and resilience it has extrapolated out of me in the past 7 months.
If you were one of those teenage kids, ballsy enough to sneak out your parent’s car keys before your legs could even reach the clutch, then you should probably ignore this post and spare me your snarl for being a naiveté but if you, like me, grew up with a mortal fear of all things in motion- aka the rash drivers, the ignorant jaywalkers, dumb dogs, reckless bikers, the day-dreaming cyclists, the over-working rickshawalls, the precarious thellawallas, the mass-murderer blueline drivers, the addicted- to -phone teenage pedestrians- then please your eye balls with hope and consolation you are about to find in my words. You too shall overcome the dark phobias one day. With some practice and mammoth proportion of luck, you will have your way with the wheels, and be the master of your foot and eye-coordination. And when that happens, your life wouldn’t be the same thereafter.
For starters, the grand epitome of modern technology also known as the Delhi metro would repulse you in multiple ways. Trading space and comfort in lieu for speed and economy would suddenly fail to make sense to you. I’d rather have my shitty stereo blasting to myself than be a victim to somebody else’s aural distaste. Even if it means moving my head in a retarded way to Icona Pop’s lyrics which incidentally read “ I crush my car into the bridge and watched that let it burn… I don’t care, I love it”. Nevermind, the irony.
My second observation about driving is closely related to the idea of control. I’m forced to believe the real intention behind the invention of automobile is slightly removed from the need for quick transportation which unquestionably triggered the discovery of the wheel. The assembly of car was driven by the need for speed and to have control over it. Consequently, driving gives me an enormous sense of power and control, which I lack otherwise in my minion corporate life. Thanks to the Indian traffic rules, this sense of power is largely unchecked and wildly legal. Every time I ignite the engine, I’m infested with a spirit of sportsmanship which I last experienced 15 years ago pressing the blue and green rubber buttons on a suitcase sized console connected to a 16 inch Onida TV set. It is absolutely exhilarating.
Nothing can cultivate your ability to focus better than a 35 km ride to Delhi-Gurgaon. No cup of coffee can equal the effect of a 7 minute drive from my house to the main road all the way to the ridge, on my senses. The downside of which translates to menacing amount of honking and cussing but that’s the initial phase of tolerance-development. By the time I reach office, I’m indifferent to my colleague’s grouses and my own incompetence at empathising with them
While I have considerably mastered the art of spotting deathly Gurgaon pits, halting for hurrying pedestrians, spectacularly deranged two-wheelers and stupid stray, my directionally challenged self is the biggest challenge I am yet to overcome.
At 110km/hr I’m the safest driver you will find on NH8. Meet me on an anon road at 20km/hr and I would pray for your safety and well-being. My point being nobody will tell you that your ability to drive well rests upon your dexterity with maps.
Another valuable experience that’s come handy so far is to let go of the fear of crashing. Which is similar to what I learnt during swimming-the sooner you forego the fear of drowning, the better you become. It is ofcourse, another thing that I always took the swimming advice with a pinch of salt, ridiculing the idea of burdening the weight of my entire body on my two tiny nostrils. But thank heavens to have the machine replace man and a thousand cogs and screws replace two nostrils without which I wouldn’t have sported the accident-proof record I hold.
I’m ofcourse, discounting the time I broke the neighbour’s taillight while reversing my car in the porch and the two..no three..no four instances when I thought I saw my death messenger in a mean grey colour UP number plate. But then I’d rather die feeling like Thelma(from Thelma and Louie) than have my body guillotined between the metro track in the wake of an earthquake.