Having lived in the US for a good 4 years the very thought of not driving was not only rare it was looked down upon, frowned upon and you actually felt or were made to believe that you have arrived from another planet! Thinking about it, it did make sense. Every living soul in that country is driving his/her own car. Public transport is not prevalent plus the non availability of drivers makes driving on your own the only option! Teenagers, grandparents, nannies, even Indian pundits living in the US are zooming around in their cars. I had enrolled in a driving school, somehow learnt the basics and started to drive but that was all – a start! Continuing to do it and mastering it appeared to not be my cuppa tea. Somehow, the speed limits, the highways were not meant to be and I could go on with more reasons and excuses! You have a Masters degree from the best institute in the world! remarked somebody…you have travelled around the world doing and seeing so much! So how come you can’t drive?! I didn’t quite understand the link but nonetheless I realized this important fact
(Lesson 1) there is a tendency for people to over exaggerate something that you have not been able to do or achieve – could be something important, big or small but it is highlighted much more than your actual achievements at times. By being conscious about it instead of being confident only makes it worse so you actually keep drifting away from a solution! I think this happens to most of us but we chose to either ignore it or we accept it as it is – both do not help.
Fast forward to Gurgaon, where the road traffic is beyond describable, and because of which I started believing the saying ‘if you can drive in these roads you can pretty much drive anywhere else on the globe’! It was the least expected place I thought I would ever learn to drive in or anybody who knew me well enough expected me to drive in J Even my driver had given me a faint smirk when I mentioned the thought of giving driving a shot! And then one day it happened…I enrolled myself in the Maruti driving school and was all set for 10 classes of driving on the roads with the gears! My instructor was a lady which I won’t hide was a relief for me but definitely was not enough in calming me down!. Behind the steering wheels, after adjusting the mirrors and seat belt, I could feel my palms sweating as I turned on the car engineJ slow and steady I moved ahead, steering, glancing carefully at all corners and trying to stay focused on the chaotic roads. For the longest time, I could barely press on the accelerator for fear of losing control…the closeness of the cars, sudden turns, cycles, scooters cutting in between, pedestrian fearlessly crossing the roads and absence of any clearly defined lanes made the whole experience anything but smooth! What if i just give up in between? another failed attempt? In my quest for finding solace and to divert my attention I started chatting with my instructor. She was a hardworking middle class lady with two kids living in a very traditional joint family. We started talking about how life changes for a woman after marriage, the whole family adjustment that we women go through, how tough it is to bring up kids and the unsafe city we are living in. For some reason i found comfort in just sharing and listening to somebody’s thoughts and views and it helped me better manage the driving! Day by day I got better and more confident about my new skill J Sharing with friends and family that I am getting comfortable with driving brought about another startling realization – most of them began to open up about how they struggled with learning to drive too, some till date have not yet done it, some are in the process.
(Lesson 2) At the end of the day, we are all so similar but do not open up and be honest about it for fear of not being accepted, fear of being the odd one out, fear of a reaction….
Undoubtedly the best moment for me these days is when I step into my car, putting on my favourite music, zooming through the Gurgaon- Faridabad road (by far the best road, almost reminding me of California esp. on a perfect weather day!) and being fully in charge. The feeling is almost liberating!
(Lesson 3) Never underestimate yourself and your capabilities. Happiness, success, your life is only in your control….so go ahead and steer it in the right direction J