Saturday, January 24, 2009

An on the road saga - Part 5!!

We sat anxiously outside the two different RTO offices to get our International driving permit sanctioned. Suddenly my cell phone rang... it was PP ..."success... I got mine done ! what about yours?" 'No",I replied...."Mr.RTO has still not arrived the scene.Looks like we will have to cancel tonight's train ticket." "OMG! I have an important meeting in office tomorrow... I can't spare any more leave.You come later with kids...."said PP. After two day long satyagraha outside the RTO and after filling the empty pockets of various administrative staff I got my much awaited IDP....

With the valuable IDP safely in my purse , we packed our bags once again to leave our land ... for a 3 year long stay in US.
My first impression of US roads was admiration and awe.... then came anxiety ....who would not be anxious to see the cars zooming on the free ways ...each time a vehicle passed me I could feel a burner kindling in my tummy. "How can I drive on these roads...."

After much thought I was enlightened ... yes I understood that till now I was never driving....being still alive after driving on our Indian roads was not less than a miracle!
After a few weeks in US, necessity forced me to sit behind the steering and drive our FORD Taurus... Yes ., I enjoyed those moments when I drove the car in the early morning to give dance lessons to a group of Indian kids. We started feeling the necessity of having a second vehicle and leased a Chrysler town and country...From then on that became my on the road companion.... I was transformed into a full time chauffeur ... driving the kids to and from school, shopping , trips to library , to my dance classes....

My IDP was expiring in a few weeks .. when a new rule came up by the SOS that only green card holders were issued a drivers permit. I was in a dilemma .... Still with the confidence that very thing will fall into place , I continued with my road trips ....

One day as I was on my way to dropping my kindergartner to school ... one police vehicle suddenly came opposite our vehicle... before I knew, the police car took a U turn and with the lights and the siren blaring started following me.

I remembered what PP told me what to do when a police car follows you, with the lights and siren on,... just take your vehicle to the side and park it safely and wait for the officer to come ..
I did exactly that .. trying not to panic toddler started screaming on top of his voice.... "amma .... amma ... police .... ammma ...." I could see the fear in the eyes of my kindergartner, even when he tried to calm down his brother.... Those few minutes of waiting seemed to be like hours...and finally the officer came beside my the driver's window and asked ... " license please" . be continued.....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

An on the road saga ! 4

After a fun filled and adventurous year in Japan, we landed in Taiwan. The on the road adventures here were limited to profuse use of expression and hand gestures to the locals and the taxi drivers in an attempt to make them understand our destination . Even the famous "TESCO" shopping mall had to be translated to "to-hi -ko" with right voice modulation and intonation : which used to be rehearsed again and again ....After staying in Taiwan for a year, we landed in one of the most picturesque and serene places I have stayed... South Africa.

Our stay in South Africa was fun and full of life. We stayed in a huge bungalow overlooking a nature reserve . A well maintained garden with bird baths, lush green trees and fragrant flowers would invite the huge birds, Hadidas, to land in our compound. The outside atmosphere was perfect for a walk ... and we would put on our walking shoes and venture into the lap of nature.... I would always wonder how and why people preferred to either stay in doors or just zoom in their vehicles......for we would be the only ones enjoying our evening walks.....And were often stared at by those in their cars.

It was only later that I came to know that , it was not safe to walk on the roads .... or even drive with out carrying knifes or revolvers....the crime rates in South Africa, even in a "safe" Pretoria neighborhood like ours, was high. From then on we started practicing "awareness"..... Even when we had the privilege of driving a Mazda offered to us from Pp's office.....It was in South Africa that I really drove.... Each moves , each turn, each stop .... each change of gear was practised with utmost awareness.

I was the chauffeur of the family ... as Pp was yet to master the driving skills on the road. I took up yet another job ... of teaching my husband driving. He was a good student flourishing under the tutelage of an able and experienced Guru...The confidence level in him was rising with every class ... that he finally drove on the roads with out my promptings.....He explored the different roads in Pretoria with the help of maps ..... and one day while taking a confident turn with his eyes surveying the map ... he dashed on to a near by lamp post crashing our white Mazda ..... be continued