Ok, those who know me know how much I hate driving and how much I dread these American roads and the speeds here. I am so used to driving at 40 KMPH (my Schumacher speed) in India that 40MPH here scares the freakin' life outta me. And the cars... there is no Maruti 800 here! The smallest car that we could use with Driti is a Civic or a Corolla. I can't see the bonnet!
But I had to get the license. Why? In case of emergencies, and in case I really need to drive Driti to her classes. I had postponed the test appointment a number of times and I had to get the license before my Indian license lost its validity here soon.
The driving classes showed steep prices and anybody who saw me drive suggested a minimum of 12 classes. Now 12 classes at $60 an hour.. yeah.. steep!, and that's still the minimum. So I thought to myself, I really can't be that bad! So I did my own research and called a desi guy from the advertisement at a Bellevue mall. Now this guy, was supposed to travel all the way from Redmond, to teach me for two hours (his minimum requirement was 2 hours at $50 an hour) and he also promised to pick and drop me from my apartment. Dream coach! That's what I thought too, until, he came, he saw and didn't come back.
First, he didn't let me touch the steering wheel. He gave me a theory class (I had already passed the knowledge test and aced it.. yeah baby..was out in 20 questions, did not have to sit through the rest) for an hour and the other hour, he held the steering wheel for me! C'mon it's a driving class, not a thrill ride, where I just sit and hold the steering wheel and gape at the view ahead, while somebody else is spinning the wheel! I didn't need an instructor for that! I could have asked Ady instead. But the thing is, the husband always freaks and freaks you out! So Ady was not an option - atleast not at the time.
After the first class, the wierdo called me from Redmond and said it takes too much time for him to come to Seattle and he cannot do it going forward. Really? It's very far and you did not know it? I told you the day I called you! Anyway so $100 down the drain.
I then enrolled into another school which had some really great reviews. I joined the school and ok, the guy had patience, but I could not understand his accent at all! Somehow, I stuck around for fear that Ady may think I'm just trying to dodge the driving bullet as much as I can, and I completed the 8 classes. He said I needed some more practice and suggested 8 more.
Ady wanted me to get the license so the load on him to drive all the time would be off. He also wanted to find a quick solution for my excuse of not being confident enough to drive because I didn't have a license. To him the solution was - getting the license.
I told him that the instructor said I needed more time and Ady rubbished it saying that's what instructors said! He booked the following Wednesday for my test and decided to do a sample test of me himself on Sunday. And was he shocked! Well shocked is an under statement. He was speechless and he made me stop the car within 500 feet of where we started. I clearly was not prepared. But he did not want to discourage me, so he said, "Let's give it our best"
My best was given at the driving test in Greenwood. The tester asked me to parallel park and for all the manoeuvres I had mastered, this was definitely not the one. He screamed "Stop!", when I was about to pull the car front. (I had surprisingly parallel parked well, only I did not know I had successfully parked it) He said any closer and I would bang into the car in front. You know, I think his seat was pulled too much in front, so he could just not relax. I wouldn't have hit the car! Although, coming to think of it, my gear was in drive and not in reverse. But I still think it would have been ok!
So I flunked. And Ady made it a point to call my dad and discuss with pride that I had finally failed a test in my life. My Dad didn't take it lying down either "Well, Son" said the proud father, "She never failed till the time she was with me" That did it! Ady took it on himself to teach me. He said the driver did not know how to deal with me and that, as a person who knew me inside out, he was the only dedicated resource for the task. Every night, after coming back from office, he religiously coaxed Driti and me for a drive. "Why should Mamma get a license?" Driti would crib "I like the bus" and I would join "Yeah, we like the bus." But Ady was insistent. He made it his duty to teach me to drive.
And today, as we went to North Bend for the driving test, he asked me to go on a test run before the actual test. He still had no confidence I would clear the test. But he tried not to show it and kept pumping me that I could in fact clear the test.
The last time I remember being so tensed was when I was waiting for my MBA entrance results. The lady asked me to stop the car in the middle of the test and take a deep breath. She said, "It's only 15 minutes, we'll survive" And she was amazing! She made me relax through out and was completely patient with me. I did make a few mistakes but nothing 'dangerous' as in my first test. I passed the test and she gave me some more tips on driving like a pro!
I saw Ady go back into the driving office when he saw the tester talk to me at length. He decided I did not make it. I played along and went in with a sullen face "Doesn't matter. Next time!" he tried. And I said "I made it, and thanks for your trust in me" He was like the proud dad, ok proud husband. He hugged me then and there and exhaled in vilom. That yoga breath, from his anulom-vilom practice was real strong and I had to hold him tight to avoid falling.
"I got my license" I smiled "Now I don't have to drive anymore"
"Yay!" Driti jumped. She was the silent spectator after all for our nightly drives. And 'silence' is the biggest punishment she could get.
"You're the only person in this world who would use both those sentences together" he hugged me some more.