Sunday, August 31, 2014

What 'Driver's License' Actually Means in India.

Unlike Muscat, there are lot of options for public transport in India, like if I want to eat Porotta and Beef fry I just have to get out of the house in my pajamas and yell at the rickshaw guy ‘ Chetta…Buhari vare ponam*’ [ *Brother I want to go to Buhari']. Or I can choose to just drive to Buhari- unfortunately they don’t have parking area but who cares we just park in the middle of the road. Because hunger cannot wait – everything else can, or should. I can also drive blindfolded here if I wanted to as there are no rules…in fact most people drive like they are blindfolded. Well Trivandrum is bliss in that way. Unlike some places up north where cows block ambulances on the road, and the dying person decides to consider it a divine intervention, in Trivandrum, dogs and cats rule the road, only in human form.


Getting a driver’s license is far simpler than eating Porotta and Beef fry. Some people just bribe the driving instructor and he will make sure that you, your mother, grandmother and paternal uncle gets license and start abusing the road, pedestrians and stray animals starting early hours of the very next morning. Only criteria being everyone in the above list should be alive. In some cases the driving instructor may actually insist that you turn up for the test. What a bummer! You still get the license. As a result every Jijo, Joji and Jojo gets a car (there is no dearth of car loans, you just have to prove that you are the owner of that coconut tree in your rented house premise) and start what they call ‘driving’.

This includes pretending that signals don’t exist, driving into a main road from a by lane at full speed without looking either way, honking without any reason every five seconds especially near schools and hospitals, showing the finger when someone refuses to be overtaken, driving across zebra lines at fifth gear as if it was a sign that angry zebras are chasing, not budging when there is an ambulance behind, continuously honking behind buses when passengers are boarding, honking like there is no tomorrow when old people cross the road, going out of the way to run over cats and dogs on purpose, run over sleeping people on the sidewalks, overtake on a single lane road because a lower end version of the same car was going ahead, use all kind of expletives if someone else does any of these and so on. Sadly Jijo, Joji and Jojo thought that this is how one can become cool overnight.

 However my driving instructor in Trivandrum was not the easy going types. Once he crushed my tiny feet with his gigantic sandals because I mistook the fifth gear for third! My foot was swollen for three days. It also did not qualify for ‘accident leave’ at office.

However my parents were not one of those ‘bribe-your-teacher-buy-your-license-fool-the-system’ types. Especially because this guy taught my mother and sister, he definitely had an idea about the average family intelligence. So I went many weeks for driving sessions, in the super-hot sun sacrificing all the weekend TV movies.

On the test day, after my turn the policeman asked me ‘So, you came to get a license?’ with a Shakti Kapoor smile.  And I was like ‘No Sir, I usually come to the Traffic Police grounds 35 km away from my house at 12 noon to buy donuts’ but I just smiled. I got the license.

If you thought that rocket science was the pinnacle of intellect that was humanly possible, it is time to rethink. There is something else that can actually come close to it, which is getting a driver’s license in Oman.

Because in Oman, they actually have rules.

And you need eyes on the back and sides.

To be continued.


Images Courtesy:Google Images.

23 comments:

  1. hahhaahha....well I bribed my way into getting the driver's license. I take offense :P
    I even have a heavy vehicles license...without knowing what is heavy vehicles/

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    1. Ohoo Nalla best lawyer :D LOL ...
      Wow means you can drive road rollers too? AWESOME.

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  2. My driving instructor used to beat me too :) Oh, the number of times I've given him panic attacks by stopping on a slope and then sliding downwards :D

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    1. hahahahhaha Being a driving instructor is not simple deal...and definitely not for the weak at heart :D

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  3. Our family driver taught me how to drive..and he used to be so scared when I drove, he wouldn't even let me go from second gear to the third one

    I mean I never had an accident.. just almost a killed a dog. ALMOST. But he didnt die :P
    Now I only drive when its absolutely necessary

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    1. Thank God it dint die. That should keep you going ! Being confident on the road gives us freedom like no other !

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  4. This reminded me of my learning days ... when releasing the clutch and pressing the accelerator at the same time used to be such a big challenge. Thankfully, those day have long passed by :D

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    1. Thats what..it feels like such a huge hurdle to be able to drive...and years later we feel foolish to have thought like that !

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  5. And the I-too-bought-my-licence drivers only seem to be increasing by the day, choking the roads and with it whatever comes in their path! Enjoyed the read :)

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  6. My driving instructor thought that my aim in life was to pull tapioca from the ground, boil it and have it with fish curry.

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  7. I learnt how to drive after getting my license :p

    Bahrain is awful when it comes to giving license. Some people fail more than 5 tests and wait for 2-3 years before they get a license. Although our Arab friends are always on the phone and drive as if their baap owns the roads. The rules hold only for desis.
    I'm actually scared of the fast cars here. In India we can drive at 20 and feel safe :P

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    1. Yes yes exactly. And we drop our kid to school and pick him, as the drivers of his school bus look like 10 year olds and they are whatsapping while driving with little kids in the bus ! It is so scary I'd just drop all those kids to school if I could !

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  8. On the first day of my driving class, I was driving so smoothly that I thought I am talented enough to drive on my own. Only later I realized that the side seat also had brake and clutch! Damn! :P
    Onam Ashamsagal Anita.. :)

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    1. ROFL !!!! Thats the wittiest thing I ever heard abt driving classes !!! hahahaha!

      Hope you had a great Onam too !

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  9. My first visit here Anita. A pleasure.
    If you can drive in India, you can drive anywhere! I used to drive a decade ago, but not anymore.
    Delhi roads are not women friendly.

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    1. Its my pleasure to have you here, Alka! Welcome !

      Everyone says that if I can drive in India I can drive anywhere...but does not seem to be true, as expats here wait two years giving n tests to get a license.. However, with every ten cars that passes by, atleast four are driven by women here..! That is the motivation that keeps me going back to my trainer with a scary bass voice.

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  10. I never bought one. It was all 'nere vaa...nere po'...but after driving around for a few months, i decided tht i needed to be alive + that I'm not gonna spend my life behind bars for creating a very possible road holocaust. I've even dedicated a blog post to this infernal fear of mine http://amogharejeesh.blogspot.in/2014/05/woe-of-wheel.html ...

    It's tempting to get back behind the wheels taking into account the freedom of movement it offers. But maybe some other day...

    Cheers to your spirit & confidence. :)

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    1. I also had that fear for a long time. But once I overcame it, I realized that all those days I missed my independence. And complete freedom. I hope you defeat the fear and get behind the wheels !

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  11. Each one of us can go for motocross with the type of roads we have. I ride a two wheeler and I'm seriously thinking of giving dirt bike racing a try.:D

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    1. Hahaha :D Well you must try ! On Indian roads any two wheeler ride is a 'dirt bike racing' experience.

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