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In many parts of the world, driving is forbidden. Women have to fight, petition and challenge to earn this right to get behind the wheel. Yet girls like us, who have this freedom within our grasp, let it slip like sand through our fingers.
Driving not only guarantees mobility but also empowers. When I moved abroad, one of the first things I did was to get my driving permit. It was not an easy task but my license will be one of my prized possessions.
Unlike India, most countries actually test your knowledge of road safety laws and your skill behind the wheel. So I crammed for the test with my mom towering over me. There was a lingering sense of déjà vu and I felt like I was writing my board exams all over again. Nevertheless, How do you park uphill, which direction should your tires face, DUI (Driving under influence) limits are questions that would haunt me. The day I went for my behind the wheel test, my entourage included my father, mother, sister, brother-in law and cousin. The inspector and I got in. I stopped at the appropriate signs, parallel parked, indicated turns and reversed. When the test ended, the inspector smiled. I had passed with flying colors. Everyone was delighted.
At first I did not understand the significance. Why was it such a big deal to drive? Why did my sister and mother insist on it so ardently? Why did my dad and brother in law train me so fervently? It was only after a few days when I was driving to work did the truth catch up. My friend who lived close to work invited me for lunch. As we chatted over pasta, she declared that being in the US made her feel extremely lonely. There were frequent fights and the silence was driving her crazy. When I gently prodded without intruding she explained that every day she awaited her husband’s arrival to start the day’s activities. They would visit the gym together, go grocery shopping or visit the mall. The days he was late none of this was possible and she remained cooped inside the house. She was depressed and alienated. So why not drive so she could do all of this by herself?
Not all of us can afford multiple cars but as we learn to drive we figure out options to get out. As our dependency on our spouses and parents to escort us decrease, we feel more equipped. It doesn’t matter where we are headed. But as navigate traffic, maneuver road rage and zip through streets our confidence blossoms. When my son was born, we did not have to wait for his father to come home to head out. We went out on play dates, planned our own picnics and went shopping. It was not only exhilarating but also helped me cope with post partum depression.
Driving is a skill that every woman should possess. We struggle to cook and clean but lay low when it comes to conquering the road. Driving is a skill that stays with us forever so there is no excuse in procrastinating. Get behind the wheel, turn on the engine and start that journey. You will not repent but rather relish the joy of a drive.
4 tips to get behind the wheel.
Pic credit: Jerry Bunkers (Used under a Creative Commons license)
Meera R Corera (@meeraramanathan) is a freelance writer and blogger focusing on all things India —
Well Said 🙂
I remember my driving lessons with excitement and exhilaration. It was one of those times when I felt free, independent and proud.Although I was lucky to have taken the lessons in Pune where a woman behind wheels is a common sight.
Now when I notice the stares men in Kolkata (my hometown) give the woman on scooties, I count myself lucky to have got an important experience in life at the right place.
You are so very right shonali. It is an important experience that sets you free. You are so much in control and it feels truly exhilarating right?
Hi, so true what you have said! No one drives in my house, so I had to learn on my own after the initial driving classes. I bumped my car here and there but never gave up. I even drove around on first gear to feel the vehicle! Now, I must say I love it! I love the independence it gives and the sadist in me almost wants to scream at those nasty auto guys and say, I can drive you see? I don’t need your service!
I actually am not a big fan of driving at all – even after having learnt to drive and having passed the test, I haven’t started driving yet. 🙁
My ideal city would be one with great public transport that makes driving totally unnecessary. But yes, in the absence of that, I have to agree with you….we women need to learn to drive.
Its been 8 years since I started driving and every time, I take out the car and do the innumerable things I do, I feel so immensely thankful that I learnt to drive and having stuck on inspite of being almost on the verge of giving up after going to 3 driving schools ! Its a freedom that cannot be compensated by anything else and one of the most important things for a woman to be self-sufficient in today’s world. Wonderful article !
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