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Women Behind The Wheel

Posted: September 13, 2013

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.

Why women must driveAt 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.

  • Sign up for that driving class – This not only brings the goal closer but also deflates any fears that are looming large.
  • Make a declaration – Let everybody around you know that you are preparing to drive. So even if you protract they can chase you to that class.
  • Feel the controls – Even if you are in two minds about driving, get behind the wheel and start maneuvering. Accelerate, brake, shift gears, turn the car on & off and get your hands around the steering. You can also try to fill fuel just to kick start your driving.
  • Start driving – Like parenting the only way to learn is to actually do it. So start driving either in an empty parking lot, around the neighborhood or with a teacher.

Pic credit: Jerry Bunkers (Used under a Creative Commons license)

Meera R Corera (@meeraramanathan) is a SAP Consultant. She also pursues her passion for writing

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