Of all the possible topics and causes in the world, I choose to write on driving! (In streets of Delhi, yeah… now it seems heavyweight, right?) and I also want to write about the ‘phenomena’ because it has driven me from being a person in the neutral gear to being downright sexist.
So I’m sticking my head out of the window once and for all. While all Delhiites who have the ‘M’ gender stamped on their driving licenses are rash, imprudent and irresponsible, the women are well, simply awful. It is like this – each time – i.e., atleast five times a day on a modest estimate – I feel that a particular car is driving me lunatic, in front of me, behind me, beside me just by the gross incompetence of the person behind the wheel, and I have, unfailingly, seen a head full of hair which is either too long or too shiny to be a male.
So, for I know, when I find my chauvinist friends say, “Women can’t drive”, I find myself nodding my head faster than I would than I would to let’s breaking benjamin! So how did I hit upon this cul de sac, in the first place?
When, I as a nervous ruin (as a driver) one of my friends – a woman, told me in all earnestness, “Whenever you feel you are going wrong, just press the clutch, really hard. You can even close your eyes if you want, and not see the chaos outside, but, like I warned keep pressing the clutch”
“Really?” I asked her, impressed by the purposefulness. I was convinced she meant business. So, I proudly (akin to investing in a stock market, where everyone thinks they know something which other does not!) told everybody that I had a perfect cure for all driving ailments: press the clutch at all times!
“WHAT THE…” said my male friends in ghastly manner, and then the chauvinists took the stage, “No wonder the entire clutch plates of cars driven by women are in that state”
“Is that so?” I was distressed. “You mean, I shouldn’t be pressing clutch at all the time when situation is grossly chaotic?”
“NO” they yelled back.
Yet another friend of mine (no points for guessing!), a woman (yeah, you’re right) bought herself a zany car, and wanted to drive around a male friend – to show off. The male friend put a motorcycle helmet and sat down next to her. “Why do you have that on?” she enquired. “Because you’re a woman driver,” came the reply rather unapologetically”. I thought it was straight rude.
Then there was another female friend who told me that she didn’t know that the rear view mirror was meant for the driver, “Oh! I thought this was for people sitting in the back seat-so I never bothered”
(Just one question: Why would they want to stretch their necks at strange angles to see them? of course, I never asked.)
An uncle had this story to tell about his wife coming into her own as a driver (though, not in her presence). “She was driving on a completely empty stretch, and I was sitting next to her being her guide and moral support. I gently and humbly (mind you he used these words) pointed out that there was a truck half a kilometer away parked on a side. “You know what to do right?”
“Yes, of course” she shot back indignantly. Two minutes: voila! She banged the car into the truck. I swore to myself, I would never let this woman come never my car, I thought wistfully.
I come from a family of Formula 0. Household lore had it that when my grandfather drove his first car, a 1967 Fiat, bicycles would overtake him. My father is probably just as bad, but I really cannot say because whenever I and my brother were privileged on the rare occasions to be driven around by him, my dear mother shrieked in terror each time the speedometer hit 50kmph.
My uncle, my aunt is so paranoid, about driving Micra which she insisted on buying because Ranbir Kapoor looked straight into her eye and said “Why worry?” is gathering dust, their earlier vehicle a decade old Zen, that was sold recently had 7,000 km in its account!
So, why am I complaining? Because, in case you’ve read between the lanes, my family crest seemed to have been, ‘Better safe than sorry.’ I am a black sheep: I feel there’s something intoxicating about rash driving.
But bad driving is um, bad.
In my case, I am trying to figure out if I am a bad driver- or just wearing the badge of my genes.
If you’re a woman reading this, first, let me apologize: I urge you to look at this article for what it is- a piece of junk to entertain an extensive spectrum through the shades of stereotypical gender differences. I mean sometimes it really is that we are from different planets!
*This piece has been selected as the Winning Entry of the Day for the ‘Viewspaper Express Yourself Writing Competition’*