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Learnt to Drive the Hard Way

Updated on October 17, 2012
My Car
My Car

Driving and its rules take me back to the year when I came to the United States (U.S.) from India. I used to drive in India, but the definition of driving in India is so much different than what it in the U.S.

Facts about Driving in India

It is a right hand drive in India and there are no rules for driving.

ALL share the road. This includes the two wheelers (scooter/bike), three wheelers (auto rickshaw) and four wheelers (cars/SUV) and also animals such as cows, and dogs.

A vehicle cannot be driven without honking. One has to pass by the other car by dodging it left and right and then accelerating it with full speed, while keeping a watchful eye on the coming traffic from the other side of the road.

There was no concept of seat belts (at least not in the 1990’s).

Maximum speed attained while driving was 30 kms (18 miles) and foot should be always on the brake. Thus, automatic cars are hardly used in India.

I had a manual car with a clutch and used to always drive in 1stand 2ndgear and hardly went to the 3rdgear.

Driving was an adventure in India.

Coming to U.S.

I come to the U.S. with an International Driving Permit (IDP) and sit behind the wheel of the car.

Got some reality checkpoints such as: The car is left hand drive and automatic.

Driving virtually to get your IDP is different than driving actually on the roads of the United States. There was a rush of adrenaline rushing in my veins especially to see the speed with which the vehicles would zoom by.

I used to honk at vehicles in India for moving ahead and here; drivers would honk at me for driving slow! I was amazed.

Infact, I even got a ticket for slow driving (45 mph) on the freeway, which had a speed limit of 65 mph. I was shocked.

Although I was quick to learn lane changing but would always forget to look at my blind spot before doing that and would get honked at.

I had this notion that if there is a STOP sign and no one is around just drive by. Alas, the cop would be hiding behind a bush and I had to pay the price.

Many a times, I got a ticket on running a red light. When confronted I would blabber all sorts of excuses to get out of it. Alas, these cops are not only good looking but also had a good reply to all my explanations! They would hand me the ticket and very sweetly say, "Have a great day!" Now, I yet fail to understand if that was sarcasm or do they really want us to have a good day?

I learnt driving the hard way such as it took me a long time to learn and understand that honking here is regarded as an offense.

Currently I am a law-abiding driver, who has her rules up in her head, but still get red alert when I spot a cop car on the roads. Don’t know where I will break a rule and get pulled over.

My conclusion is that Driving is an adventure in any continent of this planet. This adventure could be a bumpy ride of 13 mph with loads of honking or could be a smooth speedy ride of 65 mph. Either way, we got to stay alert and drive cautiously to reach our destination.


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