As a little girl,driving a red convertible was only what I could imagine Nancy Drew to do...Never seen a convertible in Bombay, let alone sit in it and even more...drive it.
It was almost unbelievable when I drove my “own” car for the first time. My dream of having a convertible was on wheels. Never a great driver from my Bombay days itself, I really found it hard to muster the spunk to drive on the roads of USA… the ones that are infamously known as freeways, where one is not free to drive in one’s own way (like we do in India) Driving in India was so different and so easy:)No lanes, no signals, no cops …no Rules at all:)
With trembling hands, and fists tight around the wheel, I remember driving for the first few days on the roads of Boston. I would be so cowed, that after my drive there would be marks in my palms where my nails were dug into due to fear.
And then slowly with prep, patience and practice, I “mastered” ( in my own way ) the art of driving in the States and gradually realized how easy it was.
It was not long when I became over confident about my driving, would drive with one hand and would speed beyond marked limits. Infact, as a sign of a good and confident driver, I earned my speeding ticket also. (Yes, contrary to the belief that speeding tickets are signs of rash and irresponsible driving, I truly believe that only the confident ones can actually earn them)
All my confidence was shattered after my snow-mobile accident. Inspite of having no experience of driving a snow-mobile ( not that - it is required) , I wanted to speed across the snow tracks and drive it like a pro and Bammm!!! The odometer hitting 40mph was the last thing I remember and then was the noise. I lost complete control of the gigantic vehicle and along with it flew off the track. Going down the small slope, blocked by a tree and landed with the herculean mobile on me. 40mph and the noise of my helmet hitting the tree is all I remember. It was pretty bad…but fortunately wasn’t as bad as Natasha Richardson’s accident ( which co-incidentally took place on the same day ) Well all I can say is - HELMETS DO SAVE LIVES.I As a souvenir from my accident (which was 6 months back) , I still have an injured finger which refuses to heal.
Now imagine, the confident girl speeding on the Mass-pike involved in such an accident. obviously all confidence gone down the drain. I could not drive at all for almost 3 weeks ( pain and fear combined… ). After coming back on the roads after a not very long hiatus, I thought it was my first day of driving again. I couldn’t drive beyond 50mph on highways with limits of 65mph. Irate drivers would go past me giving get-off-the-road-u-old-lady looks. Changing lanes was a “feat” that I thought I could never achieve again. And the moment I would speed and see a slope and instant fear would engulf me, a fear of the road ending into infinity. These were all baseless but justified fears. My snow-mobile incident had left a deep dark scar in my mind.
And then I realized, I could not go on like this. I couldn’t wake up 30 min earlier than I usually do, to reach my office in time, I couldn’t bear driving in the 3rd lane (slow lane) always. I couldn’t bear people speculating that the driver in the red car is definitely a girl.
So slowly and steadily, with determination at heart, I laid my foot on the gas and started to get back to the pace that I define. I realized I wanted people behind me and on the next lanes to think of me as a reckless driver rather than some bloody first-timer. I realized the only way I can enjoy this again is by beating my fear at this game.
So, with miles and miles driven and a strong mind to get back on the tracks, I conquered this fear (yes... for the second time) …and I am so proud of myself:)