March 21, 2008

Why three, when two is enough?

When you're driving a car, how would you call the car driver riding before you and ask him to stop so that you can have a chat with him? Maybe you could call him on his cellphone. But what if he is a stranger? Waving your hands, shouting, praying to god are not practically useful ways. That's why police cars have siren with those cool (or intimidating, if you like it that way) blue and red lights. When they want to stop you, they follow you with those lights on. You are supposed to move to the right edge of the road and park it safely. Don't get off the vehicle; wait for the cop to come to you. "When we ask you to stop, you should go to the right side of the road and stop there. You should not stay on left, take a U turn and stop," the cop explained me. (OK, don't laugh :-). I was driving my car with high beams on. I didn't really know if the head light was on high beams. This cop told me I should not do that (for obvious reasons). He also reminded me that I am lucky that I didn't get a ticket for that. ("Oh no, I am lucky that I could get to drive a car," I thought of telling him ;-) My mother doesn't yet know about this (yet). She might be a little worried, and will ask me to be more cautious if she knows about it. If I get a car in India, I am not sure if I will readily take it out like I do here. For several reasons. Driving in the US is easy. You just keep going on your lane. You can expect other cars to also go in their own lanes. When the road turns right, one is not allowed to keep driving straight and somehow end up in the left-most lane. In India too, you are supposed to stay in your own lane; but most people don't care. In Hyderabad especially, if you stick to your lane, either you will be in an accident or people will turn back and abuse you with some nasty words. The cars themselves are much easier to drive. Almost all the cars have only two controls -- an accelerator and a brake. Yes, there's no clutch. Having to use a clutch is not such a big deal, I know. But a beginner like me don't have to go through the learning curve of using a clutch. Also, there is no need to shift gears. The car does everything for me. Wherever I want to go, I start with the complete map and directions got from Google Maps and follow the map religiously. If I miss a turn, I take a U turn and get back to the old place and continue to follow the map. All these comforts are not in India; so don't ask me if I will drive a car after I return to India. I won't. (I like bikes much better than cars, if you ask me. I may switch to a monster bike; but not a car. But that's a different story.)

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