Don't ask... but this column has generated a great deal of comment. Kyon? Any explanations?
Women and wheels….
I don’t drive. Cars, I mean. It is simply not an aptitude I possess. Fortunately, this appalling inadequacy was discovered pretty early in life. But at an enormous cost. Not just in monetary terms, but emotional ones as well. I totaled a car that did not belong to me. It didn’t belong to the young man who had been besotted and reckless enough to allow me behind the wheel. It was his father’s company car. How he explained the axle breaking into two, is something I never did find out. We broke up at the site of the accident itself. I managed to wreck a couple of other cars …. and hearts. But we shan’t go into that here. The price has been paid. Many times over. It was a hard and expensive lesson to learn. But I was sensible enough to back off while I was still ahead. And lives had not been lost.
This sounds like an insanely sexist remark to be making, but I do believe gals should think a hundred times before taking the plunge and hitting the accelerator. During the past few months, there have been some really nasty accidents in and around Mumbai. Most of them involved women. And most of the women were inebriated at the time of the crash. Some of the gory details from police records suggest that the fast cars these ladies were driving , belonged to their richie rich dads and were birthday gifts. One of the accused has just been given a five year jail term. Her shocked dad died of a stroke a few months after the drunken daughter’s picture had hit the headlines after the accident which claimed the life of a young cop. Today, the girl is pleading with the judge to reduce her sentence, even as the cop’s widow is insisting 5 years behind bars is far too lenient a punishment for such a heinous crime. This is but one such case. And it attracted more attention than some of the others because the rather fetching young woman is known in Mumbai’s social circles.
Three out of four of my daughters possess a driving license and insist they are skilled, calm and in control behind the wheel. I am the nervous wreck, they mock, as we pull out of the parking lot, and I start issuing instant instructions. They promptly plug their ears with headphones and start listening to favourite tracks on the iPod. Grrrrr. Meanwhile, I hang on to my seat, as the car takes off and flies over the innumerable speed breakers at top speed, like those cemented obstacles don’t exist. Generally, the girls are smiling to themselves, lost in song, as pedestrians leap nimbly out of the path of the killer car. This has been going on for a while. Their father is not pleased. He wants me to “stop this nonsense’. I plead helplessness. It’s a mess. I tried talking to the girls about the way female brains are wired. I mentioned foolish stuff, provided statistics which talk about the left side, right side of female brains, and which side controls what. Driving skills are thrown in to this argument. I shamelessly fib as we negotiate a sharp and abrupt turn that nobody noticed till we took it. My heart lurches into my mouth. The daughter at the wheel grins and asks, “Isn’t Adele just too cool?”
My superb research has convinced me that most women should leave cars alone. Of course, this is a nasty theory, based on nothing more than personal experience. Psychiatrists would label it as a direct result of an unresolved trauma, at an impressionable, vulnerable time of my life. They’d be one hundred per cent right. But, thanks to that trauma, I am alive. More importantly, so are other, innocent people. Angry women drivers tell me I am perpetuating a stereotype and falling into a male trap. Men are possessive about their cars and other modes of transport. They are even possessive about their wives’ and girl friends’ cars. Men feel proprietorial about machines. Let them keep the bloody machines, is what I say? Why waste our time behind the wheel when we could be doing other stuff? Stuff that doesn’t endanger life, our own included? So far, I haven’t succeeded in convincing anybody. Not even my daughters. The last time one of them offered to drive me somewhere, she helpfully gave me a cheerful T-shirt that read ‘Tension mat le, yaar.” I huffed, ‘I am not your yaar, I am your mother.’ She was already in fourth gear…. and we hadn’t left the garage!