Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Women and wheels...


This is just one of the many press interviews I've done to promote Sethji. In case my Blogdosts are interested in reading the rest, just ask!!! I'll post them here one interview at a time....
                                                            ****************
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!

34 comments:

Karthik Kumar said...

Fourth Gear without leaving the Garage is a bit overblown from a technical perspective. But listening to music with earphones while driving?? That's inexcusable. No other word for it.

Pooja Rathore said...

i loved your post.
Most of my guy friends tell the same .....women arent good at driving...i dont know... but i dont know how to drive a car and was planning to take up a course for the same ,next year. i know to ride a two wheeler , though since last 10 years i havent driven any vehicle on my own- well i am happy if someone else rides or drives....because i am not comfortable with the machines as you put,during my five year period(when i use to ride a two wheeler i would always travel on one side of the road because i was scared of accidents(thank god i never fell nor hit anybody,but even today i have no such urge to ride or drive ....the traffic scares me( on the other hand my younger sis is bindaas about the same),well thats me .
i know one thing iam not very keen on driving because i have this stupid phobia ..i get a bit scared of traffic(i am in 30s yet iam scared of crossing roads i like to hold someones hand and cross,my friends laugh at me but i cant help it i am not comfortable with traffic and vehicles.
I ask for more press interviews.... DE!

SuKupedia ™ :) :) said...

Shobhaa firstly please post more of such interviews :) reading it was a pleasure...

and about women driving I would like to side with your daughters here :) :)

Jogeshwar said...

I guess may be it has to do with male chauvinism as well, may be they don't like seeing women behind the wheel. I learnt driving at a very early age, on seeing a young boy drive, so called experienced drivers didn't like a young boy get past them. Get in a car with a red beacon on it, notice how truckers slow down to left to let you pass them.
I guess you haven't met Sabine Schmitz, 'The fastest taxi driver in the world' or 'The queen of nurburgring'. http://youtu.be/jfUR2R72EDo

Priya Bharadwaj said...

This column was regressive. In the US, where equal number of men and women drive, the insurance rates are lower for women, because they are more careful drivers and less prone to accidents.

The issue is not gender, rather one of training - training people to drive carefully and responsibly, irrespective of whether they are men or women.

If your daughters are driving with earphone on, then shame on them for being so blatantly irresponsible. Driving is a huge responsibility that people need to approach with judgement and caution.

Though, guess who agrees with you - the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Women are not allowed to drive. May be you can relocate?

P V Ariel said...

Hi De,
Very interesting and informative piece!
Unfortunately our women flocks do not listen to these suggestions or arguments.
What to say some while behind the wheel and on the road think that the road is their family property Let me put it this ways “Their Father’s Property” and they go as they like at the cost of pedestrians and other road users. Especially the two wheelers are the victims of these flocks. The rich and the trendy are least bothered about other road users, so sad to note that you, even you haven’t succeeded in convincing anybody. Not even your daughters!!!
Don’t worry, that’s their way! And when they come up with an incident like the girl who is now pleading with the judge to reduce her sentence, only will realize the seriousness of the matter. Mumbai is famous for such accidents, and the culprits escape always with their money and muscle power or for that matter by their political influences.
May Shobha’s this note be a pointing finger to such flocks.
Thanks De for sharing this,
Keep coming in, waiting for the next installment.
Have a wonderful day.
Phil

Jenny said...

I read this already. I think it apperared in the week? I am with your daughters!!!! Women and wheel, ofcourse they go hand in hand :-)

And yes, want to read that interview.

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Anita Jeyan Sandeep said...

Hehe Madam the feminists in our country are gonna hate you for saying this :D Mothers are prone to get tensed for whatever their kids do and therefore your worries are totally justified. But going by the age and temperament of your daughters they are unlikely to understand the concern that goes behind your woes. But thats okay all mothers go through that phase in their lives. I drive too, with much support from husband who doesnt want me to become a dependent clingy woman who needs her husband to drive her to wherever she wants to go. But I must admit, that whenever I see a horribly parked car, or one that doesnt move after the signal is green, or one which suddenly comes to the main road from a sub lane without any signal, I mentally conclude that it is a woman driving. Women can drive, but they are not the best in that. Like how a woman can patiently feed a toddler even after he repeatedly spits and throws the food every single day, but it is unimaginable for a man to do.

Pramila said...

I totaly agree with "women should leave cars alone" I drove care only in test for geting license

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Another Kiran In NYC said...

I do not think anyone in India should be allowed to drive AT ALL .... not without complete driver reeducation and extremely hefty fines in place. Red beacons should be banned. No one has any road manners...men or women. Even bicycle and two wheeler drivers need driver re-education.

You can tell a lot about a person based on how they drive and share a road with others. Responsibilty, respect for life and themselves, civic sense, courtesy, and attention to detail and the big picture and even honesty and ethical conduct. It is all clear where folks stand on all this when they are behind the wheel.

It sounds horrible and stereotyped, but I do live in a region with a large desi population... as a joke that quickly became a statistically sad reality, I started trying to identify the nationality of drivers as they pass or follow me on US highways. Easy to spot the desi drivers (as in who probably started driving in des). Those are the aggressive, erratic ones who pass me on my right side while in the slow lane or change lanes ahead of me with inches to spare or worse HONK while driving along.

As for women driving, ofcourse they should drive, just as men should.... but after both sexes have had driver education.

The social and economic travails of women in Saudi Arabia should be a lesson in why both sexes should drive if they can do so safely.

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Gerald D'Cunha said...

Hi ma'aam. I am a huge fan of yours... Don't skip a single column or a book that comes from u... Have attended some book release functions, too.

Ma'am, I admire u, along with another hero of mine, Mr. Bachchan,for showing us the way to go about aging gracefully... never ever to give up on things closest to our hearts... never ever fear to express what u strongly believe in...

A few individuals can do that... for so long, and so amazingly. Yes, along the way, inspiring beholders like us!

Just wanted to say 'thank u'... and 'long live'!

I am a regular blogger, too (geralddcunha.blogspot.com). Ma'am, my Posts are about 'wayside' things...

I would die to have a word from u, if u cd find a few minutes to read them. I also root them thru FB (GERALD D'CUNHA).

BTW, I have gifted 'SHOBHAA @ 60' to many, incl the young ones!

Thanks and good wishes,

Love to hear a word on my Blog/FB...

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Pooja Rathore said...

De watched your interview on cnbc with regard to sethji-nice one.you seemed confident of the knowledge and working of our political system ....yep your perspective on issues of poilitics were intelligent and real.

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Dreamlike said...

madame waiting for review on Life of Pi.....and yes I too beleive we women are better not driving those machines...there so many better things to indulge in for women...why to take up so much less relaxing and strenuous....already a woman's life is too loaded to handle...

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NAT said...

If the car which you were driving was an Ambassador. Then it is not your fault,as the old Ambassador's had a flaw in the axles, which they could not rectify in those good old days.

As far as your girls diving with ear phones. It is a serious matter. They should join SOOR (SANITY ON OUR ROADS)started by a lawyer in Mumbai.

But I do not agree with you. Girls/women should drive. Our roads would be coulourless without the feminine gender. Yes there are men who drive like .....no discipline. SOOR is there to make a change...

More info on your book...

Cheers!

Faraz Salat said...

I know many women who drive way better than men. Obviously in terms of safety and careful maneuvering. However, men are fascinated with wheels. Men get passionate and thus compromise on safety. How many accidents do you know where the driver was a woman?

Cheryllyne said...

Oh dear, I should not have read this post. I'm 36 years old and have been living in the States for the past 11 years. After a ton of cajoling from husband, family and friends, I finally summoned up the guts to sign up for driving classes on my birthday (18 November)... and my first on-road class is on Monday. LOL!

Uber212 said...

Ha ha....spoken like a person,who travels comfortably in the backseat,behind tinted glasses,blissfully unaware of the world around around her.
Look around at all the crazy rickshawallahs,auto drivers,scooterists and bus drivers around....how many of them look like women to you??
Your gender has NOTHING to with driving. You're whining about your daughters blasting music on their earphones while driving and somehow concluding that this is demonstrative of the fact that the entire female gender is incapable of driving?? Hundreds of men do the same thing...along with other idiotic things like texting,driving without mirrors, driving intoxicated and driving without enough sleep. How is it that when a woman parks stupidly on a residential lane ,it is evidence of the incapabality of ALL women to drive,whereas when a man does the same thing it is considered normal?
Dont write stuff like this. Even in jest. It deters women from driving, and whats more,it enforces stupid,unscientific and biased judgements on the capabilities of women.

Aditya said...

Great Post!!!!
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