Wednesday, February 16, 2005

My driving exploits: Part I

I lived in Chicago for six years before moving to LA. Chicago was easy in the sense one had the El or the Metra to take one everywhere that one wanted to go. At a pinch there were friends with cars.
LA however, is very different. There is not even the pretence of a public transportation system, or at least not in the westside where I was planning to live. Santa Monica has its Big Blue bus service but there is no way to depend on it for going to work or getting groceries especially at odd hours.
So what is a girl to do? Well, this girl proceeded to take driving lessons and got her license in Illinois the day before she moved to California! Hurrah - you would think. Well, not exactly.
So there I was armed with a day-old driving license and I go into a car rental agency and rent a week-old car. Whoa, did they just gave it to me like that? Yes they did, and all I had to do was give them my credit card, sign up for full insurance coverage (this is very, very important) and get the keys in my sweaty palms.
So then, I get into a nice looking car parked in the rental lot, right next to a little sunshade held up by a metal post. I switch on the ignition, put on my seatbelt and press down on the brakes, and shift the gear from parking to reverse and then take my foot off the brake gingerly. Nothing. I take a quick look around to see if something obvious had gone wrong. Nope. Nothing. I decide that its because the car is parked on a gentle slope and move my foot to the gas. Yes, you heard me right. A tentative poke at the gas, hmm it seems to work, why don't I push harder. And I did.
It had been less than five minutes of renting the car and I had pretty much destroyed its front right bumper and lights as the car had swung around to hit the post in a good imitation of greased lightning. Did I forget to mention that I had the steering wheel unstraightened? Will the gentle reader at least stop laughing long enough to ask me whether I was hurt?
Thankfully, nothing sentient was hurt except my dignity. It was just that the full insurance I had purchased had come in handy much sooner than even my paranoid self had expected. I scurried back inside the rental office, signed an accident report form and meekly accepted keys to another car and drove off, this time making sure to release the parking brake before trying to move.


Blogger Confusedoldbong said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

February 17, 2005 4:23 AM  
Blogger Confusedoldbong said...

'My experiments at driving', would like to put it this way, are equally hillarious . Someday, I may publish it in my blog..crux is , whenever I've felt that I've mastered driving, I have landed into some accident much that I have now employed a driver. Indian Insurance companies are far less user friendly and accommodating than their US counterparts.

February 17, 2005 4:50 AM  
Blogger Urmea said...

Ani-da, I guess I won't ever be able to drive in India either. I barely manage to drive around even here!

February 17, 2005 2:59 PM  
Blogger Sagnik Nandy said...

Just after learning how to drive my apt mate and I rented a brand new red car to make a trip to LA. For starters my Apt mate hit the car against a pillar. Then someehere in the middle of nowehere the car broke down. Then we got a new car and got lost on a Sunday in an are where people only spoke Spannish. Somehow, we reached home - a journey that was supposed to take 5 hrs took 10. That was my first experience with driving in US.

February 17, 2005 3:14 PM  
Blogger Confusedoldbong said...

Believe u wanted to mention Calcutta. Driving in other parts of India is far more easier as compared to the east.

However, the cities having best roads (Delhi, Chandigarh), have the worst drivers

February 17, 2005 8:54 PM  
Blogger J-Mo said...

Check out Tony Pierce. he seems to be able to Navigate LA and in the Santa Monica area by bus quite nicely.

February 17, 2005 9:14 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

That's an awesome driving story...

February 17, 2005 9:23 PM  
Blogger GREATBONG said...

Way to go ! What good is insurance if you dont use it ! As to more works of's something I wrote for Sulekha.

February 17, 2005 10:47 PM  
Blogger Urmea said...

Sagnik, its crazy how many silly driving stories we all have! But as long as you got back its alright I guess.

Ani-da, I was visiting my Chhotkaka in Bombay a couple of years back. We were going somewhere one day and I was sitting next to him as he drove. After a few minutes he looked at me and told me I needn't be so scared. Apparently I was literally clutching the edge of the seat with both hands!

J-Mo, I guess its the timings that are important - I tend to have weird hours when buses are either infrequent or not around.

Stephanie, thanks - I must be trying very hard to keep driving as badly as I do!!

Greatbong, wow thats a very good read! Why do all this computer shomputer - go forth and publish :)

February 17, 2005 11:08 PM  
Blogger Confusedoldbong said...

Yea, driving in Bombay, to be specific in Central Bombay (Dadar and nearby areas) is certainly a no-no..worse than Cal

But Cal is bad.. I mean, driving in Cal, mainly because of the itenerant autorickshaws, u never know when one will graze u'r car's skin

February 18, 2005 12:13 AM  
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October 03, 2005 1:38 PM  

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