Tuesday, December 28, 2010


It has been a week since I have been driving on the other side of the road. Although my total driving experience is about ten years, I feel like I am just starting out. It is all about perspective. 

In the first couple of days, I would bang my hand against the door and realise that the gear stick was on the other side. Turning left or right was quite confusing for the cars behind me. I would hit the windscreen wipers instead of the indicators, instinctively reaching for the side that I am used to. Everything just seemed to be inside out or just mirrored in reverse. Speaking of mirrors, I would totally ignore the rear view mirror and keep looking at the right side exterior mirror instead just because I was so used to the rear view mirror being on the right not the left. 

When I got past all this directional confusion, I started getting used to all the rules and signs on the roads. Roundabouts were funny. Who goes clockwise on a roundabout? Well, apparently they do here. Intersections were the trickiest of all. All sort of rules pervaded and expert drivers seemed to just roll their eyes impatiently when the question was posed meekly: who gets to go into the intersection first. Come on now. It all just felt like my brain was undergoing a huge shift in perspective. A form of paradigm shift even. Driving just did not feel like a joy anymore, instead, it became a chore.  My muscles would tense up every time I sat in the driver's seat, my eyes circling in my head like a hawk, on the lookout for the tiniest hint of a hazard.

Like all challenges, however, the only way to truly conquer them is to face up to them. Defeat them and annihilate any shadow of fear or insecurity that lingered within. So today, I ventured even further than the nearby suburbs and drove all the way into the centre of the city. On a public holiday. On a day we knew that shoppers would be out and about and the place would be brimming with people. I was not alone in the car of course. There is still that other matter of knowing my way around. But still, I drove all the way in and back again. The result? I caught myself posing, my muscles less tense, my steering wheel supported by just one hand. I even allowed myself the luxury of making street observations, like, the name of the suburb we were passing through or the strange looking car that just zoomed past or even the shops that were either open or closed on the side streets. If anything was obvious it was that I had become that more confident on the road in a week.

My road driving test is scheduled in a little over a month's time. If I keep at this daily practice, I am planning to hopefully pass it at the first go. After all, I have been driving for ten years, just not this way. Nevertheless, I think that perspective will win in the end and I might even consider the last ten years as inconceivable! 

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