Memories of my school and college days of almost two decades fade when compared with memories of my driving class lessons. I started taking driving lessons during my late sixties; but the one month long memory of driving school days is quite freshly etched in my mind.
It was like being an army recruit introduced to the nuances of war games and the intricacies of self-defence exercises. The lessons were packed tightly in 35 days.
Maruti Alto was the car used for imparting driving lessons. There were three driving instructors. They changed each week. Most of the instructors needlessly picked holes in our driving techniques, except for one; who surely contributed to my confidence and skills of driving.
I was a regular in attending the driving classes; and even had attended the Saturday class which was meant for the repeaters who failed in the driving test earlier, to get an extra coaching sessions. This angered my instructor. But I persisted in attending the class like an addict, despite his consternation. He began appreciating my diehard zeal to learn driving, and told the newcomers about my persistence and interest.
Then the D-day came. My driving skills and confidence did not help in manoeuvring the right upper corner of the ‘H’ pattern for the test for obtaining a car license. The corner traffic cone did not fit into the time and space of my driving, and was toppled. It was strangely the saddest moment; my driving skills went awry; my wife wondered at my uncommon behaviour and extraordinary reaction for failing the driving test.
My instructor at the driving school genuinely understood my agony and heartbreak more than anybody. He asked me to come on Sundays, even before I sought it. The crash course lasted for almost another two weeks.
My confidence in tackling the ‘H’ grew to the levels of a blindfolded knife thrower in the circus. I could manoeuvre any tight corner with an extreme ease of a three-year-old riding a tricycle. On the test day, I tackled the ‘H’ with a minimum time, and at good speed, with extreme ease which gave my guru tense moments. He was profusely congratulatory about my achievement.
Even today, as I drive down Wayanad’s Kalpetta—Sulthan’s Bathery route, whenever I see my driving school car passing by with my driving instructor in it, I do make it a point to stop my car and greet my instructor, which pleases him to no end.