So now we hadn’t spoken about driving for sometime. Aanya was 6 months old and Aakash three years old. He had started with Play School. And sometimes, it seemed to take ages just to get there with the two kids! Aanya would sit or snooze in her pram and Aakash would stand on the kiddy board while I pushed the two – slightly uphill. But he was getting heavier and bigger, so was she – and walking him down to Play School started to get to be a weekly chore which I wasn’t enjoying much.
Moreover, I had no time at all – by the time I’d drop him and get home, I’d have to leave again to get him home with a short 60-minute break. This break I’d use to go grocery shopping (with Aanya and her pram) or for a quick coffee with the neighbour.
Hmm… I wondered…
“Perish the thought! Sitting behind the wheel of a lethal weapon and hit the roads where innocent people risk their lives each day is not what you’re meant for Aradhna,” said a little voice in my head. OK! Not a problem – soon Aakash would be in Kindergarten just a block away ☺
And then began kindergarten and my new job. I would get to work in 48 minutes door-to-door by public transport. But then, I got late one day, missed a train and was still somewhere on the way for two hours now. And then, the next day a kind husband offered to pick me up – and I was home in 23 minutes flat! But no – driving was still not worth it.
We began a house hunt – a piece of heaven on this lovely earth. But hey, we had the public transport going to each nook and corner of the Alps! So we began a hunt – checking out train routes and setting a time limit of 25-30 minutes from home. Okay, for now everything seemed to be either over our budget or just too close to the station and not right to bring up babies… But we had patience – there was no rush.
I started to look for Karate classes for Aakash. Every village and town was self-sufficient. Aha! Found a teacher. But she was bedridden! Had a bad accident and couldn’t teach, but she recommended a school in the next town. I would need an hour by train and bus to get there, wait there for an hour and get back spending another hour on the road – 3 hours for an hour’s lesson. Well, I didn’t want my kids to lose out on the joys of learning just because I couldn’t drive!
That was it! I’d try again! And this time – I would do it – for the kids!
I spoke to Anil and told him this time I’d do it – but I did not want any limits set on the number of lessons I take. I would do it at my pace and give the test when I felt right. He was shocked into acquiescence.
I contacted Frau Fritz.
She came over.
1. She had a manual car and me an automatic
2. It was October and my theory would be valid only until December 8
3. If I had to appear for yet another theory exam – I’d have to do it in German – not a problem as the last time I had dome it in German and scored full marks
4. I would have to first go to the driving psychologist to see if I could actually still attempt driving after failing thrice. Now that was unacceptable!
1. Frau Fritz checked with the authorities if she could teach me in my car – the hand brake was good and, after all I had taken practical lessons prior to this. She got the permission. Yippee!
2. Well, I’d take my chances. If I could appear for a test in November, I could still attempt a second time in December
3. German was not a problem
4. Driving psychologist?!? Naaah! But I’d learnt never say never! And for the kids – I’d do it!
Classes began. Petrol prices were high – so were driving lesson prices. Anil was concerned. I could see it – but he didn’t say a thing.
We drove – for hours – an hour a day – between 4 to 6 hours a week. The meter was running on all counts – fuel price, teacher fee, patience, my test deadline. I had got my first attempt date on December 2, my birthday.
November was here. I had my good days and my bad ones.
On one particular day, at the end of the lesson, the teacher asked “What did you do before the lesson today and yesterday?” My throat went dry… what did I do now?
“Well,” I stuttered, “I worked from home – the kids were at daycare. Then at noon, I had my lunch. Then I took the toy cars of my son and practiced parking and lane changing to see the angles and mentally practice. An hour before class I had a coffee and 30 minutes before a chocolate!” “Good,” she said.
Next week, do the exact same thing, she told me as I went home.
Viola! I followed the same pattern – my teacher remarked that on this day I drove very well. As also on the previous dates where I had followed this pattern the week before. She had noted the routine and the dates.
“Before the test, do the same,” she advised.
November 30th – my last lesson before the D-day.
Frau Fritz – she was 65. I would be her last student.
I wanted her to have happy last memories of the profession she’d chosen to pursue for 45 years!
We’d spoken of her daughter-in-law problems, her younger son’s girlfriend’s uncultured mannerisms, laughed together at the stupidity of men, pulled a finger at those driving and not being sticklers to rules as she was… We’d shared close to 25 hours of togetherness – in one car, travelling the same road, in the same direction (a dose of melodramatic Bollywood dialogue here, eh! ;) )
Would this December 2 be a Happy Birthday or…