My driving lessons in the United States remain as ever-green memories. After getting married in India, I came to Chicago to join my husband. At that time, I didn’t know how to drive. In India, where I grew up and in Germany, where I graduated, the public transportation is very good. The suburban (S- bahn) and urban railways (U-bahn) in Germany especially are very well connected to each other and to buses. On the other hand in the US, the public transportation is very limited and I was astonished by that fact that car is a basic requirement. I would not able to go out on my own. But my husband was very kind to take me out in the evenings and week-ends. So, my very first goal then was to learn driving.
I got the learners’ permit and with that I can practise driving with an experienced driver sitting beside me. My husband would sit in the passenger’s seat and I would drive, but slowly. I many times lost control over the steering wheel. It was still winter time around March when the roads were covered with lot of snow. One evening while practising I drove the car straight into the snow pile. We could not move the car out for a long time. After struggling for a while, one of our neighbours gave us a helping hand and we managed to dig the car out. That was an unforgettable event to both of us. My husband then suggested me to join a driving school to take behind the wheel lessons and get professional training. After a few classes my husband got more confidence in me and I continued to practise with him. I still used drive slowly and below the speed limit but I had better control of the car. My husband used chant, “accelerate; accelerate”. “If you don’t keep up to the speed you will have an accident” he used to warn me. I practised several times with my husband driving to grocery shopping and to movie theatres and to places within few miles away from home. After a while, I came to a state when I said, “I want to take the road test”.
I had to take a written test to prove that I know the rules and there I scored 100%. I then was asked to proceed to the test drive. The examiner was satisfied with my knowledge of the car operation, the horn, headlights, left and right indicators and so on. Alright, I got onto the road and the examiner sat in the passenger’s seat and gave me instructions.” Turn left here, make a right turn here and uphill parking now”, I was good. Then a stop sign came. I stopped at the sign but didn’t come to a complete halt; there was also a pedestrian crossing the road. Oh man! There my examiner caught me! Okay Ma’am, the gentleman said, “you are able to drive. However, you got to stop completely at the stop sign. Why don’t you go practise a few more times and come back”. I lost it! I told my husband I didn’t get through. He didn’t complain but rather spoke encouragingly. I told him that I will become a perfect driver soon learning through mistakes.
I worked hard correcting my mistakes and went back to the driving school for few more classes. My driving got better and better. Later while driving to a grocery store with my husband we were caught in the heavy rain. While many cars pulled over, I drove nonstop until the destination. My husband was surprised by my competence and called me “The Rain Master”. By the time it was nearing November. I said I want to get my driving license before the snow comes. I was ready to take the test for the second time and fixed a date. The previous day of the test was snowing. I crunched my teeth, “damit! I will win”. This time, I drove well, did not make any mistake and the examiner was happy. He said, “you are no danger to others on the road and you can indeed drive well. You will have your driving license today. But don’t stop practising”. I came running to my husband, told him of the win and I jumped in the air. He was very happy and was relieved that I could become more independent. Yes, practise makes the man perfect. If you want to learn a skill, practice, practise and practise. Learn through the mistakes. Never feel let down if you cannot win the first time.