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Woman, you're driving me crazy

KANCHAN KAUR, a seasoned driver who thinks nothing of doing 800 km. a day, harangues fellow women drivers to do better.

Go for it, girls! — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

THE ROAD I take to work climbs a steep hill at the top of which is a traffic light. Just the place to separate the men from the women. The light turns green and the car before me moves and stalls. B@#$%{circ} woman, I curse, quite involuntarily, under my breath, as I hold my hand brake, put my vehicle into gear and smoothly swing past the stalled car.

I have a problem with women drivers. They make me ashamed of being a woman. I have a problem with men who think all women are bad drivers. They make me want to take them for a nice long ride and bury them at the end of it. (I also have a problem with white Ambassador taxis that believe they have the inherent, uncontested right to drive on the fast side of the road at 30 kmph., but that is another story.)

If you think it is just the classic men are from Mars syndrome, the truth is far from being merely black and white.

But, even then, what is it about women that makes them bad drivers? They sit stiffly in their cars, their chins jutting forward and upward, their foot constantly on the clutch pedal, and you can see the veins on their hands from clinging for dear life at the steering wheel.

They not only hog the road going at 40, but will indicate right to turn left, suddenly swing into the road from out of nowhere, and take the most atrocious U-turns even in a real sophisticated new-gen car. (We won't talk of women two-wheeler riders, who perch so precariously and have dupattas and sari pallus flapping suicidally near the wheels.) And, have you seen women park? It beats Chinese torture for sheer agony. The back and forth, turn and swing, scrape, and scratch.

So, I shouldn't have been surprised when I stopped by a parking lot at a busy commercial complex. The attendant took one look at me and said witheringly, there is space, but you can't do it, move further. Up shot my blood pressure, and as always. I moved the car, parked it in one fell swoop, glared at the attendant, and strode away. On my return, I simply refused to pay him the parking charges, gifting him another dirty look instead.

Of course, now I feel sorry for the fellow; he didn't know what he was getting into. And he was right, most women wouldn't have been able to manoeuvre their vehicle in that tight space. Now that, I admit, is a sexist remark, even if it comes from another of the same sex.

But my question is: only women? What about men? Take last night. H and I were returning home, quite tired, quite late.

The car in front of us simply refused to either move faster or give way. As a lane approached on the left, the car moved towards it, then, the driver presumably had a change of mind and returned, quite hastily to the right again, forcing us to brake hard.

"B@#$%^ woman," said H as he shifted gears, sat on the horn, and finally moved on. As we went past, I turned to look and reported gleefully: "That was a man." No reply.

This happens regularly. When I bring up the argument that all autorickshaw drivers, BMTC and KSRTC drivers, Matador van drivers are all mad men from hell, I get a petulant, "but they don't count".

All right, I shall admit it then, most often, it is a woman that gets my goat.

Blame it on a lack of road sense that comes from getting on to the road really late in life (I started at five with a bicycle, running errands and haven't got off wheels since then), a sheltered upbringing (not everyone has a father who asked, if you don't break a few bones, how will you 0learn?), and this dinning into your head — you're a woman and you can't drive.

While I say that, let me add that a lot of it stands good for the men, too.

There are as many bad drivers among men as there are among women, and they are growing.

The reason is we don't have good driving schools. No one teaches you how to back into a parking lot without scraping your fender and your ego.

No one teaches you that it is rude to flash lights, that you ought to turn your headlights off at traffic junctions, that you ought to give way to the faster vehicle, and that you ought to indicate when you are turning.

The list is endless. But, as always in life, it is the fault of the woman, even if she is merely the passenger. Men, I guess are really from Mars.

And that car that stalled on the traffic light atop the hill? Well, on second thoughts, I'm not telling.

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