Life is a verb.

This, like many of my previous blogs, is a self-talk.

Death and life are looked on
As but transformations;
The myriad creation is all of a kind,
There is a kinship through all.
Huai Nan Tzu (2nd c. BCE)

A soul’s expression is life. When we talk of a ‘soul’ or ‘life force’, we call it only ‘it’, not ‘he’ or ‘she’ but ‘it’. The he, she, pretty, handsome, ugly – all adjectives come only after the soul transforms its energy into a ‘life’.

When life force leaves a body, we miss the expressions it creates around us. We cry for the absence of activity of that life around us. Is there a soul? whether there is an afterlife? – these questions we may not be able to answer – not at least till we die. Then also we may not know whether we will find an answer.

I read the following lines in one of Paulo Coelho’s books: “Commit yourself to life. If you are alive, you must wave your arms, jump, make a noise, laugh and talk to people, because life is exactly the opposite of death. Dying is staying always in the same position.”. Life is a verb and not a noun. Even if a person is inactive, he is doing something, he is being inactive. It requires effort.

I read this somewhere on the Net.  Mulla Nasruddin’s father was dying, on his deathbed, and he wanted to give some advice to his son who was going in many ways astray. He had become the Don Juan of the town, and was chasing every woman. The old man said, “Nasruddin, remember one thing: beauty is only skindeep, and don’t be mad for it — and this is my whole life’s experience I am telling you. I have chased women, but this is how I feel now, at the end of my life, that beauty is nothing but a skindeep phenomenon, an appearance.” Nasruddin brooded over it and said, “Dad, that much will do — because I am no cannibal, I am not going to eat women. Skindeep is enough for me. Who wants the inside of a woman?”

Other’s experiences are just that – other’s. Create your own experiences. Importantly, the inside of anybody cannot be known. There is no flavor. The flavor is the ‘life’ one lives. The inside has no flavor. We do not desire the ‘inside’ of anybody. We desire the actions the life create, we desire the ‘skin deep’ we see. We love the feelings and emotions a ‘life’ creates in us. If we cannot see or feel a person, will we love him/her? Even to love God, we need to give him/her a form.

I read this quote by Zachary Scot “As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.” So do. Regrets, dilemmas, unhappiness, happiness : all arise out of actions. These show that we are very much alive. Enjoy your life’s expressions. Those are the only things you leave behind. You don’t need to qualify your actions as good, bad or ugly. As somebody wisely said “if you have a vice, you might as well enjoy it”. Nobody loves the real ‘you’ in you and nobody hates the real ‘you’ in you. As long as you don’t hurt others intentionally, LIVE.

Life is a verb🙂

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Yes. You are right!

I read this in a book and found it vastly amusing. A husband, while talking about his relationship with his wife says: “We have developed a unique system of dealing with one another. I issue orders. She ignores them. I feel better for having put my foot down and she does exactly as she pleases.”

That is exactly what I do. My husband issues orders and I do what I want to do – many of the times. What I don’t know is whether he’s developed the philosophical outlook of the person in that book. I am sure he found it most annoying and infuriating in the beginning days of our marriage.

I had perfected this art of doing as I like regardless with my father. He and me held opposite views on almost all issues worth debating about. He wanted me to agree with him on almost everything starting with whether girls should always wear a bindi and flowers and bangles and whatnot to how one should worship God. Whereas. I firmly believed in just doing without any of those feminine entrapments and I had my own way of communicating with God. Initially, my father used to make me talk about my views and how I applied logic to arrive at those conclusions and then refute them. Always getting the last word. Then I understood his tactic and changed mine. Whatever he said, I used to say “yes father” and do (and think) what I wanted. He caught me after some time but then he couldn’t do anything. I never say “no” to him, so he has nothing to complain about, has he?. With time, both of us came to an understanding. He will tell me what he thinks is right and I’ll do what I feel I should do but always say “yes father, you’re right”😀.

The problem with (arranged) marriage is you never know what you’re getting. So I had to do some recci before settling on a plan. My husband, like any self-respecting male, has rigid views about how things should be. Most importantly, how his wife (meaning ME) should think and act. Do I want to change after perfecting my act for so many years – NAH! So it brought out the worst in me in the beginnings. Then the enlightenment came – in one of my Sir’s classes. He told me, “always say ‘yes’ to people and do what you want to do. That is a sure way to avoid conflicts”. How could I have forgotten that! I have been doing exactly that with my father. So I started saying “yes” to his views. Not being my father, my husband is not deceived many a times. He always looks at me in a doubtful manner – that I’m up to something (which I am :D). Sometimes he even asks me, “are you really agreeing with me or just saying so to me and thinking ‘hell with you’ inside”. I just smile at him. See, one can interpret a smile in whichever way one wants. I just hope my hubby takes it in the right way (i.e. whichever suits him) so that he’s not overtly troubled by it😀. However, it’s peace time now. So what is there to write about?

Well, I became a parent – that is what J. Now my son gives me the same treatment. He listens to my lamentations of how I expect him to behave….. and does exactly as he pleases. He will sweetly says “amma, amma, look. Don’t get angry. I am sorry”. And go ahead and do exactly what I forbade him to do. It no doubt infuriates me. Well, I have to justify myself (ha.. ha). If he doesn’t follow my schedule, it affects my schedule. So I want him to stick to the timings. Well, he has his own agenda. He knows no matter how raving mad I become, ultimately I’ll have to take him to school, no matter how he delays brushing his teeth or taking bath. When i get really angry i don’t speak to him till he agrees to what i want. He can’t tolerate me not speaking to him.

When I spoke to my Sir about that, he said rejection is emotional blackmail and i was wrong to use it. He added, “look Bhagya. Your son is born through you and NOT to you. So you have no right to control him”. Well, it was like a blow to my head. How true! We all think that people – be it husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, friend – belong to us. They are just there for some time to give us, teach us something. We need to be grateful for that and try not to grasp at them, control them. It is not easy. We are so used to possess things it’s very difficult to give up the ownership. I guess most of the in-law problems arise out of that. (I hope someone will remind me this when I become a mother-in-law :D). My sir always stressed that we are all stewards of people and things that come into our lives. We are just meant to take care of them and pass on when time comes. We don’t own anything. It takes years of practice to reach that stage.

I believe, this para comes in Khalil Gibran’s Prophet – I think about marriage (for that matter it’s true for any relationship):

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Enough serious stuff. I will sign off with this mullah story which I got from the Net.

Someone brought a compass that he had found and asked Mulla Nasrudin if he knew what it was. Mulla looked at the compass and began to cry. A few minutes later, he stopped crying and began to laugh. The man asked: “Why did you cry and why are you laughing now?” Mulla said: “I cried because I thought how stupid you were not to know what a tiny object like this is. Then I laughed, because when I thought about it, I realized that I didn’t know what it was either.”

Like mullah I cry many a times thinking how people muck up their lives, and I laugh many a times looking at how I muck up my life too

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My attitude or your perception?

“I don’t have an attitude problem, you have a perception problem.”   — Scott Adams

 

 Whenever I ask – ask implies anything from a mere curiosity to an angry shout – my son why he is behaving in such a disgusting manner (according to me), he simply says “I am like that”.  Which irritates me further and I end up either like a raving maniac or a resigned saint. And him observing me as if I’m the result of one his curious experiments!

 

I have not told him this, but he is exactly taking up from where I left.  Means, that I don’t explain my behaviour to anybody.  I read somewhere, “A long time ago I learned not to explain things to people. It misleads them into thinking they’re entitled to know everything I do.” 

 

When I think about it, all my inter-personal problems are because I expect a certain behaviour from someone and he/she doesn’t follow my script and, horror, don’t offer an explanation to it either!   How will I tolerate it?  I think the most frequent question people have asked me is “why?”.  To be fair, how can I answer the question “why?”.  Most of the times I just do it because… well, there is no reason.  I just do it.  period. Who will believe it if I said there is no reason for a particular behaviour?

 

Long time ago, when I was a spinster, I used to sit in office very late daily.  I had such a heavy load of work and I enjoyed doing it.  One day I just decided to go home early.  Just a whim.  I took an hour’s permission and came home.  You should have seen the fuss my father made.  He won’t believe I just decided to perch early. He said it must be either because I’m ill or something bad happened in office.  He just wouldn’t give up.  I gave up and allowed him to guess as he wanted.  I picked up a book and opened the window and sat down to read J.

 

I guess, most of our productive hours are wasted by answering one question to various people “why?”.   My sir used to tell us, never ask “why?”.  Instead ask, “how, what, where, when” etc.  Simply because ‘why’ will not get us any answers whereas others are easier to answer.  I will never be able to explain why I am mad (according) to you, but I can tell how to behave like me😀.

 

It’s just that, God has given us something precious – a life and time to live it.  The how part is left to us.  All of us do things to make us happy and trying to make (according to us) those we love happy. Sometimes we behave in some way and sometimes differently.  Everything we do, we do to make us happy – nobody can deny that.  It is just accepting that others also do things to make them happy which brings peace to me.  Like I read somewhere, “…a new tolerance, an acceptance of the myriad ways in which other people coped with the one life allotted them”.

 

In Emma, there is a line, “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other”.  We simply cannot understand others.  But we can accept them.  Or ignore them.  People do their best to be happy.  So do I. 

 

Now how I handled my son.  Next morning I got up and didn’t get ready for office. I normally drop him in school and come to office.  8.15 is the school time.  I did not get ready till 8.00.  He asked me why I’m not getting ready to drop him in school.  I simply told him “I’m like that”. 

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Get your butt up and do what you’ve to do

I was reading a book by George Bernard Shaw.  One of the characters says that left to himself, he would have put the following in his wife’s tombstone:  “Henrietta Jansenius was born on such a date, married a man named Trefusis, and died on such another date; and now what does it matter whether she did or not?”. 

 

One might say that that was unfeeling.  However, I feel that is the substratum of every life – or death?  Actually, it does not matter to anybody what I did with my life – excepting myself.  That too only till I am alive.  After that… well, there is no me to deal with it later. 

 

I read a proverb somewhere, “It’s better to travel well than arrive”.  We all know that that travelling well is what confounds us.  We are afraid of… well!  Let us just say we are afraid.  Period.  Afraid to laugh.  Afraid to cry.  Afraid to grab.  Afraid to let go.  Afraid to stop.  Afraid to walk…..

 

What are we afraid of?  In a journey there are bound to have bumps, certain pitfalls, perfect sceneries,  joy of company…  They are all part and parcel of travelling.  We just have to navigate our way through them – whether we like it not.  So why not just like it – liking is at least pleasant to us. 

 

There is a story – there are Zen versions and there are Buddhist versions.  Don’t bother.  This is the gist.  This man was going through a forest to meet his friend on the other side of a forest.  When he was deep inside the forest a tiger starts trailing him.  He starts to jog.  The tiger also starts to jog.  The man started running and the tiger also followed.  Suddenly he reaches a cliff and falls down.  He caught hold of a hush en route and hangs on that.  He looks down and he sees another tiger down looking up at him.  The bush he hangs on to begins to come out.  At that time he sees another bush nearby which has one ripe sweet berry on it.  He thinks, who knows whether he’ll get another opportunity to taste a berry.  So he leans out and picks out the berry and eat it.  One version of the story says:  “if you are hanging on a cliff from a bush that is pulling out by the roots, and there is a tiger above you and a tiger below you, and you find a strawberry and you eat it, that will be the sweetest strawberry the world has ever known”.

 

So here I am.  Ignoring the tigers around and enjoying the strawberries.  It’s after all left to me, isn’t it?

 

In one of the books I read, there is this scene at the wedding:

 

“Well, lad,” he said, looking his son over from head to toe as he rubbed his hands together. “You look as fine as five pence. How are you feeling?”

“Nervous,” Reggie admitted. “I am terrified that I will drop the ring at the last moment.”

“Then you will simply bend down and pick it up,” his father said.

 

It can never be pleasant always because we have likes and dislikes.  No matter what happens, we have to just pick ourselves up.  There is no point in getting terrified at what will happen.  What will happen will happen.  We will do what we have to do – bend and pick it up.  If we don’t, we are going to be the losers.  As a character says in a book: “That is what sand castles are for—to build and to rebuild when they fall down. Like marriages.”  Like relationships.  Like efforts.  Like dreams.  We just have to try again and again.  That was what Krishna also said to Arjuna:  “Karmanyeva adhikarasthe.  Ma te sango akarmani”.  You have to get up again and again.  When ever I get tired of going on, whenever I think I cannot go further, I hear Krishna saying “get your butt up and do what you’ve to do”. .Do not choose to lie down. You cannot.  Simple. 

 

Whatever I do, whether I eat that strawberry, whether I get up or not, whether I lived happily or not, whether I am a fool or genius, whether I live my life or waste it, my tombstone will read “bhagya was born on such a date, married a man named srinivasan, and died on such another date; and now what does it matter whether she did or not?”. 

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Desire in reason

As a rule I don’t read newspapers nor watch TV. Years back I decided that I don’t want to start my day miserable – for newspapers give nothing but news of rape, murder, violence, accidents…. Enough to upset me for the whole day. I’m not qualifying my decision as right or wrong. That was something I decided for myself. Still, me being working and my husband being a person who never fails to read every single letter in newspapers – news does comes to me whether I want it or not. Especially my husband relishes in telling me about the latest headlines on violence even if I request him not to – his justification being I trust people too much and he wants me to be aware of the wickedness of people!

The one emotion I feel when I hear about any violence is ‘shame’.

Rain, hail and snow,
Ice too, are set apart,
But when they fall,
They merge to become
The same water of the valley stream.
– Ikkyu (1394-1481

As part of the same stream called ‘life’, it is a part of me that has done the violence. So I’m also responsible for what has happened. If one human being is capable of doing some violence, I am also capable of doing it. The fact that I choose not to do it doesn’t absolve me from that act. I know it’s going too far. But that is how it is.

I read somewhere that ‘we never desire earnestly what we desire in reason’. Most of the violence (physical or psychological) happens because we don’t desire in reason. When I am reasonable, I will recognize the other person’s right to have a point of view, his/her right to choose his/her path, the other person’s right to say no. Then we will accept that even though we desire, we may or may not get fulfilment.

There is no harm in desiring things. There is no harm in even trying to get what we desire as long as it doesn’t tresspass othes’ right or hurt others. Sure, we might feel disappointed or hurt or sad. Then, as emotions go, it will pass. Did we reach this far in life without disappointments or hurt or unhappiness? How many times have we felt that ‘this is the end, I can’t go one step more’. But aren’t we happy? Have we not come out of it? I have. Many times.

I think that it is time all of us really consider another person as a human being like us and give the respect due to him/her. And not as objects which exist to fulfil our desires. I might think that I do respect others. When I think and observe my behaviour, I realize that I do not. When my son says ‘no’ and if it is inconvenient to me or if it doesn’t live up to my values, I do everything to make him comply with my wishes. Where is my respect to him as an individual? When my husband says no, I immediately get angry and argue till I get what I want.

I wonder, if there were no rules, regulations, societal pressures; will I behave as I behave today. If I am allowed absolute power, will I accept a ‘no’ from somebody? Or will I hurt them? I don’t know. When I examine myself, I comply with most of the strictures of law, society, culture, religion etc because I am afraid of what will happen if I break them. What will I do when I am above all those rules? It is frightening.

My sirji once told the difference between ethics and morals. Moral is how you behave when you are (suppose you are a man) faced with a woman in front of others and ethics is how you will behave when you are stranded in a deserted island with a woman. I need to think deeply what are my morals and what are my ethics. That will decide whether I am a human being or not. And that, I am sure, will be a life time study too.

Meanwhile, I wish all of us show some respect to others – family members, friends, colleagues, subordinates, immediate neighbours. Especially family. If we do that atleast the kids will learn by imitation. And kids are our future.

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It’s merely life…

Morning we wake up and everything goes fine that day.
The next morning whatever we do, it just becomes worse.
We want something, we get it.
We want something, and somebody else gets it.
We assume responsibility and others tell us it’s merely our duty.
We love somebody and he/she loves us back. But then we go our separate ways.
We don’t love somebody and end up living with them.
I get appreciated for my work today but then I am scolded tomorrow.
What amuses me today bores me tomorrow.
I detest doing something and ends up doing it some other time.
At times, everybody else seem to act in an unfair way towards us.
Sometimes we are happy with our life. Many a times we wonder what a mess we have made of our life.
We hate a person, and talk sweetly to him/her when we see.
People expect you to do things which they themselves won’t do when placed in our shoes.
There are times we love our family. And there are times we want to be alone.
Everything seems pointless at times. And we are full of zest the next hour.
Things don’t happen as we plan. Things happen as we plan.

Life is full of controversies. Events happen. And the subsequent reactions. Sometimes, I am very buoyant to be alive. Sometimes, I wonder what I am doing with my life. However, as I read somewhere, “it’s merely life”.

Life just unfolds itself. What is the point in making sense of anything? What is the need? As I read in a book:

“Are you able to breathe?”
“Adequately.”
“What more can one ask of life?” she whispered

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Who do you think will give me a license?

”What’s the best way to teach a girl to swim?” a friend asked Mulla Nasrudin.
”First you put your left arm around her waist,” said the Mulla. ”Then you gently take her left hand and…”
”She’s my sister,” interrupted the friend.
”Oh, then push her off the dock,” said Nasrudin

 That is exactly what my brother did when I asked him to teach me cycling (not swimming which I learnt on my own observing my friends at the village pond).  I was 11 years and he was 9.  We were living on the foothills of a teak forest.  He had learnt cycling much before using rented bicycle (owning bicycle itself was a luxury then).  I was a tom boy (in my village only boys and men rode bicycle) and was fascinated by the way he used to show off on the bicycle.  I asked him to teach me too. 

 One fine morning he rented a bicycle and asked me sit on it.  The bicycle faced the edge of a plane from where the ground took a steady incline ending on the left side with a further steep incline into a pond and straight with a drop inside the walls of a temple.  He asked me whether I was ready and shouted “pedal” and gave me a push.  The cycle was running without control and I was scared and was screaming.  My legs were up unable to catch the fast turning pedals.  He was running behind trying to catch up laughing and shouting “apply brake”.  But I don’t know where or how to brake😀.  I closed my eyes tightly and started praying to the goddess inside the temple which my bicycle was fast approaching.  Oh the goddess helped, may be out of a sense of self-preservation.  The bicycle instead going straight and down inside the walls of the temple took a left turn and went straight into the pond.  Luckily for me I was caught by the bushes on the side and did not fall inside the pond.  I had few bruises scattered on my legs.  After I extracted myself from the bushes I glared at my brother.  He was laughing and asked me “why didn’t you apply brake”.  I told him scathingly  “you didn’t tell me where the brake is or how to apply it”. 

 I limped back home washed my wounds with antisceptic and applied some medicine and decided “bicycle is not for me”. (cuts and wounds were part of our daily routine and we kids used to clean them and apply medicines ourselves and went back to play.  My brother once had a deep cut and he limped to the hospital which was a kilometer away and got it stitched without anybody in the house knowing it.  Only when my aunt – who was a nurse – returned in the evening from the hospital, we knew about this :D).

 That was my first and last attempt to master cycling.  I never ever wanted to learn cycling and that day’s terror never left me – even now I have it.   For any distance within 5kms I could walk and then for longer distances I can take the public transport. Thus went my childhood.

 Fast forward and now I’ve started working – in Chennai.  Looking at my friends coming to office by mopeds, I thought I will learn two wheeler driving.  After all, I am grown up now and how difficult will that be?

My neighbor who had a Bajaj M80 promised to teach me driving a moped.  A colleague got me a driving license for geared two wheelers (I didn’t even go to the RTO office).  Actually he told me he will get me a driving license for 4-wheeler and I can learn car driving later.  I thought that is a bit going too far and told him that two-wheeler license will do.  Once I started learning, I realized that that fear has not left me.  I was always confident that the vehicle will not stop even if I apply brake.  I always have co-ordination issues and tend to hit something or fall down even on flat surfaces.  Adding a two-wheeler to it, I guess, was a deadly combination.  I was really terrified of riding a moped but then I always did what I was afraid of most. 

 One fine morning I – or rather my father – took delivery of my first vehicle.  A Kinetic Safari.  It was heavier than TVS 50 and I couldn’t even lift it.  I opted it purely because it was taller than TVS 50 and me being taller will be comfortable in that.  The first day I took my moped and went with my father (he in his bicycle) for a ride.   I went straight and hit an iron water tank.  I was so confident that the bike will not stop even if I apply brake, it did not stop😀.  The front bar was bent and the very first day it went in for repair.  My father told me that he is not allowing me to ride it alone and I can take the moped upto the bus depot with him riding pillion and I can take a bus from there to office. He can bring the moped back home.  Each time I took it I ended up seeing blood, either on my person or my father’s or both.  Both of us fell down numerous times and my father was the only person who has spilled blood for me – literally.

 The traffic was very low those days compared to now so the only casualties were either me or my father or…. .  Well, that incident requires elaborating J.  Once, as usual I took the bike with my father riding pillion and was going to the bus depot.  I  saw a cow heavy with child crossing the road.  I decided that the vehicle is not going to stop even if I apply brake.   I did brake and the vehicle went and hit the cow and all of us tumbled.  I got up first, the cow next.  I was so upset that I hit the cow and I was so worried (it was pregnant) something would’ve happened to it.  I went and started patting the cow’s belly  saying “maadu, maadu” (cow, cow) and from a far distance I could hear “kaalu, kaalu” (my leg, my leg).  Only after a few minutes I realized it was my father and the moped was over his leg and he was unable to get up.  As if I could lift the moped!  Then somebody came and helped me lift the bike and my father glared at me (first time) saying “I am lying down with my legs hurt you are more worried about the cow”.  I looked sheepish and told him “sorry pa, but that cow is carrying and I was so worried”.  He gave me another glare and told me to start the vehicle. Oh, I started the vehicle and went to the depot. 

 I was not allowed to take the vehicle for some days after that.  One day me and my father went to a temple and was coming back in my moped.  It was a mud road and we were coming down an incline and yes, both of us tumbled down with the bike.  Both our legs knee down were bloody and that week one day when I came home my bike was not there.  My father told me that he asked my brother to take the bike to his factory for his use “and never ever to bring it back home”.  He added “when you come late I just have to search the bus stops, if you take the bike, I will have to call the hospitals too and I can’t stand the stress”.  I did make token protest and then forgot about it. 

 After a couple of years later, a group of us from office went to Pondicherry.  All of them decided they will take bicycles and ride to a boating point some 10kms away.  I was disappointed and I told them I would love to go buy I don’t know cycling.  One of them offered to take me in the pillion.  Me and my big pride will never allow that.  I can’t stand the idea of someone pedaling and me sitting behind.  From childhood, I have avoided even cycle rickshaws.  Somehow one human being struggling so much while I sat comfortably did not appeal to me.  So I told them “don’t worry.  I know the mechanics of cycling.  I will come with you too”.  So we rented bicycles and went.  I must say I managed okay on the highway.  Only thing, I was very slow and two of my colleagues were cycling either side of me like escorts and we were subjected to lot of angry abuses from lot of drivers (on the highway).  However, I went and made it back.  I felt so good.  That was the single-most exhilarating feeling I have ever felt after driving anything😀.  I never touched a bicycle after that.

 Public transport and auto rickshaws were my main means of transport till I got married.  One of my friends used to tell me that the only advantage of marriage is that you get a free chauffeur.  After my marriage, my husband was there to take me wherever I went on his bike and I never had any problems in reaching from point A to point B. He never allowed me to go on my own (being independent till then, it was tough at first having someone telling me where and how to go).  But then why should I complain when someone is ready to take me.   The problem started last year, when he got a transfer and went out and I had to stay back.  The traffic was heavy and my travel by share auto took 2 hours one way.  And my allergy to fumes returned and I was very sick for a few days.  After a series of tests and medication, the doctor told me that the only way to avoid it is to avoid fumes. 

 My husband had the perfect solution: “learn driving.  I will buy you a car”.  I was terrified. However, the way I felt after reaching home daily – half dead – decided it.  I went and joined a driving school and got my license after a failed attempt.  (I did go this time and attended the test :D). My husband and son kept repeating “you can do it” just to boost my confidence. 

 The only hope I had was I will not fall down and get hurt in a car. After seeing my attempts at driving when he came with me to the driving school one day, my son  told me “amma, I am happy you are getting a car.  But then, I don’t think I’ll travel by car if you’re driving”.  I told him “sonny, look.  When I am driving, you are safer inside the car rather than outside”.  He thought about it for a few seconds and told me “that is right.  You could drop me in the school in the mornings”.

 I researched on the internet and asked around looking for a best car for me.  I decided I wanted a 1200 cc car (what is it me and high powered vehicles I don’t know.  The first time also I got myself something heavy which I couldn’t handle.  Looks like I never learn.  And I dream of riding a Bullet one day on the ECR :D).  My husband, after watching my attempts in finalizing the car, decided that I will do better if I get an automatic transmission as it is better for city traffic.  I agreed reluctantly.  That is how I got my A-Star automatic.

 Before the car came, my husband told me.  “I will ask a friend of mine who drives a tourist car to come with you to office daily.  He will guide you and be with you till you are confident.  You have no traffic sense or road sense”.  I agreed with him.  What he didn’t know was that I am absent-minded as well.  My mind tend to wander and I get lost in thoughts often to the exclusion of everything else. 

 The vehicle came on a Friday.  I prayed for all the commuters in Chennai and took the vehicle on Sunday to go to my meditation class.  Mr N (my husband’s friend) was sitting near and my husband, son and nephew on the rear seat) and I started driving.  Mr N said we will fill petrol first and asked to go the petrol bunk.  And I went.  All along I was getting instructions, “left, right, fast, slow,brake”.  After turning inside the petrol bunk, I was trying to park it behind a Wagon R.  “left”, “right”, “BRAKE”.  I applied brake fast and the vehicle accelerated and hit the rear of the Wagon R (yes, I pressed the accelerator instead of brake :D).  The Wagon R had three dents on the rear and two of his parking sensors got smashed.  And my A Star was intact – not even a scratch!  My husband promised that gentleman that we will pay whatever extra he incurred above the insurance claim and he agreed.  I was happy knowing that my vehicle is sturdier than the other😀.  Though I was a little rattled, Mr N asked me to drive the vehicle and I reached my class without any further incidents. 

 When I came back home, my husband started giving me oral driving lessons and I got angry.  I told him “I will travel by share auto, you take the car yourself to your place.  I don’t want it”.  He retorted saying “you are not open to suggestions.  You think you already know everything”.  Both of us were angry for a day and didn’t talk to each other.  Then he went back on Monday and before leaving both of us decided magnanimously to forgive the other and both said “sorry” to each other.

 We went to Trichy the next weekend and I drove half distance both ways.  Driving on a highway was something I loved.  I am always good on empty straight roads😀.  Next week went okay with Mr N accompanying me to office in the mornings and taking the vehicle back home. I did get dirty looks and angry words from fellow drivers but that is the way you learn J.  (I guess we should fight for a separate lane for women dirvers :P).

 When last Sunday I had to come to office for a meeting, I told my husband I will take the vehicle myself (Mr. N was not coming that day).  My husband was not confident and told me he will come with me and take the vehicle back, I can take a share auto or taxi when I return home.  (My husband has learnt car driving some three years back but has not driven a car so far.  He had a major accident while travelling by car a couple of years back and still has some residue fear for car driving).  I took the car and was driving reasonably okay till one mini truck came suddenly in front of me from a side road.  I had to apply sudden brake and the call taxi behind hit the rear of my vehicle.  I did not bother and started driving my car.  That taxi driver came and stopped his car in front of us and made us stop.  He started shouting and my husband also started shouting back. (my car was intact) I told my husband “sorry” but he told me I’m not at fault.  Then in front of my office when I was about to park, a drunken man who was standing nearby, suddenly swayed in front of my car and got his toe under my tyre.  My husband says it’s also not my fault – I don’t know.  The security in front of my office complex came running and told me “what madam, how can you do this? didn’t you see the man standing there?”.  He was not standing in front of my car when I was parking.  He just took a step back and I didn’t anticipate that.  By then another security came and told him “this is our staff”.  Immediately, the first security started shouting at the man “how can you jump in front of the car, she was honking for so long while parking”.  I felt like laughing and remembered Chekov’s story (don’t remember the name – chameleon? My Sir quotes that story often).  Again, my husband had to argue and he sent them away with some money to see a doctor. 

 I came up to my office and my husband took the car.  As soon as I reached office, I get a call from my husband “hey, I have come down half a kilometer from your office and I am stressed by your driving and my hands are shaking.  I don’t think I can drive the car.  Request somebody from your office to come and take the vehicle to your office.  I will go home by bus”.  I walked down and told him I’ll drive the car back to office.  He gaped at me, “I am so upset with the whole incident and how can you drive it back?”  But I did.  Took my hubby to my office, gave him a cup of coffee and sent him back by bus after making him relax for a few minutes.  Evening Mr N came and I drove back home😀.  My husband told me that he will never do the mistake of travelling in the same car that I drive henceforth – it’s too much stress for him to handle.

 I don’t know when Mr N will certify my competence for driving alone.  I dread the day but then I guess I’ll survive.  But the question now is not about my survival, isn’t it?

 Mulla Nasrudin trying to pull his car out of a parking space banged into the car ahead. Then he backed into the car behind. Finally, after pulling into the street, he hit a beer truck. When the police arrived, the patrolman said, ”Let’s see your license, Sir.” ”Don’t be silly,” said Nasrudin. ”who do you think would give me a license?”

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