No seriously, give yourself a pat in the back, because you have accomplished one of the most necessary tasks a person has to endure to gain entry into adulthood. I don’t know about the rest of you, but if want a four-wheeler license in Kerala, there are two parts to it, the ‘H’ and the road test
The ‘H’ is a lot of how it sounds like, driving a pattern of the english alphabet ‘H’ through a martrix of 16 poles, each about 2 meters from the other. It’s also called as “twist the steering and pray to the poles” In my driving school, there are 5 practise sessions for the aforementioned ‘H’, in all of which I tested the patience of the assigned instructor by hitting one pole or another in some part of the turn. Looking back, I realize that even I didn’t think I would clear it in my first try but it all worked out somehow.
A huge thank you should be given to my driving instructors at the Maruti Driving School. These guys were awesome, patient, and took the effort to give me a spartan training regime to fix my flaws. Spartan being I had to reach at 7 AM for driving classes but hey, now that it’s over, I can say that it was worth it.
The basic premise for the ‘H’ is to perfect your reverse while driving slowly. It was a nail biting situtaion with the all important question will she or won’t she (Hit the pole, that it) Spoiler : She didn’t. Since my earlier atempts had been critisised for over speeding, I made sure to go dead slow this time. So much so that when I got out, the MVI said “You could have done it faster, you know” At that point I had been too busy celebrating that I had passed the first barrier to be giving notice to his critisim.
The second part was the road test. Now there are some fundamental things you need to know about roads in Kerala to take a step forward.
A) The roads suck. It’s more like the PWD wanted to make a set of pothholes and ended up accidently putting some road in between. I’m not even exaggerating here.
B) India is a land where there’s too much of the population and not enough space. Kochi is the land where there’s too little road, with what little we have getting enroached by metro constructions.
C) In the middle of this lack of space, Kerala is also the state with the largest number of sedans and large luxury vehicles. Blame the Gulf.
D) Everyon’e’s in a hurry to get away from the horrendous commute which leads to people who overtake from every direction imaginable.
In a normal day, the kings of the road would be the large red private buses with their courageous drivers in a never ending battle with the clock to take round trips across the cities. The two wheeler motorcylists fan around larger vehicles like like flies, careless of thefact that one smack from the bus would be a closed casket for the motorists
Soin the middle of all this action, little old me was there, anxiously clutching on the car cushions, not sure whether to be worried about my test or my life, considering the fact that my instructor was driving while being on the phone. As we moved away from the track I did my ‘H’ in, I enquired about the road test. All I got was “Relax, just put the indicatiors right. You just have to drive through a 4 km strech of road” On a Saturday. On the highway. In this chaos. With a policeman sitting by your side judging every move you make. No pressure.
That was not even the the worst part. No, the worst part was people rotate along this 4 km strech you see, so the car in front has the policeman and the driver. After a minute, this inexperienced person stops (In the middle of the road no less) and there’s a huge clamour in all the succesive cars on who goes next. I ended being the last car and the last driver, giving me the privilege of the home strech and the policeman’s undivided attention.
Here I was trying my best to go slow and not get hit by a private bus when the guy says “Go faster. Don’t give room to the bus. Where did you say that you were studying again?” That’s right. Here I am trying to navigate a life or death situation and he wants to make small talk.
Somehow, I mumbled out something in between “eh, ah and uh” and almost reach the end point when an idiot of a homeless person decided to walk in the middle of the road. Also, he was deaf to my horn. Ooh la la. It took almost three seconds flat for my expressions to accelerate from gaping goldfish to terrified tracy. The policeman simply chuckled. That’s right, the monster chuckled. I really don’t remember what happened after that. I believe that my stronger subconscious took control and drove me to a safe victory but I had been so sure I’d hit him that I was too numb to notice when the test ended. And it was done. Joining the ranks of crores of other Indians, I now officially hold a license too. Now excuse me while I go sleep of my near death experiences.