Keys to Drive Again

Thou shalt not honk. This is an Australian road rule that’s written in stone – somewhere, I’m sure. It’s right up there with “thou shalt indicate at all times – left, right, and centre.”

A bit different from driving in Mumbai where I keep my eyes on my left, right and centre, on the cars before, behind, and beside me and the bicycle that’s coming straight at me up the wrong side of the road. Asked how to reverse a car, a family friend learning to drive in India replied, “Get into first gear and look back.” She probably has it right.

I’ve been doing a different sort of travel these days – I’ve hit the roads to do a refresher course to learn driving the Aussie way. It’s been a steep learning curve. Bay parking, reversing in driveways, and roundabouts galore. My first time in fourth gear at 80 km/hr. To my Indian friends – no, I was not speeding. To my Aussie mates – yes, this is a Significant Moment. Also I was scared as *bleep*. Never know who my readers might be.

If you’re Australian, you can get free lessons via the “Keys to Drive” scheme. I’ve had to pay for lessons but it’s been worth it. I have had better instruction this time round. I understand better when to change gears and why. I’m not parroting a routine but thinking of the “why” behind each maneuver. Still, my instructor laughs because I’m confident on curvy roads and hill starts but panic at the sight of a sign that says 70. Speeding is the least of my problems.

I have also to my shame and disappointment had my first car accident, seen a car written off, and said farewell to my favourite Holden Barina in an auction yard filled with totalled relics. It was a Gumdrop moment. I know exactly how Josiah Oldcastle felt. Since then, I have researched cars online, visited a dealer, learnt to buy a vehicle, and dealt with insurers. Invaluable life skills, all.

I have few words of wisdom to impart. Insure with RAC – it’s worth it. Go to Aberdeen Auctions – you’ll find a good deal there. If you’re looking for lessons, the Defensive Driving School is a good place to start. Finally, look out for the slightly nervous Indian in a blue hatchback. She’s just got her keys to drive again and hopes she’s doing alright.

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