Tag Archives: transport

Licensed to Drive

Source: Wikimedia.org

Source: Wikimedia.org

A gum tree is a poor landmark. Especially if you are in parts unknown in a suburb of Western Australia (WA). Definitely so, if you are doing a driving test. “Needs more directions,” scrawled my lanky Aussie examiner on his form after I stopped in front of the wrong house in the “Leaving Something Behind” part of the test. Certain I’d failed, I proceeded to compound my crimes by hitting the kerb while turning into a car park. It’s the 31st of December – what a way to end the year.

“I know you passed,” said my husband, el geólogo, when I returned to the Cannington Driver and Vehicle Services centre. I’d lasted the full thirty-five minutes while all the other candidates had long since returned. Yes, dear reader, I am now married. I was so thrilled and relieved that I promptly turned into a waterspout. Not for being married, of course, but for having passed what is described as the most stringent driving exam in Australia. Umm, the crying jag could have something to do with raging pregnancy hormones. We won’t go into that. I have no wish to be a mommy blogger, although both “mommy” and “blogger” I soon hope to be.

So why do a driving test? As a temporary resident, I drove with my overseas licence. This is a slightly battered little paperback book, encased in a cover kindly provided by the Good Luck Driving School – Mumbai’s solution to driving lessons. The Driver Services official, a slim and horribly efficient looking young man of Asian descent paged through this – somewhat grimly, I thought. Upon reaching the page with an inky stamp from the Mumbai Road Transport Office and the squiggly signature of An Important Police Person in the Mumbai Police, he shook his head wryly.

The other lane: a road sign in Mumbai

The other lane: a road sign in Mumbai

“I have never seen a driver’s licence like this,” said he.

“It’s the only licence I have.” I replied, somewhat touchily. “It’s ten years old.” Surely, the very shabbiness of the licence proclaimed its genuineness?

Now, as a permanent resident, I need to and will drive with a WA driver’s licence. This beautiful blue laminated card, a key to many doors, will arrive in the mail in a few weeks. It will have a photo of me, quite likely looking teary-eyed, dishevelled, and perhaps with only one earring. I discovered the other clinging to my dress after we left the centre. It is after all one of the unwritten laws of the universe – thou shalt always look your worst in an official photograph.

So here I am, after a series of lessons with Perth’s excellent Defensive Driving School, one minor accident, a double puncture, and much driving practice later, a proud possessor of a new licence to drive. I feel strangely liberated – this is a real ego-booster. Yet, fond as I am of my blue Ford hatchback, my sturdy driving test companion, driving is still a necessary evil rather than a pleasure. I hand the car keys to my patient husband. I may have driven us to the test, but he’s driving us back home today.

If you need to know more about the WA road rules, try the only quizzes that help drivers prepare for the theory test at: http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/licensing/road-rules-theory-test-quiz.asp

Also, read about my first adventures in Australian driving at: https://perthinent.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/keys-to-drive-again/

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Going the Distance

I saw a kangaroo outside my window. You’d expect a blog about Australia to begin with this line, wouldn’t you? So, yes, this post has been a long time in coming. I did see a kangaroo – a real one. Not made of metal like the red one by the Vic Park post office. Not large and bronze like the statues on St. Georges Terrace. Not fat and tame and lazy like the ones in Whiteman Park. These were the real deal – a little kangaroo family, complete with a joey, watching the Prospector roll past the hillsides near Toodyay.

Once they were green fields, warmed by the sun...

Once they were green fields, warmed by the sun…

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Mud Lake: Rain over a salt pan in the Goldfields

I’ve done this journey several times now, yet the countryside looks different and new each season. Summer is setting in and Western Australia’s wheat belt is ready for the harvest. The yellowing hillsides give way to barbered fields that look like they’ve been groomed for military service. The long furrows streak to the horizon. The sheep are shorn as well and look sadly scrawny, although I expect they don’t need to be warm and woolly during the summer.

Now you’re imagining bright blue skies and sunny weather. Think again. It’s cloudy and wet. Storm winds from Perth are sweeping up behind us and trail us all the way to Kalgoorlie. Despite the grey skies, the view from my window is far more fascinating than the on-board Zac Ephron romance.

The shorn fields have given way to bushland. Near Southern Cross, a salt lake is dissolving into sludge while we wait for a freight train to pass. The miles roll by, and we’re in mining country now. Passengers are met at stations by men in dusty overalls and muddy utes. The C. Y. O’Connor pipeline occasionally emerges in the distance, a silver thread leading all the way back to Perth. It’s a reminder of home. Then, the tableland of Kalgoorlie’s Super Pit appears on the horizon. It’s reassuringly familiar. Perhaps, home is not as far away as I think.

Poles Apart: Ticket to Ride

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Stick your hand out and flag a Mumbai cabbie...

 

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...or call 13 13 30 for a Swan Taxi

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Have you ever wondered what life is like on the other side of the Indian Ocean? My teachers in school were fond of “compare and contrast” questions. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been inspired to post these images. Here’s a glimpse of my life in Perth…and my life in Mumbai. Keep watching this space – there’s more to come!