After renewing my learner’s permit twice, and totally failing to parallel park during the road test, I finally got my driver’s license when I was 18. A few days later, I was in my first (and only) accident: driving home from a party in the rain, I panicked when the gate to our apartment complex malfunctioned, and I drove into it.
Not long after, I started college. I didn’t have a car, didn’t have the money to buy one. So I walked, I took the bus, I begged friends for rides. The reasons I had taken so long to get my license grew as an excuse to continue to not drive: I wasn’t good at it, no one could teach me (I’d had two sets of lessons!), it was nerve-wracking.
When I was 32, I took a motorcycle class. I didn’t pass. I came close to passing! But I didn’t pass. When I was 33, I once again took driving lessons, a gift from my husband after he’d tried teaching me. He was patient and kind; he didn’t get his license until he was 20, so he understood my concerns and slowness. But I didn’t like driving.
Still, I am now in my mid-30s. We live now in a city with limited public transportation, and I can’t expect my husband to drive me everywhere. And finally, I accepted a job that requires driving (or a two hour bus ride, one way).
Necessity has led to improvement. What else has led to improvement? Bollywood.
I turn on the car. My iPod starts. If it doesn’t pick up where I left off, it starts with the first song. A for “Aao Na,” from Haider. I hear it and it means “you’re going to drive and it’s going to be great.”
I think about Rani learning to drive in Queen, how driving empowered her and gave her freedom.
Taani speeding on the scooter.
Kajol looking cool as hell driving on a narrow ocean road in Dilwale.
Kia doing all of the driving in Ki & Ka, realizing how rare it is to see a woman driving in a Bollywood movie, in a Hollywood movie.
Driving is still difficult sometimes. I still don’t really like it. But I can do it. Thank you, Bollywood.