I had this friend of mine telling me some time back that he tries never to judge a task as that of a man or a woman. Quite like the modern man, he went on to express how it’s quite okay with anyone cooking, cleaning, and sharing the household jobs; but despite having an open mind towards such things in general, he still expressed his inability to get over the prejudice against women drivers.
This he shared when we were driving back together. Reason? Well, he hadn’t quite anticipated me to drive so well. He had well made up his mind to witness a thrilling and adventurous ride with an accelerating heart beat and quite a few heart burns, but was quite bemused having reached home a complete package, with no qualms whatsoever.
However, to be honest, being an above average driver myself, I have often helped women get their car out of a parking area in critical situations- like when they have another vehicle parked at close quarters, or got their car out of a fix when around pillars and poles, or even simply reverse it. Having being driven around by friends and their mothers, or my own Mother-in-Law, I do admit being scared sitting with them, and having offered to drive on numerous occasions.
Driving in Jaipur, I have to face prejudice left right and center. I have heard people saying, “Jaane de yaar, ladki gaadi chala rahi hai” (Let her pass man, a girl is driving the car). Yet, in cosmos like Delhi, not so much. Although there are many reasons for the same, I’d leave it onto your judgement to figure out why.
I do not get easily rattled by such behaviour, more so because I’ve accepted it and got used to it; but in the 20 years of my driving experience, once, just to prove a point, while a guy in car had been madly honking horns to overtake in a heavy traffic area (Ajmer road), I did not let him get past, not for a good 14 kilometres!
Even though I try my best to wave it off most of the times, the prejudice still does get to me occasionally, and I am left tempted to get back to the other person, telling them to just “Watch it!”
Once, when in a small lane jammed with cars parked on one side of the road and bikes on the other, I had barely inches of space on either side as I reversed. While I was going slow for obvious reasons, a guy walked up and asked if I needed help. I asked him why he presumed so, and came off his uncanny response- “Since you’re going so slow.” Exasperated, I asked “Well, would YOU zip past at 40 in such a situation?” He made a face and walked off, and I was left fuming still.
It’s utterly frustrating to have a preconceived notion generalized across all quarters of the female force. There are a lot of brash and impudent male drivers out there, but they find it easier to sleaze down at the women who’ve come out to make a change. Once you get past the training period and gather enough experience at manoeuvring, a lady is as good as any other male driver out there.
But we still catch on to the social stigma and move on, trusting our wild judgement to be the ascertained truth.
By the way, when I rate myself above average, it is because I draw an awesome average out of my car. Anyone sitting with me feels comfortable, and no one has ever complained that I drive rash. I have driven on highways (1000 kms at a stretch), crowded cities with no civic sense and metros alike. I don’t honk unnecessarily. I know my vehicle, and understand the technicalities as well as anyone. And I have been told I drive like a MAN (Yeah right!).
Moreover, thankfully, in all these years of driving along inter and intra cities (be it Jaisalmer, Pathankot, Gurgaon, Pushkar or Vaishno Devi- just name it!) I’ve had just ONE accident (a knock on the wood).
God has been kind!
So yeah, next time you see a woman driving, don’t underestimate her. She might as well be better than you!
This driving dairy has been narrated by Aashima Choudhary to JaipurCityPost as part of our series To Be A Lady Driver in Jaipur.