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Learning How to Drive in Delhi

April 17, 2010

How I wish I had learned to drive stick shift.  It would have made this next step so much easier.

If I want to feel at home in Delhi, then I need to learn how to drive.  It ensures that I’ll be able to get around on my own without having to rely on a driver, or my fiance and his family.  Yeah, I could take auto-rickshaws everywhere (which, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind all that much.  I find the rides pretty exhilarating!) but there are some places where it just wouldn’t be appropriate to putter up to the entrance in one of the beat-up little carts and then proceed to haggle with the driver over ten rupees.  Plus, I feel like learning to drive is an important step in becoming a true Dilli-walla.

While I was in Delhi this past winter for my engagement ceremony, my fiance tried to give me a few driving lessons in his Gypsy. (Kind of like the Indian version of a Jeep – See photo below)

My fiance's other darling - his Gypsy

Now, keeping in mind that I’m an American driver, there were a few new things I had to get used to.  Adjusting to sitting on the other side of the car and driving on the other side of the road wasn’t too difficult.  But add learning to drive a manual vehicle to that mix.  Too much.  I couldn’t do it.  My fiance, patient man that he is, waited through a handful of my tantrums, including one where I told him there were too many people on the road. (Well, duh.  It’s India.  Not much that can be done about that.)

After five or six driving lessons I called it quits, and for the rest of my three week stay in India, left the driving to him.  I can say, though, that I returned to the U.S. in a better place than where I started.  I can now start the Gypsy on my own (usually) and can even switch gears!  I can only hope that since my last Indian driving lesson three months ago, the knowledge has had some time to marinate, and that I haven’t forgotten everything.  We’ll see what happens when I enter Phase 2 of my driving lessons….

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