My driving back ground:
Driving is a thrill for me. It makes me feel as if I’m having my ‘me time.’ I love being the boss with the steering wheel in my hands! my first car was bought (yes, a Suzuki Mehran of course) from my first savings. (What else can you expect from a teacher and writer?) My husband felt it wasn’t needed as I used to drive our car, while he drove the official car.
My experience of driving all over Pakistan, has been for over thirty five years, by now. So, I’m qualified to write this post. I’ve driven in most cities, in most conditions, (that includes with small children too,) so I’ve gone through villages, highways, busy roads, and good roads. (Also through storms and floods!)
My husband taught me how to drive the manual gear car while we were still ‘engaged’, (that is the best time to learn!) Afterwards, I’ve driven the automatic car for many years. Now, suddenly, I felt like driving the manual gear car again. So, that’s what I’ve got these days.)
My father was an excellent driver and so was my husband. Watching them, it was natural for me to love it too.
Here are my rules for driving:
I’ve wanted to be a good driver always. Getting compliments from my father and others means a lot to me. I believe, it is quite an art.
Before you start regular driving:
You see, it is important to be confident, and that can only be if you have done your ‘home work’. The ability to concentrate on the driving can only take place if one is in a good state of mind. So do be clear about the following points:
Have a driving license.
Pay the tax on time.
Have a good mechanic on call.
Learn how to change a tire.
Also learn how to check the oil, and if it needs changing.
When you like to drive, you take the responsibilities too; so be prepared to get car serviced and the oil-change done by yourself. Do write the mileage to know about the next time. Do not let them tinker with the original mileage of the car.
I’ve got the repairs done myself whenever possible. (I’ve been spoiled hollow by my garage mechanics and engineers. Daniyal owner of a garage, and an auto engineer, takes my car, does it up, and drops it home.) I’ve written about his garage here, though now he has opened another one next to it.
As far as I’m concerned a good deck is a must. I can’t move without good music!
The rules I follow while driving
- Read the ‘safar ki dua’ or prayer of travel before starting.
- Check all the mirrors, and put on the seat belts. Make sure the passengers are properly strapped also, otherwise, refuse to move. You know, their safety is your responsibility.
- Specially, keep children at the back in a seat, properly strapped. (I followed this, even when it wasn’t compulsory in Pakistan. Why not follow rules of safety? I mean it is stupid!)
- After that, put on the music.
- Singing in the car is highly encouraged. 😉
- No tension talk.
- No problem-talk either. Relax! Enjoy the drive.
- Enjoy the view. (Stop looking at the gutters and garbage, look up at the sky, trees – and traffic of course.)
- I do give way, to those who deserve it. Even to those who don’t. You may be right. – But no need to be ‘dead right!’
- Always follow all traffic and safety rules.
Use of mobile phone & google map:
- It is best to have a system in the car where the phone call can be used on the screen. Have any hands free system. However, whenever you ‘answer’ a call, do tell the person that you are driving, so you keep it short.
- However, in the case of any important phone use, do stop your car on the side, and take the call if it can’t be avoided. Otherwise DO NOT USE THE PHONE. Nothing is more important than yours and others’ lives.
- No filming or photographs while driving. I have to confess it is very tempting. (I even got a shout from my daughter Nadiya for doing so!) She was right, so I’m never doing it again. No one has the right to put other’s lives in danger, or one’s own.
- Use a mobile stand: If you want to make videos while driving or use the google map then it is best to get a ‘mobile phone stand’ attached to your car’s dashboard, so you can easily do it.
Acts of kindness while driving:
- In case of a bad traffic jam, get out and help untangle traffic jams, instead of sitting and cursing the government!
- Yes, give a lift, to people carrying heavy packages. Especially old women or men. (I often watched my father do this.) Once, I gave a lift to a man who was obviously in great trouble during a bad storm.
- Offer to give a lift to people who are obviously in need. (Yet do remember it can be a fraud too!)Listen to your gut feelings.
- I also give sadqa, to a beggar if it is genuine. Otherwise, try to keep sweets or water or something to eat instead.
- Give way to a person stuck in middle of road trying to find a way out. (- But do not stop suddenly, of course.)
- Happily offer to pick or drop friends.
In case of accident:
Many people don’t drive because they are afraid of having an accident. Well, you can be in one, even if you aren’t driving! So, what will be, will be. But, if you do have an accident, follow these rules. Then get back to driving as soon as possible. Otherwise, you will never get out of this fear of driving again. Remember, setbacks are only opportunities to learn. Nothing else. Here were go:
- Generally speaking, you won’t have a problem. Many bystanders will be eager to help. You will find people going out of their way to help you. Occasionally, you will find a nasty creep. Then be prepared to handle such guys too.
- Be cool and try to handle it yourself. Call 15 police in all situations.
- Just drive off, if it is a small brush. Standing and arguing is pointless. After all, it is only your car that is damaged. It can be done up. There are people who do this on purpose to make you stop, then try to kidnap you or steal your car. So, it is best to drive off if you can.
- If someone else is hurt, take the person to a nearby chemist shop where they usually have first aid facilities. If more serious, do take to hospital.
- When the other car is damaged: Give number of your mechanic and offer to pay for any damages to your mechanic. (I’ve done it, it works.)
- If the person is misbehaving, be quiet. Once a guy took my car keys. So I went up to his car and took his, then came back and locked myself into my car to wait for the police to come. Yes, call the police at once. (Even if it was your fault.) Tell the police if you are to blame, but don’t take any nonsense from anyone. The crowd can be helpful.
- Call your husband/brother/ or friend when situation is getting out of hand.
Car repairs and maintenance:
- In the case when my car got damaged, I had the car repaired myself. Later on in the evening, I’d confess to my husband what had happened, then explain that all the repair work is already done, or in the process. He’d raise his eyebrows, in surprise.
- A time came when my mechanic was tried out by hubby dear, and he even liked him. (I had got to know of him through my friend Naila’s driver!)
- By now, I just sit in the back seat enjoying a cup of tea and reading while the work is getting done. Of course, I dress very appropriately, and am respectful. I find them very courteous. I also make sure to sit in crowded areas, not in some room inside. The bad weather is no issue. It really doesn’t matter.
So, driving is no big deal. Just be prepared to follow all security rules, and to rough it out when needed, and enjoy the drive! 🙂
Note: I’m sharing some pictures from my recent drive to the mountains. Last sunday, I suddenly felt like going for a drive, so I picked up my friend Naila, and we went to have a cup of tea on the expressway, near Murree. It was lovely. We came back fully rejuvenated. 🙂