I’m 17 years old now and it’s high time I started learning how to drive a car. So taking advantage of my so called “summer vacations”, I decided to shed my inhibitions and learn to drive the Maruti 800 which has been lying in our house like an age old antique instrument waiting to be sold. We hadn’t sold it till date so I could learn to drive. Since it is a small car, it is considered ideal for a starter. The following diagram illustrates the important parts of a Maruti 800. It may not be very neat but definitely gives you a basic idea.
As you can see, it is a little different from the cars usually sold outside India. Those have mostly automatic transmission which means a much simpler gearbox as compared to the Indian cars. We use the traditional gears in here because we’re supposed to be a poor country and we can’t afford automatic transmission and so the car manufacturers don’t make it. Did I tell you my neighbor has a BMW and a Honda CRV standing outside his house? And then they say we’re a poor country. Anyway, the most complicated part in driving a car is figuring out how to manage the gears, steering and everything at the same time. A Maruti 800 has 4 gears and a reverse and you can see how complicated they are from the diagram. Now, within 3 days, I’ve managed to learn the gears and drive at the 3rd gear. Haven’t dared to take the car into the 4th gear just yet. I’m being taught by my dad and I must say, he’s been a really patient chap. I’ve been trying to learn in the parking of a market which becomes a makeshift car training ground for the newbies. On the first day, I learnt only the gears and had to fix a flat tire the very first day. On the second day, dad made me sit at the driver’s seat and drive in the secluded market parking. I must say playing all those rash computer games helps! I managed to perfect turning and all yesterday. The gears were a disaster though. Today, i.e. the third day, I drove the car first in the parking and then in the streets. The traffic wasn’t very heavy but I did get the feel and I must confess, driving a car is a satisfying experience and speed is infectious. Dad had to stop me from going way fast and driving in a “Midtown Madness” style a couple of times. But mostly, I was way too scared myself to go very fast.
Here’s the major important points you have to keep in mind if you’re a newbie and driving an Indian car :-
• Press the accelerator as gently as possible.
• Always press the brake pedal with your right foot.
• You need to press the accelerator immediately after changing gears.
• Always use the clutch while shifting gears or else you’ll kill the car.
• Always release the clutch gently after changing gears.
• Use the horn at every turn and street when you’re new.
• Always press the clutch fully or you’ll destroy the clutch plates.
• Don’t brake too much, it kills the mileage
• Don’t change gears very often, it only complicates things.
Within the next 3 days, I plan to complete all my lessons and take the car on a ride alone. The major problems I need to overcome are :-
a) Learn to press the accelerator lightly.
b) Learn to press the accelerator immediately after changing gears.
c) Learn to stop the car without making it jump here and there.
d) Learn to change gears without looking at them.
e) Learn to shift gears more smoothly.
After 6 days, I’ll start driving the other car we have i.e. the Maruti Esteem Vxi. Now this one is a sedan and has a power steering and power brakes so it should be slightly easier manipulating this one around. At the same time it’s bigger so I’ll need to be more careful about the car’s butt. Also, it has 5 gears instead of 4 so that means more speed, more fun and unfortunately, more control on my instincts.
And after all these days of learning, I will fulfill my final ambition i.e. to be able to take the car to my tuitions and show off in front of the chicks!