Now I am a proud owner of a four-wheeler driving license. It has not been easy. If you remember I had started taking driving lessons way back in March 2006 A.D.
Today morning I got up at 4.30 a.m. and took bath – I never miss bathing on big days. By 5.00 a.m. Rekha and I were having tea even as we deliberated on how to tackle the Regional Traffic Officer (I hope that`s what RTO means….I would be damned if RTO meant ‘Rarely Tolerable Officer`) of Kottivakkam, Chennai.
Even as Rekha and I sat on our bean bags and sipped at the tea, massive preparations were going on in our respective houses in Kannur, Kerala and Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
In Kerala, Rekha`s father was serving tea to hundreds of devotees who throng the Annalakshmi temple early in the morning. He also planned to provide free lunch to all those who landed at the temple. But I wonder if he continued as planned after I called him up well before lunch time and said that I had got the license.
Meanwhile, my family members in Madurai were sacrificing a goat at the big Ayyanar temple near my house. Ayyanar is the lord who is supposed to protect the village/town/city from evil intruders. Though, I am yet to know what Ayyanar was doing when a dreaded terrorist entered Madurai in the guise of a potter.
Even as the two families prayed, I bade farewell to my wife – Rekha. She insisted that she take an aarti which was followed by scenes of hugging and wishing luck. For a moment I thought I was Adolf Hitler embarking on a “Take-on-the-world” mission.
As I walked out of the house at 7.00 a.m., I called up the driver I had ‘charted` for the assignment.
I know we can chart only airplanes, busses, trains etc…and not drivers. I say ‘charted` for a reason – whenever I tried to reach my driver over the phone he said: “I am in a meeting can you call me later.” Whenever I went to the driver`s house, his secretary (who works out of his home) would say he wasn`t in yet. After many futile attempts, I decided to leave a message for him.
Since he had been driving for me for the last two months, I knew that he couldn`t see small objects like bicycles, cars, vans etc…and that`s why I decided to make sure that he read the message I left for him. I bought a ‘chart` and a marker-pen and left a message outside his house. Now you understand ‘charted`, don`t you?
By 8 a.m. we were right in front of the RTO office. I wonder if the RTOs have any office timings. Do they have time-sheets to fill at the end of the day? This dude walked in at 11 a.m. (and we had been waiting there since 8.00 a.m. practicing the moves).
My driving school instructor – the man I respected so much – was stripped naked by RTO for silly things. The authority our instructor showed on us during the classes was not to be seen here. He was as meek before the RTO as I was before him when I had pulled up the car`s hand brake instead of changing gears.
After acting like a dolphin for five minutes (I was following the RTO`s orders while driving) the RTO asked me to stop the vehicle. I got out and looked at his expression. Did I pass? The smirk slowly turned into a smile…and I knew I had the license to kill. Phew!
When I called up my mother at 1 p.m. to tell her, she said: “Can you call back in 20 minutes…we are all having lunch. Guess what -the goat we sacrificed in the morning is tasty!”