April 30, 2004
How I learned driving.
I was in Japan in the summer of 2003 after which I traveled to the US to appear for my PhD qualifying exam. So in winter 2003 I was in Virginia where I learned driving a car. In the summer somebody had tried to train me a few tricks in driving the car and in just a couple days I was already great with making swashbuckling turns. The other skills like keeping the car in line and having good control were not so much mastered. It was just a few hours of driving.
When I reached Virginia I decided to hire a professional trainer from a driving school. I called up the EZ training in Christians-burg after some deals of research. Some Mr Gerlind was the trainer and we fixed a deal. He would train me for 2 hrs everyday at $50 an hour. He would pick me up from my house and bring me back where he would take me from. He would train me for 5 days and on the day of the exam he would take me to a nearby DMV and let me take the test in his car without any extra charge. We struck a deal.
So Gerlind showed up at my house in Foxridge in Blacksburg where I was staying for a semester or two. It would be 6 or 7 in the morning. He would call me immediately before he reached the Food Lion right by the entrance of the housing. And I would have the check ready for him. He would take me to under a bridge a few miles from my house. Now, in 2010 or so, I realize that was the bridge under the VA 460 bypass, near Terrace View apartments. Back then I had no idea of the USA highway system and any highways of Blacksburg. It was always the great Blacksburg Transit and the beautiful campus of Virginia Tech. Life was all Neon, Burgers and American Culture of which I am truly a fan of even in 2010.
From under that bridge he would took me a different place , every other day. The first day it was towards Pearsiburg if I remember correctly. Then it was to Pulaski, another day to a rural area through Radford and so on. His plan was to give me a different experience every other day in and around the city of Blackburg. And then on the last day he took me to Christians-burg where he made me practice on the snow. He would try to make me practice every other way possible, like there were any tricks there. But I would relent. I needed to know what to expect on the test day as the test would be held on the Christians-burg city. He would take me right by the DMV to get a feel and tell me look this is the tree where the examiner will ask you to take a right turn. Ok now take a left turn her , drive slow, and so on. He was the perfect trainer. God right now in 2010 I am flashing him in my head, each one of his training.
So on the very first day he took me to the bridge @ Terrace view and tell me, which is which, left turn, gas, break, cruise control and so on. It was an oldish Ford contour. I had no idea how to drive anywhere and I am on the highway. All I knew from my few driving hours in Japan was how to push gas and turn the wheel impressively on a left or a right turn. And he says he has a control for the break. And that’s it. No prior practice for what means what in a car and a little drive around your neighborhood. Right onto the highway. And here I am, onto 60 miles an hour and the rest is history.
Everyday I would drive for 2 hours including the time he would take to have his lunch in a Mac Donald’s or Burger King. Now I had my eyes on my watch and I wanted to ad an extra half an hour to my driving since that’s how long we would usually take to have our lunch. I told look Gerlind I am going to take 2 hours to drive and no less. I can skip my lunch. If I drive less I will pay less. So he would be like don’t worry about the money, I don’t care about money. I give very good training and I want you to take our license with you to Japan. So it was a great learning experience. He would tell me everything. How to pass a bridge, how to read the signs, how fast to drive, every detail, while I would be driving. And I made mistakes, and he wouldn’t mind to correct it. If I make a bad bad mistake he would be like Mr Dash did u get a death wish today. I think that phrase he used twice. This one time when i finished the driving session and was returning home, I snapped and we were out of the highway into the deep land near the end of the road. It was near the signal near the Tech Lane stadium, where one goes towards Christiansburg. But by that time I was really mastering the skills but definitely not up-to the mark, and was lacking confidence. The 3rd day of the school he took me over a roller coaster. It was hilarious and yet dangerous how he asked me to keep pushing the gas, but I was great with it all. So after mastering everything he thought I should know I was ready for a driving test. And pretty soon I mastered all the information about all the rules and laws of driving in Virginia and passed the learners test in one go.
one fine day he took me driving for one hour made me practice near the DMV in Christians burg and then signed me up for the test. The test went really well except for a few hiccups and the mishap I narrated in the only other driving story I have. There I went. I failed the test and was disappointed. I was waiting to go back to Japan after taking my PhD preliminary exam. So I could not see how I would take the test again before I live. I prepared for my qualifying and passed the exam. thank God I didn’t fail this one, but I was prepared enough. But it was decided that I stay back at Tech this semester and brush up my Physics and research for the semester instead of going back to Japan. Whatever brushing up with Physics I really needed. But in 2010 I think, every now and then if you do not brush up your Physics a bit, its not a good idea to take up a career in Physics. Physics sucks anyway, big time. With this change of plan I stayed back in Blacksburg and accidentally met Gerlind in the Newman Library where I was studying. So we struck another deal at 75 % of his earlier charge.
We again followed the same pattern of driving except this time I was staying in a different place. He would pick me up from Terrace View and this one time when I was driving I saw my thesis adviser filling gas in his car near a 7, 11. I knew it was him, he was wearing a white T, shirt. That was my first inspiration to buy a white T, shirt for myself.
This time just before the test Gerlind took a picture of me with his new mobile. I didn’t have a mobile yet in 2004. I had a laptop though which I purchased in 2002. It helped having one. So he took my picture and later sent this t my email. He said me last wishes, telling me how much he wishes I get the license this time. And he said I will this time, he bets. So I went for the test and got my license.