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What I Am Up To These Days

The thing I really like these days is FM radio I listen to when I drive around. They play such good songs. And new songs always keep coming. I really need them because the driving around can be a lot. Whoa!, you might say. From fear of driving to driving around a lot? I am carried away because of the newfound freedom (which means ability to drive + ownership of a credit card + new friends). I have literally been painting the town red driving here-n-there to shop, window shop, meet friends, pick up medicines or even visit the doctor. It’s an opportunity to dress up, go out, meet people, talk to someone and explore new roads. I am no longer afraid of new freeways, one-way roads or long distances. I tune the radio to a good, latest song and drive on. 15 miles or 25, they turn out to be fun. There are days when I drive as much as 60 miles a day.

Time is flying. It’s been 2 months since my semester at college ended. Where did these 2 months go? Most probably on the road and in stores! After my obsession with home decoration slowed down, the kick of meeting and making new friends seeped in. I started meeting classmates, fellow bloggers and realized I was still social. Why, I thought so many months of solitude and self-centeredness would have made me a complete recluse. But no, I found myself getting along well with several and we met more than once. Because of them, I saw new places, came to know of new stores and restaurants and soon, I start telling At about new stores I discovered and bring good deals home.

Life seems more and more complete and busy each day. Such that I die for some breathing time. Such that I put my hands up one day, flustered, and tell At to just take the car away so that I do not go out at least on one day of the week.

When I am not loitering around, I cook, clean the house, organize stuff, search Pinterest for home decor ideas, laze around, admire my little balcony garden and listen to music. Basically, am turning into a complete homemaker which is bothering At a lot. So you did nothing again today. I haven’t seen you touch your books since your college has ended. Why are you wasting your time and talent like this?

He is right. The shine of shopping on my own (even if it’s plain grocery shopping), meeting new people and looking at a clean, organized house is growing fainter each day. Every day, after the little routine of making breakfast, cleaning up and admiring the balcony garden is done, I feel aimless. I have nothing to do!

In the evenings, after At is back, we take a long walk around the golf course in our neighbourhood, watch Law & Order: Criminal Intent or some hindi movie and have a gala meal (cooked by me of course!).

Weekends are always busy. Eating out, major shopping, social visits and some more shopping.

Today, we have had a great breakfast of Egg Fry & Chicken-Cheese-Spinach sausage, followed by a visit to the flea market that had great music and food and finally, hot simple lunch at home while watching Law & Order.

I wish life was always so easy.

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Driving Towards Freedom

One of the biggest pain points for me here has been driving. Back in January, in a bout of frustration of not being able to move around on my own, I compelled At to let me drive his car. Of course, the rules unnerved me but I wanted to give it a try. Handling the car or the city roads wasn’t difficult. I was confident until I went to the freeway (yes, on Day 1). I freaked out. I didn’t know what I was doing. I would press the brake on the fast track freeway in a moment of panic and At would yell – DO NOT BRAKE ON THE FREEWAY. The speed totally unnerved me. I wouldn’t go beyond 40 mph and At would panic again – SPEED! SPEED! Changing lanes was a nightmare. I confused people, I drove between lanes and people honked behind me. Someone must have showed me the finger too.

I gave up.

At pestered me again to start driving. Less confident this time, I tried again. Sometimes I sailed and was happy. Ah. Of course I could do it. I will start driving here in no time. Until some giant sized truck would threaten me from behind or the speeding cars would freak me out again.

I started avoiding driving. One whole month of April went without me sitting behind the wheel.

My cousin came for a week in May and I either took her around in buses or waited for At to take us around. I hated myself for being so scared and unsure of my own abilities. Why, I had heard of girls beginning to drive here within days of arrival!

I was used to be a good driver. Back in India, I was admired for my driving skills. You drive better than a man. And here I was so unconfident.

Then one day, after too much chewing over, I gave it a try again and I was good. I attacked this ‘issue’ with vigour and felt so good about myself.

Such that one day At, tired of being the only driver, asked me to take the car on my own to college. And I agreed. Not that I was totally confident. Nope. I was just tired of being so unsure and doubtful. I was tired of being a burden. I had had enough of friends and classmates dropping me off here and there. I was tired of being so dependant.

I did take the car alone to college. I did well. And I was miraculously good at sewing that day. See how a little confidence boost can do wonders to a person’s entire morale!

Having done well on college-home route, I needed to move on. The whole continent moves on GPS. I had to fall in line too. And thus began my rendezvous with unknown roads. I used GPS to travel to newer places, At suddenly freed of half the responsibilities – grocery store, doctor visits, entertaining guests – I could do it all on my own now.

My whole feeling changed! I felt empowered. Everything looked more beautiful now. I was no longer a stranger; I finally belong here! I hold a space of land and road here; I am something here.

And yet again, I am a good driver.

So confident was I (and At), that I went to my final driving test alone. Despite all the anxiety, I was so sure I would clear. What I did not realize was, I totally missed the window of doubt. Even after a smooth 15 minutes ride in my car, the stone faced examiner said try again next time. He left the evaluation sheet on the passenger seat and left. I was speechless. What just happened? Unsatisfactory, I saw ticked on the sheet. Nooo, is this for real??

They failed me! I wailed over phone to At. That’s okay, its common here, he said.

No! It cannot happen with me! I was (err… am) a good driver!

I brooded. Complained to all my friends. I bit my pride and told them I had failed.

But unlike earlier, this brooding didn’t last long. After a couple of hours, I was back to normal, doing other things. Yet another ‘down’ of the various ‘ups and downs’ here. This will pass too.

Like M very nicely put – the good thing about bad times is that they change.