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First experience of driving in the US - I

Well, the title does give the game away but I would like to indulge in a few flashback instances from my rather eventful existence on this planet before I get to narrating what the title indicates.

Now for the more curious among you lot, the theme of these glimpses into the past is my previous attempts at various forms of locomotion.

The story starts more than a good quarter of a century back in time when our family friends and well wishers were beginning to get accustomed to visiting our family abode and expressing their concern about my absolute lack of interest in extending my lower limbs into any semblance of a support structure for the rest of my body.

Many theories were in circulation regarding the same ranging from the arcane to the downright bizarre. Some thought I was born 15 years too early for the pulse polio vaccine while others wondered if it was some sort of rare nerve disorder which made me unable to exert any sort of control over my shapely and supple legs, if I may say so myself. Needless to say, the eternal fount of wisdom that my dearest mom is, there was an increasing support for her initial suspicion that all these conjecturing toms were way off the mark and the real reason for my utter lack of self-driven locomotion attempts was sheer laziness on my part.

It took a good year and a half after I made my grand opening appearance on earth before my desire to grab hold of anything colourful as well as to take a healthy bite off anything interesting, in quite a few instances both happened to be the same, resulted in me shedding my torpor and deciding to take matters in my own hands, rather my own legs.

That initial global crisis averted, the next major challenge to world peace started rearing it ugly head around 1992 when it became patently obvious that I was not going to take to the bicycle mode of transport, by then readily adopted and honed to a considerable degree of expertise by my peers, with any success whatsoever. While my friends and classmates would lord over the world while pedalling away furiously, I would be content with being ferried to the school on a shared rickshaw trolley and walking ridiculous distances whenever alternative forms of transport were not available.

Needless to say, when the situation did not show any signs of improving by early 1994, my immensely wise father decided to take things in his own rather capable hands. And quite literally so. One nice fuzzily warm February day, he picked me up and perched me on the bicycle seat, warned me to be careful of my teeth and then pushed me away. In the 3-4 seconds of eternity that elapsed between the push I felt in my back and the 'slam' I felt on my teeth and knees, I became quite convinced that I would never be able to get friendly and feel warm and cozy around self propelled locomotion devices without any inherent balancing mechanism.

If I had my way, there was no way I would ever allow my precious posterior to be planted on another triangular semi-soft piece of impotence-inducing torture device called a bicycle seat. However, not surprisingly, and as all of you know very well from your own personal childhood experiences, I did not have my way. Which means that I had to undergo some more of the frankly scary and seemingly life-threatening experiences of being pushed in the back, lurching around for a couple of seconds and then succumbing to a rather sudden affinity for mother earth, usually with rather detrimental effects to my physical appearance.

Well, to cut what is drifting into a rather long story short, I realised that each successive push was resulting in me somehow being able to lurch around like a veteran alcoholic for a microsecond longer and I reached a point where my frustration with the repeated injuries forced me to make some rather half-hearted attempts at counter-balancing to stay vertical for a little bit longer. To paint a better picture in your mind, just imagine somebody realled sloshed to their gills trying to avoid falling flat on the ground and navigating their way home on their own rather shaky two feet. Top up the guy with 10 more drinks and you have a picture of me on the bicycle.

Anyway, so after dozens of these experiences, I found I was able to pedal my way from home to school in the morning in one go without endangering my knees and also do the reverse trip in the afternoon with no damage. And so it was, that I was weaned from the rickshaw trolley to using the bicycle for going to school. A Close shave, but crisis averted.

to be continued...

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