Sleeping while driving is sort of a family trait. My dad had a near-fatal accident once escaping thankfully with a broken jaw and my brother had a near-miss when he awoke after hearing his cell phone ring. I have had a few close calls but nothing drastic. I rather play it safe than act all macho. Yesterday, we spent nearly three hours in the traffic while going from Panvel to Borivali for a wedding; one of the thousands scheduled on Christmas; yog changla aahe (it is an auspicious time) was the excuse. It was almost as if two religions had collaborated on the auspicious time. Anyway, we simply couldn’t go to our next appointment at Dadar since it was already 10:30 before we decided to leave. Now, my dad has a habit more so in recent times of falling asleep around 11:30-12:00 no matter what he is doing. Knowing this, my aunt asked us to stay over at her place and drive back at night.
Now, this wasn’t the time for my dad to act all brave and macho but unfortunately for us, he did and decided to drive back home. The Western Express was caught up in a gridlock and it was already midnight as we drove through Thane. Now you know that he is feeling sleepy when he is generally quiet or not yapping away on his cell but for once, I was on the alert on the passenger seat. Somewhere around DAKC complex, our car started to veer toward the left and headed straight for the roadside gutter. I shouted out to my dad and grabbed the wheel turning it toward the right. He suddenly snapped out and regained control. I was furious at him but nevertheless thought it to be futile to argue right now since also I was half-asleep. He asked me if I wanted to drive the rest of the way.
Now, so far I had avoided driving here because honestly being away from Indian driving for such a long time had made me paranoid and to top that, my dad’s driving hadn’t inspired much confidence. Now, this is an NRI-trait but honestly ask anyone who has returned after a long time and it is but natural to feel that way. But I would have me kill myself rather than someone else do it. I wasn’t sure if I could handle the stick-shift anymore but thankfully, it came back as soon as I took the wheel. On the smooth stretches of the road, it felt great driving after a long time but the glare of the oncoming headlights and the constant honking for no apparent reasons was getting on my nerves.
We finally made it home safe and sound. I could hear my mom breathe a sigh of relief as soon as we pulled into our garage. I was just happy that I was still alive and glad that driving in India came back to me quicker than I thought it would. But that doesn’t mean I am comfortable driving with people milling around. I might just brush one of them and risk getting thrashed in the middle of the road. No thank you; I rather act as a snobbish NRI (people paint you thus anyway) and maintain my sanity.