Saturday, February 26, 2005

To be a girl, and to drive means..

I am supposed to be reviewing a book called “Political Economy of Under development” for my Economics assignment. I have read two pages of it, and the rest of my post isn’t about it. I just realise I have chosen the wrong time to start reading an economics book and before I could turn to the third page, I am already thinking of that irritating face that stared at me, as he zoomed past me on his bike yesterday. He was so disgusting!! And I suddenly feel this burning hate for him, that if I could stare back at him now, I would love to burn him down to ashes.

Sounds violent? May be. I don’t know if I echo a feministic attitude if I said that most guys driving on the road, can’t stand girls who drive confidently. (Well, not really trying to blow my own trumpet here, but its one of the things that I really feel confident about in life!). I reiterate, I said most guys, and there are exceptions. Let’s leave the exceptions aside. I drive a scooty pep and I simply love it (somehow gives me that independent feeling, can’t really explain!); So, the natural tendency is to drive at good speed and stay in the middle of the road.

I am not lying when I say that everyday that I drive down Mount road, I have at least one male chauvinist who can’t stand me going ahead. Yesterday, I met one such guy whose face I hate to recollect now. He kept honking from behind, so irritably and unnecessarily and me, I was in all moods for a fight that I refused to budge to useless fellows. I just drove ahead and this chap raced ahead of me, missing me by an inch. Had he swerved little bit, he would have gleefully dislodged me off my bike. And he just went ahead, turned and almost sneered at me, as though I was an insect who he could have squashed with his foot, if he wanted to.

“He-llll-oooo, Excuse me!”, I shouted back, appalled. Sadly, the vehicles on the road, and my big black helmet, shielded my voice and he was gone. And all the way back home, I wondered why vehicles needed horns; I mean they simply didn’t serve any useful purpose. They are terrorising tools used by men and when women use them, it simply didn’t make any sense. Times when I hear auto wallas or car drivers or two wheeler drivers go on honking, I would just feel like stopping my bike, getting down, walking up to the guy honking and just pulling off his vehicle’s god damned horn! Honestly, I haven’t seen people making judicious use of it.

Not just that. When you stand in a signal, by ill luck, in the front row of vehicles (missing the last round of signal unfortunately), you are gone for a toss. Even before the signal turns green, the vehicles behind you get so impatient and their horns blare with all the irritation. I have to forget respecting the signal, even if I wanted to, and just go ahead, else am doomed.

Main trouble makers. Auto rick drivers. They are unquestionable, masters of the roads. They would go on the left and suddenly move across the road to make a right turn, and if you happily assumed that they were just going left, you would head straight into hitting the back of the auto, missing it narrowly and screeching to a halt. Immediately he would put out his head, and point his hand at you, as if you did the biggest mistake by driving on a straight line.

Well, tough life! Not to mention those snakish looking new kind of buses, plying Chennai roads. Two buses linked by a vestibule(guess it's one), controlled by one driver sitting on the extreme right, he would never realise what devilish turn his bus takes when he starts from a bus stop. And these buses are really dangerous, because one can never predict the line in which they would move.

Yes, of course, there is the always existing size hierarchy and ego problem on Chennai roads. For a bus driver, a matador cannot cross his path, and for a matador, a sumo or sierra better give way. For a sumo, a maruti is trivial and you can’t obviously trail behind a maruti, if you drive a sumo, how could you? For a maruti owner, two wheelers better mind their own business and not come the maruti way. And for two wheelers, the cyclists are a real pain. Well, actually the cyclists are a pain to vehicles of all sorts because they just don’t feel they should obey traffic rules.

And how could I forget the fierce ego combat of two sexes? The male and the female. Females just can’t afford to be good. I admit that certain women who drive cars are lousy. Extremely lousy, that I hate them myself. But, most of them drive worse, because they feel intimidated by racing vehicles around. What is needed is some understanding, beyond regulating the traffic. Of course, traffic regulation is badly needed in Chennai. (something like Singaporean laws..I don’t really know how they are, elsewhere!).

I would also wish that some men didn’t generalise the entire women community to be bad drivers. There are good ones too. I always respect a good male driver on the road. Why can’t they?

Well, if I took a combination of size of the vehicle and the sex, the worst hit by that formula are the two wheeler female riders, assuming there aren’t women cyclists on Mount road ;). And, I fall in that category and that is why this post. Ah, a logical derivation to a social problem, ain’t I getting back to economics? I am conceptualising a problem..:)


JaganLee said...

First size of the vehicles: When it comes to Chennai roads, smaller the vehicle, the faster u can travel. Simply bcos of the fact that the roads are crowded.
Regarding the sex of driver, i think its an act to attract opp sex, and nothing else. Its a known fact, boys will do anything to attract a girls attention(and vice versa, but most of the girls dont accept it ;-))
BTW, I had seen some rash woman driver in chennai, whom were ruthless than men. Always used to wonder, how can they do it with a low-powerd scooty. :-)

piggy said...

What is this life if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare
No time to stand behind the signals
And stare as long as it changes to green.

No time to see, when roads we pass,
Where rules are violated in gross.
No time to hear and see, in broad daylight,
Screams of honks, and blinking headlights at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her scooty, how she can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich "Hello, Excuse me" her lips began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

MrGonSings said...

Piggy's poem is certainly a nice way of aprroaching this dilemma...
However, I still think that driving will be much of a sex confrontation problem for a lot of years...
Driving means conducting, and conducting takes us to the someone believing the role of having to be in charge of a situation... Whether we share this view or not, this has been a masculine role for eons (and hopefully it will change), so let us not be surprised if more than a man sends a despective glance (to put it mildly) to a girl in a motor-wheeled device (a privilege that, in its origin, remained "men only" for longer than we can now remember")...
It's a problem of primitive software still nesting in quite a few modern "caballeros"...
Good thing about time going by is that evolutions keeps moving its own way...
Let's not fall into despair.:)

Vani Viswanathan said...

oh my god..
do you remember those jobless, useless guys who were showing off when we were going to veer zaara?? boy, with such MCPs around, how can we be safe?? duh!

Chakra Sampath said...

Smaller the size of the vehicle, the better it is in one another pt of view as well... suppose, just suppose u meet with an accident.. nothing major.. just a lil fall or something...

u know what the road side samaritans wd do.. no matter who broke the rules or drove in a stupid way, the blame wd be on the bigger vehicle.. sort of rich vs poor kinda thing...

Our Chennai roads cd be taken up for lot of research..

Anupama Viswanathan said...

jaganlee, so u saw a rash woman driver..on a low powered scooty??Well, I really have to keep my eyes open I think..and girls have other ways of attracting men than just driving fast, I feel..Interesting arguments!! :)

Piggy, thoughtful!

mrgonsings, true enough, the ultimate point am trying to make is the gender divide that exists in the society and also wishfully hope that things would change..

Vani, can't recollect memory is certainly getting poorer...:(..or probably its really not worth remembering those guys!:)

Chakra, I really think accidents differ on a case to case basis..I feel that two wheelers are more exposed to trouble than people who sit inside fairly bulky vehicles..just a thought..:)

Twin-Gemini said...

Pretty hilarious incident. This is not a debate anyone is going to win :-)

Speeding past a dame to gain attention is not uncommon, but he should have done it a bit more gracefully ;-)

About the sizes of the vehicles - driving abilities and the drive matter most here, size doesnt make too much of a difference.

Tiffany said...

Well I definitely enjoyed your post. I was just drifting through websites and came across yours. In my own life I try to bean similar stereotypes, mostly in terms of my intelligence and education. I will be working in a research lab next fall that studies the effects stereotypes have on people. Should be interesting! Take care.

Trupti said...

This is again a well written post. But seriously, every small vehicle owner puts the blame on big vehicle owner. 2-wheeler drivers are in fact the worst! They try to push in through any small gap available on the road. There is no traffic control on our roads.

I certainly won't call you a feminist. You are just looking at the world sitting on your bike and telling the tales with your point of view.

I've an another point of view of female car drivers...

My mom drives a Maruti-800 for past several years. She is considered an amazing driver--this is a general opinion of observers in our town. And yet, I have seen her suffer just because she is a female driver. And you know why she suffers the worst? It's because she is driving in a country full of idiots who think that "women cannot drive". Mind you(!!), I am unbiased when i use the word idiots....coz that includes women.

You need to read better when you use that word, "feminist/feminism". You for sure aren't one. [And that's not necessarily good!]