smittenbyu: (Sketch)
I drove in rain, snow and sleet today. Or was it also freezing rain? Friend and I couldn't figure out what the difference between freezing rain and sleet were? She is from Mumbai and I am from Hyderabad where average temperature year round wavers around 80-90F, daily. So, this is like the story about Alaskan Inuit people having like 50+ variations of describing snow.

Well, whatever the difference, I know I am petrified and afraid of driving in it. But there I was, at my friend's home after a sleepover and snow was coming down. They weren't anticipating much snow. But they were anticipating sleet & freezing rain. And I had 22 miles facing us before getting home through the beltway and I66. The beltway is horribly unpredictable. Although, I shouldn't complain. I think I get more nervous, because I don't drive on it frequently enough. Ok, I don't drive frequently period.

Anyway, as I was heading back, the snow turned to sleet or freezing rain or whatever. And there on the highway I saw the postal service golf cart truck chugging along, faster than me (mind you, I was going the speed limit)! It was strange to see one on the highway and stranger still to see it on the beltway on a Sunday. Suddenly I was wondering if my calendar was all wrong.

But that truck gave me the confidence boost I needed and I relaxed my arms and chugged along home. We did leave before the "storm" moved south towards us. But got home just in time. The highways were fine. Our driveway was like an ice skating rink. D of course, thought it was great fun!

But hey, this season, I drove in snow, sleet & freezing rain! ;)
smittenbyu: (Default)
December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake)

My future self's advice to me today - "Enjoy every moment being with Divya. Once she starts school and you will be working, life will be very different. Things will change, life will move on, baby will grow up, and you will change. Go with the flow and then find a way to contribute further."

A note to myself 10 years ago? "Broaden your horizons and look further - for a job!"

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)

Isn't it funny that I am a day late in posting this one up?! So, no I wasn't avoiding this prompt, life happened and the internet was temporarily forgotten. I never thought that could be possible!

But this is an easy one, a touchy one at home, a silly one but a big one nonetheless! My driving a manual transmission car - or more not driving one! I have yet to get my full license here and what's stopping me? My unwarranted fear of driving a manual car. I have learnt in one and drove it albeit only up to the point of needing to in crazy Kuala Lumpur traffic in the heart/main artery of the city and then I never looked back!

I like a manual drive but I have become so afraid of it. Cars here are so darned big and so much more powerful. We have an old but a great car. I feel like I am driving a tank (although I am not sure how I would know that since I never put foot in a tanker! Here's an idea - try a tanker and then this nissan altima will feel like a Kancil that I learnt in!!). I can just about reach the pedals and sitting on cushions and all that don't help much. I have a ton of more excuses I could write up here but I do hope that I do manage to overcome it in 2011. Although, where we live, we don't really need to drive (our car is more of a weekend car).

However, having that full license for just-in-case situations is important and at some point I will have to succumb to becoming baby's chauffeur in a country that caters to car-people.
smittenbyu: (pissed)
The library is just down the street and accross from where we live. I have enjoyed this luxury for almost three years now. As my belly grew I felt more and more discouraged to go. Why?! It used to take 2-3 minutes to cross, as I would dash across the street. As my belly grew I could no longer dash and now it takes me 10-15 minutes to cross. There is no traffic light. There is the ever friendly zebra crossing. But not a single car stops when they see pedestrians awaiting. We pretty much have to wait for a car coming from the other side to turn into the library parking to find a gap to go.

When a generous soul behind the wheel does stop, we can hear the car behind honking.

What exactly is the hurry? Why can't cars stop? My hubby is guilty of this too. I scold and chastise him. I remind him that's it the law to stop. He argues that it's not. A week ago, the city/county put up a bright yellow sign in the middle of the road and by either side of the crosswalk as a reminder to drivers to stop for pedestrians, IT'S THE LAW! Not that it helped much.

Next time you see someone waiting to cross at a crosswalk, please stop!

That's my PSA for today!
smittenbyu: (distraught)
A long long time ago, after a visit to Hyderabad I had observed how they needed a traffic policeman/woman standing under the working traffic light to direct traffic flow. I had never seen that anywhere else until now. The nation's capital needs such traffic police during rush hours. You will find frustrated traffic cops standing at the middle of the intersection directing traffic as the light turns red/green. One might think how effective can they be? Oh one look (glare, really) from the traffic cop will bring any bus, car, bike to a dead stop. You don't mess with the cops here! ;)

Which also brings back to the frustration that the drivers in DC are just plain rude and impatient. So many cars honk. Often times unnecessarily. As the car awaits for the pedestrian to cross before they turn right while the light is green for the pedestrian, the car behind (usually a cab driver) will honk at the car!! grrr... There are different types of drivers in DC leading up to the reason for the horrendous driving:

  • First group are the DC-ers who have put themselves on a pedestal and self-proclaimed important people and own the road. After all the residents are taxed without much representation in Congress. Humility is not seen as a virtue in this city. And their driving is reflected in this attitude.

  • Then there are those who just are tired of the whole city coming to a standstill when the President wants to go grab a burger at Five Guys or some Chili at the famous Ben's Chili Bowl. Although, I doubt he goes on these trips as often as people think he does (after all that Chili run was back in Jan and the burger was back in May). But usually that's the first reason people think of when there's a traffic jam.

  • Then there are the tourists who get lost in the maze of one-ways in the city and are terrified of getting lost in the city's "ghettos". DC has just recently come out of their reputation of having the most number of crimes in the country.

  • Then there are the locals who are annoyed at the tourists navigating the roads and the pedestrians who think the light is forever-green for them to cross at whatever and whichever intersection.

  • Then there are the drivers who get stuck behind a car cruising at walking speed looking for parking!

These are just some of the reasons N & I don't drive into DC. We even advice our visiting friends not to. But many just ignore our advice and usually remark something to the effect of "we have driven in India, this is no big deal" or "we are in the US it can never get that bad except for maybe NYC and LA" kind of talk. Afterall DC is not that big. No, it's not that big but we do get a ton of visitors every day! Ah well, they learn the hard way!

And these days the Metro has been no better. On Saturday I spent nearly 3.5 hours of the day time on the metro commuting! It should have been an hour and half total for the commute, even on a weekend! sigh....
smittenbyu: (Default)
Recently in the local news we have had a lot of incidents of bus/metro riders of photographing/video recording of drivers reading, texting on the phone. The driver who was texting was fired. The one caught reading is not fired but not driving. I wonder if we should also start taking pictures of drivers in cars doing all of the above and more and telecasting on the local news. I'd imagine it would take all day. The argument that is more serious because of the many lives that the the driver has in his/her hands, literally. But does that make yours or my life less worthy as we are driving a car on the road?!
smittenbyu: (Default)
oh it just feels like yesterday I was wishing for the rains to go away and already the week has passed us by! D.C. has welcomed us back with severe thunderstorms! At least it gave us a break while we were in air! phew!

We had a fabulous time in Miami/Miami Beach & Key West! So much so I forgot all about the poor astronauts that were stuck up in space because of poor weather in South Florida. Well, the storms kept threatening but they never really came in full force. The sun shone upon us while we were at Miami Beach and Key West! So, did the astronauts make it back?!

So much has happened! Obama has picked a judge, North Korea is on a testing spree, the world is still a mess and sadly Jay Leno is wishing the late night show viewers a farewell (only to be moving to primetime)! I am staying up to watch! Leno has kept me entertained through my college years while I was dragging through certain subjects! I wasn't a big fan of Conan O'Brian but recently he seemed a bit funny!

The highlight of course was that I DROVE!!! It felt so wonderful! I didn't hit anyone or anything. I did hug the right quite a bit and might have run a few cars off the streets, but seems that's a Miami thing as well, so I fit right in. I ran up a curb in the parking lot at the entrance - my first in four years of driving! My hands occasionally did reach for the gear stick with my left hand (only when I had to reverse, park or put it into Drive gear - as it was an automatic transmission), and once I did drive on the left side of the road and wondered why that moron was heading towards me! But all in all I drove 400 miles - amidst hundreds of tourists who make very inconsiderate pedestrians, half-buzzed drivers, narrow lanes, wide highways/freeways, small towns and big city!

I was not so keen on seeing Miami. The image that it portrays was not something that attracted me! But after going this once, it's definitely a place I would go back to! I also do want to make it out to the Everglades!

Miami Intn'l airport has that new x-ray type scanning gadget thing that the TSA is testing out. Of course, for those who don't want to try it out can go through the regular metal detector. It was a bit creepy to step in but didn't feel violated or anything as some opponents claimed. Of course, I chose a beautiful top with a whole bunch of steel decorative pieces around my chest area that needed a padding down in front of everyone! fun times! 

Anyhow, after nearly a week in the sun, am enjoying the cool weather that the rain is bringing now! Hope everyone is well! Catch up with you in the next few days!
smittenbyu: ("two of us")
We found a big parking lot with a handful of cars parked. And there I sat in front of the steering wheel, foot on the darned clutch, relearning to drive, with husband sitting next to me. Back in 2003, sis and I had celebrated the end of driving a gearshift (there it was a legal requirement to learn on one) and enjoyed the many years driving on auto drive. I do like the stick shift but there are moments I despise it. That darned clutch. And with my height handicap, it makes it even harder here.

But we spent an hour driving about in circles, up and down, crawling up and down, reversing back and making 3-point turns. I stalled a bunch of times. I think I stalled more times today than I did in my first time learning it. I was overly cautious hitting the gas pedal. Sometimes learning something new is so much easier than relearning something, which also happened to be not your favorite pastime.

The parking lot also had its slopes going up and sloping down. sigh. Darn hubby's love for a shift-stick car. sigh. :P


Jun. 6th, 2008 09:21 am
smittenbyu: (B&W)
Some people ask me if I drive. I say yes. Some people ask me do I drive when I go home. Once I establish they mean India, my answer is no, with a look of "are you mad?" Kuala Lumpur was crazy enough. In fact it was the driving abilities of Indian driving that gave me the courage and guts to drive on KL roads. It didn't seem half as bad. Occasionally here, well, at least once every half hour I find myself cursing at another driver, although it's my husband who is doing the driving. Why don't I drive here? Our car is a manual (which is okay), and it's built for taller people. It means sitting with the steering thinga-majic constantly prodding at my shin and feeling my elbows forever locked in, having to put all my strength to push down the clutch as my legs are not long enough, and with my head barely bobbling over the actual wheel. I really am not THAT short, dammit. sigh.

But in case you wish to drive on the roads of India, anywhere in India, here are a few tips from an unknown writer who so kindly took the time to write it up and is now floating around the cyberworld.

Driving in Bangalore / India
For the benefit of every Tom, Dick and Harry visiting India and daring to drive on Indian roads, I am offering a few hints for survival. They are applicable to every place in India except Bihar, where life outside a vehicle is only marginally safer..

Indian road rules broadly operate within the domain of karma where you do your best, and leave the results to your insurance company.The hints are as follows: Do we drive on the left or right of road? The answer is 'both'. Basically you start on the left of the road, unless it is occupied. In that case, go to the right, unless that is also occupied. Then proceed by occupying the next available gap, as in chess. Just trust your instincts, ascertain the direction, and proceed. Adherence to road rules leads to much misery and occasional fatality. Most drivers don't drive, but just aim their vehicles in the generally intended direction.

Don't you get discouraged or underestimate yourself except for a belief in reincarnation; the other drivers are not in any better position. Don't stop at pedestrian crossings just because some fool wants to cross the road. You may do so only if you enjoy being bumped in the back.

Pedestrians have been strictly instructed to cross only when traffic is moving slowly or has come to a dead stop because some minister is in town. Still some idiot may try to wade across, but then, let us not talk ill of the dead.

Blowing your horn is not a sign of protest as in some countries. We horn to express joy, resentment, frustration, romance and bare lust (two brisk blasts), or just mobilize a dozing cow in the middle of the bazaar. Keep informative books in the glove compartment. You may read them during traffic jams, while awaiting the chief minister's motorcade, or waiting for the rainwater to recede when over ground traffic meets underground drainage.

Occasionally you might see what looks like a UFO with blinking colored lights and weird sounds emanating from within. This is an illuminated bus, full of happy pilgrims singing bhajans. These pilgrims go at breakneck speed, seeking contact with the Almighty, often meeting with success.

Read more... )

It's sad actually but then when you feel helpless to change it, you laugh. I do hope that in time it does change for the sake of people's lives. I laugh for now.
smittenbyu: (Default)
I drove today to meet up with two of the managers from office to have our dinner together all the way to TheCurve (shopping mall) and back without getting lost!! Oh if only sis was there to experience it!

6June marked 4 years in KL. I have been driving about 3 years and 10 months of the time. Sister has accompanied me mostly as the passenger & guide for the times we drove to new places and have in turn explored great many areas of the KL & beyond unintentionally.

Tonight (well, Thursday night) I felt so happy that I finally got it right. It is but only about 15km away (which took about an hour and half to get to during peak hours, & 20 minutes to get back when the roads are near empty). It felt like some milestone reached.

People criticise Samy Vellu (the Roads guy) for many things, rightfully so. But I have found many times thanking him for putting up at least good signages to bring me back home safe and sound. No matter I am always at the edge of my seat. But once I see the towers, I relax a bit more. It has been such a wonderful guiding tower, I even captured it the other day when I was riding as a passenger the other day for a keepsake!



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