Part II – Taking the wheel and all else

Beyond thru pushing our limits!

Path breaking does not happen with fanfare. In my life at least it never has. I’ve felt I’ve had a path breaking moment or year or event after that moment has passed. One of the major reasons for staying grounded and humble because with anything that seemed ‘path-breaking’ then, had come out of sheer hard work and effort.

As I got to the eligible driving age as specified by the law in my country, my father took me to learn the nuances of driving in our dear ambassador car. Sitting in that driving seat seeing my father driving around the whole length & breadth of the country and having some extremely valuable & wonderful memories of our road trips, the feeling was empowering and thrilling at the same time. I realised the full meaning of feeling the responsibility of some family tradition as I settled into the driver’s seat with Dad beside me giving full throated instructions. But this wasn’t before a week of just changing gears as he drove on one less frequented traffic road. “First gear. Lift, take it to second and now shift it to the third.” And then came the day when I could drive myself. It was scary too. I remember my brother looking on with envious eyes as I was allowed to drive us all to the under construction Kalia Bhomora Bridge across the mighty Brahmaputra. The only second one of its kind to be made across the gigantic river.

Soon college happened too. Commuting to and fro to the institution at all the erratic college timings was a huge matter of concern. Getting me a new TVS Moped was the decided solution. I was to become mobile.

 It was a liberating thought.

The smart moped arrived and with a helmet firmly on my precious head, I started my daily commute to my college. Students in Assam then were fresh out of the Assam agitation and all thought of themselves to be important activists. I was defiant according to them on several patriarchal check list points. I wore jeans and salwar suits to college, when they had decided that their identity was from the sari or the Assamese traditional dress: Mekhla Chaddar. To top it up this girl came riding a moped, kicked back when misogynistic chaps pushed benches in front of her and protested to the college Principal about her attire.

My first taste at being different and treated in awe. When young girls there from similar courses or another college came up to meet me in person, to see and talk to me, it felt ecstatic. But when the goats on the rural roads stopped eating and lined up chewing their cud to see what it was that was passing by on two wheels with a globule around the head, the feeling of euphoria vanished away instantly. I also had neem chewing villagers out for their morning routine stop to stare, complete with their bottle of water dangling lifelessly from their not so shocked hand while the other with the neem twig froze midway between the teeth and the jaw dropping lips.

The TVS moped moment in the real sense.

Surreal like our hot air balloon ride, years ago in NZ!
Some experiences change one’s set perspectives and realign thinking like none else ever can – my days in the North-East brought in that vast sea-change of understanding about being there but not feeling a sense of belonging, of being remembered after being forgotten, of change escaping you completely…….of learnings of cultures which remain rich in preservation and sustenance!

The Hot Air balloon ride bought forth the enormity of our environment as against the almost insignificant existence of our being, yet the pride in thinking & regarding ourselves as superior.

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