When I was a senior in high school, I had a pretty jarring car accident. I was driving two friends home from school one day. While I was crossing a busy street, another car came zooming over a hill and hit my car. My car spun out and hit the curb. No one was seriously hurt, although I did bang my head pretty hard and have to go to the emergency room. Although everyone was okay, the car was totaled, and I developed a horrible fear of driving.
I should have started driving again shortly after the accident so that I could regain my confidence and squelch the fear of driving that I was developing. But I didn’t. Except for maybe once or twice, I don’t think I really drove for a year and half after that, and I haven’t really ever gotten used to driving in the five years since my accident. I guess I didn’t really need to. I was in college, didn’t have a car, and didn’t need one. When Tri got a car after graduating, he pushed me to drive, but I was still hesitant.
After we got to Kathmandu, we needed to buy a car to get to work in the mornings, so we got a Santro, a small Indian car. We talked about me learning to drive it, but no one ever pushed me to, and I wasn’t really interested.
It was easy and socially acceptable for Tri to be the sole driver. Many women in Nepal ride scooters and some ride motorbikes too, but it’s still unusual to see a woman driving a car. I really wish it weren’t so, and I think that if I had stayed in Nepal longer, or if we were planning to settle there more permanently, I would definitely have wanted to learn to drive. It’s important in emergencies and just convenient. However, it was very easy for me to slip into the passenger seat while Tri took the wheel. And because our car was a manual, and I don’t know how to drive a manual, I had even more of an excuse not to drive. BUT now that we’re back in the US, both Tri and I want me to start driving again.
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need a car. As you can see, I’m not too fond of them. But we’re realistic and know that life will be a lot harder without one. Unfortunately we couldn’t bring our car with us to the US…or maybe it wasn’t such an unfortunate thing. It didn’t even have airbags, and the only reason it got such good gas mileage was because, as Tri likes to say, “it was a metal box on wheels.” So with no Santro by our side, we bought a new car last week. Although it’s a better car in better condition than the one we bought in Nepal, it was still cheaper than the Santro (Nepali taxes make car super expensive over there).
I really like it so far. The only catch is…it’s a manual! which is one of the reasons why it was such a good deal. I’ve always had this idea in my head that I should learn to drive a manual, so I guess this is my big chance. No escaping the stick shift for me.