The day was Monday. It marked the beginning of our fourth week of the iSTEP internship program here in the beautiful green city of Yelahanka, Bengaluru (yeayy! fourth week already… yes, we are almost there and six more weeks to go!).
We learnt from Ms. Muktha that our previous driver had left Mathru. Mathru used to have 2 drivers. One driver was responsible for transporting some students from the Mathru School of Blind to the Mathru Center for Differently-Abled (yes, that name is intentional!) while the other driver was responsible for bringing us from home to Mathru. Since the driver responsible for our transport had left, Mathru now had to solely rely on the driver who had to first drop the students to the new Mathru Differently-Abled School and then come all the way to pick us up from home and drop us at Mathru.
Monday was special. Ms. Muktha called us early in the morning to inform us that a new driver will pick us up. This time around, 5 of us (Madeleine, Vivek, Maddie, Poornima, and Aditya) had to get down at Mathru School of Blind and 2 of us (Avia & I) had to be dropped at the Mathru School for Differently-Abled. Our new driver was soft-spoken but his driving seemed to be not-that-soft (if you know what I mean… NO! Alright let me explain). Well, (a) he drove a bit faster than the previous drivers, (b) he honked a lot, (c) he attracted not-so-friendly stares from pedestrians and other motorists, (d) he was not familiar with the location for Mathru’s new school. I would not blame him though. This was his first day at work (I mean first morning at work). He must have been anxious (or may be trying his best to help us reach our workplace faster – anything is plausible!).
After dropping off 5 of us at the Mathru School of Blind, Avia and I were in to get a unique passenger experience. As soon as our driver reversed the van and was about to accelerate on the road (by the way, that road leading up to Mathru School of Blind is only meant for the passage of one-car at a time), we saw a medium-sized Government-truck taking a turn into the road and heading towards us. Guess what! Both drivers began honking and signaling “move out of the way”. Our driver did not move and so did the driver of the Government-truck. Our new driver began yelling. The Government-truck driver yet again drove his truck much closer to our van (thus showcasing his utter decisiveness in not caring to move out of the way). What happened then? Well, patience my dear reader! The Government-truck driver switched off his truck, opened the door of his truck, got-down of the vehicle, and headed towards us (To Avia and me, this seemed like a movie scene… ofcourse we were excited… hoping for a showdown may be). Meanwhile, our driver kept yelling. His voice (I mean the tone and the volume) decreased gradually as the truck driver approached us. I know for sure that in India (and may be in every other country), one must take care so as to not confront a Government-authorized personnel (or a Government representative). Things could get nasty sometimes. Hence, every situation can be tackled peacefully; we just need to keep our calm! (which at the moment, it seemed that our new driver had failed to keep).
The truck driver appeared reasonable (not-so-angry surprisingly), he simply apologized and said that all this was the result of a slight misunderstanding. He requested our van driver to move aside since it was easy for the van to move as it was also smaller in size than the medium-sized truck. Our van driver (as soft-spoken he is), moved away and let the truck pass.
Finally, we were on the roads heading to the new Mathru Center. Our new driver asked us whether we knew the way… (Sorry Sir! Its been three weeks since we last went there and moreover we have not really explored the city much (especially the place where the new Center is located)). We seemed to be going fast too. Avia also seemed a bit terrified as well. She had already clutched tightly the black plastic handlebars of the van throughout the way to the New Center. She must have not been used to it. I said to her, “Avia, Welcome to India!” She had this smile on her face – yes, a smile that was hard to figure out – a combination of anxiety and fear – something that you get to see in the faces of people on a roller coaster ride. To make the situation even worse for Avia, the new driver stopped the car in the middle of the road on the wrong lane so that he could make a phone call to his colleague and confirm the direction he was taking to the location of the New Center.
But hey, no worries there. This is not uncommon on Indian roads. Such scenes often happen and almost every Indian driver (and even passengers – well, not Avia ofcourse!) are used to it. Traffic approaching towards us usually honk, slow down gradually, and or divert away. After 50 meters of travelling on the wrong lane (in addition to a brief stopover for a phone-call) we finally took the U-turn and headed in the right direction to the New Center. 5 minutes-in, we had already reached the New Center. It was indeed a memorable experience, a memorable van ride… oops! I meant a roller coaster ride! Cheers!
AND WAIT! BREAKING NEWS: In the evening of the same day, we were informed that this new driver of ours (whom we only met this morning for the roller coaster ride) had already left Mathru! We have got a new driver yet again. This time around however, our new driver (who dropped us back home from Mathru) is focused more on driving smart and safe! Did I just hear Thank-God? Oh well, Thank-You! and Thank-You for reading my blog post!