Jun 21, 2007

Mailbag #7: I don't like driving any more

Caughtilya-Rearset Stamp 1Hey Rearset...

Was thinking about a strange new thing happening in the recent times. Let me give you some background on this.

I am a total auto freak since my childhood. Though I shouldn't say this, but I drove for the first time when I was in 5th standard. This was not on the road, but in the Shivaji Park ground, Dadar. Since then I have always driven and enjoyed driving on the deserted private roads, and inside the building parking lot. Point is, I ALWAYS enjoyed driving. No matter how bad the traffic is.

In the recent past, I have been facing a peculiar problem. I have started to absolutely hate driving. Reason is that, I get very insecure, cranky, tense while driving. Maybe a little afraid too. As a result, I have caught myself making mistakes like those made by aunties who hang on the steering wheel and try to peer over it (you know what I mean ;)

But while on the bike I feel very very secure and free. No issues with tension or anything. The concentration has gone up, and ride quality too. The enjoyment has increased.

I tried to introspect to get why this could be happening. All I could come up with is a couple of lame reasons:

  1. I have shifted from Dad's Fiat - Premier Padmini, to an M800, and then my own Fiat Palio. I kind of enjoyed driving the Palio for the first two years, and its just from this year that such issues have cropped up. Could the more expensive to maintain/repair car be a reason? (And that I pay for the maintenance ;)

  2. Traffic situation has degraded. There is a lot of aggressiveness from before.

  3. I'm turning into a pure biker. ;-)

  4. I'm growing old. :(

Name withheld on request

KTM 990 SuperDukeDear Anon,
That's one of nicest letters I've ever got. Thanks! This is a very difficult question, though. The easy reason, the one why I don't like driving as much as I used to – which wasn't much to start with, I must say – is traffic. And the huge contrast between how a motorcycle handles traffic snarls and how cars do (actually, don't). Part of the frustration could simply be your subconscious telling you (quite rightly), 'What the heck, if you'd taken the bike, you'd already be at office/home, one coffee/beer down and feet up.' Or something on those lines. Aggression can be depressing, but again, you face the same thing on a bike, although you can escape it faster.

You could also be turning into a pure biker, which is actually an awesome thing, and I wouldn't fight it. The fourth reason you quote would actually make you like driving more. Motorcyclists, get better and get younger. 'Older Motorcyclists' is an oxymoron.

When I do get forced into driving, I've so far not had concentration lapses and all in cars, but I can see how easy that would be. Instead of dealing with managing lines, traffic, and controls, in car you have a music system, aircon levels, passengers who can talk freely, ringing cellphones etc to distract you. I, for one, resent these deeply. The purity of the motorcycle experience likes in the fact that I cannot be distracted. That's why my wallet, phone stay in the luggage and not on me. I also resent that in our weather, most of the time, the car is designed to be driven with the aircon running. Even if I wanted to, I cannot switch the damn thing off. On a bike, I'll take on any sort of weather and be part of the place I am going through, its just not the same in a car.

But perhaps the real reason why you don't like driving anymore is the oldest car-bike debate one. Freedom. Freedom to make life-death decisions every minute. Freedom from a backup plan that includes crumple zones and airbags to ensure you're around to make the same mistakes repeatedly if you so choose. Freedom from the naive charm of passing through a place and never tasting the air there. Freedom from having to talk to the people, who will almost never talk spontaneously to someone who stepped out of a car. Freedom to lean the right way – into a corner. Freedom to pull a this-is-the-life wheelie (face it, a squealing, tyre-smoking getaway isn't half as thrilling). Freedom to... I could just go on and on.

As some smart alec once said, 'Live Free or Drive.'

Name withheld has added this

Was introspecting about this for a long time. Also was thinking on the lines you had mentioned in ur blog.

There is one more reason. I recently, consciously, changed my driving style. I used to be a very aggressive driver. I was always either accelerating or decelerating at any given time. I have slowed down, and am taking it a lot slower.

This is a major reason for all the frustration of not being able to enjoy the drive. I remember the good old days when I would have some good GNR blasting on the music system, and me driving as fast as I could, with intense concentration. This change of driving style has caused the same music to become a distraction.

This brings me back to one of ur posts on 'natural speed'... I think its not the actual speed, but the natural pace, or the relative speed.

My 0.2 cents...

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