5 Things That Drive Me Crazy When My Father Drives In Jaipur And Other Family Dysfunctions!
1. No sooner does my father get on a 2-lane road moving in one direction than it becomes a 3-lane road moving in one direction! He HAS to straddle that dashed white line. I don’t know whether he is a trailblazer or a middle of the roader or, oxymoronically, both.
2. Even when he knows way in advance that he’ll shortly have to make a left turn he won’t bother one bit to start moving to the leftmost lane (or vice-versa). Instead he’ll execute this turn directly from at least one lane farther out, oncoming traffic in the intervening lane(s) be damned.
3. He honks and honks and honks and honks some more!
4.When his cell phone goes off he doesn’t just let it ring and keep on driving; he HAS to get to the phone right away, which is clipped to his trousers’ belt at his right hip. This means he has to reach his left hand all the way near there, fumble for a few excruciating seconds, un-click his seat belt, fumble with his left hand again, find whatever shitty phone he is using at the time, and finally pull to the side to answer the phone - all the while steering the car with a lone right hand. Lately he has made a refreshing change to this tedious rigmarole: everything stays the same minus the pulling-to-the-side part, instead he simply hands the phone to me to answer.
5. When he says the name of the minuscule car’s model he drives - a ‘Zen’ - he pronounces it as if an American were saying ‘Jain’, which is what you call a member of purportedly the world’s least violent religion. Even in less- than-rarefied circles in India, mixing up your z and j sounds is a dead giveaway that you’re a hillbilly!
All this makes me quite mad. But sitting next to my father I never try to correct him. I just stew and stew and stew some more! At the most I’d mutter something even I don’t understand. But when my mother is in the car, too, then it’s a very different story! Because then I try to point out everything of his I find objectionable. As if on cue, my mother wholeheartedly agrees. Then my mother berates my father. Then I pile on. It’s cathartic. Then my father gets defensive before he begins to explain himself:
# 1 “Because I want to encourage the most efficient use of the space on the road. Too many vehicles, too few roads. Besides, better to be in the middle and have more time to react if a beast or a human jumps out suddenly from either side.”
# 2 “This is physics. Pure and simple. The farther out I make the turn from, the more leverage I’ve. In other words the turn is smoother not to mention my shoulders less tired. And it’s not as if I don’t have the turn signal on!”
# 3 “Are you kidding me? This is India!! If I don’t honk and honk and honk and honk some more I’ll be invisible, and all the other vehicles and pedestrians will soon be on top of me!”
# 4 Whatever is my father’s explanation for not waiting to return his calls until later we don’t really want to hear because we strongly suspect it has everything to do with all incoming calls and only incoming calls being FREE in India.
#5 Almost a year and a half ago I came back to India after playing truant here for 10 years straight. And from my time here before that period I don’t ever recall my father’s pronunciation of our car’s model that off the mark. My theory is that he has ‘regressed’, especially over the years since his retirement from his job as an engineer at an aluminum factory. My mother seconds my theory and adds that the ‘regression’ started once they moved out of the small company town and into a bigger city to live in close proximity to relatives. My father’s relatives, that is! Still, knowing my father as only I’d know, my sneaking suspicion is that he deliberately mangles the pronunciation a whole lot worse. Because he knows that, of all things, THIS is what really annoys us most. I wouldn’t be wrong to think that’s his way of getting back at us.