Warning: Long read
Like all teenage boys, who are just out of school, I was very excited to obtain my driver's license. I had planned to get my license as soon as I turned 18, but the world had other plans for me!
A day after my 18th birthday, I searched about the process of getting a driver's license in Tamil Nadu and I got to know that I must first obtain an LLR(Learner's License Registration) and practice riding a two-wheeler and a car for at least one month before I could go for the driving test. I tried to obtain an LLR independently but could not figure out how to use the Tamil Nadu RTO website.
So, I went down to the local driving school and enquired about the process of obtaining a license. They quoted Rs.6000 for teaching me how to drive a car and getting both, my LLR and my driver's license from the RTO. Dad wanted me to go ahead with them, as he thought that it would be better to learn from a professional.
I had to complete 15 classes of 5km each before I could go for my driving test. In the initial days, I would go to a class every single day, but I would not learn much about driving at all! Why?
1. The distance was far too short for me to take in the suggestions given by the instructor and implement them
2. The route was mostly repetitive every single day. It would consist of driving through a straight road (A state highway) for 5km. Hence, I learned almost nothing about controlling the steering and adapting to different road conditions.
Exams at the college began and hence, I had to skip classes for a few days. Right after the exam, I got a ligament injury in my ankle, which prevented me from driving for a month. After that, I pestered Dad to let me drive on some local trips and here, I learned much more, because:
1. Dad gave me a lot of tips about
=> Braking distances
=> Proper lane behaviour
=> Clutch control
=> Maintaining a safe distance behind other vehicles
and so much more.
2. The routes that I drove through were much more varied, including a whole lot of broken roads (requiring a lot of clutch modulation), highways, and city roads.
Meanwhile, I also learned to ride two-wheelers with the Activa at home. After all this, I went to the driving school to schedule the driving test for me. At this point, they tell me that there are two categories of licenses. One for geared two-wheelers, and another for the non-geared counterparts.
Now I wanted to obtain the geared one because I might get a bike in the future. This caused me to go back to square one. I had to:
1. Obtain a bike to learn with
2. Find a person to teach me to ride a bike (nobody in my immediate family uses bikes).
When I enquired at local two-wheeler service centers, I was shocked to know that they demand Rs.500 per day for renting a bike! This was too costly for me and with no other option in my city, my plans were stalled. A neighbor of mine taught me how to ride his Apache RTR 160 and I thought that I knew how to ride a bike.
I scheduled my driving test and a day before, I practiced riding in the 8-shaped course on an empty road. I spent the evening watching videos on how to pass the driving test!
On the test day, I was taken to the RTO by my driving school. I was able to complete the practice runs for the car test with no issues at all, but then came the practice session for the bike! I rented a kick-start Splendor from an agent at the RTO, and it was in horrible shape. It would stall without reason at random times and it increased my anxiety. Although I completed the course during my practice runs, I touched the curb during the actual two-wheeler test. The RTO told me to leave and apply for a re-test.
I was very angry when I returned home, and I thought about not getting a license at all. And then, all of a sudden, one of my mom's friends told me that he'd lend me his bike on the weekends for me to learn.
I was so happy now! The bike was a Passion Pro, and it would only run when the choke was engaged. This time, I re-learned to ride on my own. I practiced the 8 hundreds of times, and out of that, I learned so much more about controlling a bike.
I learned how to:
1. Maintain balance when turning at low speeds
2. Modulating the clutch and brake to control the bike at a very low speed
3. Approach a corner and use any apt turning radius
I also learned how to perfectly complete the 8. I had to:
1. Put the bike in 2nd gear to get more control (1st gear was too torquey).
2. Modulate the rear brake and clutch to maintain the required speed.
3. Take a wide turning radius at each curve
4. Lean opposite to the turn to maintain balance
Armed with all the knowledge that I learned on my own, I went back to the RTO with the Passion Pro. There, I met some people from my college who were like me during my first attempt. They did not have bikes and they knew little about riding them. As I had a lot of time there before the test, I taught them what I had learned. They quickly learned everything that I taught, and it was time for my re-test.
This time, I made sure that I was not anxious for my test. I took a deep breath when the RTO told me to complete the 8 and I aced it! The cherry on the cake was that all the people that I taught also passed the test with ease!
The car test was completed without any trouble.
Thus concluded my long journey of obtaining the driver's license which taught me many things, such as:
1. You learn much more on your own, more than the average teacher can teach you.
2. You are able to achieve much more when you actually think about the mistakes that you make in the process and make an effort to correct them.
3. Taking time to collect yourself before starting something gives you a much higher chance of succeeding at the task.
Thanks for reading!