Friday, July 26, 2013

Driving and Religion

Remember the time when you got yourself enrolled at a driving school. You had already ridden in a car many many times before but never drove it. You had observed how to grown ups had been drivings, what issues they faced - traffic jams, breakdowns, accidents and most importantly scuffles (verbal/non-verbal) with other drivers - some of which went almost out of control. Different groups - different syles of driving, different outlooks towards fellow drivers and different ways of dealing with on road issues.

But now you yourself are at the wheel. You are apprehensive of the instructor at first - you wonder if he is any good? Do you really need him in the first place? Maybe your elder brother could teach me better!

You set aside your apprehensions and begin focussing on what he has begun saying "Adjust your seat, you rear view mirror etc etc... ". You follow like a robot, like a wannabe star student.

A day or 2 into the course and you have already learned how to operate the 1000 kilos of machine under and around you. What then is the purpose of the remaining weeks of instruction involve? What then is the role of the instructor besides acting as a safety net incase of any impending accident?
The instructor tries to help you become aware of the changing environment as you drive on the road. It seems humanly impossible to be aware of everything all the time - there are lots of parameters to be monitored constantly all the time. He makes you aware of all of them and nurtures you as you develop your own style / own algorithm for time slicing your attention for monitoring these various parameters. Under a good instructor, you learn - among other things:
  • To gauge how the other players on the road around you are going to react & how to compensate for their mistakes
  • Avoid potholes and other things on the roads that may harm your car and hurt you
  • Avoid unnecessary acceleration/braking to avoid discomfort to passengers inside the cabin of your car
  • Save fuel
  • Be aware of how attentive you are and bring your focus back on the road in case it diverts.
You may realise that achieving all of the above all of the time is too much hard work. It demands a lot from you. You have to be aware of so many things .You constantly need to schedule and prioritize on the fly the monitoring of so many things. Things to be aware of and keeping lookout for all the time. Things like:
  • Keeping lookout via all three rear view mirrors
  • Gauging the Acceleration/Deceleration of the vehicles in front of you
  • Keeping a check on your speed
  • Keeping check on your RPM
  • Staying aware of what gear ratio you are at
  • Keeping a check on the engine temperature
  • Remembering if the parking brake is completely disengaged when driving
  • Gauging how tired you are
  • Looking out for the potholes
  • Looking out for children and animals
  • Feeling the vibrations from the engine to sense an impending service requirement
  • Sensing the minute variations on the force felt back from the steering wheel to judge if the tyres are low on air pressure
  • Counting the clicks coming from any or some of the four wheels so as to form an image of the number of pebbles stuck in the groves of some of them
  • And you have to do all this besides the blaring music and banter of loud parents/in laws (sometimes not even yours) in the cabin
For some people this may seem too much. They want a simpler driving experience. Who has so much time and attention to spend on something like driving.
Maybe they can figure out a shortcut. A lot of "what ifs" come to their mind. They present these questions to their instructors, who instead of discouraging them to avoid such thoughts, obliges them with improvised answers:
  • What if I accumulates dents and nicks on my car?
    Instructor answers: Get driving insurance and manipulate the accident report forms annually to remove the dents. Also you aren't going to be driving the same car forever
  • What if I don't wanna repeatedly keep shifting between the gears?
    Instructor answers: Wear and tear on your car increases, and you will waste fuel too. (World is already polluted anyway)
  • What if a traffic cop catches me for jumping a signal?
    Instructor answers: Don't ever let him have your license, talk him into letting you go, 100-200 bucks in his pocket should do it
  • What if I run over a dog?
    Instructor answers: Keep driving. Just a dog. No need to look back.
  • What If I hit another car?
    Instructor answers: If its a politician, just pay up, if not, its in your interest to assume an aggressive stance before he does.
  • What if I am drunk? How much drinking is unsafe?
    Instructor answers: Don't worry, you can still drive with a few pegs in
  • What If I hurt or kill someone while driving?
    Instructor answers: If its some one poor, just keep driving, don't look back 
They think: "Balls to hard work. Good instructors give nice and quick answers! Now I know how to handle any situation on the road.."
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Sigh.. if only religion were any different from driving..

Life is the road, your body is the car, the way you drive is your religion - and you choose your own instructor a.k.a. guruji
Logic and reason and awareness are hard work. Who needs all that, when I can just ask my "guruji" what to do and when.

Whatever he says must work, that's why he is the guru..
all the other gurus (of other religion) must not be that good or must be fake, lets ignore (or worse - hate) what the others say.

Result: Chaos on the road and in life.

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