Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In The Driver's Seat

So, I got my driver's license last Friday. It was definitely a "Hallelujer moment". My husband gave me one hell of a hard time about driving properly here. I must admit that I did suck at first and now, eventhough I already get the DL, I still have so much adapting to do.

I drove quite a lot in Jakarta. I was never the kick-ass kind of driver, nor that I like to speed and do crazy maneuvers. I always considered myself a decent kind of driver. I followed rules and I think I pretty much respected other road users. I never used my cell while driving, I always kept my eyes moving to see the situation around me. Or at least that was what I thought I did, because my husband kept telling me to move my eyes while driving here. He had lots and lots of to say about the way I drive. Strangling him is not an option, so I listen to what he has to say. He is my biggest critic, but I know for sure that he means well and he wants me to be safe. Every single time.

True, people follow road signs here. Well, most of the time they do. And when they don't, they surely scare the crap out of me. One time, a big white truck almost hit our car while we were in a mall parking lot. The truck apparently did not care about the stop sign so he stepped on the gas and at the same time my husband that had already stopped and thought that there was no car from the other sides also went for the gas. The truck was at our right side and from the corner of my eyes I saw it. Big, white and really really fast. "Watch out!" I screamed. My husband hit the break at the right time. If he didn't it would've gone straight to me. Our hearts went to our knees. It was close, really close.

Driving is one thing. The next is my ability to remember the roads in Houston. My husband and I got into a really big fight over this. Over me being stubborn and not even trying to remember which way is which. Where is West, East, North or South, and what street came after the other. Apparently that is a huge thing for my husband. And after a one hour fight, I realized that it was indeed important. He's always right. I hate it.

It was never really that important in Indonesia to know which way is which. In Jakarta as long as we know where we're going than that is it. Turn left, turn right. When you see the X building then make a U-turn. If you can't find the place you want to go to, make a stop and ask people. Or better yet, pay an ojek to show you the way while you follow behind. Here they rely on intersections to name where a place is located. Main streets intersect between the North-South and West-East. It turned out to be really easy to understand once I got the hang of it.

I took two tests to get my DL. The first one was the writing test. It was a multiple choice test and you had to score 70 and above to pass. I got 72. They asked about the fines and ask questions that consisted mile as the parameter. I still cannot convert miles to kilometers without So I did some really bold Russian Roulette on the test.

We had to spend 3 hours at the Driver's License Office on that first day. Everybody waited patiently because they had no other choice. At one point things got really really boring at the office, people were starting to fall asleep. Out of nowhere, one of the officers loudly sang Row, Row, Row Your Boat. People stared strangely at her and she immediately said, "What? Don't you people know that song? Come on, sing with me. Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream..." And everybody started to sing along with her. It was hilarious.

Anyway, the point is I'm so relieved that I got my DL on the first try. Now I need to prove to my husband that I really can drive properly. He will always make comments, but at least I'm trying.



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