18 September 2006

A New Worldview (for driving, that is)

I did it. I can't believe I actually did it.

Today, at 7:30am, I got behind the drivers seat of our 1980 periwinkle Honda Accord with two very trusting passengers. And I drove like I have NEVER driven before.

On the way down the stairs to the car as I was thinking of what was about to transpire, for the first time in my life I had the urge to make the sign of the cross over my heart. And I followed the urge (followed by a little giggle... does that make me a heretic?).

You may be thinking... "They're living in Africa... bet they don't see many cars, but just a lot of mud huts and donkey carts." Let me assure you, there must be millions of cars in this city. And today, I joined their ranks.

Okay. Here's how it is: No lines on the road. Few traffic lights. No right-of-way rules. No signs. No speed limits. No nothin but a bunch of people trying to get to a bunch of places (very quickly).

I thought it might take me some time to get used to it. But after a couple REALLY close calls right of the bat (neither one my fault, of course)... I created my own driving philosophies. Two, to be specific.

First Driving Philosophy: It is always my turn.

There are only two ways to answer the expected question "Whose turn IS it to go?"(asked with a annoyed, confused and frustrated tone). Either you believe that it is always your turn to go, or if you refuse to adopt that seemingly ethnocentric driving worldview... then you must accept the fact that it is NEVER your turn. I chose the first. So when coming to an intersection packed with cars facing every direction, I think "Oh... this could be tricky... how will I ever get to the other side? But wait... it's my turn... so I'll just go ahead and push on through!" Or, when wanting to fill the vacant spot in the road to your left (even if there are many others also vying for the same spot) you must think "Look at that lovely place for my car to fit. In fact, that's the very spot I'd like to be. Good thing it's my turn... I'll just take it" (then you proceed by beeping your horn 2 times and then steering the car to the left).

If you are the unfortunate soul that feels too 'nice' and 'selfless' to be a bit aggressive... my friend, you will for sure be the one sitting in the exact same intersection all day long not budging an inch while cars maneuver in every direction around you.

Second Driving Philosophy: Don't be fearful about the lack of regulations... but BE FREE!

It seemed scary that there were no rules at first. But I've quickly grown quite fond. The only thing you need to know is that you are responsible for getting yourself to your destination of choice. That's it. Whether you feel the best way to get there is through a muddy field filled with potholes and grazing goats or driving the wrong way around a roundabout... go for it!! No one is stopping you. Really. No one cares.

The other implications of this, my driving philosophy #2, is that because there are no rules and no one cares... it also means that no one judges you for any of the choices you make during your driving efforts. Whatever it is you decide to do... for sure you're not the first one to have done it. You won't be the last either. So you are able to drive in freedom, with neither the police pulling you over nor your fellow car-driving peers rolling their eyes at you because of your actions.

So, this brings us to the end of my not-so-wise-wisdom. I freely share it with you. And maybe someday (when you come to visit) you can take us for a spin and see for yourself how great it really is.
:)

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