Monday, December 12, 2011

Gear Up: Licensed To Drive!

After a long, hard Canadian driving license arrives :)
      It's finally here.

     I found this slipped under my door a few minutes ago; it was probably my while I was typing out my last blog post on the finished set for Willingdon Church's Christmas musical production. I had been expecting it over the last week, but didn't check our post box today after I got home from work. I'm guessing my roommate Alex found it, since I asked Paulman and he said it wasn't him.

     It's difficult to describe the relief and satisfaction I feel looking at the little plastic card that certifies me as a full Class 5 driver. It's been a hard struggle to get to this point, with massive investment of time, money and effort. Although I had gotten my first ever driving license during my undergraduate years in India, and it was indeed a significant milestone, this is different. 

     Getting my Canadian license was not only much harder, but significantly more meaningful for many different reasons. It followed on the heels of some very important milestones in life: stepping out of university into the real world, after seven-and-a-half years in academia; getting established in my profession with a job that I deeply love and am committed to; my first ever steady income of my own that wasn't from part-time odd jobs; and, the driving factor (pun unintended) that made it so significant and memorable - my very first car.

     I had often read and heard that for a young man, his first car is a very important and significant experience in his life. I had never really believed it until now. Of course, since childhood I had always had more than a passing interest in cars and their evolving design and technology. But I had never experienced the real thrill of driving a car on my own. The only extensive driving experiences I had had prior to this were during driving lessons with a driving school, both in India and here. There were the occasional short chances to drive my father's or cousin's car, but the feeling is not the same when one does not have a proper license to drive alone, the car is someone else's, and the drive is just for learning purposes. In addition, I had either taken transit everywhere for the last twelve years, or hitched a ride with a friend or my father. I believe it would not be inaccurate to say that I languished in apathy and indifference for the last twelve years, after living in cities with extensive and frequent transit systems.

    But then I came into my own, stepped into the real world, and everything changed in a matter of months. My job necessitated me to own a vehicle and drive; without it, transit was taking too long to get to the office or to project sites. I was getting involved in other activities outside work and feeling a desire to expand the boundaries my new-found freedom and explore the world. So I bought my very first car in April, and was itching to drive it.

    But the frustration grew after spending several months and lots of money on driving lessons with a driving school that hindered more than they helped, and failing my road test. Despair began to grow; it seemed that I was looking at a road of drudgery and suffering to licensed automotive happiness, filled with insurmountable obstacles of grumpy and bellicose driving instructors, right hand turns, left-hand turns, speed control, shoulder checks, confounding road signage, parallel parking, reverse parking and the short tempers of other motorists. I think the despondency was only compounded by the sight of glossy automotive magazines at shops and bookstores, covered with handsome drivers with their 30mm Kodak smiles, proudly standing next to some insanely priced and desirable supercar that was guaranteed to incite envy and covetousness in the aspiring but unlicensed male motorist. Ah, the sorrow of not being able to join the company of the automotive faithful in motoring heaven...

    Things finally came to the do-or-die point of internal frustration. I tried again, this time with Excel Academy [1], a much better driving school, taught by a wonderful British gentleman who used to be a professional instructor in the UK. Skip was calm, gentle, patient, reassuring, explained things clearly and logically, and best of all, spoke excellent British English :) I tried for my license again...and failed. But this time was different. I felt good; I had done much better than before. So I waited two weeks, practiced hard, tried a third time last Monday...and passed.

    I've been driving on my own a lot over the last week - to work, church, dinners, birthdays - and loving it. It feels incredible. But more importantly, the wheels in my head have been turning; I am planning and looking forward to what I have heard is a favourite male hobby - working on my car :) But more on that in the next post. Until then, goodnight!
- The Wisdom Seeker


Christmas At Willingdon: Set Construction & Cleanup

     This post is coming 3 days late. Last Friday, I headed to Willingdon Church after work to help with the final day of set construction and cleanup in time for the weekend services on Saturday and Sunday, and the opening night this coming Wednesday. Towards the end of the night, while cleanup was in progress, I took a panoramic photo of the almost production-ready set. My stitching attempt on the photo wasn't too good; my photographic and editing skills are in need of improvement, so my apologies in advance:
Almost-finished set at Willingdon Church for "Christmas At the Starlight Theatre"

The right end of the production set
      My only regret was that I didn't know when construction had actually begun, so I actually showed up halfway into the 2-week construction process. In any case, I will be ushering at the Friday evening 7 PM show, and both shows on Saturday and Sunday. Do say hello if you've been reading this blog and if you're at one of the shows!

     Floor Tickets for "Christmas At The Starlight Theatre" at Willingdon Church can be bought at Ticketmaster or Ticketweb. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Make A Wish Foundation. Balcony seating is free, but from my experience over the last two years, you will need to line up well in advance to get good seats. See you there!
- The Wisdom Seeker