Saudi women got to drive legally in their country for the first time on 24th June, 2018. A momentous day for women living in a deeply conservative country and society. I read this article on Time this morning about women cabbies and loved reading the thoughts and views of women who drove for the first time. A young lady cabbie whose grinning picture is shared makes me feel so happy. A huge leap forward for a country that went from women with no right to drive to women cabbies! A lady drove her own dad out and there were another who celebrated by showering rose petals on every intersection she crossed. J Lovely, isn’t it? Happy that the 32-year-old Crown Prince finally gave them this right. In every patriarchal society, we need ‘feminist’ men to usher in the real change on the ground. Of course, there was much lobbying and activism by women globally that culminated into this.

Driving Freedom

Personally, I love to drive. Yes, despite chaotic traffic, I do love driving. I learnt to drive right after I completed my post graduation. I also dragged my younger brother along to the driving classes. My first instructor was an old chap from a driving school in Ahmedabad. Initially I was mortified. So many what ifs in my mind. I remember hating to be the first person at a traffic light. When you are a new driver, you mess up the first gear starts bringing the car to a halt and stopping traffic. Angry honks panic you. I remember once, I was driving the car on a slope and had to stop on the top. I did not know back then that I had to use the hand brake in such situations. While I was stuck there, a helpful male walked over to me and explained how to move the car forward. I was so grateful to him.

Once I locked the steering wheel in my car. I was parked in an open parking lot on a busy street and my brother was with me. Both of us had no clue what to do. We did not have mobiles back then. My brother went around looking for a payphone to call dad. That’s when I saw about 3-4 young men on bikes who were standing and chatting closeby. I approached them and one of them got into the car, showed me how to disengage the steering wheel and started it for me. All in a day’s work! All lessons on the road. Trust me, people are very helpful. That has been my experience. And all these bloopers are so amusing when you look back now.

I’ve been driving for 20 years now. My first car was my dad’s trusty old Maruti 800 that I drove with pride to my office. I was the only woman who drove a car to work back then and I felt very kicked about it. All the other cars belonged to men. 🙂 Women rode scooties (Ahmedabad!)  From driving a very basic car to driving a dreamy sedan in the US, driving a car gave me a rush. It gives you freedom that is immeasurable. Umpteen occasions when the husband was traveling and as a young mum, I had no trouble ferrying the kids around day or night. I went to my doctor’s appointments driving myself till very close to delivery date. All those calls from school when a kid was sick, yes it made me feel calmer to drive. Yes, we have the Ubers and Olas today. And they are very useful. But, they can never substitute the joy and independence I experience driving my own car.

Now, I see a lot of women driving. Yet, I know an equal number who want to drive but do not have the support of their husbands. Yes, that’s a thing even in today’s times. Some men are concerned about the ‘safety’ of their wives because well you know women are bad drivers. My experience is that women are safer drivers, by and large. I am sick of hearing this but I keep quiet. It’s not my battle to fight. It makes me sad though.

Here’s to all women and a hope that women everywhere will have the choice to do everything that a man can do. Feminism is not about fighting men. It is fighting for equal rights to lead a life of dignity and choice. Hope all of us women continue to strive to achieve all our dreams and aspirations. Change may be slow, very slow at times, but it does come as it has to the women in Saudi Arabia.

Driving freedom

If you are a woman, do you enjoy driving? If you are a man, do you encourage your wife, mother, sister or daughter to drive?

Pics courtesy: Featured pic By Kdonmuang

Pin Pic By MilanMarkovic78, both on Shutterstock.

 

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8 Thoughts on “Driving and Freedom

  1. Roman|RimsNdTires on June 30, 2018 at 8:40 am said:

    I’ve never heard, that in Saudi’s women were not allowed to drive! Of course, driving is a good opportunity for the woman. But it is another country, another religion, another country…
    Roman|RimsNdTires recently posted…The question answered: How to know what should tire pressure be when it is hot in summer for my car.My Profile

  2. interesting women empowerment related thoughts keep rocking
    pushpendra dwivedi recently posted…ghost diary a short horror story,My Profile

  3. This made me very happy too and I loved the tweets and news updates about it 🙂

    I learnt to drive very late in life, post 30 and have not had the confidence to take it up regularly. I wish I had learnt earlier. Riding my scooter was something I learnt when I turned 18 so I can tell the difference it means in terms of confidence.

    You’re right that driving does equate to freedom. For women everywhere, that’s important, in whatever way possible.
    Shailaja Vishwanath recently posted…Gratitude for June: The Ups, Downs & the SteadyMy Profile

  4. Oh I agree. Driving gives one a huge kick. That said I’ve a terrible fear of driving. I keep thinking I’ll run someone over. Oh and what you described – being the first one at a red light or being on top of a slope – that’s absolute nightmare material. I did learn it and drove for a very short while too but now that I’ve given it up I’m scared to go back. I do have my two-wheeler and I’m so very grateful for it but it’s not the same and I know it.
    Obsessivemom recently posted…Mom’s life #Write BravelyMy Profile

  5. It is indeed a big achievement for Saudi women. Yes, driving gives you freedom…the freedom only the driver can experience. I still remember the first day I drove a car all by myself to work. I can never forget that feeling of pride…😊

  6. Yes, it is definitely a freedom.
    I always regret that I didn’t learn driving

  7. Driving is a life skill, to be taught irrespective of gender. I was lucky, that my father encouraged me to pick up driving. And thanks to being in the forces, with the husbands constant absence, I am left with little choice but drive around town, sometimes in tough terrains. I graduated from a city driver to a highway one, and now I drive on ghat sections. So whoever said, women drivers are not safe??? We sure drive responsibly.
    Ramya Abhinand recently posted…YA Thriller: Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn WeingartenMy Profile

  8. I used to drive dad’s Kinetic Honda when in college. And, I simply felt thrilled! @0 years ago, I learned to drive a four-wheeler, but somehow, I couldn’t muster the confidence required behind the wheel. The traffic around me gets me jittery even when I am in the passenger’s seat! But, I do feel proud when i see other women behind the wheel, driving so confidently.

    Bravo to you all! <3

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