Monday, February 14, 2005

Motor Therapy

Everything they said about driving in Manila is true.

In a city where there are too many vehicles in horribly crowded streets, getting behind the wheel is like descending into your own little corner of hell. Traffic rules are mere suggestions, and the only rule that operates for real is the one that says, "Kill or be road kill." The streets of Manila do not respect anyone who drives like a wuss.

I have recently joined the mass of idiots crowding our congested city streets, and, at the grand old age of 27, have finally started driving myself. (Before this, I had mostly gotten around via our crazy public transport system and the good grace of my friends.) And despite the fact that I am a novice driver and on occasion admit that my driving is anything but respectable - I am actually finding myself enjoying the experience.

Yes. Hard as it is to believe... I like to drive.

Of course my enjoyment of the experience does not extend to being stuck on EDSA in rush hour traffic, my foot permanently glued to my clutch as I painstakingly crawl towards home, afraid that the next reckless bus is just waiting for an opportunity to cut me and drive me into the Pasig River.

But there's something about being behind the wheel with no one but the purr of my engine and my thoughts for company as I sit in the darkened cab, driving on nearly empty streets during odd hours of the day. I don't speed - I can't go beyond 80 kph, even on the highways - but there is a certain comfort I get from simply driving around. It's a soothing, healing kind of quiet that I can't get even when I'm alone elsewhere - probably because I have to concentrate on driving so much (because I'm new at it) that I have to empty my mind of nearly everything else. It's like... therapy without a therapist. (But with fuel prices being what they are, it's almost as expensive as seeing a therapist.)

Unfortunately, all journeys, aimless or not, have to end somewhere. Then I have to park my car... and that's another piece of hell on earth that almost negates all the good feelings I got from driving. But that's another story.

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