Saturday, February 04, 2012

Conquering My Driving Demons

by Expat Focus columnist, Aisha Isabel Ashraf

For us, 2012 will be the Year of the Road Trip, the year we travel to Tadoussac to see the whales swimming in Quebec’s first purely marine national park, where the Saguenay River meets the estuary of the St Lawrence. I’m excited at the thought of the drive and the stops we’ll make en route, but this wasn’t always the case. My confession? For a while back there, I lost my driving mojo. What was once a source of enjoyment provoked a cold, sinking dread in the pit of my stomach. No-one was more surprised than me, lover of fine cars and consummate speed junkie (think Jeremy Clarkson without the gob).

For a long time, before exchanging my British driving licence for a Canadian one, I would mentally rehearse driving here. Closing my eyes, I would imagine every part of the journey into town, all the intersections, traffic lights and lane changes, haunted by the fear I would end up on the wrong side of the road and terrified of the potential carnage.

I had read, in my trusty “Guide to Living and Working in Canada”, that it was helpful to stick a post-it on your dashboard reminding you to “Keep right”, so I knew it wasn’t unknown for people to forget. If it was a possibility for some, it would be a certainty for me!

Our first year in Canada passed without a car, thanks to the narrowing effect of a temporary work visa on our finances, so the pre-occupation with driving diminished. But the day came, when we were offered a monthly rate that wouldn’t bankrupt us and found that rare gem: an insurance company willing to consider our previous driving experience. Wonderful though this was, it meant the spectre of my potentially lethal driving was back.

Article continues here

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