When I look back on my life, some of my most cherished memories happened inside a car. My first taste of a road trip was when I was just 5 years old; we drove through the majestic Himalayan range. Our move to a new city was by road, and it felt like a smooth transition into a new life. Naturally, it was my dad that gave me my first few driving lessons. To him, driving was therapeutic, a feeling that he passed down to me.
Throughout my 30-odd years, I’ve picked up several lessons from my father as he steered us along every road. Here are some of the best pieces of advice he gave me that will stay with me for life.
Rule number 1 – ALWAYS wear your seat belt
The first time I tried to sneak my dad’s car out with a friend who supposedly “knew how to drive”, I braked just in time as a stray dog ran across the street. Unfortunately for me, as I didn’t have my seat belt on, I hit my head on the steering wheel. I returned home later that day with a bump on my forehead, and explanations were in order. Shaking, I confessed to taking the car out. While my dad was angry at me for not informing him, he handed me an ice pack and said, “Rule number 1, ALWAYS wear your seat belt.”
If you take care of it, it will take care of you
I found that my dad spoke about our car like it was a person, an indispensable one. He would tell me about the needs of a car and the importance of fulfilling them ahead of time. He would even take me along to get the car serviced, explaining everything that was being checked, tweaked or fixed. Under his guidance, I learnt that having a car meant spending time with it and understanding it. “If you take care of it, it will take care of you,” he said.
Don’t rely only on your mirrors
On one particular road trip through the Western Ghats, my dad insisted I sit in the front passenger seat. As we snaked up and down the hills, there were blind turns and large, heavy vehicles driving in the opposite direction. “Slow down as you reach the corners and pace up on your way out,” he said. I watched in awe as he switched gears, smoothly braked and kept an eye on everything. Over our many family holidays, he would hand me the keys to help me get accustomed to driving on winding roads. “Watch out for blind spots,” he said, “And don’t rely only on your mirrors. Pay attention to your intuition and stay sharp.”
Choose your vehicle wisely
After years of driving our family car, I bought my very first car recently. And I took my dad’s advice when making the final decision. He always said, “Your car is an extension of you. It can fulfil all your desires if it is built for them.” Having made so many wonderful memories on road trips with family and friends, I knew exactly what kind of car I wanted, from its on-road capabilities to its convenience features. And my visibly impressed father was the first person to experience the wonder of my brand new MG Gloster. From its multiple drive modes to its Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), safety features, to tech connectivity, he called it the “complete” car.
Don’t skimp when it comes to oil change
My dad always told me that it is the little things that can make the most difference, especially when it comes to car care and maintenance. He explained the role of motor oil in the efficiency and overall lifespan of a vehicle. He told me how the correct type and level of oil could keep every engine part functioning smoothly and other essential information you learn as you become a more experienced car owner. Safe to say, I’ve ensured that my car gets an oil change as per its schedule and only with an oil that works best for it.
You are responsible for your co-passengers
Golden words, indeed. Simple negligence or a momentary lapse of judgment is all it takes for things to go wrong. Of course, having traveled extensively by road means that we’ve experienced a few mishaps along the way – from flat tyres to near collisions and even a mudslide. In these moments, I’ve watched my father take charge of the situation, spring to action and get everyone in the car (and the car) to safety. It’s taught me always to be alert and that I am responsible not only for myself but for the well-being of those traveling with me.
Fathers have a way of teaching through action and experience. They’re not so much about the sugar coating as they are about straight talk and tough love. Now, each time the seat belt clicks, I hear his words, “Stay sharp. And have fun!” And that’s precisely what I plan to do with my travel companion – my Gloster.