I have never been a driver. Driving in Tehran is a nerve-rattling dance with death, especially if you are female, as other drivers automatically treat as if you are a blind gibbering idiot. I have never got into the hang of brakes, clutches, gears. I have difficulty remembering that in order to turn left, you have to turn the steering wheel to the left (one-half), and to turn right, to the right (three-quarters).
And in Halifax! Where the streets are so beautiful and the houses look so picture-book! Where everyone talks about the environment and going green all day long… in newspapers, in university, in shops… Surely it must be possible to survive without driving a car in this city. It is only a 20 minute walk from my apartment to the campus, and daycare and school are on the way. Look at me! I don’t drive! I drink fair-trade coffee! I turn off the light when I leave a room! – look, is someone going to give me a green award or something? after all, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, people are supposed to care about these things… this is not Calgary, I am told, where people cannot find a drop of fair-trade coffee to drink if their life depended on it…
But no. Slipping about on the muddy slushy ice on sidewalks, climbing up dirty ice/snow banks bordering the pavements, as high as my waist, waiting for hours in the knifing wind for the bus, missing classes because there were no taxis when it was snowing/raining/icing, soon convinced me of the reality of the situation- which other people had told me long before- to live in North America, you needed to be able to drive, and you needed to own a car. The environment thing is just fancy talk. There is NO rapid efficient public transport worth the name. There are NO efforts to clean the sidewalks free of ice and snow. If a homeowner cares enough, they will sprinkle some gravel in front of their house, and if not, not, leaving pedestrians to slip and slide and curse… There is NO consideration for pedestrians… If you lack private transport, then during the winter months, you might as well become a bear and hibernate under your blanket.
And as I do not have that option, I learned to drive, and now I can proudly slip on ice and trudge the slush while sitting behind a steering wheel.