She is a study in concentration. Hands on the controls, tentatively shifting gears, pink sari flying in the breeze. This young woman is my hero! Why? She’s learning to drive a tuk-tuk in a country where few women dare to drive!
I’m sitting on our balcony in Ella, Sri Lanka, watching the kids across the field play cricket. Out of the corner of my eye I see a red tuk-tuk appear with a man driving, and the tiny back seat is stuffed with wife and two little kids. Then it gets interesting. Husband and wife get out and exchange places. Wow! I can tell that he is very patiently instructing her in the art of driving a tuk-tuk – pretty much a hybrid of a 3-wheel motorcycle with a cab. She uses all her strength to yank the long starter lever on the floor … and off they go with the kids clapping.
She has lots of stops and starts, manages to kill it several times, but I can tell she’s talking to herself – I can do this. It probably doesn’t help that the village elders are looking on – judging.
After more than twenty revolutions around the field she drifts to a stop and I think the lesson is over, but No! Dad and the kids get out. She’s gonna solo! I love this couple! They are both bucking tradition. It reminds me of when James taught me how to drive a stick shift when we lived in Sudan. He said I was the master of the second-gear takeoff!
She starts out slowly, gradually gaining speed and confidence. And by the end of her fifth lap she is grinning, then smiling! I can only imagine what freedom she must be feeling. You go Girl!