An international driving licence is easy to get but you need much more than that, to drive in foreign countries
An international driving licence is fairly easy to get in India. Carry your valid Indian driving licence to the relevant regional transport office (RTO), have a spare passport-size photograph and your passport with a valid visa at hand with photocopies of everything; waltz your way through the paperwork including a ‘medical’; pay the required fees (and also maybe some facilitation charges); and pick up a document after a reasonable time.
But does that really prepare you for driving in a foreign country? To start with, the Indian international driving licence is not valid in every country. This information is available online. Next comes the issue of left-hand drive, or driving on the right side of the road; this, again, takes some getting used to. This is also not for everybody because our reflexes are tuned to the right-hand style that we have in India. Following street signs and driving directions in a new city, that do not include stopping and asking people, can get fairly dangerous, especially when your body and mind are also fighting jet-lag simultaneously.
And, finally, is the issue, lately, of liability carrying back to your home country, especially if your insurance does not really cover vicarious and other damages, and the fine print on your credit card entitles them to levy charges without referring back to you. That is the really big-ticket issue which people do not know about—until it is too late.
One way out, other than using public transport, or depending on others, is to go online and not just research the subject but also try out the free simulators available online regarding driving in other countries. Read up on local customs as well. For example, did you know that, in many countries, flashing your headlights means that you are asking the other person to proceed?
Preparing Your Car Aircon for Summer
Now that the shorter winter we’ve had this year appears to have totally vanished, it’s time to get that air-conditioner working properly again, and think about cleaning up any fungal or bacterial material that may have parked itself inside. Or, generally, giving it a good once-over.
First, take a physical look at the condenser’s fins; and, if they appear to be more than 25% bent in appearance, you may want to consider having them changed. Otherwise, just get them washed. In addition, a good air-pressure hose-down behind the dashboard will do the rest of the job.
Next, don't fall for the ‘gas change’ racket. My cars, typically, stay with me for 8-12 years and I have never had to get the gas re-charged, also because I’ve been lucky enough not to physically damage the car. There are ways to check the amount of gas in the air-conditioning system which varies from car to car. This information will be available in the owner’s manual; so, please do check it. Finally, do not fall for the ‘air-conditioner disinfectant’ scam; this is another small job you can do yourself.
- Open out the windows, turn the air-conditioner on full heat with the fresh air vent OPEN, and run it like that for four-five minutes. That should kill pretty much everything that can be killed in the ducting and air-conditioner system.
- Buy the air-conditioner cleaner foam which you can then pump into the air-conditioner vents yourself. These are available online, cost a few hundred rupees and can be used dozens of times.
- Get into the habit of switching the air-conditioner off about two-three minutes before shutting down the engine and then leave the air vents OPEN when parking the car. This is the most important part.
All the best! Breathe clean air in your air-conditioned car this summer!
(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.