On Wednesday, I went to get my Sri Lankan drivers’ license. Here, the place you get your license is not called the Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s called the Department of Motor Transportation. When we pulled in the gates, I was pretty sure it was going to be different. There was a Buddhist shrine front and center between the buildings. That alone told me this wasn’t going to be a typical DMV (or DMT) experience.
Actually, it turns out, with the exception of the ability to be able to give an offering to Buddha before the big driving test, it was pretty much the same as a Stateside DMV. You walk in, wait in line to get a number to wait in more lines. Once you reach the front of said line, a bored bureaucrat watching the clock and counting the minutes until his or her next break does a little something and sends you to the next line. Luckily for us, since we’re here in an official capacity, we have a little help with the process. Still, in the end, it comes down to paying your fee and sitting in a cubicle with a public servant who has perfected her disaffected sigh. She takes your fingerprint with a scanner and takes the most unflattering picture of you possible, using a webcam, and you’re done. Just like back home.
So, now I’m legal to drive…well, mostly. That is another small difference. Here, you don’t get your license on the spot. I would have had it Friday, but it’s another holiday around here, as usual, so perhaps Tuesday.
Being mostly legal, I thought I should finally try my hand at driving this weekend. I drove to Church this morning. This was my first time ever driving in a vehicle with right side steering and driving on the left side of the road. Did I mention the Terios is also a manual transmission? I only almost got run over by one bus (luckily, not a red bus), turned on the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal four or five times, burst into tears once, and made us five minutes late for Church. I’m going to go ahead and call that a success, mmmmmkay?