Laboring to drive

That one must learn what one doesn’t know is what labor minister Ugyen Dorji has been doing these days when not at work.

Every day for the past few weeks from 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji, who is also the only minister who does not know how to drive, has been attending driving lesson classes from the USD driving training institute for a duration of one month.

The 32-year-old minister had already perfected in steering balance a week after joining the institute and was also able to drive well along the highway.

Recalling his first day experience of the driving class with his 22-year-old instructor, Yangjay from Samdrup Jongkhar, Lyonpo said he was placed on the driving seat with little help from his instructor.

The minister also shared about how he nearly met an accident at first and the funny noises the car made when he was trying to balance his foot on the clutch and accelerator.

“For the driving skills, I am grateful to my instructor. I am hoping that after a month I will be able to perfect myself in driving. I am just not comfortable driving during the traffic jam and taking pick-up is another hiccup for me,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lyonpo’s driving instructor Yangjay said he is lucky to have the opportunity to teach the Lyonpo.

“More than the Lyonpo, I am interested to teach Lyonpo driving. For two days, it was difficult to create a friendly atmosphere and difficult to teach Lyonpo because of his rank, but now we are comfortable though there is some hesitation from my side,” he said.

Yangjay said he was amazed seeing Lyonpo drive smoothly without much assistance from him in a week’s time.

Meanwhile, Saturdays and Sundays were kept as all-day driving practice for the minister. Lyonpo and his instructor also drove to places like Paro and Wangduephodrang during the Sundays.

Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji said he has a comfortable relationship with his instructor.

“Except that he shows some hesitations, but at the end of the day we have a friendly environment,” he added.

Meanwhile, Lyonpo had acquired a learner license a year ago. Lyonpo joked that the validity of the license expired with the Lyonpo not even touching a steering wheel of a car.

The minister added that he felt sorry for his driver as the latter had to struggle because of his lack of skills in driving.

“I am fully dependent on him for transportation. My driver has to go with me wherever I go and at times when my meetings get prolonged I feel sorry for him,” the Lyonpo said, adding that he would go on a long drive all by himself after he masters his driving skills.

The labor minister, who never had a car in his life until now, said he would definitely go for one now although he is unsure what kinds of car that would be.

“I don’t have much knowledge on vehicles and I do not have any preference either,” he said.

And with the driving classes about to be done, Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji said he would now apply for the driving license test.