This slightly startling statement, is not actually a cry for help – any more than ‘Madam, I am coming’ is an extract from the Indian version of Lady Chatterly’s Lover. This is simply the standard way my driver lets me know he’s outside – or to be more exact downstairs.
It makes a lot of sense when you think about it – geographically, even 3 dimensionally, he is down from where I am.
Confused the hell out of me first time I heard it, though. I was car-sharing with an Israeli friend when I first arrived out here, and he breezed past me in the corridor of our hotel and murmured ‘Driver’s down’.
I stopped, thinking… ‘if he’s down, does that mean he’s not come into work today? Have I just been told we have to make our own way to work?’
Sometimes I’m not that bright first thing in the morning.
Moving on – the second common driver statement, ‘I am coming’, also has an edge to it – well apart from the obvious one of course.
Always, always, all over India, you are told, ‘I am coming, five minutes madam’. Doesn’t matter how long it might actually be – you will be told they’ll be there in five minutes.
Thus when you leave any building with lots of ex-pats in it, you will pretty much always find one of them standing a little forlornly on the kerb outside, looking at his watch and muttering ‘very long five minutes, where’s the car?’
Ah, India, you’re lovely. But you are rubbish at time keeping.
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