Madam - pure for sure petrol signI was given a lift home by a new friend the other day.

Which was rather nice.

And as I live in the back of beyond, and he drives one of those completely ridiculous sports utility vehicles that does about two miles to the gallon, we stopped for petrol.

Actually thinking about it, with the pot holes in the roads round here, and all the new building work for the subways – four wheel drive isn’t such a bad idea.

Anyway, Indian petrol stations are always a hive of activity, so there I sit in the passenger seat happily watching people buzzing about and thinking how long it is since serviced petrol stations existed in the UK. I can remember my mother going out of her way when we were kids, so she didn’t have to pump her own gas. Apparently the smell clung to her clothes. But that must be thirty years back.

So, there I sit thinking lightly about my mother and watching people being waved in and the drivers just sitting there as they are served and their money’s taken and change is given – I swear your legs could utterly atrophy in this country.

And gradually I realise we’ve been there rather a long time, and I become aware of a lot of activity going on next to me in the car. There’s my new chum with the door open, he’s looking under the seat, he’s fiddling under the dash board. He even gets out the car and uses his phone as a torch to better illuminate the scene. A crowd has formed, people are pointing and making helpful suggestions.

Hmm, thinks I, that’s odd. Not the crowd, that’s totally normal, if there’s possible entertainment to be rung from a situation, people will stand around waiting to get involved. It’s the sitting here, ransacking his own car that’s odd.

So, I hazard the perspicacious, ‘Dropped something?’

Well it turns out to be much better than that – he can’t find the lever to open the petrol cap. Has, in fact, spent 10 minutes looking.


‘New car is it?’

Well, no, apparently he’s had it at least a year.

But get this – in all that time, he’s never put petrol in it. Every morning, his driver takes the car to fill it up. And then if needed, fills it again every evening before he hands it over for the night.

And as this is a new friend, I can’t exactly shriek with laughter and roll about, pointing at him for the fact he’s so spoilt he’s never put petrol in his own car! No my face must be straight. Sympathy must be extended.

Eventually he has to call his driver and ask. Shameful. And the driver is having as hard a time as I am, not screaming with laughter. I hear him say quite clearly ‘Sir, you are not knowing where the cap is?!’

But with the new information, the lever is pulled, petrol is inserted and off we sail into the dark night. My face aching from not laughing and my new friend slightly pink round the pride.

Still it was very nice to get a lift home. It’s an awfully long way from the centre of town.

He probably had to fill up again on the way home…


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And you might enjoy these vaguely related pieces:

The trauma of having staff – May I speak with your servant?

The immortal words of my driver – Madam, I am down?