Wednesday, March 28, 2007

comparative culture of gas stations

For the first time in a very long time, I filled up my own tank of gas and again felt like a foreigner. I didn't know which side of the car the gas goes into and had to switch pumps. Then the debit card transaction nearly got the better of me. I fumbled with the keys - trying to figure out which keys to hit for Enter OK Yes at each point. I was filled with relief when I heard the fuel flowing thru the hose. That relief was short-lived as I was soon filled with the horrible sensation that I had not set a dollar limit to the transaction, and didn't know how to... I looked around frantically and spied another consumer conscientiously pumping the nozzle to get their transaction to just the right dollar amount, and my American instincts were reactivated. The whole thing was accomplished without interacting with any other human beings.

My daughter did not enjoy the refueling trip as much as she was wont to do in Bangalore.

When I pulled into the "petrol bunk" in Bangalore, a team of 5 guys would wave me to the appropriate pump. My daughter would wave back, excitedly. All 5 would wait there; their leader would greet me at the driver's side window and get my order - ex, full tank on credit card or 1000 rupees in cash, etc. He would bark my order to his crew, and tell me to unlock the gas cap door.

The leader would disappear to get the bill, one guy would do the hose formalities, another guy would get my attention yelling - "Zero, Madam, you see 0.00" to prove to me that I would indeed pay for only the gas that I got. And one guy would keep his post by the rear left window making funny faces to my toddler's delight. And at the end of each transaction, the leader would ask, "you are basically from which place, madam?"

Bangalore and your petrol bunk crews, we miss you.


Indie Mama said...

something for us to look forward to! i could totally go for someone making faces at my kid when i fill up...

= )

Anonymous said...

i am so jealous...u were living the good life over there! I love ure blogs!!!!

Deep Sea said...

Aother vey nice post. Brought a smile to the face :)