Mr Krishnan (my driver, in case you haven’t read my earlier columns) unexpectedly rang the door-bell one morning last week. Given the shocking-pink stickie on the door addressed to him, I hadn’t expected to see him until much later. I sleep-walked, er, left the essential work I was doing, to open the the door and asked: “What does this say?” while pointing to the garish note. He leaned forward and proved his good ability to read English: “Dear Mr Krishnan, please come back after lunch.” I could see the penny drop as he read it out, but he had a reasonable explanation. “Madam, I was looking at the bell when I rang it, not the door.” OK, point taken, I’ll put a flashing light above the next message (or stick it over the bell).
As it turned out, even though his driving skills were not required that morning, he had crucial information to impart. “Madam, the bees have built a house on your backside again.” Gee, thanks. I hadn’t noticed.
Meanwhile, I had to contend with all the other domestic staff in our employ. The new housekeeper turned up at 10 am, as arranged, but then wanted breakfast and to do her household’s laundry in our washing machine. Maybe I missed the point but I’d got the impression that she was supposed to be working for us. And so on… and on…
I decided to get an Indian driving licence – well, you never know when you might need one. Think of it as something I collect, rather than use, as I have various licences but generally prefer to be driven. I’m too nervous when sober and, you get the picture.
Off I went to Delhi’s equivalent of whatever it is they have at Swansea. Basically, it’s just a collection of grubbyish buildings where you go into this office for one thing and another for the next. What I was totally unprepared for was how high-tech it all was. They take your fingerprints with a scanner thingy (I’ve never been good with technical jargon), and your photo with a digital camera, then you sign on the pussy-cat picture in an electronic sort of way. I hate cats. At the end of the process, they present you with a plastic card that’s far superior to the grotty bit of paper that is the British driving licence. They’re not faceless bureaucrats either; they even ask you if you’re happy with the photo. I always seem to look fat or drunk, or both, in photos so didn’t bother asking for a retake, even though I looked like Father Jack on a good day in mine – after all, no one is ever going to see it. Probably. Mind you, I did enjoy showing Krishnan and doing the “Look what I’ve got” bit.
He didn’t seem unduly perturbed as he probably realised that life has enough hassles for me without trying to find a parking space in any of Delhi’s markets. I don’t know how the system works but either he’s bought a piece of land at Khan Market or is very good pals with someone there, as it’s almost like we have our very own reserved parking space in what is otherwise a complete circus. We’ll be paying for it one way or t’other. I won’t be surprised.
Licensed to kill? Oh yeah, that. Think Rain Man and “I’m an excellent driver.” So I’m quite happy to let Krishnan take us around. On the other hand, if he wakes me up again, I may not be so friendly next time.
Kay has been an expat for 25 years. She set up the British Expat website more than 15 years ago, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)