“Can we stop for a short visit to a friend, here at the petrol station?” the nun who sits besides me in the car is asking. We are on the way from Pollachi to Valparai in the Nilgiris mountains in South India. After a few minutes the car stops. A friendly, maybe 40 years old man appears and invites us to the petrol station office. He is the owner of this petrol station. He is happy to see us and explains how he got to know the sister some months ago. With vivid mimics and gestics both tell me about a huge function in a rural village where he helped out with food transport. There was something not working that day and he jumped in and made the day. He smiles while he tells me the story and he is happy. Since then from time to time he helps the sisters with some transport issue or small sponsoring in the surroundings.
He belongs to an economically wealthy family. “I really like to help out where it is needed. These sisters here are doing a really good job in running all the social programs,” he says.
He watches out through the glass front. His eyes start to sparkle: “This is my second passion: collecting old motor cycles from the early 30s, 40s and 50s.” It is only now that I realize them and I have a look around. Indeed, there are at least twenty old timer, even a site car. “They all work. Here in Soth India we have also the oldtimer day where we meet…”, he explains. I take my camera and go outside. Besides all these motor cycles I discover also a traditional fisher boat, a very old one. Well, Pollachi is five, six hours away from the seaside… I cannot find out why he has put it among all old timers. He might like it.
It is a curious situation: in the middle of a petrol station a big fisher boat, all these old motor cycles and on the other site of the street a huge bull is passing by. The nun inside and this wealthy petrol station owner who offers us – before we leave- a fancy drink.
At the wall Clint Eastwood is watching us. “I like him, his movies, the Cowboys,” he says and smiles.
One thing is for sure: in India everything is possible. Maybe you do not expect it, but when strange things appear, they are always integrated in the daily life and appear as the most normal thing ever: items belonging to certain “worlds” in unexpected surroundings,surprising friendships among totally different people, linkages from ancient worlds to modern life and crazy ideas that are difficult to discover in this quantity in other parts of the world.
Well, that’s India!