Aviyal-bit of everything

Memoirs of an immigrant

Posted on: February 11, 2009

Pulling over to the gas station to fill up yester evening, I was suddenly flooded with memoirs of my first gas filling here.


With great difficulty I was getting used to my new car and driving in a new country. And it was time to fill up. Unlike in India, most gas stations are self help here; just one person at the far enclosed booth/counter monitoring the activities at the pump. I had no idea how to fill gas, no idea what bronze, silver and gold grades of gas mean and which one I was supposed to fill. So I went to the booth and asked the guy to help me. He had this look on his face as if  he didn’t hear me correctly and thinking  in his head ‘woman, how dare you get a car on the road not even knowing how to fill gas’ . me in my head ‘ it is my first time filling gas in Canada’. He came to the pump and asked ‘which grade I want’ for which I asked ‘which one would you fill if you were driving this car?’.  He did not answer it but filled the gas.


After many years of driving here and many many fillings later, it sounds so silly..but not then. Now it takes only few minutes, I pay at the pump with card and I am on the road in no time.


I have so many such memoirs of tackling this country, making it my new home.


Yesterday, while at the gas station, I saw a guy looked like messing up with an old car’s rear license plate. Actually, he was accessing the fuel tank which is behind the license plate in an old Chevrolet caprice. I didn’t know it.


8 Responses to "Memoirs of an immigrant"

This kind of learning makes one independent, more independent than one realizes 🙂 – weird or what, but the same thought occured to me yesterday morning while i was filling gas –

I still seek assistance in some pumps when I dont know how it operates…pumps also differ sometimes, dont they? 🙂 As for gas tanks, often times, I park the car on the wrong side of the pump and have to re-park, because my gas tank is on the other side 🙂
@UL:yeah, hubby’s car has the gas tank on the other side.whenever fewer occasions I filled it, I had to re-park too.
weird coincidences!. Yes, it makes us independent and the bonus is a ‘high’ you get in learning things our own. There is a theory i read somewhere. NAcans are generally stupid; so instructions for use whether it is pumps, packaging,toys etc are laid out simple mostly through pics too. growing up, we were used to find a way to make things happen (mostly no instructions were available) and now, we hardly see the instructions here. the way our system is turned I guess.

Been there done that 🙂 First time I had to fill gas, I stood at the pump stupefied for a good 10 mins till a guy filling gas on the other side took pity and showed me how to do it.

Till date each time I fill gas, I remember the first time I did it right down to the imagery surrounding it.
@laksh.I guess in all our stupidity, there is some fun in learning things through these experiences..isn’t it?

good one, Shy! I miss all the help we get from strangers/public back home..one really does not have to feel shy/obligated asking help to anyone.
@anamika:really you do miss it? Although I am reasonably good at helping, not good in seeking help.may be my ego..hhaha

I can relate to your post. Unlike you brave girls, I made my hubby come along with me the first time I filled up at the self-help petrol statition. The same with so many other experiences…. the first time had to be with hubby by my side. Now,.. I am so much more braver (better be…. it’s been over 10 years since we migrated. HA! Ha!)… Thanks for sharing 🙂
@sp: I din’t have husband then; Hubby came in the pic almost 2yrs after i settled here. was quite a journey; fun too.

I also have similar experiences. The first time i had to fill by myself,I directly went and asked the guy at the gas station to help me and he helped and explained to me patiently how to fill the gas.The second time also i went to the same gas station and again had to seek his help.He helped me that time also.Even now i am not comfortable filling gas.I hold the gas nozzle the whole time when i am filling.I haven’t yet mastered how to put the latch on and leave the nozzle on the gas tank.Most of the times i give my credit card to hubby and ask him to take the car and fill gas.
@lol at the 2nd time.did the guy recognise you? now, no issues for me, no need help too; yeah, i don’t latch either.

Yup – these small small experiences is what makes you grow, learn to be independent and conquer the unknown land and eventually lay down roots too – right? I have lot of such experiences – being a little less-confident (than my usual self) for fear of accent, failing my first driver license test and thinking I will never get a license and of course, filling gas. Things that seem so natural to me now were so alien then!
@a-kay: very true indeed! all those anxiety and fear seem very silly now..wasn’t then.they help us lay down the roots..quite deeply.

Arvind was around guiding me every step of the way, so I had it easy. But I have deep admiration for folks like you that make it all on their own. It’s a tough path, but one that make you strong.

I did a lot of silly things the first time I came here – didn’t know people added cream to tea, took some time to get used to the escalator, felt weird when my classmates walked in and out of the class while the profession was lecturing, etc. etc.
suman-The journey is not easy for any of us; still, I feel blessed for the opportunity; even more blessed thinking of people who landed here 30-35 yrs back with almost nothing.

I remember not knowing where to put ticket in the bus for my first ride, very silly. Did you do your MBA after coming here?

Even though I had filled gas a couple of times earlier, my husband was there and as usual I didn’t register or really look at those things. Guess I was blindly doing what he was asking me to do. But when I went all by myself to fill gas for the first time last week I was perplexed. Luckily there was this other guy who was filling his car and I asked him for help and later I realized how simple it is and how many times I have done it before!

talking of many memories..thanks for sharing your experiences madhu.

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