Issue 88
Issue 87
Issue 86
Issue 85
Issue 84
Issue 83
Issue 82
Issue 81
Issue 80
Issue 79
Issue 78
Issue 77
Issue 76
Issue 75
Issue 74
Issue 73
Issue 72
Issue 71
Issue 70
Issue 69
Issue 68
Issue 67
Issue 66
Issue 65
Issue 64
issue 63
Issue 62
Issue 61
Issue 60
Issue 59
Issue 58
Issue 57
Issue 56
Issue 55
Issue 54
Issue 53
Issue 52
Issue 51
Issue 50
Issue 49
Issue 48
Issue 47
Issue 46
Issue 45
Issue 44
Issue 43
Issue 42
Issue 41
Issue 40
Issue 39
Issue 38
Issue 37
Issue 36
Issue 35
Issue 34
Issue 33
Issue 32
Issue 31
Issue 30
Issue 29
Issue 28
Issue 27
Issue 26
Issue 25
Issue 24
Issue 23
Issue 22
Issue 21
Issue 20
Issue 19
Issue 18
Issue 17
Issue 16
Issue 15
Issue 14
Issue 13
Issue 12
Issue 11
Issue 10
Issue 9
Issue 8
Issue 6 and 7
Issue 5
Issue 4
Issue 3
Issue 2
Issue 1

The Magazine

Subscribe to



Memoir: Snapshots of Ramu

 by George O'Brien

In Doha, capital of Qatar, on the shores of the Arabian Gulf, as in orientation everyone was cautioned to call it, one of the perks of the job was an allowance covering car rental. Within days of my arrival I had a new Nissan Altima under me. For seven quid or so, a pump-hand in petrol-blue overalls would fill it up, self-service being considered infra dig, or possibly a security risk, in that servant-saturated, security-conscious country. I was repeatedly reassured by Arjun, right hand man of Majdi, king of the car-renters, that I could call him day or night should I have any problem — ‘My pleasure, sir,’ he said. I had everything a motorist’s heart could desire. Except a driver. But why did I need a driver? I don’t mean a chauffeur. The roads of my new domicile might be choked with sheikhs, but I wasn’t anyone important and didn’t aim to be. Somebody who now and then would drive my wife and myself here and there in his car was what I wanted. And even that had an air of acting the sahib, far from which I’d been born. Yet, a driver I had to have. Because I was afraid.

What had me in a funk was not just being in a strange place. It was a more practical matter of the amount of strangeness that was on the roads, one of the few areas of social activity where I had assumed everybody would be pretty much on the same page, or at least as much as they ever were. But the police, swarthy and semi-shaven, looked extra scary even doing nothing and, according to expatriate urban myth, had noses so keen to sniff out alcohol that, if stopped, you could be carted off to clink for wearing strong aftershave. But even if someone was daft enough to drink and drive – yes, drink was officially available, though to buy it was a day’s work, and then some – local driving habits instantaneously cleared the head, not to mention put the heart crossways.

© George O'Brien

Contact Us Guidelines VideosPrivacy Terms Accessibility
Web design London : Pedalo Ltd