• this is india indian petrol pump sand bucket

This is India! 27

Welcome back to This is India! I always have funny/weird stories about India to share with friends or family when I talk to them. This is just meant to be an honest portrayal about my life in India through short anecdotes. I also share here what I’ve been up to online outside Werkenntwen.

What I was up to other than here:

  • An American Abroad has started a new series interviewing expats, and Werkenntwen was her first interview. You can read it here: Expat Diaries with Rachel of Werkenntwen

Now your story,

Today I want to show you something from an Indian petrol pump that I think is a hoot and never really thought to write about!

There isn’t much to say except that this sand is legally required at petrol pumps in India, you know, in case of fire:

this is india indian petrol pump sand bucket

Luckily Vagator pump has four, so I think they’re set. They are supposed to also use these to clean up “small” oil spills.

This is India!

feature image of woman from flickr

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About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Andrea Anastasiou December 5, 2014 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Why do I seem to think this is the case in the UK, too? Maybe I’ve made that up, though. I’ve been gone for seven years now :)

    • Rachel Jones December 6, 2014 at 10:52 am - Reply

      OMG really!? that’s so interesting!! I had never seen this before and actually noticed it ages ago but wasn’t even sure if it was used for fire until recently or if it was just meant to be a joke.

      • Raghu December 6, 2014 at 10:25 pm - Reply

        Most Indians would consider this obvious :) Being a safety officer I can explain it better.
        1) Obvisously it is not meant for the major fire in the station. You will run or hide in such cases :)
        2) Most old vehicles leak oil and sand is the cheapest material that absorbs oil.
        3) Most important use is to stop the small fires around the station specially someone throws a cigarette bud on the oil. Sand stops the oxygen supply.
        4) The most important reason we use sand instead of a fire extinguisher is we don’t need to train anyone to use a bucket of sand.

        • Rachel Jones December 8, 2014 at 11:47 pm - Reply

          Yes, but as foreigners we get a kick out of these things.

  2. Laura December 5, 2014 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing the link from the interview! That photo is hilarious/would make me feel uneasy. I think if there was a fire at a gas station I would be running AWAY not running for the sand.

  3. anuj December 5, 2014 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    if u continue writing such type of boring blogs and small also then iam sure u will lose much of your blog readers.it is my daily routine to read your blog and day by day your quality is decreasing.iam reading your blog from day one and i feel it is my duty to telll u that u have to write something interesting .If u are running out of ideas to write ,pls let us know i will mail u some good topics to write .Iam sure there are end no of interesting topics on india.Pls dont feel bad ,iam sincere reader of your blog.

    • Rachel Jones December 6, 2014 at 10:50 am - Reply

      Yikes, Anuj. I can assure you it is not your “duty” to tell me “I have to write something interesting”. I don’t have to do anything, actually. If you read every day, you would know that on Fridays I share short stories and photos from India. If I lose readers who have mean things to say, then all the better. #IAintGotTimeForThis ;)

  4. Emiko December 5, 2014 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    I really like this post. I love finding the little things that make me remember a country. I’ll never forget the 2L soda plastic bottles selling gasoline by the side of the road in Thailand!

    • Rachel Jones December 6, 2014 at 10:53 am - Reply

      Yes, we have those bottles too! Actually they mix the gasoline with water and it’s really bad for your car to use too often.

  5. Ari December 6, 2014 at 12:20 am - Reply

    Really Anuj? Its Rachel’s blog and she can write whatever she wants. P.s THIS is the Short Story and Fun Facts about India, not a Blog, well I guess it’s a blog, but who made you the blog police? Lol like is there a specific length for one? Thankfully u haven’t seen mine! Haha lol People actually have lives other than sitting in front of a computer. Do you realize how many hours it takes? Im pretty sure about 99% of the people Really appreciate these random facts and stories, cuz I sure as hell do. Hey, we use kitty litter at our gas stations! People may find that an interesting tid bit! This blog is seriously the best one I have found online to help us get an idea of what to expect, before we live somewhere with off the wall climate and population extreme. And I am soooo excited to move and be Free again!

    • Rachel Jones December 6, 2014 at 10:54 am - Reply

      Thanks Ari! Always good to have someone stand up for me! :D As I told him, if I lose readers that are mean then all the better. I’m glad you find my blog helpful!

  6. Danny December 6, 2014 at 3:42 am - Reply

    Don’t feel bad about it, all the small things count.
    The fireman in me finds it very funny.
    Thank you Rachel !!!!

  7. Colleen Brynn December 6, 2014 at 4:25 am - Reply

    Ha, I had no idea!

  8. Tim | UrbanDuniya December 6, 2014 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Hahahhahaha OMG I can’t believe I had forgotten about this! It cracked me up the first time I saw it! God knows what they would do if there was a big spill – take the sand and run, I guess?

  9. Justine December 6, 2014 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Ha, that would put out the world’s tiniest fire! Or should I say four of the world’s tiniest fires…

  10. A NAIR December 9, 2014 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Hey Anuj .. really!!! It is completely up to Rachel on what and about what she writes. If you find it uninteresting then you are free to follow other bloggers. There are thousands out there.
    Rachel, I love your blogs and I am also an avid reader of your entries. It is refreshing to see stuff from a different perspective, especially things we as Indians just take it for granted. The fire extinguisher sand is precisely one such thing. We never take a second look at this even after filling up at petrol pumps millions of times.

    • Rachel Jones December 9, 2014 at 3:14 pm - Reply

      Thank you :D I’m glad you appreciate my little entries on Fridays!

  11. Tina D'Souza December 13, 2014 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Rachel, I’ve been living here for 8 years. Two months ago, I first noticed the buckets of sand hanging on a stand at a petrol pump just north of Mapusa. I remember staring at the buckets for some time, raising my eyebrows and thinking…….”Now what good will that do? ” Is it possible that it’s always been there but that our minds have been in a constant information overload? Everything is different here! We have only been processing the really important matters and haven’t noticed a few of these little things. I think that only now, I have relaxed. I’ve began to see little things like this. I’m sure that what Rajhu said is correct. But, when I saw “fire” written on the buckets, I was imagining an inferno! Thanks for the chuckle!

    • Rachel Jones December 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm - Reply

      Hi Tina! You’re so right- we look past these little things until we adjust a bit more then see them and think what in the world is that about1?

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