As luck would have it, Andre Padrut, a Swiss architect client, owned a Lamborghini Espada, which we had started to look after. Andre and his wife Violin (pronounced Veolin) became very good friends to us and they were always telling us to pop in for lunch at their house or join them at some restaurant in town to meet friends. This was all good networking and soon we had as much work as we could handle. We were not making a fortune but a reasonable living.
Andre kept asking us where we lived and we always dodged the question as there was no way we could invite anyone back to our horrid flat in Manama so we just kept it very vague indeed.
We did not have any workshop facilities so we used BANOCO service stations and also Willie’s yard in Sitra. The State run Bahrain National Oil Company (BANOCO) had a few new service stations set-up around Bahrain in key geographical areas. Most of these had facilities to change oil and filters, fit and balance tyres, etc. However their staff were only trained to do very basic service jobs. Bob and I saw the opportunity to use their car lifts for jobs on our customer cars. We ended up getting to know the Manager at Sitra service station quite well and we would show up and supervise and train their staff doing jobs on our customer cars or we would do the work ourselves depending on the complexity of the task. We paid them for their time and materials and they benefited by their mechanics picking up knowledge from us.
We always drove our customer’s cars around which ensured we got to know the car and we could iron out all the problems on individual cars.
Sitra service station also had a small café attached to it, so we would eat our lunch there or we just used it as our office to catch up on things calling our customers from their telephone. I will ways remember listening to “The Rivers of Babylon by Boney M”, which played incessantly!
The manager of the café was a stocky Indian fellow called Sushi who many years later, worked as the Maitre’D for the famous Cico’s Italian Restaurant in Manama, where I believe he still works today.