Of Driving and Cars

This post is inspired by Smitha last post. Long post as per my standards. So alert to whoever it matters! 😉

My struggle to get a driving license in Dubai has been well documented. It took me 6 driving tests, 10 months & more than 12,000 bucks (approx USD 4000)! Infact there was a time, all my posts on this blog used to be about the driving license. And with my baby coming, I was getting too desperate. But ever since I got it last November, I’ve not spoken much about the post-license experience. And when Smitha did a post on drives, it got me charged.

Driving was always a passion for me. But somewhere deep down inside, I was scared of it too. Not scared of driving per se but because I’ve lost a few friends to road accidents, one of them a best friend.

So it was quite natural for me to get into this whole driving thing with some fears and/or apprehensions. But surviving in Dubai is impossible without a license. Eitherways, when I finally did take the wheel, it has been like second nature for me. Everything fell into place. As if it was meant to be. And luckily, I’ve driven some fantastic cars. Initially, I had my elder brother’s car in my hands coz he was on vacation. It was a Merc E230. I also drove my other brother’s car every now and then. He drives a Merc E240. Both are awesome machines. And then there’s my dad car which is a Nissan Tiida. But why so much emphasis on driving and cars? Well, my commute to work daily is 250 km!!! 🙂

I live in Abu Dhabi with my family while my work is in Dubai. Both are two different cities. Abu Dhabi is the capital of UAE while Dubai can be called the commercial capital. Distance between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is 150 KM. Luckily my work is in the outskirts of Dubai mainland commonly known as New Dubai now. So a round trip to work and back is exactly 250 km! My only respite is, though the distance is long, it takes around 1 hr 5 min to 1 hr 15 min depending on traffic conditions and driving speeds. But I still spend 2.5 hrs daily on the highway. Thats 1/12th of my life 😦

Oh well. So when finally it was time for me to purchase a car, it had to be one that could sustain this kind of grueling driving regime – long distances, high speeds! And thus came Audi in the picture. Medium sized car, fantastic pickup (0-60 < 3 sec & 0-100 < 5 sec!), stability on high speeds (I’ve hit 230 kph as well but highway cameras are programmed at 160 kph, so thats the standard driving speed), great music system and, last but not the least, style! 😉 I got all these with my A6.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed this post-license period. Love my time behind the wheel. Ofcourse get frustrated sometimes with the long hours. But I guess it does come with a few drawbacks. Wifey says I’ve become more aggressive and abusive on the road (I guess thats part of the package). It is also taking a toll on my lower back.

But, all in all, its been fun driving around. And looking forward to more (I’m already decided on my next car! ;))

Advertisements

On failing driving tests in UAE

To the person who got here with this query:

“i failed my driving test in uae”

I feel sorry for this guy/girl. Really really really know how it feels. And I can tell you it’s not good. Anyone who stays in UAE will know how important it is to own a car here. Public transport system is appalling. Taxis charge a bomb. Metro is far from over. Car lifts are not allowed. Walking is out of the question due to the long distances between places. So what are the options? Frankly, not many. And thus owning a car is almost your only resort And with so much traffic on roads these days, licenses are not being issued generously. RTA thinks that’s the way to reduce traffic problems! And appearing for driving tests is by no means cheap. Digs a BIG hole in your pocket. But it’s gotta be done! It’s a necessary evil.

So hang in there, Mr./Ms. I know it is tough but surely possible. Good luck for your next test. Cheers.

Before and After

Friday is a public holiday here in UAE. I go to work on Friday and take Sunday off. Since it is a holiday, I don’t have any arrangement to travel. This is what I did to get to work for more than a year on a Friday, before I got my driving license.

Before:

7.15 am: Wake up on yet another Friday morning.
7.50 am: Catch a cab from my appartment to the bus stand.
8.00 am: Board the bus or shared taxi to Dubai.
9.20 am: As we approach Dubai Internet City (my office), I ask the driver to drop me off on the highway.
9.22 am: Either wait for a cab or start walking into the underpass that helps me cross the road. No pedestrian crossing. Have to walk along the road for 20 min.
9.45 am: Login in work.
12. 00 pm. Friday prayers. No cabs at this time around this area. Start walking from office for 2 km to the closest Masjid.
12.35 pm: Reached. Pray.
1.05 pm: Lots of cabs here.
1.10 pm: Back to office.
5.30 pm: Getting ready to head back home. Either some kind soul comes from home to pick me up or step out and walk 1o min, by jumping a wall, and head to the highway.
5.40 pm: Buses don’t stop. Ask for lift. Avg waiting time: 1 hour.
6.45 pm: Someone finally stops. Get a ride home.
8.00 pm: Get down at bus stand. Take a cab.
8.15 pm: Back home, finally!

After:


Wake up. Get ready. Step into the car. Drive to work. Work. Step back in to the car. Drive back home. Period.

Blissful! 🙂

Dubai Driving License – Part 4 (The End)

Pass!

I couldn’t believe my ears. Had I become so paranoid that my ears were ringing with what I wanted to hear? How could this happen? How could I, me, Masood Salem, pass the great Dubai driving test?

But pass I did. And that too with style. Not one remark on my assessment sheet. Too the extent that the examiner even complimented on my drive.

Why wouldn’t he – I was the first guy to pass today!

This is the hardest I ever had to fight for something. Seriously. Nothing had eluded me so much in my life. And hence this ‘victory’ (Yes, I would call this a victory by all means!) is all the more sweeter.

So, this finally is the last ‘episode’ of my driving license saga. Part 4 – The conclusion. The grand finale. The End.

Cheers.

Dubai Driving License – Part 3

Road test 4: Fail

I’m beginning to think – Is it even possible to pass?

Statistic for today: Only 11 passed out of possibly 150+ students.

Edison once said after failing to invent the light bulb – “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work”.

So let’s be optimistic. I’ve just found different ways on how not to pass. Hurray!

Ought to share my wisdom. Think so too?

Just one: Don’t look like an Indian!!!

Dubai Driving License – Part 2

I failed my third driving test today. It’s actually no big deal. It is just my third test.

Since the last month and a half or so, there has been some changes. I’ve changed my driving school. After my last experience with them, I’d had enough. I am now with Belhasa. Also, I’ve moved from Manual to Automatic transmission. About Belhasa, they have lesser administrative processes but they charge about 50% higher though. The number of classes between tests is also more, 12 instead of 8. So again, more expenses. But it is closer to work. And things move fast.

Either ways, I still flunked.

Maybe I am a bit too desperate. Should just let it happen at its own sweet pace. Like nature, some things cannot be tampered with.

So, note to self: A driver’s license is not the only thing that matters. Watch the sunset instead.

UAE driver license & Emirates driving institute – Lethal combo

Yesterday was 4th August. Duh. So? It was the day of my highly-anticipated, much-talked-about driving test. It was yet another attempt to own the priziest of all prizes – a driving license in Dubai! And what an experience I had!

My test time was scheduled for 10am. I got there 20 min before time. Stood patiently in the queue to register myself. Within a few minutes, my driving permit was submitted. Now, all I needed to do was wait for them to call out my name. And, wait I did. Hundreds of names were called out, driving permits returned, tests given, licenses issued or declined but there was no sign of a certain name I was waiting to hear.

12.05 pm
I decided that’s it. What the fuck is happening? Why is my name not being announced? I walk up to the registration counter and find my driving permit stacked with several others. I think to myself, “OK, they delayed the registration I guess. But atleast it’s done. They’ll call out my name anytime now”.

So, waiting game – the next level. In the meanwhile, I try to socialize….with the cashier! He looked Indian that’s why. I walk up to the guy and smile. It usually works wonders. After a harmless discussion about the weather and traffic, I casually pop out what was really on my mind, “Tell me something…when the registration takes so long, what’s the reason behind it?”. Quickly, he replied, “Maybe your appointment was not confirmed!”. Huh? “But my date and time was given by you guys”. I think the cashier sensed what was I getting onto. “But if you got your permit back, then it is confirmed”. He even smiled. Reassurance.

1.55 pm
Still no sign. I noticed a few guys who had been waiting all morning. I walk up to another Indian dude in a suit (It even rhymes! This is crazy). His test was scheduled for 8.30am. We smile at each other, secretly refueling our tanks of patience and determination.

2.30 pm
OK. This has ridiculous. I’ve been waiting for close to 5 hours now. A more determined walk to the registration counter, tough stares and a few hard questions later, this is what that Arab guy tells me, “If no my signature on your permit, then no appointment today”. I didn’t like the sound of that. Signature? I knew what he was talking about. I had noticed that while standing in the queue earlier. My permit had no signature. I ask him why. He says I was not on time. I explain I was on time and have been here for 5 hours now. He replies, “Sorry, go take another appointment”. And immediately looks away. Hello?

What the fuck! I’ve been here all morning and they say I don’t have a fucking appointment. I was not alone. 15 of us. Agitation. Angers flare up. More arguments. I decided to stay put and flow with the tide. And, best of all, no one is ready to explain or help. Absolutely no one.

2.55 pm
One kind soul finally takes notice. He collected our permits again. In the midst of chaos, made a few phone calls and informed us that we will not be having our tests today. More agitation. But but but he will try and get us a new appointment at the next available date. Crap. As far as I know, there is a mandatory gap of 30 days before a new slot is selected.

3.20 pm
My name is finally called out. I am given 2 options: 7th August or 10th August? Surprised, but in less than a micro-second, I shoot back, “7th”.

4.10 pm
I am back to work, dozens of emails waiting in my inbox, precious money spent on taxi, hungry and thirsty, back and legs paining and frustrated beyond belief! After settling down at my table, I try and recollect the happenings of the day. I am shocked. A quick glance at my driving permit lying on my desk and my eyes stop at this sentence: Emirates Driving Institute: Proud to be professional

All I could muster up is a smile.