An ‘ejo’, for those of you who don’t know, is an abbreviation for the term ’email journal’ (this all started out as emails to friends and family). Of course I doubt that anyone would have heard this term ever before because I just made it up (though you never know), as I hate the term ‘blog’ and I refuse to use it.
So, some more thoughts on the driving situation. I’ve had the opportunity now that we’ve settled in and David is working during the day, to do some more vehicular exploration of the city – travelling wider distances and during different times of the day. I’ve seen semi-trailers turn right onto a roundabout exit from the left of four lanes (when the middle lanes are still going straight). I’ve seen a Mercedes tailgating a Toyota Yaris, beeping and flashing it’s high beams at it, whilst in the second slowest lane of a six lane highway, when all four faster lanes are empty and available. I’ve been witness to a woman cutting in front of me from out of a side street without even looking. And then once she’s seen the expression of bemusement on my face in her rearview mirror, I’ve seen her do some sort of obscene Arabic gesture at me. I’ve seen yet another Mercedes overtaking everyone on the highway doing 160kph with a map of Dubai spread over the steering wheel – and most of the windscreen as well. And in a residential area, I’ve seen two Mercedes’ (is there a pattern emerging here?) abreast (and both of them facing me), one of them blocking my side of the road, just sitting and having a chat. I waited about a minute, thinking surely one of them would move on and allow me through, but no. So I beeped. And of course their natural reaction was to beep me back, and then give me that obscene Arabic hand gesture that the National women here seem to enjoy doing. Simply put, if you don’t have the patience of a saint, and if you don’t have eyes in the back (and preferably side) of your head, you won’t enjoy driving in Dubai.
The rules are not ‘stay in your lane’ but rather, ‘whoever is in front has right of way’. If you are driving in the middle lane of three, it is prudent to have a system of assuming that the car either side of you is just going to move (drifting and swerving occur equally and as randomly as each other) into your lane (without indicating of course). And that applies whether they are ahead of you, behind you or abeam you. This leads to the local and widely seen phenomenon of having five cars abreast in a three lane road.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy the lawlessness of the streets and am always looking out for new displays of utter madness to amaze me. Not that I have to look very hard. Basically a timid driver will either have a major anxiety attack or get driven off the road. They should stick to the taxis (though that may not necessarily prevent the anxiety attacks).
Another thing you learn to do pretty quickly here is the philosophy of – Both Hands On The Horn. There is a wonderful ritual here whereby whenever you’re stopped at a traffic light, the absolute nanosecond that it turns green (and occasionally before), every driver except the one in front (and sometimes, inexplicably, even them) beep their horn. At first I was all like, “Oh my god/Allah, relax”, but then I realised that it’s just their way of courteously informing the car in front, “Excuse me, the traffic light has turned green now, could you please step on the accelerator and move forward”. It happens without fail, at every single traffic light and I enjoy it so much that I’ve adapted it into my driving regimen, and I’m out there beeping like a demon. I don’t know how I ever lived without it. When I’m back in Australia in March and driving around, I’m sure other drivers will look at me strangely but when they do, I’ll just give them a rude Arabic hand gesture in return!!
To be honest, I could just go on and on about the driving here but I think you’ve all probably had enough. Next time, some ruminations about the culture and about our new apartment. We’ve got the keys but as we spent all our furniture allowance supplementing the rent allowance, we have no furniture yet. But that’s what credit cards are for and we should be set up hopefully by next week.
Talk to you then
Bye for now