Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Driving Test Take 4

The bridge test is proving to be my nemesis indeed as I went, this time with my husband, back for my third attempt at the blasted bridge. We came at about 7:15 having learned that being early does not necessarily entail being called first. At around 10:00 I got called for my bridge test and this time, althought the hand brake was also hard, I was able to lift it and put it down and so I passed my bridge after 3 attempts.

Now my slip is after two months, and this is for the actual road test. Meaning, that my story has no ending yet and so I shall keep posting about it until I finally get a license. Which could turn out to be a problem as by then, I'd have to think about owning a car. That means loans and extra expenses and now I'm thinking if I really do need all that. Phew!

Driving Test Take 3

So I took some lessons for the bridge-hanging and how to work out the clutch and the hand break and the petrol, etc.

I was quite confident when I went for my test as I passed the two previous ones. However, when it was my turn, I got a really old car that has a hand brake as hard as concrete. I couldn't move the blasted thing!

I successfully managed the front end down and reversed back to level position but with my back end down, I didn't manage to be quick enough to put enough petrol and release the clutch so I could go back up. I slid past the yellow line that marks test-takers as failures...and I had to get another slip with the date of my next bridge test.

Driving Test Take 2

Now I took learning it to heart and practised so that I get the correct "measurements" of the reverse parking. Stringent may be the process of getting a license but the gutters in the test area are riddled with markers as to where you are supposed to stop and align either your rear tire or your side mirror to "fit" just right into the gutter as you reverse or parallel park.

So again, at the crack of dawn I was up and off to Muroor. I thought that if you gave your paper first, you get called first...makes sense that way right? Early bird cathing the early call? NO! This time I got called at half past ten! But I was determined to get this and so I passed not only the reverse parking but also the parallel parking test! Hooray!

My dilemna is that I concentrated so hard in passing the first test that I forgot to even bother and practice for the bridge test. But you have no chance to explain, you get pointed at and the place where you should be gets pointed...body language taking more precedence as some aren't English speakers.

So I had to take the bridge test and fail it because I never have done it in my life.

Driving Test Take 1

There I was at 6:30 am, trying hard to stay awake as I hailed a taxi to take me to Muroor...the traffic department, where I was to take my driving test.

There are three tests. First you do a left or right reverse parking. If you pass this, you continue to do a parallel parking (right or left) and finally, the bridge hanging (front and back).

There were about a hundred women, some expats but mostly local ladies who, for the life of me, I could never understand why you'd go to your driving test dressed like a ninja?! The black dress is difficult enough to maneuver in but the covered face...? Not to mention inappropriately high heeled sandals.

Forgive me, I digress. So after about 50 names, my name was finally called and this was around 10:15 am after waiting from 6:45 in the morning. So all sweaty and totally nervous (having witnessed the success or failure of previous test-takers) I went into my assigned car. It was a left reverse parking and I did the reverse beautifully! Now the problem is you must get the car back to it's original position and I don't know what I did but my back tires hit the gutter and so - in so many words...I failed my first attempt.

Like many before me, I went into the office and was given another slip stating the date of my next test. It is after schedule after a month from current date.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Test Drive Part 2

So I'm back with the rules for those interested in procuring a driving license in these parts of the desert.

First, you have to get permission from your company via a letter that says you are gainfully employed and an upstanding member of the community and that you earn this much salary and could therefore, afford a vehicle.

Then you go to the local traffic police depot to open your student driver's file. This takes about the entire morning of a working week. For one, the queue of people wanting a license is impressive. You may have to elbow your way once or twice to save your place in the queue. When you finally reach the person/police at the desk, he or she wil start pointing at some road signs to which you must give the correct name. This goes on for about 10 road signs and then you are given your student's ID that allows you to study driving in the UAE.

There are no written tests and the "name-that-road-sign" is the closest you will get to a test. How this is ever checked though, remains a puzzle.

Then you get a slip of paper that tells you to come back after a month to do three tests in an actual car. That part I will share in my next post so hold on.

Test Drive

Yipee!!! I've finally passed the bridge part of my driving test. It was proving so much to be my nemesis that in several moments of fear and self doubt, I was really close to just giving it all up and bear not having a driving license in the UAE. But three's a charm and I've fianlly got it my third try.

Now I'm off to the fourth and final part of the UAE driving challenge which is the actual road test.

To the foreign visitor of this bog, unexposed to Emirati culture and ways, there are many ways of going about getting a driving license in the United Arab Emirates.

If you come from a first world country, often in huge business/economic relations with UAE, your passport and driving license from your country is enough to get you a UAE equivalent. These are the Brits, Americans, Canadians, European Union member countries, Australians and New Zealanders. From Asia, it is only the Japanese who get the privilege.

If you come from GCC countries - Saudi, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman - you also get the license equivalent from your country.

If you come from the rest of the must go through a series of driving tests to prove you are indeed worthy of such a license.

And that is where the fun starts but I shall post it next blog as my boss just called me for something....

Tennis anyone?

I've finally decided that to shed off these extra pounds, I need a sports where I am able to run around and not look like some kind of crazy woman on drugs. So I've chosen tennis to lead me to the long but hopefully rewarding state of physical fitness - and some mean backhands!

Timely that Alfa Sports should go on sale and so I was able to purchase the basic gear - racket, shoes, balls and bag at 30% discount. I feel like the universe was indeed consipiring so that I would be able to play tennis and lose weight in no time.

Then everything went on a standstill. For one, I don't have anyone to play tennis with me. Unlike eating - where one could fashionable dine needs a partner! Been imploring work colleagues to help me (read that: teach me!) play tennis but since I've bought 'my gear' a couple of weeks ago, the best I've done with it was move it from the bedroom to the living room!

My desire to be Martina is slowly dwindling and I need someone to save me from this predicament. Tennis anyone? Running after balls is more likely but I guess one should indeed start somewhere.

Now where did I put that playstation joystick....?

The Origins of Bat-man

Been gone for too long and haven't done any blog so here's one today:

Watched Stuart Little 2 with Amber on DVD and my husband commented whist Stuart and Margalo were in a romantic scene together (the one where they were in Stu's car watching TV/movie) that THAT was how the bat came to be.

If a rat had wings, surely it wouldn't look so much unlike a bat right? So that's his theory of bathood and how it came into being...a bird and a rat got married and bats were their siblings. Come to think of it... the word Bird + rAT does form the word BAT. Hmmmmm....

On some days, my husband does seem to have a point but who's listening eh?

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Summer Long

Most people I know who are expats in the Emirates go home or hie off to cooler climes during the months of July and August, the hottest months in these parts of the desert. But we stayed on. First it was due to lack of funds. No use flying off to Manila then having no dosh to spread around - family and friends. Second, as an effect of reason number 1, I had to take on a part-time job which nessecitated me to stay on the entire summer. Finally, my husband was not allowed to go off on his summer vacation this summer. His boss told him to go and take his summer vacation in the winter(!), imagine that. So we stayed. And steamed. I wasn't bad when you just stay indoors and avoid the sun. But then, electric bills skyrocketed due to all the air conditioners being kept on to maintain a pleasant "weather" at home. I guess in the long run, electric bills are somewhat cheaper than airline bills.