Welcome to suburbia

I've finally plucked up the courage to set-up an online blog. I'm going to endeavour to blog as often as possible to share my thoughts, to share some articles and news i find interesting, and also use it for my private reflections (you guys won't get to see that!). Also i hope people will read and comment on some of my posts.

The spur for deciding to set-up a blog has been my studies through the Open University. They encourage learning and reflection, and collaborating with others.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Driving my car

Well I’ve been busy, so I make few if any apologies
for not emailing sooner. Plus I still have no TV or
Internet access in the Apartment. There is a phrase in
Arabic that sends a shiver down my spine. Basically
its an international “get out clause” that allows them
to rest everything in the hands of the almighty.
“Insha Allah”- literally means “God willing”, and if
anyone in a service industry says this to you be

So why is this relevant? Well the Fibre-optics company
is working on the principle that we’ll all get TV “God
willing”. Now as most of you know, I’ve never been
that keen on organized religion, but I’m 100% sure
that God has very little to do with whether I get TV
or not! I’ve also encountered this same situation with
getting my new car, and again I’m pretty sure that God
isn’t registered to drive in the UAE.

Enough with the ranting. After two weeks of blood
sweat and angry late night telephone calls, I received
my new car yesterday! I feel like a fraud, like I’ve
sold out to YP-dom (Young Professional) by getting an
Audi A3! But It is amazing, and technically a very
fast car! And its got a 6CD changer…. And yes I did
spend all last night figuring out which CD’s would go
into it! So now only a few more pieces in the jigsaw
puzzle to complete. Here’s a summary:

1.      Visa- Got the scars to prove it, oh and the
stamp in the passport
2.      Apartment- check
3.      Labour Card- Proof that I work in the UAE for
4.      Driving License- I had to go to the Dubai
Police Academy! This country is full of humor!
5.      Car- check
6.      Alcohol license- probably another couple of
days away
7.      TV and Internet- Insha Allah

About the alcohol license- You have to apply to the
government to drink, it costs 20 quid for the year,
and you have to provide proof of residency and your
contract with the landlord. Also if you live in shared
accommodation you have to get a signed letter from all
of your housemates stating that they are ok living
with an alcoholic! They also need to know your salary
so that they can give you a limit! Yeah that’s right
an alcohol limit, so that you don’t spend all of your
wages on beer! I mean if you think that you live in a
nanny state….. it’s a whole different ball game over

To get alcohol you have to go to A&E (seriously!),
which is short for the African and Eastern company, I
went to pick up the application with my fellow manager
(Pravin), and I bought alcohol in full view of the
shop staff on Pravin’s license! Not a blink, then
Pravin asked if we had to apply for Licenses in the
UK. I explained that there would be an uprising in the
UK if we had to apply for an alcohol license,
surpassing the indignation for the Iraq War and crowds
that attended LIVE8, at which point I realized that
Bob Geldof is probably not the cultural icon in Asia I
thought he was.

Driving License is another quirky little tale to tell
your friends. To get certified you have to take an eye
test. Now I’m virtually blind, so this was troubling,
but I did remember to pack the glasses that I had four
years ago, just in case. So you trundle down to any
opticians in Dubai, and request a Driving license eye
test. They sit you in their chair and flick some
letters onto the wall (as usual). Now I can’t see
them, so he magnifies and magnifies and magnifies,
holds a card over one eye and then the other…… but I’m
still struggling to see them

“You wear glasses?”

“Yeah I do, shall I put them on?”

So I put them on, and then he says “you see ok”…..
“yeah crystal clear (cheeky little wink)”, and signs
the box and takes 40 dihrams. He even fakes my age on
the eye test form to 23…. Still not sure why, and I’m
off to the Dubai Police Academy. From there you have
to bribe the guy in the photo room otherwise he
rejects your application, and you have to pay for the
license, all in all only about 30 quid. But the bribe
worked because I’ve got a license that expires in
2016, but I only have a visa till 2009, maybe I
should’ve tipped immigration as well?

Work is fine, work is great. Working very hard and
often late. But getting a lot of job satisfaction from
the whole experience. I’m heading back to the UK for
my birthday Friday 15th, so please find the time in
your crowed diaries to come out for a short drink, cos
you wont see me again till Jan!

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