Sunday, July 23, 2006

Qatari License Part Three

The Director was in no hurry, he offered me some food and drink which I refused as I had just eaten in the car. He looked offended and said, 'You drink, no test'. I quickly drank all of the drink and said I was going home now to which he laughed. We were by now best friends. It was great, I would tell him what I thought of him in English and laugh and he would have no idea but say something, probably equally as offensive, back to me in Arabic and laugh.

Eventually, he told me I needed to take a traffic signs test first. I had absolutely no idea what any of the road signs meant and after wrongly guessing about ten he gave me a road signs book to read. The book was in Arabic which was helpful, but he gave me a second go and guessing what the signs meant and amazingly I got it right that time. It was then time to do the test.

I got in the car and he directed me to a big ramp which he told me to drive up. It was the narrowest rampt in the world and marked by these massive steel posts. He laughed and said, 'Don't crash, you fail'. I started to drive up the ramp and stalled about twenty times. I was about to deliberately crash the car into one of the posts out of frustration when I realised that I had left the handbrake on. This was much to the amusement of the Director. I drove to the top of the ramp, performed a perfect handbrake start and then proceeded to reverse down. On the way down I somehow managed to hit two of the steel posts, knocking them out of the ground. The Director found this hilarious.

He asked me to perform a parallel park and then directed me out onto the roads where I drove around with no problems. I did however, manage to get us lost as I couldn't understand what directions he wanted me to go only that at every corner I somehow managed to go the wrong way. When we got back into the yard, I pullled up out the front of the offices and asked the Director how I went. He shook his finger at me and said, 'No good'.

Whilst I believed this was a pretty fair assesment of my test, I had to argue and jumped out the car to follow him into the offices asking how he could possibly fail me after all he had put me through. I was half way into the office when I noticed that the car had rolled about 4 rotations backwards as I had forgotten to put the handbrake on. I ran to catch up with it, opened the door and pulled it on and then ran back to the offices to continue my argument.

Once inside, the Director wrote some things on my application and sent me to another room. I asked the man in the other room if I had failed and he laughed and said, 'Yes'. He stamped my application with red ink and directed me to another room. Heartbroken, I asked the man in the next room what I needed to do now to get my license. He looked at me confused and said that I passed and that I needed to go to the traffic office and pay for my license. I looked back into the room I had just came from furious to find the Director and the other man rolling around on the floor in stiches of laughter. 'That was NOT funny!' I yelled at them. 'Very funny!!!' They responded through their tears, 'Go get license!!'

I left the offices in disbelief at what had happened. Mostly due to the fact that I had actually passed after hitting steel poles on my test!!!! I could not see my random stalker-drivers anyway and had rang Mary and Fran to come pick me up. I quickly went to their car and got in. Fran had just been at the traffic office and had had some issues of her own so had to go to the British Embassy. I went with her with the plan of going from there back to the traffic office. As I didn't have a British passport, the embassy would not let me in so I had to wait, once again, out in the sun, 45C, ridiculous humidity.

An hour and a half later, Fran emerged from the embassy but without what she had gone to get, being told to come back tomorrow. I had a meeting to go to back at work so I got Fran to take me there instead of the traffic office. After my meeting, I caught a another taxi out to the traffic office, about half an hour before it was due to close. I walked in with my pile of paperwork and my red stamp saying that I had passed my test and handed it to a lady behind the counter. She gave it back to me straight away, saying something in Arabic. I tried to ask what she said and she went and found an interpreter who told me that the printers were down so I would have to come back tomorrow.

There was absolutely no way that I was going to walk out of there without a license, which I calmly explained to the interpreter. After a lot of back and forth, he suggested that if I paid now they could give me a paper license which I could use to finally pick up my car and drive with and then exchange it for a proper license the next day. I thanked him and said that, yes, that was what I wanted to do. I paid my money and left, almost with a full Qatari license. The next day, I drove back in my brand new car and collected my actual license without any problems.

So that was my story, very happy it is all over and that I am now able to drive my new car around Qatar knowing that I earnt my license more than anyone else. Also, very wary of the other drivers who have licenses but could have hit steel poles on their test!


Post a Comment

<< Home