On Tuesday I completed ALL my theory classes, yes that’s it all finished! I now know all there is to know about driving theory, I have a test on the 8th June and so can study while I am on holiday with my parents in Berlin. I don’t blame them wanting to test me on what I learned. Imagine if i forgot to close the doors before I drive or that I should not ignore Police when they ask me to stop. I am sure you will all agree the lessons I have had are invaluable and that the test will allow me to show off all my new knowledge!
Classes five and six were actually the best of the bunch, even if it was the fourth time I have heard the welcome lecture and rules of class attendance etc. The thing I really took away from it after watching some truly awful videos of crashes is that in Dubai they actually have ‘blood money’. If you do crash and someone dies and it’s deemed to be your fault then you have to pay 200,000 dirhams (36,000 pounds) to the family and cover all funeral costs. The teacher actually did call it ‘blood money’ which just made it all seem really seedy to be honest. I am so frightened of hurting someone else when I drive that I failed to find anything really funny from this moment on, which is a shame for the blog really. Still I do think it’s important that they make people realise there are consequences for their mad driving.
Having had the life scared out of me they decided to let me loose in a car! My first class was just in the school learning how to control the car and turn left. My instructor thought I was some kind of driving natural, I had to explain I had had a few classes in London! I nearly didn’t though, it was quite nice to be considered an excellent driver for once! I will give my teacher his full dues here, I did know how to turn left BUT he actually patiently explained exactly how to use my mirrors so that now they actually do the job they are intended to. He also said that I sit too close to the brake which is why I brake too sharply, this class cost me 15 pounds, my 50 pound class in the UK never taught me that and just made me feel hopeless. Other things I learned is that I CAN indicate perfectly fine and that it was just the car in London that I struggled with!! What a relief!
My instructor is Sudanese and a total delight, he constantly said ‘Bravo’ while I drove which made the whole thing feel like a fabulous performance! This week I have two other instructors before I get Malik back again, I can’t wait to be honest. On Wednesday I had Mohammed who was also Sudanese and very lovely but his English was slightly lacking. It was fine for the simple stuff (and he also says bravo which I think may be a Sudanese habit?!) but I do think for more complex stuff I would prefer someone who really can explain in English to me. Luckily with him I just learned how to control the car at a higher speed which I already knew.
Today I was unleashed on the more major roads of Al Quoz with Hamez who is Egyptian. Initially I really liked him, he’s a good teacher and quite funny and he made me feel confident in my skills which I really need. It was a shame then that towards the end of the class he revealed a rather racist side. Sadly this is a common problem in Dubai, political correctness is not something that seems to pervade the social conscience the way it does in the UK. There I was driving along and a guy came walking towards me who was clearly an Indian workman, he was daydreaming and didn’t see me so of course I slowed down so as not to hit him. My instructor asked why I stopped and then quipped ‘it’s not like there aren’t a million other Indians’. I was horrified, but said nothing, I was so taken aback and so distracted by driving that I didn’t want to have a huge debate at the same time. I feel terrible about it because ultimately timing is never an excuse not to do the right thing.
Having written about kindness I rather feel I have failed myself here. What would you have done? Is there anything I can do now? I would be grateful for any insights!