Sunday, August 28, 2005

Miss Daisy strikes again ....!!

Most of the roads in the UAE are in excellent condition - very few have bumps or potholes (unless they are digging them up for some or other construction project - which they do, often!!) And most of the main roads/highways are at least 3 or 4 or 5 lanes wide. And most of the roads are straighter than a dye (what the hell IS that??) And most of the roads are used by new(ish), well maintained, decent-engine-sized cars............................................

So WHY (!!!????##!!!) are the speedlimits so flipping ridiculous? If you were to polish up your halo and obey the law to the letter, you would be piddling along at the speed roughly equivalent to the speed of smell.

Four reasons : (1) To avoid having to pay the Arab-salary-sized, no-excuses-allowed fine (2) To avoid getting a "black mark" on my licence - as you are only allowed a certain finite number before you become licenceless, (3) To avoid DH smirking ".... guess who went a LITTLE BIT too fast and got a ticket .......?" and (4) To see how (s)low I could go .... caused me to decide that today I be good and obey all speed limit signs. And like the butterfly fluttering in South America, causing an earthquake on the other side of the world, my butt-numbing crawling caused mass disaster and consternation on roads throughout Abu Dhabi!

A speed limit of 120 or (more often) 100kpm on highways and main roads seems reasonable enough. However, travelling this (legal) speed in any of the three inside lanes may lead to you having a tyre imprint over your roof of one or more of the black, tinted-sightless-windowed, Sheikmobiles driven by Michael Schumachers trained on the Star Wars set - all they need for effect is a laserbeam to disintegrate slower cars that are travelling at less than warp-speed. They certainly are protected by a "Force" field - they will force you right off the road if you don't move quickly enough.
So in an 80kpm section, steering (what a pun!!) clear of the fastest lanes, we opt for the middle lane - safe at last to dawdle and amble along, admiring the scenery around us. No such luck - 80 is for sissies, and no one can accuse UAE drivers of being sissies!! Cars rocket up to your bumper, screech down from their 100-and-something speed, flash lights, hoot, swerve left, scrape past you and then swerve right - right in front of you - all in one sweeping choreographed motion, designed to scare you into moving faster next time. A magnificent move - both daring and threatening at the same time!
I reach a 40kpm zone (yes, that is not a misprint .... 40kpm!!!) - and my only option is to cleave to the extreme lane - extreme right, extreme slow, extreme boring, extreme time-consuming. Slight side track here .... the hand sign for insh'allah (meaning as God wishes) is to put all five fingertips together, pointing upwards .... so, my question is ... what does it mean when a truckdriver puts all five fingertips together and points them DOWNwards??? Whilst at the same time mouthing what can only be obscenities?? 'Cause that's what they did - I was driving so slowly, I could multitask, so there I was monitoring the rate the grass grows, watching butterflies skud past the car, picking my nose, reading my book, when one of them thar truckies screeched up to my rearend, flashed at me (his headlights!!), hooted and showed me the finger(s). I was stunned - I was doing the speed limit - in the slow lane - what more could anyone want??
I found out when I pulled over to let the Cowboy trucker pass - he was being tailed by a caravan of trucks, trailers and buses - all travelling at MY speed. Law says trucks may not overtake, so they were forced to dawdle along behind me - every one in first gear, spewing out clouds of smoke as they overheated and struggled to maintain such a ridiculous speed.

I suppose it could be worse ....

But I would prefer any of these ....

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