Friday, 18 May 2007

Ghulam's Surprise

Mr Ghulam is our 'regular' taxi driver, we've got his mobile and book him direct, an arrangement which has all sorts of advantages to it - including not having to deal with call centres and an ever-changing stream of oddballs who've been here for two weeks and don't know where anything is. Ghulam's been living here for something like 30 years and remembers back to legendary times such as when people living in Dubai used to go out to paint the town red in Sharjah (believe it or not, that's true).

Incidentally, a digression here, but taking a taxi if you're going out and having even a couple of drinks is vital in a place with a zero tolerance of drink driving. Quite apart from your own attitude to the consequences of your irresponsiblity should someone get hurt by you, if you have an accident of any sort and have alcohol in your blood, your insurance is invalid - and that includes paying the Dhs 150,000 ($US 41,000) diya, or blood money, if someone's killed - regardless of whose fault it was.

Mr. G has just come back from a long leave in Pakistan this week, so my trip into town was a chance to catch up on the things he's missed while he's been away, like the new law that will see him having his car impounded for speeding over 60km/h above the limit. He'd also missed the opening of the Business Bay Bridge (which appears to have been renamed 'Business Bay Bridge' at the last moment because all of the original signposts said 'Ras Al Khor Crossing') and so I took him over it, a slightly long way around but I thought he'd be pleased at having another route in. I have to confess I enjoyed his wide-eyed surprise at the massive, 6-lane crossing and huge, and growing, road networks around it.

But what really blew him away, and had him cackling delightedly for the rest of the trip, was that in the time he'd been on leave, Dubai had built a new bridge and a road network.

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