Image via WikipediaSarah's christened it 'The Inshallah Bus' because it will come when it comes. There's no actual timetable as such. It just comes, Inshallah.
Sharjah's infamous No. 14 bus service (there is no 13, there is no 15) leaves from near McNabb Mansions on its meandering progress through Sharjah to the airport. On the plus side, it costs just Dhs3 to get to the airport. On the minus side, it takes over an hour to make its stately and undocumented way. You just find a bus stop that says 14 on it and wait for a bus to turn up. They leave the portakabin on the sand terminus on the Ajman border every 15 minutes from 05.30 or so, but when they actually get (or turn up) anywhere is pure guesswork.
I asked the nice man at the terminus for a timetable and he laughed delightedly. There is no timetable. I suppose at least you can't say the buses in Sharjah don't run on time.
It's an ill wind for the cabbies, though. Our regular cabbie, the lugubrious Mr. G., blames the Inshallah Bus for at least part of the recent alarming drop-off in customers. He's more and more dependent on his regulars to help him meet his harsh target of over Dhs250 per day in revenue now that many people take the bus instead. An express service that goes from the airport to Rolla Square and the Vegetable Market costs just Dhs5.
Having just come back from leave and injudiciously managed to misplace his mobile (and, therefore, a number of those regulars he needs so badly), Mr G. is having a tough time right now. He's our regular precisely because we trust him, like him and have his mobile number. I tip him a bit every trip and so we have a taxi on call. We'd use the call centre but of course there isn't one - there's no booking service at all for taxis in Sharjah.
Buses with no timetables and cabs with no booking system. Thank God at least some of the old, quixotic, unregulated pottiness of life in the Emirates remains.