Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Directorate of Traffic Licencing 1 def HSBC Bank 0

Well!  I returned as promised to my soap watching Arabic lady at the translation office.  She was all set to receive me because my translation was on her big desk.  It was the only piece of paper there too.  She was very pleasant, commented that I am the same age as her son.  I said politely that "yes, well 1972 was a good year" and she looked at me quizzically and said "he was born in 1973".... so much for same age.  I paid her 70Dhs and she had to fish 10Dhs out of her personal purse.  Very professional, but on the basis I cannot read Arabic, I was happy with what I received.

I rang Mr Amit at HSBC and said I am in the neighbourhood can I come around and pick up my ATM cards.  He said he wasn't in the office but all I needed to do was take a withdrawal slip and I could withdraw some cash.  I explained that no... he was going to give me ATM cards for my new account and set me up with net banking?  He was genuinely puzzled and thought I wanted to withdraw cash (see yesterdays post for what he promised).  When I explained what he said he was going to do he said "Oh, I will come around tomorrow to your work and give them to you".  Another delay and another shifting of the goal posts from the very friendly and polite Mr Amit.  I will see if he comes thru tomorrow!

So, I drove back up town to the Directorate of the Traffic Licencing Bureau and found a huge building with a huge stair case and inside was an information desk.  It had 2 ladies working the desk and two people being served.  I lined up patiently behind one of the two people being served and then a whole swag of Arab people walked past me and demanded service.  The two people in front of me were Indian / Bangladeshis and hence the Arabs thought they were more important than them or me in the queue... such is life here.

I finally got to the front and was now one of 15 people crowding the desk and they called a third lady to help.  I was the only anglo-saxon and in typical stiff upper lip style waited to be served.  Before I knew it people two deep in the queue were shouting for attention and were actually getting served and I finally started to get the shits.  Before I could, one of the ladies in perfect English turned and said "how can I help you" and I was swiftly given a number, a form, my photo stapled to my documents, my translation stamped and told to take an eye test in the next room.

From there it was a matter of queuing and going through the process but it was pretty straight forward.  I had a novel with me and read the time away.  Soon enough, I was called up to the desk, answered some basic questions and smiled for the camera.

I am now a licenced Emirati driver... long process, by the road rules around here I thought you just needed a Cornflakes packet :-)

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