Tuesday, May 16, 2006


The old Beemer finally gave up the ghost yesterday lunchtime. It stuttered to a standstill and refused to start again. I got a taxi home and called a recovery vehicle. The garage I usually use cannot help - all of their vehicles are out on jobs, but they give me another number to call. I called them and asked them to pick me up en route, and then we would take the car to a scrapyard. It seems the nearest scrappers are located in Rashidiya, and the car, of course, had broken down in Jebel Ali.

After about an hour I got a call from the garage who told me their driver was waiting at Interchange 6 on Sheikh Zayed Road. Wonderful. So I get a cab to take me down there, but I cannot see this big yellow breakdown truck anywhere. I'm wandering around this extremely noisy, hot and dengrous interchange in a state of barely-contained fury. I call the garage and they tell me they'll call the driver and tell him to go to the car park of Jebel Ali Village mosque. SoI walk over there and at least it is quieter (until the massively-overamplified call to prayer starts up) and there's a shady tree I can stand under.

After 20 minutes I call the garage again and they tell me the driver is waiting outside a green mosque. I have no idea where this could be. The Jebel Ali Village mosque is white. It's beside Interchange 6. How hard can it be to find that? Well apparently totally bloody impossible for the breakdown driver. The garage gives me his number and I try to give him directions but his English is not good and after a bit he tells me he has a puncture. Yeah right. So I call the garage and cancel the whole deal. The guy starts giving me a hard time about how I've wasted an hour-and-a-half of their time. I tell him to quit it or I'll bill them for two hours of my time.

I go home, and call my garage again. We arrange the recovery for 8.30 this morning. At 8.25 I get a call from the driver asking for my exact location, and at 8.30 he's in my car park. Off we go to Jebel Ali, locate the car, bung it on the trailer and set off to Rashidiya. We are on the sliproad to join Sheikh Zayed Road when we see motionless traffic ahead. It's not an accident, it's another labour demonstration. After a while the Police get them off the main road, but they continue to block the sliproad for about half-an-hour. During this time, one of the cops is doing some active policing and actually looking at the vehicles in the queue and booking some of them for various bits of wrongdoing. Jolly good fun.

Finally we get on our way again, and have a fairly smooth drive up to Rashidiya. When we get there my driver asks me where I want to go, exactly. I tell him I have no idea, I was hoping he would have some insider knowledge. In the end we call his boss (it turns out they have a branch in Rashidiya that I was not aware of), and he suggests dropping the car off there. It seems they get regular visits from scrap guys, and he'll get them to make an offer. He jokes 'at the very least you'll get Dhs 60 a tonne for the steel'.

I'm not actually bothered about getting any money for it - it was good for eight months and it worked out a lot cheaper than renting a car, so I've had my money's worth out of it. Anyhoo, they remove the plates and give me a copy of their trade licence so I can get the registration cancelled. The GM of the garage asks me if I'm looking for a replacement car, what type, what budget. So I tell him and he says they have an ex-courtesy car that might do the trick. It's a 3-series BMW: high mileage, but very well maintained. It's at their Al Quoz branch (where I normally go, but they never offered me a courtesy car!). I can use it for a day to see what I think.

So, taxi to Al Quoz, and pick up the car. It's 5 years newer than my old one. The bodywork is superb, the interior is clean and tidy and everything works. Bliss! So I'm gonna buy it tomorrow.