Concrete jungle: A Dubai moment

Over the past year, the car park at our local supermarket has got busier and busier – so that now we have a situation where huge SUVs lie in wait for shoppers and stalk you as you’re pushing your trolley back to your car.

If you are lucky enough to find a space that’s not a 10-minute walk from the store, it’s likely that manoeuvring into it will involve squeezing between a badly parked Land Cruiser and a concrete pillar.

A pet peeve in Dubai: Cramped, British-style parking for enormous American cars

Given that grocery shopping at this particular store entails handing over 200 dhs for some milk, bread and a sausage, the whole experience can be rather frustrating from start to finish.

To make things a little less stressful, I always go to my secret parking spot downstairs – OK, it’s not exactly secret, but I do find that fewer shoppers make the right-angle turn to go down the narrow ramp into the bowels of the car park.

Today, though, I wish I’d stayed upstairs. To cut a long story short, there was a car in the way of the self-important type, I ended up going in a different direction to usual and was looking for the exit rather than what was right in front of me (do these sound like excuses?)

There was the most awful crunching noise – the sound of concrete and metal being welded together – so loud and splintering I saw the faces of two shoppers visibly wince.

When we first arrived in Dubai, before the debt crisis, there was so much development going on it felt like we were living in one big construction site, with a quarter of the world's cranes rumoured to be located in the emirate
“W-t-f was that,” poured out of my mouth as I leapt out of the car – and our nice car too, a Dubai purchase that we splurged DH’s bonus on earlier this year (and being of the sporty variety, very low to the ground – this is relevant, you’ll see why).

The car was stuck, its back wheels spinning – stuck on a divider I should have driven round rather than over. In my defence, it was one of those ‘Dubai moments’ – where else would you find a concrete island in the middle of the road with no distinguishing features (no poles, no stripes, just exactly the same shade of grey as the ground)?

Only the other day I was laughing as a friend told me how she’d walked out of a spa treatment and straight into unset concrete – completely ruining her shoes as well as her relaxed mood.

The two witnesses – who at first shot me a look that said, “Dumb expat blonde in an Infiniti, she should know better” – ended up taking pity on me and helped push the car off – and away I went, trying to retain my dignity behind the tinted windows, but thinking “Oh god, what have I done to the chassis and will I fall out the bottom of the car on Emirates Rd on my way home?”

I’m reliably informed that the planet Mercury is in retrograde at the moment and apparently things always go awry during these periods – I’m not usually superstitious but can't help wondering if this is why I accidentally cut up our bank card this week and stranded the car on a concrete island. Things return to normal, astrologically speaking, on 14 December – or am I just making excuses again?

2 thoughts on “Concrete jungle: A Dubai moment

  1. Once again – an ‘I can relate’ moment, except you don’t see nearly as many SUVs in Seoul as you do in the US – all the parking spaces are very small and parking is more of an art than a skill. Great sympathy to you about the divider – I’m sure I wouldn’t have seen it either – but you know, I’m just not surprised in the least. I don’t suppose you can stay inside until December 14th……

    • I think staying inside until then might be a very good idea!! and an embarrassing thing, I just went back to the scene of my ‘incident’ and it DID have stripes on it after all – how on earth I didn’t see that, I don’t know! maybe they just painted them….

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