Saturday, November 19, 2016

OPNO on Driving in Oman: 15 years road experience, no license

I think my Omani husband is jealous of Gordon Ramsay, because I watch his cooking shows, and quote them. (I am the OPNO who is the horrible disgrace of a cook BTW). Today, to rib me, he sent me the above via Pinterest.

I answered back, "I'd love a Gordon Ramsay GPS...It would remind me of driving lessons with my Dad."

Omani husband writes back, and I imagine his words in grumbles as I read back: "And I'd like a Kate Winslet dubbed GPS." {To make me jealous}.

No luck there. If he has a Kate Winslet crush, so do I;).

Anyways, driving in Oman is something almost all expats complain about.  And I really should have nothing to complain about, as I still don't have my driver's license.

But complain I can, on driving in Oman.

Yes, I am a thirty-something whose been driving since I was 15 years old, and I still have not passed my bloody driver's test.

I blame this, initially, on my whole family's overwhelming enthusiasm for getting one's driver license... I was not excited, not even by half the amount they were, when they first heard I got my Canadian learning (ketchya) license....Also, their total despair over when I failed anything.

My father is, probably, one of the best drivers beyond professionals, that I have ever known. My mother...kind of sucks. So of course, he would teach me.

Despite being a really good driver, my Dad kind of sucks as a teacher and makes Gordon Ramsay seem like the ideal driving coach.

Also, I have to admit, I am one of those very smart, annoying kind of people, who do not like to not be good at something instantly (my first driving lesson involved death) and I will berate a bad teacher with purposeful insolent behaviour if I find their demands upon my abilities to be unrealistic.

First driving lesson: there was a goose (Canadian goose), and I killed it.

My father was like "never veer off the road for an animal."

Of course, we were in a parking lot, not on the road.

So he was like, "Don't worry, it'll move."

Needless to say, it didn't. We ran it over and left the trail of its baby goslings orphaned. I was traumatized. It took another year or so before I agreed to lessons again.

Finally, I was getting really good at driving.

Omani roads by the way, and Omani road tests, are for sissies, compared to West Coast Canadian roads.

I drove in rain, I drove in snow (at night), I drove on dizzying corners on mountain logging roads where a mistake could mean falling down a cliff to your death. I did city streets where signage is spare, and everything is one-way if you screw up.

I also drove in Vancouver. People can be nuts there, especially in Richmond rush-hour.

I could park, parallel park, drive standard and automatic, and my father mostly had stopped calling me a "dumbass".

I however, lived in B.C. a region that has a novice driver licensing system imposed before you get your full legal driver's license, so even if you pass your BC driving test, you are considered a learner until you make one full year without a serious accident.

Needless to say, my Novice DL expired. I do not stay in one place for a year at a time sadly.

So that meant getting my license in Oman. Yayyyy!!!!

My first driving teacher sucked. She was like, don't shoulder check, use your mirrors, and park super slowly.

So everything my father taught me she tried to un-do. So while I parked the barrels and did the slope on the Omani test flawlessly the first 8 times she had me do it, after two days of her teaching I was crashing into barrells again while reversing.

Needless to say, when I went for my first Omani test with the ROP, I tried to forget everything she taught me and just did my thing. I passed, and that felt awesome.

(Also, the sign test---In Canada there is  a pre-ketchya written exam of almost 70 questions that makes sure you know road safety in signage. In Oman I got asked "what do you do at a stop sign" and what do you do at a red light... and that's it. Yeahhhhhh, no wonder no one knows who has the right of way here.)

Her street driving lessons were even worse. She basically told me to tail-gate people really fast and then bop on my hazard lights whenever I had to slam on my breaks, which was every other minute.

Also, she lost my ketchya. And so did, apparently, the ROP, so I had to re-do the barrel and slope test, when I was ready for my road test.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

It took me a while to convince my Omani husband to find me a male driving teacher.

Eventually he did, and thank goodness, for Khaleel, because Khaleel was like, a less angry version of my father. Safe, clear explainations, patient, and not creepy;). Also, super super nice.

Knowing I'd stop lessons and tests when I was broke, he insisted I could pay him back later and just not fall out of practice.

So then, I took the test... and I passed it. I did nothing wrong, and I know it for a fact, and Khaleel was arguing with the tester, so I assume I am correct, but still ROP dude failed me first try.

I was sooooooooooo mad.

I did the test again. I did screw up that time. Took a left when I was asked to do a right. Did it safely and correctly, but still, it was a fail.

Same thing the third time. Left and right directions annoy me in roundabouts. I asked if they could just say it like GPS, 1rst exit, 2nd exit, ect., because I never screw that up, but no, they can't and I am lucky I am not getting "yasar, yimeen" blah blah.

Fourth test, I did it perfectly again. Failed though. Khaleel looked confused. I told him I would stop trying. I wasn't wasting my money on this crap anymore.

For one, my husband has his license. He passed the third time. He's a lucky driver, not a safe one.

My sister-in-law passed the second time, and she's always parking in disabled spots, and I have been with her in the car when she hit someone in a parking lot.

If they have their licenses, it was so unfair that I did not.

Then stuff happened. I was pregnant, and had emergency, and my husband was a four hours drive away, and no one was answering their phones, and I was like, I am going to drive myself to the hospital.

And I did.

And then I kind of started driving without a license after that, only close to home, and nowhere the car would injure someone at the speed we were going.

And I realized a few things.

-People do not know how to reverse park very well here because they were not taught to do so shoulder-checking, or how to go about parking quickly.

-No one seems to know who has the right-of-way.

-Lexuses, Jaguars, and luxury 4x4s are always driven by total jerks who do not signal and will cut you off at 130 on the freeway.

-Taxis, and Toyota pick up trucks will do anything at any moment so be wary of them at all times.

-Any Omani guy under 25 driving a Toyota Corolla or Echo or other crap discount model of car, is going to go annoyingly slow over speed bumps. People in 4x4s with a lot of ground clearence will be the same, like, they don't know their vehicle was built for harsher crap than that.

-Speed bumps in Oman make no sense whatsoever. They are placed in places where one is supposed to be going a speed that one cannot possibly make it over said speed bump without bloody good suspension or without scraping their undercarriage. Speed bumps, Oman, are supposed to help people change from like, a 50 km road, to a 20 km road, like, to remind the forgetful driver of the transition. In Oman, they have no logical placement, and exist like ski jumps, making what is supposed to be a 40-50km/hr road into a black diamond run. Unless one goes under 20 km.

-Drunk people stumble out onto the roads on friday nights on dead quiet streets.

-Waiting for a parking space, some stupid b**** is going to steal your spot. What might have worked in Canada will not work here. Getting out of your car to stand in her way so she can't take your spot will only result in you getting run down. I'm serious. It has happened to me. Punching her out in the parking lot will likely only result in you going to jail. I've yet to think of a solution for this issue. The best I've managed is to spit my gum onto to said B****es abaya and grind it into the designer fabric with my foot.

So, going back to take the test again, Khaleel (a veritable stickler for rules) asks me if I need to practice since it has been almost a year since I gave up on getting my license here. I admit to him shyly, that I've been driving without a license without a single incident for over a year.

He shyly admits back, that before he got his driving license he drove without a license in Muscat for 6 years.

...One of the original OPNO bloggers, she had this sporty convertible, and when she left the country I remember her telling me I could have it if I had wasta enough to get someone at the ROP to erase the speeding tickets she'd accumulated on the registration?

I went to see if I could just pay them off, but you know the ROP web application that lets you see your offenses? Well it only lets you view the first three pages of a print out, and 3 pages for her was like, 3 days of driving in Muscat. She got about 7 speeding tickets a day! The tickets were worth more than the value of the car.

...And she got her license here;).

So yes, I may be a criminal, but isn't there something more criminal about that?!!!!!

So... yeah. Hope they pass me this time right? Here's to the fifth time being the charm.

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