Sunday, January 20, 2008

I'm Licensed!

We finally went this morning to get my driver's license. Ahmed, our guide for these kind of things, made his money today! I will never complain about the DMV ever again. Even if I was fluent in Arabic, I don't think I would have known what was going on in there. First of all, the parking lot was unpaved with huge potholes and puddles. Where did they get puddles? It's the desert and it hasn't rained since Tuesday. So, an unpaved, unmarked parking lot in this country means that you can park wherever you feel like it, even if that means it's trapping someone else in. Very tricky to navigate to say the least. The building itself wasn't much better. It looked like it was at least 100 years old, which here means it was probably built in five years ago. Ahmed and I (Brad stayed outside with the babies) walked in to a large room filled with people, some sitting in chairs covered with thin plastic, some standing at the counter, some milling around, almost all of them Fillipino. It's amazing. When two white women see each other in that kind of crowd, they always smile at each other. It's similar to when women smiled at me in the US because I was pregnant. Ahmed went to the information counter and had the woman there paste a picture of me onto my paperwork and then stamp it. Then, we walked across the building and up some stairs to get an eye exam. The crowd there was even pushier than the one downstairs. We pushed past the line to the counter, where I was told to wait on the other side away from all the other people. My information was put in to the computer immediately, and I was told to go to room one where a woman had me hold a piece of cardstock over each eye and read the chart. She then stamped the first page of my paperwork (the one with the picture pasted to it.) All of the paperwork is in Arabic, so I have no idea what it said. I pushed my way back to the stairs where I met Ahmed and we went back down to the first room. He went up to the counter while I sat in one of the plastic covered chairs. (By plastic covered, I mean it looked like a clear trash bag type material, which was so ripped up it wasn't providing much protection. I'm not sure if I was the one being protected or if it was the upholstry anyway.) After about 10 minutes, he came back and said that my paperwork was different and that I needed a different page stamped. So, back up the stairs we went, pushed through the crowd at the door again, and went back to the eye exam room. The examiner told me that she couldn't stamp that page because it didn't have my picture pasted onto it. So, back out to Ahmed and down the stairs to the information booth, where she pasted the picture onto the paper and stamped it. Back up the stairs to the exam room where the examiner stamped the correct page. Back out to Ahmed, then down the stairs to the first room where I sat while Ahmed went to the counter. Then, he told me to go into another room to the Captain. I pushed past another line into a small office where I handed my paperwork to a man in a military uniform. He put some information in the computer and told me something I didn't understand and to go out again. I went out of the room and Ahmed asked me if he had stamped the paper, which he hadn't. So, Ahmed went in and talked to him. Apparently, my information wasn't correct in the computer or something, so Ahmed went back to the counter while I stood this time. Soon, we went back to the Captain, and this time he signed and stamped my paper. Finally, Ahmed went back to the counter for the last time while I sat and when he came back he had my new Qatari driver's license! We walked back out to the parking lot, and when I got to our SUV, Brad was in the passenger seat. He made me drive home. I think I did a pretty good job. The tricky part is the roundabouts, but they weren't too bad, and I need to remember that the rules for personal space don't apply here, although I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with that.

One more thing. There's a little thing at the bottom of my posts that says comments. If you click on it, you can leave me one. I'd like that! If you don't have a google account, you can just click on the circle next to nickname and type your name in the box, or you can be annonymous if you want.

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