Hot. Really hot. That’s what it’s like here.
Add to the hot air is the sun, sun so hot it’s like putting your face under a really intense desk lamp. For a long time. One that’s been on for hours. And your face is only inches from the bulb. Yeah, that’s what it feels like outside.
And add to the burning sensations of the sun on your skin is the brightness in your eyes.
Even from behind sunglasses, you feel the brightness pierce pupils like Grandma’s mercurochrome iodine on a skinned-up knee.
So we went car shopping. Outside. In the heat. We tried to do it 3 times before in the evenings, but it’s dark outside where the cars are, and so it’s hard to see the options. Add to that the problem of getting information.
The road is narrow and old. On one side there is a long line of low buildings sliced into narrow shops. Most are used car businesses. In between are a few other businesses, a massage parlor, a travel agency, a mechanic here and there. In between every few shops there is construction. A shop being torn down, another being built. On the other side of the road there are fields of used cars.
The fields are full of cars, but It isn’t clear which shop is selling which cars. The cars are jammed into spaces like make-shift parking lots at county fairs. Every now and then you see a couple of men sitting on plastic lawn chairs between some cars. They are chatting easily, joking, but they look terribly bored.
We drive by slowly, eying the various cars, wondering what year this one is, what condition that one is in, how much that nice Mustang might be. No one gets up or looks our way.
“What do you like?” My driver asks.
“I don’t know. I don’t know what any of these are. I mean, I see they are cars, but I need to know what options I have in my price range.”
“That one?” He points out the window.
“That Lexus there.”
(That one or that one or any one, I think to myself. This place is full of Lexuses.)
“Hmmm. I don’t know. Let’s ask.”
“I don’t know. Ask one of these men. Pick a man. Just ask anyone.”
“OK,” he says. Zaheer stops the car in the middle of the road and gets out.
He comes back. “It’s 25,000.” (AED)
I don’t know what to say. He looks at me. My face is blank. We drive on.
“There’s an Infinity,” he says.
I don’t see it. “OK. Let’s ask about it.”
“I don’t know. Let’s find another man.”
Again, Zaheer stops the car in the middle of the road and gets out.
Again, I wait.
Each time, Zaheer discusses with the salesmen for several minutes. Some sort of information is shared I assume, but I never get any details. Zaheer just says either “I think it’s good,” or “No. Not this one.”
I’m exhausted. He’s frustrated.
We chose a black-colored Lexus. Next step – pay to have it mechanically diagnosed by some government office. “OK,” I say. “Let’s do it.”
The next day when we arrive, the man then tells us that we have to get some specific papers from the previous owner and the owner is in Dubai. Apparently he broke his toe the night before and can’t come to Fujairah today.
We wait. Two days later the man calls to say that the previous owner had delivered the necessary papers. But when we arrive, the man tells us that we have to pay a large fee to get some papers to change the registration because this particular car is,… I don’t know, somehow different. “OK,” I say. “Let’s not take this one.”
We are both exhausted. We are both frustrated.
We begin the process again. We choose an Avalon. We pay for the inspection. The car passes. We are finally allowed to drive it. The next step is to go to the police station in order to get another official paper. But the police station is only open between 9am and 2pm. I have to miss a day from work to get this step completed.
We set off for the police station when I need to get another official paper. Smoke billows out from the hood. Zaheer is furious. We return the car.
Persistence is the lesson here:
FINALLY we get a new car!