Problems with Buying Shoes in 1970s Dubai
Buying shoes was easy. Parking a car was equally easy. Both Dubai and Deira had plenty of open sand areas where a car could be safely parked. A 4WD helped as road kerbs could be driven over and softer sand areas used. Street Parking was more problematical. There were few purpose built car parks and no parking meters back then. Street parking was the norm if a space could be found. "No Parking" signs abounded but no one ever enforced them. Around 1977 that situation changed. Dubai wanted to be like everywhere else in the civilised World!
My day started quite well and then....
- 7 am
- Read the Khaleej Times
- See "The Red Shoe" is advertising their annual sale. My favourite Shoe Shop. Their shoes always good value. Spanish and Italian. Make mental note. Go this afternoon.
- 4 pm
- Drive to Deira. Tried parking in public car park behind the Intercontinental Hotel. No spaces. It's full.
- See spare parking space on the street. There's a "No Parking" sign. Two cars already parked by NP sign. No one ever takes notice of these signs. So parked behind them.
- Off to The Red Shoe Shop to buy shoes.
- Shoes bought. Back to the car.
- Cars I parked behind have gone.
- Get into my car. Start the engine. Then see a Notice stuck on the windscreen.
- Notice says "DO NOT DRIVE THIS CAR - IT IS CLAMPED".
CLAMPED ?? Who gets CLAMPED in Dubai?? No one does! CLAMPED IN DUBAI !!!!! NEVER!!!
- Get out of car. Sure enough there's a yellow clamp on rear wheel.
- What can I do?????
- Back at The Red Shoe. Ask their advice.
- They say telephone Naif Police Station. I do - on Red Shoes's telephone (no mobiles then). Police tell me to come to Naif Police Station. Telephone wife to let her know what's happening.
- Call a taxi. Off to Naif Police Station.
- Explain problem to Desk Sergeant. He doesn't know about CLAMPS! Nearby Young Constable does. YC explains to Sergeant.
- Sergeant produces Report Book. Fills in details.
- "What will the Fine be?" I ask. "150 Dirhams" Sergeant replies. "150 Dirhams!!? That's steep" Police Sergeant doesn't respond. I sign Police Report Form.
- Sergeant calls for Clamp Keys. YC brings brown paper bag. Empties contents onto Sergeant's Desk. Bag is full of keys. YC selects key with yellow tag. Sergeant tells me to follow YC.
- Climb aboard YC's Police LandRover - an old one with no side windows.
- YC starts engine, switches on blue flashing light, starts police siren, takes off at speed.
- We weave through Deira's backstreets at breakneck speed.
- Hit a narrow road and slow down. A Taxi is ahead. Taxi Driver sees Police LandRover - probably panics - slows down. YC flashes LandRover headlights. Taxi slows down more but keeps going. LR now almost touching the Taxi's rear end. YC vigorously flashes his headlights. Taxi slows to walking pace. YC puts headlights on full beam and moves to within the thickness of a coat of paint from the Taxi's rear end. Taxi Driver decides to pull over onto the pavement - and stops. YC drives in front of the Taxi and stops.
- YC is now out of his LandRover and arguing with the Taxi Driver who is still inside his Taxi. YC keeps shouting at Taxi Driver. Taxi Driver keeps shrugging his shoulders. YC shouts louder. Taxi Driver shrugs his shoulders more emphatically. YC finally pulls out "Traffic Book". Writes a traffic ticket. Thrusts the Traffic Ticket at Taxi Driver. I'm guessing the charge is "impeding YC in course of his duties". Taxi Driver gives his shoulders a final shrug.
- YC is back in the LandRover. We're off again at speed. Lights flashing. Siren screaming
- Arrive at my car. Wife already there. Introduce her to YC. Handshakes. YC produces Clamp key. Unlocks brass padlock securing Clamp. Then we see a problem! From outside Clamp looks like any other Clamp. On inside Clamp is a mass of nuts and bolts securing Clamp to car wheel. Dubai's first vehicle clamp has been made locally, maybe in Dubai Police Workshops.
- There's a further problem! YC doesn't have any spanners. How is YC going to undo all those nuts and bolts? YC doesn't know!. Wife remembers there are spanners in her car. YC and me sort out the spanners then together set to work undoing nuts and bolts.
- All nuts and bolts finally undone. YC removes Clamp. Puts Clamp into his LandRover.
- Smiles, handshakes all round. An experience shared!. We are friends!
- Wife is wise in Dubai's ways. "You used our tools. How about a discount?"? YC doesn't respond. Laughter all round. More handshakes. We part company with YC and drive home.
A week later a Dubai Police Summons arrives in the post. Tells me I've been fined 120 Dirhams for illegal parking!!!!! 120 Dirhams!! That's 30 Dirhams less than the Sergeant quoted me!!!!
A 20% SAVING!!!!
In 1970s Dubai, if you didn't ask for a discount, you didn't get one !!!