Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Bridge Over Troubled Wadis

Being the sad bastard with techy/geeky, almost anorak-wearing tendencies that I am, I thought it would be nice for us to have a drive over the new bridge across the creek that opened a couple of weeks ago. It seems to have been given the honour of having two names, which can lead to some confusion on the approach to it. In most of the blurb that was faithfully trotted out in the local press, along with promises of improved traffic flow, ease of access and free camel cheese, it was named "The Ras Al Khor" bridge, by virtue of it's proximity to that oasis of verdant nature inhabited by long-legged pink birds. Fair enough.

And then, the bridge opened. One morning the Oud Metha Road had magically sprouted 2 extra lanes and a set of traffic lights. A yellow sign, with the smallest words I have ever seen printed on a road sign, informed the confused drivers hurtling merrily along that they could fork left to go to Dubai or right to go over the new bridge. It was a bit messy those first few days while people got used to which lane they were meant to be in, then they reverted to their usual tactic of switching lanes at the last possible second.

As the days progressed, more signs appeared around Dubai, but most of them were directing the drivers to the "Business Bay Crossing". It sort of points towards the huge Business Bay development, but isn't really that close to it at all, but there we go. Who am I to argue?
I can imagine a few people get confused by this situation. They pootle along in their Sunny at 40kph, faithfully following the signs for Business Bay Crossing. All of a sudden, the signs disappear, and they are faced with a sign pointing to Ras Al Khor Bridge. I bet they go crazy.

I went crazy, but not because of the signs. I went crazy because I assumed (wrongly) that the new bridge would bring me to the entrance of Festival City, thereby rendering Garhoud Bridge a redundant piece of civil engineering. As we drove over the bridge, everything was fine. It isn't actually complete yet; it's a double bridge with six lanes each side, and only one side is open so far, but still, it goes over the creek, and is free of queues of impatient drivers with twitchy horns. The problem became apparent as we came down onto the far shore. As we started leaving the bridge, we could see Festival City, and as the bridge road filtered towards and joined the main road, we watched helplessly as the exit to Festival City, positioned agonisingly close to where we joined the road, but just behind our entry point, passed by in a blur.

This is life in Dubai: You can see what you want, but you can't have it. You'd have thought they'd have built the bridge so you could get straight into Festival City. Oh, no. That would be far too simple. So, as is the custom here, we ended up driving in a huge, 10km loop to get back to the Festival City exit. Stunning. By the time we reached the car park under Marks and Spencers I was frothing like a badly-pulled pint.

I calmed down after some retail therapy, and despite the WIFE insisting on a visit to the Plastic Swedish Hell we all know as IKEA, I left Festival City in a reasonable mood. I had thought about trying to get back over the creek on the new bridge, but thought better of it. I'm sure when it's finished, they will sort it out and make access and egress much easier. Silly me, making assumptions again, thought it might already be that way.

The coup de grace was yet to come. I decided that we should visit Mirdiff, because I'm that kind of guy, and we headed out of FC and along the Rashidiya road. About 2km along it, we spotted a brand new entrance to Festival City. How we laughed. If we'd stayed on this road to begin with, we'd have got there without having to drive an extra 10km. Ah well, we know for next time.

So, Mirdiff. A weird place, right under the flight path towards DXB. I went to look at a few villas there when I first came out and was looking for a place to live, but the sound of low-flying passenger jets every 2 or 3 minutes put paid to that idea. I hadn't been back, and the family hadn't seen it, and I wanted to try a burger at the new Gourmet Burger Kitchen branch, so that's where we went. The GBK is in the Uptown development, which is a very European-styled residential and retail development with large circular plazas and steep-rooved low-rise buildings containing shops and apartments. Last time I came to the development, only Spinneys the supermarket was open. This time, the whole place was open, with lots of clothes shops and caf├ęs to browse or sit down for a drink in.

We found the GBK and ordered some burgers, chips and lovely-sounding chocolate-bar-themed malt shakes. We were first there, but soon other people started filtering in. One woman came in and asked if they did anything other than burgers, which the WIFE found highly amusing. The burgers arrived, rising like SZR towers from the plate, with thick patties, masses of salad and relish, all contained in a large sesame bun and held together with a large cocktail stick. They weren't edible in the traditional burger fashion, and had to be dismantled. I removed the lettuce and tomato and anything else slightly organic-looking and tucked in.

They were OK. Nice, but not the best burger I've ever had, I must say. The shakes were good, and massive. The bill was more than I thought it would be for a trumped-up burger joint. 6 out of 10, if you were to ask me to rate it.

So, tomorrow I could end up in Doha again. They need me there, and I could be there a while this time. I don't mind, as long as I'm back for the arrival of my parents and brother.



Anonymous said...

Haven't come across your blog till today so i've been busy reading your older posts!

Keep up the good work! I'll be adding you to my favourites!

Oh, and...
C'mon the Boro!!

Taunted said...

Anonymous - are you junior smoggy in disguise?

Up the bar-codes!