My theory exam was scheduled at 9.35am
I started thinking about it seriously only after 10pm the night before. I was still not convinced I needed to take this exam since I have been driving for 17 years. There is a book they give you when they force you to sign up for lessons. It had been sitting on my desk for days but I couldn't force myself to open it.
I took 3 online sample tests with 10 questions. The first time I got 10/10. The second time I got 5/10. Damn. The third time I got 7/10. So I decided I had to study a little bit.
I wondered what it would feel like to fail.. I am not used to "failure" in general and I have not taken any exam of any sort for a very long time. I believe that the last time I sat an exam was in Hong Kong to determine my level in Chinese. That must have been in 2003 !
I ended up falling asleep with the book in my hands. I had not even finished reading Lesson 1 !
In the morning I tried to focus on the essentials. I was still at lesson 1. I realised that everything was scrambled in my head. Whenever I'd see a sign in the book, images would flood into my head from many places in the world. Deviations, road works and deadends suddenly turned into threads of memories.. and I was not studying any more :)
On my way, in a taxi, I decided to stop studying. I recalled the university days. Last-minute studying does not do you any good, it only makes you doubt yourself and be confused about what you have studied - except I have not studied yet! :) I looked at the taxi driver and wondered how he got his license. His driving is awful !!
"Please go to the other side, with the women", a man dressed in uniform said to me as I sat in the waiting area.
A few women seemed nervous, still studying and checking things in the book. One woman smiled at me and kept staring. Another did too. I smiled back. I was going to open the book again but I thought : naaah Keep looking confident Dima!
The examination supervisor was Syrian. I could tell from his accent that he was from the South of Syria, probably from Suwaidah. He was loud, authoritarian and firm. He spoke as if he were the king of the jungle ! I was still tweeting while he was explaining the procedure.
"You have to get 36 answers right out of the 45 multiple-choice questions, otherwise you fail and take lessons again", he said, loudly.
Oh God ! I cannot return to those lessons with Ismael. I have to make it. I hurried to answer the questions on the computer.
The questions seemed mostly easy, some were so easy I hesitated, looking for something more difficult in them! I could not answer one question about the mechanics of the car and I hesitated about 2 or 3 others.
I could not help notice all the spelling mistakes. I decided to go over the questions again just to count the mistakes !! Other examinees were already leaving the hall. The two girls on my right and on my left failed. A man in the front row got 45/45. And I was still checking spelling mistakes ! Only two examinees and I were left in the hall. Five minutes to go before the time is up. I counted 20 or 21 spelling mistakes in Arabic. The font used was awful and very uncomfortable to read. I wondered whether the English version would also have mistakes in it. Probably not.
I guess the exam itself would not have passed, having 20 mistakes in it. But I passed. I got 39/45 .. not brilliant, but who cares! This is not a language test where I have to be the best in class.
I wondered during the exam about how the answers would be different in Venezuela. For example if asked :
What do you do if there is a red light?
1- stop at all times, waiting for the colour to change to green
2- stop and check if there are any cars hindering the way, drive through if none
3- slow down and check if there are any cars hindering the way, drive through if none
In the UAE the right answer would be : 1
But in Venezuela you'd have to have a fourth option which would reflect reality:
4- In the day no need to stop because you are probably already at a standstill due to heavy traffic, so just drive through, in between cars, whenever/if you can. At night don't ever stop. Armed thieves/kidnappers would be waiting at the traffic light for a fool like you. So just drive through. The car accident risk is lower than the crime risk!
It was 10.10am when I left the examination hall. I had to wait till 11.05am to get my certificate. I could have had a falafel sandwich in that time had I known I would be waiting for so long. I met two Syrian ladies, one of them newly arrived from war-torn Syria. She seemed very intrigued by my background. I complained about how long this whole driver's license process is taking. I thought to myself I could have learned a new language with that kind of time and effort.
I was happy to be given an appointment for my road test on 24 June while others got appointments after 15 July. I wondered about the reason. May be it is because I chose "manual driving" which very few people choose. Or... may be because they are reading my blog / tweets / Facebook posts and want me to write good stuff about them?
Naaaaah ! :)
Now I have to find a car to practise a bit on the roads of Abu Dhabi before the exam.
Anyone would care to lend me one? :)
To be continued ...
Read about my falafel hallucination in Part II and find out in Part I why I am having to be tested for driving
UAE Adventures : Dubai - Abu Dhabi