November 1, 2007. Little does a squeaky 14 year old realize that it would become the longest day of his life. The teenage in question is me. You see, back then I was like the most persistent, most annoying kid you’d ever meet. But thankfully I’ve changed now. Another thing has changed over the years; my love for automobiles. Yes, I loved them so much that I used to have a carton full of Classic Car and Automan magazines alongside with a solid 250+ collection of Matchbox and Hot-Wheels die-cast models. Anything four-wheel or three-wheel related I had to get it, nomadder what (does anybody get the reference?). When I was at the peak of my, let’s say, fascination, I heard about this car-show that was going to happen in Dubai. Since back then the price was cheap and since my mom’s brother was living there, my parents said yes – after a lot of nagging, of course. You know the type, running nose and empty promises. Reminds me of the song Running (nose) on Empty (promises).
Anyway, I started my quite-epic journey in the wee hours of the morning when there was nothing but a thin purple line in the sky. I had my gear packed up. When we reached the bus-stop and when the bus was about to go, my mom got into her protective mom mode and outlined all the do’s and do-not’s in such a cinematic manner that it felt like as if it was written down for her. My dad, however, just smiled and wished me all the best. No tears were shed, mind you. Just a teenager going off to a car show, not a battlefield.
The 7-hour trip from the bus-stop to the Dubai-Oman border wasn’t exactly boring but it wasn’t exactly fun either. Two guys on my right had started chain-smoking while an old lady in the front started snoring which was louder than any Motorhead song. After several stops and sporadic naps later we finally reached and here is where my pain-filled story starts:
When we got off the bus (I managed to hit my head on my way out), the driver asked for my passport and assured that he would clarify it for me. I gave him and he disappeared, just like that. If that wasn’t bad enough, the police officer told me that no-one under the age of 16 can enter without an adult, a fact we did not know. Shaken, disturbed and miles away from home, I did the one thing a sensible person would do: Call mama. I did and she told me to wait and that she would be there as soon as possible. Classic horror movie line.
It was noon time and the sun was at its highest point. Since there was no shade nearby and the police-station was closed, I had no choice but to bask in the sun for 7 hours. Oh, and there was no soul for miles, which definitely gave an effect that I was stuck in a post-apocalyptic film. After 3+ hours of nothing but with thoughts for company, came help in the most scariest way possible; Police-officers. They ganged up on me and demanded information, The Prisoner style. But I gotta tell you, Omani police-officers are some of the nicest, friendliest people you will ever meet, take it from me, I know. They invited me in and offered me biscuits and juice. Orange, I believe it was. When they heard my story, they hung their head in sympathy and left out to search the driver who took my passport. There was a, I kid you not, handgun on the wall next to me and an AK-47 in front. I was getting ide… well, let’s not talk about that.
At 7:30 in the evening, my parents came and thanked the police-officers for their kindness, even if it was limited to only biscuits and juice. After several hugs and bodily inspection by my mom, FBI style, later, I went in the car and slept, while they called the driver and asked for his whereabouts. It turned out that he had unknowingly crossed the border with my passport and was kept in a room for some suspicions. When he came to, my dad scolded him and snatched my passport from him.
My uncle, who was to greet me at the border, turned up around 9:00, more than 9 hours behind schedule time. He said that he had reached the border but had to turn back at the 11th hour because of a business meeting. That took more than the expected time and was therefore late.
Thus, ends the story. But I gotta say, the 4 day stay at Dubai with my uncle in his (then) bachelor pad was, in the simplest of words, AWESOME! I saw all the major attractions, the (then) incomplete Burj building (the tallest building in the world currently) and of course, the car show, the main reason of going there.
So, I won’t bore you any further and here are the pictures. The edited ones, obviously. All the others did not come out nice.