While I never believe in superstitions, I do have one when driving around the streets of Doha. It has come to my attention since I started driving here that the first encounter of a bad driver (which are way too many in this city) will only lead to a series of a few other encounters of such drivers for the whole duration of the day. I have firmly believed in this that one time, I had to cancel my plan of doing our grocery for the week after a series of 3 bad-driver encounters in a span of 10 minutes as soon as I took the car out of the precious street parking space in front of my building. Eating leftovers isn’t as bad as me getting into an accident, I realized.
I should’ve put this superstition into practice a few days ago which started out at 6 in the morning on my way to the jungles of Industrial City where I was to bring the car for maintenance. The first sign was at the Sports roundabout where a Nissan pick-up (I hate these vehicles as they are mostly the worst drivers, followed closely by the land cruiser ones) cut me off while exiting the roundabout leaving me with no choice but to hope for the best that the car behind me will not crash on me as I released my foot on the gas pedal and that the Nissan pick-up driver who came from the right lane to overtake the slow car in front of him calculated enough space between my car and his to avoid collision. A long honk was all I could manage to express my frustration to the Nissan pick-up driver but he was long gone as he sped more than the 80kph speed limit of the road we were in.
A few more warnings were sent to me as a sign that this day was just about to get worse as I drove through the streets of Industrial area where oversized 10-wheeler truck drivers think they are the king of the road ignoring all traffic laws, regulations and common sense. It’s a lawless place, I think if I was in the movie Final Destination – I did an incredible job of escaping my scheduled demise one too many times. Thankfully, I only have to go to that area every 6 months when the car is due for its maintenance – I always dread those days.
That unlucky event happened in one of the few roads in Doha where I feel comfortable driving – Al Waab Street. I just finished a fitness class in Aspire Active and was on my way home, cruising within the speed limits and slowed down at a stoplight to join the other cars waiting for it to turn back to green. A few seconds later, I heard that screeching noise of a car break. Curious, I looked out to the other lane anticipating that dreaded crashing sound of two cars colliding.
I heard the sound, I didn’t see the cars colliding but I felt it as it was mine.
A land cruiser (surprise! surprise!) crashed the back of my car with an impact so strong that my gym bag sitting at the passenger seat behind me flew through the front seat. I felt my seatbelt slightly choking me as it stopped me from flying through the windshield. For a few seconds, I sat there – shaking with not much sense left in me on what to do. I looked at the rear view mirror and saw the driver and two other people got out of the car, they looked like kids. 19 or early 20’s.
With my legs feeling like jello, I got down from the car and managed to say in a very weak voice: “What the hell is wrong with you??” The reply was a laugh, the driver repeated what I said in a mocking voice. These kids were making fun of me. I was in a state of shock from the crash and these kids were making fun of me! I’m normally very feisty and could’ve easily started a word tussle with them but I was not myself. After a few seconds, they all went back inside their vehicle and started the engine. Thankfully, I was able to take a photo of their vehicle with the plate number before they sped off.
I went back inside my car to take it off the road. The cars around me were all honking at me for not moving my car right away. I was clearly a nuisance to them. Inside the car, I called my husband whose work is only a few minutes away from where I was. In less than 5 minutes, I saw him park his car in front of mine and I started wailing like a baby. I wasn’t really sure why I was crying, I just felt like doing it.
He called the police to report the accident and we were told to go to the nearest police station to do it personally. So much for assistance. At the police station, a boy wearing a police uniform (yes, a boy!) called our number and in a very unfriendly manner – started to ask us some questions. At some point, my husband had to go to the car to get the registration card and as soon as he left – the police boy started speaking to me rudely as I couldn’t understand his Arabic. He gave me a piece of paper and asked me to write something but I’ve no idea what to write on it. Did he want me to write about the accident? Did he want me to illustrate how the accident happened by drawing it? Did he want me to write a timeline of how my day went? He was yelling at me for not understanding Arabic which I know I was at fault too as I’ve been living in the Middle East for almost a decade now and have not managed to learn more of their language past the pleasantries.
Thankfully, the man-in-charge of the police station came to my rescue. I assumed he was in-charge as the police boy suddenly calmed down and stopped yelling at me when the bigger man came to his desk. Also, the bigger man was wearing a uniform with three stars on its sleeves and the police boy didn’t have any star. The very kind man spoke to me in a very respectable manner, very different from how I was being treated by his subordinate. He was the first stranger who showed kindness to me that day that I had to stop myself from giving him one big bear hug right there and then. We were asked to go back there after 3 days as they had to wait for the other car to file the accident too. (???) I am in no position and not in the right mind to ask questions and frankly, I just wanted to go home.
We went back to the husband’s car and from there, I had to drive myself home. I didn’t care if I was driving like a grandma with baskets of eggs as a passenger, I just wanted to reach home safe and sound. I parked the car in the much-coveted street parking in front of our building and never looked back.
The shock I had during this accident traumatized me so bad that I’m not sure if I can ever drive again. Hearing the screeching sound of a car break gives a tingle down my spine even if I am sitting comfortably in our apartment as I type this entry (our building is opposite a main road). It was the first accident that I was ever involved in and frankly, I really hope it will be the last. Thankfully, nothing serious happened to me physically I’m not sure though when I’ll have the courage to drive the wild streets of Doha again.