Local News

Drive fast and park like a prat

February 6 - 12, 2008
Gulf Weekly Drive fast and park   like a prat

What's the problem with parking? GulfWeekly sends reporter Shilpa Chandran out to investigate in her brand new car (courtesy of a generous and loving father).

FINALLY, it was happening. After months of drooling over luscious limousines, speedy roadsters and mighty mean machines my moment of glory had arrived.

I was getting my first brand new car, something I could feel safe and secure in - a shiny black Nissan XTrail.

My joy knew no bounds; I leapt like a deer, danced with the wind and sang into the sky until my father threatened to break his promise of buying his beloved daughter her own four wheels if I didn't stop.

We left the showroom and on nearing home, we realised that, as much fun it was to drive the car; we had circled the area around our home at least five times.

The reason? There was no place to park.

I live in an area that has recently seen an upsurge in vehicle ownership. I appreciate that the kingdom has a lot of oil and that petrol charges are cheaper than water, but for crying out loud - where do we park?

Even if you find a space all is not safe and secure. Within hours my elegant four-wheeler was whacked from behind by a driver hastily reversing into a tight space and forgetting to keep an eye on his rearview mirror.

It's a story all too familiar all over the kingdom. It appears that every second of every day a car has a crunch, a bad scratch or ends up with missing tail-lights.

Most vehicles look as if they have done a round or two with a heavy-weight bruiser.

It is heartbreaking to see a brand new vehicle, just out of the showroom, like mine, covered with scars, scratches and bumps. What is the point of buying a new car?

On the kingdom's narrow roads off the highways you will find lines of cars parked at busy junctions with their hazard indicators flashing, double parked or even abandoned on the pavements.

If you don't believe me, I would suggest you drive down the Hoora/Gudaibya roads any day from 5pm till midnight.

In my younger years in Bahrain I always thought the annual family vacation to India had just one flaw - the traffic. Now, that problem is firmly entrenched here.

Things have changed for the worse. Nowadays, there is no consideration for the other person's vehicle, or even their life for that matter.

Drive fast and park like a prat, appears to be the order of the day.

I am not alone in these musings. Fatima Banna, 35, media co-ordinator at Al Hilal Publications, also feels terrorised by Bahrain's terrible traffic.

"The traffic makes me really nervous on the road," she tells me. "I have to arrive in Manama by 7.30am otherwise, if I am just 10 minutes late it is hell trying to find a place to park.

"I feel people have become really selfish. They don't give a chance to others. Before it used to be youngsters trying to do a trick or two on the road but now it's all the older men who seem to have a really big ego problem. They just don't care about anything or anyone else on the road."

My sentiments exactly!

So what is the solution?

Flying cars, monorails in the sky? Maybe, but we can't wait forever for some geek to invent it! And even if they do, by the time it reaches the Middle East, I could be 60 and counting.

So, if you are planning to get a new car, follow my advice. Make sure your friendly car dealer gives you a big discount for the regular recovery trips and replacement vehicles whilst your beloved motor is in for repair.

Better still, leave it in the showroom for safe-keeping and get a taxi to and from home - safe, sound, securely parked and no chance of a dent!

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