Things have been going quite smoothly lately, and frankly I've been feeling a bit too comfortable. So I decided to embark on a new Doha challenge: Vehicle Registration.
While many of you are holding vigil at the bedside of Old Man Winter, hanging on his dying coughs, and wishing you could trade places (for weather-related reasons) with us, I would encourage you to dig deep and really try to appreciate how good you have it in the simple and non-chaotic Western world.
Case in point: You know every year when you're happily cruising along the highway of life, busy with school projects, the flu, Pilates class, Q2 reporting, piano exams and birthday parties, and then suddenly, out of the blue, with no warning whatsoever, you get a REMINDER IN THE MAIL THAT YOUR CAR REGISTRATION NEEDS TO BE RENEWED? And then, to make matters worse, you've only got about TWO MONTHS to procrastinate and/or keep forgetting to go the registry office which is right by your house, so then you have to resort to renewing online the day before it's due? Well, let me tell you, it's exactly like that here: Once a year, you have to renew your registration. Except without the reminder in the mail. Or the ability to renew online. Or getting the whole process done without driving to another planet.
About a month ago Dan said, "I'll take care of it...but don't let me forget that your car's registration is up on March 13." So on March 16 (ahem) I enlisted the help of my friend Lynn, who also needed to go, and we took our cars together.
The process is simple if your vehicle is less than three years old. My MRV, however, is not. All cars over three years old need to be inspected before the registration can be renewed. There is one place where inspections are done, and it's in what is affectionately and accurately referred to as The Industrial Area. This aptly named area in the far southwest part of Doha is best described as the movie set from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, only with more buildings and nicer cars. Picture the right lane of the roads filled with bumper-to-bumper big trucks, and the left lane filled with the rest of us. Potholes abound. Construction persists. Congruously, on a map, this part of the city is depicted in complete grey. Its saving grace from a travelling perspective is that it's on a grid, so in theory things are easy to find. To make our trip even more authentic, we made sure we went on a day when the wind was howling at 50 km/h, so that sand was blowing across the road in blizzard-like fashion.
By some miracle and great navigation by Lynn, we made it to our location. I was quite happy that my car passed the Technical inspection, but a little freaked-out that it failed the Legal. Upon receiving this news, I went to the information desk where a friendly Qatari man with impeccable English (who apparently studied in Minnesota and called me "young lady" - I now have a new best friend) told me that this was no problem at all. My vehicle had previously been registered as a five-passenger, while it actually seats eight. Mr. Minnesota wrote something in Arabic on a sticky note and directed me to take my car next door for registration and insurance.
The deed is done, and now I can rest easy for another year. I could always hire a "runner" to take my car for registration next year, but why deprive myself of another road adventure and an opportunity to take better photos of The Industrial Area? Stay tuned for the results of next year's decision.