No pun intended but I love playing with words. My son asks: “Is this place called Amman because a man sings all day?” He was referring to the mosque calling, my seven year old boy. “Maybe it’s because a man almost drove into the back of us”, I said and our driver smiled. Today was the last day I’d have my lovely chauffeur, the adorable Ramzi. For four months he has remained reliable whilst telling me many stories about the Middle East as we drive to school to collect my son. I didn’t pay attention to direction; I was too immersed in the wonderful cultures we exchanged, I was also in awe of how Ramzi was able to drive in this city where the hazard perception test of home is defied to extreme. Its dodgem cars style driving here, bumper to bumper, horns honking and no rules in place. My Kia Picanto had arrived; a man in my husband’s company decided that as Ramzi is needed for more important errands, I would be given the privilege of a hired vehicle; I had to take to the wheel myself. Amman is crazy and this man even more so for suggesting such a thing. ‘Have to’ is a great master and I had to do this school run…now and forever
I’ve been used only to driving on the left, I’ve been taught the Highway Code, I’ve been used to giving way and I’ve always known my way. All this was about to change and my heart pounded as I got into my little black car, my Mr Bean machine. My stomach rumbled like the noise of the Harley on my left hand side, Id forgone breakfast with nerves. A large towel became my comfort blanket as I wiped sweat from my brow and palms. We drove in convoy, friends helping me on my first few runs but today they are busy and I’m alone.
The highway has three lanes but they’ve turned into six. This is not double vision, its law breaking mayhem before my eyes. A hummer on one side, trucks on the other, I rely on their acceleration as I cannot see. Lights turn green and the honking starts; I’m being overtaken by a herd of wheels. I’m shoved into an unknown lane and I can’t get out. Ascending a hill, incredibly steep, my automatic gear screams into one. I scream too to the chorus of fear completely sandwiched by roaring exhausts and I’m exhausted. My delightful son recognizes the bridge: “Whatever you do mum; do not go under the bridge!” His eyes are my vision, his little voice my strength.” We’ve made it home mum, you did brilliantly”, he proudly proclaims and we both smile, a huge sigh of relief. My pale green dress has spilled into a deeper shade and my boy asks in a worried tone:” Oh mum, did you have an accident?” I think I did!
Six months on, I’m driving true Jordanian style of which I am somewhat ashamed. If you can’t beat them join them and I simply have no choice. I took the dog with me on the school run today, she was the one to have an accident on the back seat, she wasn’t used to my rally driving in Amman and all was forgiven. I know my way and I know their rules which simply translate into breaking all of my UK rules. It’s a bizarre and ironic learning method but one of which I’ve passed the test. I’m not sure how I will manage when I soon return home. My husband has suggested retaking the test to ensure safety, avoiding points, prison or even death. Wow, such a thought made me take a very deep breath. I shall cross that bridge when I come to it and for now accelerate under another bridge here with a honk or two. A man will never stop me from reckless driving in Amman but another may for simply giving way.