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    1 December 2007
    For Daddy (why couldn't I inherit his sense of direction??)


    I talked to my dad today and he said that he checks my blog and he sounded a little disappointed that there were no updates. And it's a long weekend, I won't be back at work till Monday, and I got a bit of free time... so I guess it's a time for an update then! ;-)

    I am topographically challenged. I have no sense of direction whatsoever and it's a miracle I don't get lost very often. Then again, I guess it's simply because I normally avoid going to places I don't know. And I can read maps. If I can find a place on the map - I'll get there. My dad - now that's another story. He can't get lost. Be it in the forest, in a new city, on foot or by car - he will always know where the starting point is. I am ever so jealous of that, and a little mad that he couldn't pass it on to me. I'd totally trade the sense of direction for a few less helpful things I DID inherit!

    Anyways, I got this notification from the Dubai CPO to come and collect a parcel from the States. Great, I love parcels. The problem was I had no idea where (or what?) Dubai CPO was. My hubby gave me a clue: Central Post Office. The one in Karama.

    Oops, warning bells. Karama is in the centre of Dubai proper, and to me - an alien territory. I never go to Dubai. Living in Emirates Hills has a great advantage: I don't NEED to go to Dubai, ever. Unless of course there is a parcel waiting for me in the mysterious CPO.

    The notification itself held no clues as to the place's actual physical location. No address, no phone number. A short and rather disturbing online search later (all Emirates Post pages returned Error messages) I found out from someone's personal blog that the Central Post office is indeed in Karama, on Za'abeel road. Not enough information for me to go along, but I had no choice, and so I checked the petrol in the car (almost full - hopefully should be enough to find the place and come home), got my map, switched on the GPS navigator and took off.

    On Sheikh Zayed road, I carefully avoided the two leftmost lanes (the memories of me trying to get to Wafi Mall and ending up lost deep in Sharjah are still too vivid) and reached the roundabout after the World Trade Centre trouble-free. There of course I took the wrong turn, and had to spend the next 15 minutes or so navigating between Oud Metha and Um Hurair roads. At one point I stopped and asked a passer-by for directions to the Post Office (girl power!!) and he pointed at the massive building in front of me behind a great big wall and few gates here and there - success!!!

    There was plenty parking around (the kind you have to pay 1Dhs to park for an hour), so I parked the car right there only to realise I had no coins on me. I remembered giving all the coins I had (not that many) to the guy at the petrol station who filled the car and washed ALL the windows, not just the front and back one. So now I couldn't park and there were no outlets of any kind anywhere around to exchange notes for coins. So I had to leave! I was just about to start the car and go look for coins, when another car parked right next to me and a couple got out (hey guys, in case you are bloggers and you are reading this - THANK YOU!) . I jumped out of the car and begged them to give me a couple of 1Dhs coins in exchange for 5Dhs note. They laughed and gave me 5Dhs in coins, kind people. I paid the parking fee and realised the guys who gave me the coins just left their car there without paying for the parking. Well, maybe they knew something that I didn't. If not, I hope they didn't get a parking ticket.

    When I got to the entrance to the Post Office, I saw plenty parking INSIDE the gates. Oh well, I was already there, and the parking fee was already paid.

    I had to wander around the building for a while until I found the entrance. Apparently the main bulk of the building consists of personal post boxes (no wonder - there is no home delivery of post in Dubai, if you don't have a P.O. Box - you cannot receive mail.) But I did find the entrance, and got my ticket at the reception, and had to wait for about 5 minutes for my turn.

    When my turn came, a pleasant chap in a nightie took my notification, saw the LAST REMINDER print in red on top of it and gave me a disapproving look. I was still too happy that I found the place so I didn't feel guilty in the least ;-) After asking me a few pointless questions like who sent me a parcel and what was in it (the answers being no clue & no clue), he went to fetch it. The parcel came from my University, and as it was clearly marked so and contained only printed material (it was Xrayed in front of me), the chap didn't open it and let me go after I paid about 12Dhs for "customs and storage".

    Before I left, I decided to get the actual address of the place to feed it into my GPS so I would find it easily next time. I asked the chap - he looked at me like I was mad, and sent me to another counter, "Inquiries". The lady at the "Inquiries" gave me the same kind of look and said the address is "Karama". I asked for the street and building number kind of address. She said that there isn't one. "Karama, Za'abel road, Post Office. Everyone knows it". Is it anything to be surprised about that in the city where a great number of people have no idea what their actual address is and everyone navigates by landmarks, the Central Post Office itself has no known address?

    I saved the coordinates of the paid parking in the GPS instead.
    posted by Bravecat @ 4:38 pm  
    18 Comments:
    • At 02/12/2007, 00:50, Blogger [m]attâ„¢ said…

      I LOVE this !

      Firstly, I spent many a day of my childhood in Wafi Mall.. usually at the movie theatre (which was brand new in my time...), while my mom spent way too many hours at Swarovski, if its still there. That mall was gorgreous...

      Secondly, I was always confused asa kid as to WHY there was a WTO in New York, AND one in Dubai, and interesting that it never looked particularly busy, unlike its New York counterpart.

      Thirdly, phew for getting there safe and sound ! I don't know how we got our mail packages when we lived in Dubai, but I've never been to the CPO.

      My favourite part, the addresses, its the only city of millions of people that I have EVER been to, where not one person could actually give you the address of the place where they live. Its almost like losing a sense of identity... your address becomes how close you are to the local Spinney's.

      Anyways, nice to have a post, and I am ranting...

       
    • At 02/12/2007, 10:01, Blogger tinkerbella said…

      LOOOOL (FYI, I was really disappointed to read your last post but THANK YOU for this!!).

      I am ALWAYS getting lost EVERYWHERE while my dad also has this extremely keen sense of directions. I always bitch about genetics too...not fair!!!

      another FYI...most arab countries don't use addresses like developed countires, directions are all landmarks....drive on X street, turn left at the big white building, keep going till you get the the Mcdonalds, turn right after that and then you will need to look for the blue house and it will be on your right.

       
    • At 02/12/2007, 11:35, Anonymous Loki said…

      Am I allowed to say "woo-hoo" for the update, or will I get glared at...?

      Ah well... disapproval is my bed; I shall sleep in it. :P

      Hope you are well, chickie. :)

       
    • At 02/12/2007, 11:39, Blogger don_veto said…

      I am terrible with finding places and I never ask, thats why I got myself a GPS and marked all the places I go to.

       
    • At 02/12/2007, 20:54, Blogger Talent said…

      LOL! I found this post by searching for Dubai CPO as I gotta go there myself to pick somming up. Thank you Qatar Cat for tips and directions!

       
    • At 02/12/2007, 22:23, Blogger Taras said…

      Looks like you had something of a Terminal experience:) Glad to see you back and blogging.

       
    • At 03/12/2007, 12:12, Blogger ammaro.com said…

      wahahahhaa :D that was a lot of fun to read.

      you are correct; in the gulf people don't really navigate with addresses for a number of reasons. 1- most roads have the same, or very similar names. ie, zayed bin nahyan street, nahyan bin zayed bin nahyan street, mohammed bin rashin road, rashin bin nahyan bin zayed bin mohammed road. i mean, how can anyone differentiate?

      also, knowing dubai, the landscape changes every two weeks. old roads disappear and new ones appear, so keeping an address is sort of useless.

      and considering people drive around so much (except you), everyone knows where everything is :p

       
    • At 04/12/2007, 20:30, Blogger Bob said…

      No addresses?
      What happens if you call 911? You have to give directions to your house while you have a heart attack or being attacked?

      This sounds like Dhaka. A city the size of New York and I couldn't find a map anywhere. The best I could do was to find one online that the British made a hundred years ago.

       
    • At 06/12/2007, 22:12, Blogger Qatar Cat said…

      Mattie,

      Wafi is awesome now. Many changes! You would love it. They have a great Xmas theme of Narnia ice kingdom now, and it's gorgeous.
      By the way, I am quite close to local Spinneys! :P

      Tinkerbella,

      Haha tell me about getting directions to go ANYWHERE here! I have no idea what my work address is, I just email a location map with landmarks to everyone who comes to meet me.

      Lokerssssss!,

      Miss you loads! I'm very well thanks, and hope you're doing great, and can't wait to see you again!

      Don Veto,

      Why is it that men never ask for directions? :P

      Talent,

      So how was it, did you find the CPO? I was told that Saturday is the best day to go - I agree, there was no traffic and plenty parking and no queues.

      Taras,

      LMAO @ Terminal experience! I am not really back and blogging, by the way. I have no time for blogging and generally no time for anything other than my job. But I am enjoying it immensely.

      Ammaro,

      You are so right, Dubai changes basically everyday. My 2007 software for the GPS is already way behind!!

      Bob,

      If you need to call 911 - BIG problem. I don't know how people manage. I am lucky in this respect - I live in a well known so called "gated community" with street numbers that are easy to follow. So I'm safe. But most people aren't!

       
    • At 07/12/2007, 13:56, Blogger Dotsson said…

      I'm getting tired of you misspelling "Barking." There is no such thing as Parking! Get that through your head ;-)

      So what was in the parcel? Was it what I'm thinking it is?

       
    • At 07/12/2007, 19:14, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      My mama... I like joking at her.
      Walking with her in a circle, in the same places, she believes it's new ones!

      I'm never lost anywhere.
      Yes, I have problems with finding a place, but I always remember where I was & where it is :)

      But Middle East - another story :-/

      :-*

      S.

       
    • At 07/12/2007, 19:56, Blogger Qatar Cat said…

      Dot,

      I didn't know you became an Arab now :P
      There were university papers in the parcel, you doofus.

      Sever,

      Lucky you!! I might not be as bad as your mother (she sounds like mine!), but I am not much better. And yes, Middle East is another story in so many ways, don't get me started!

      :-*

       
    • At 09/12/2007, 16:15, Blogger ammaro.com said…

      dotsson; its barcel by the way.

       
    • At 05/01/2008, 03:29, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      you have sat-nav? you should be grateful for your life in the gulf, really!

       
    • At 05/01/2008, 10:29, Blogger Qatar Cat said…

      Anon,

      I never heard that GPS navigation is exclusive to the Gulf. What exactly should I be grateful for? The Gulf states neither invented, engineered, produced, or supported any component of this system whatsoever.

       
    • At 06/02/2008, 23:22, Blogger Mel in Dubai said…

      OMG! You went to Sharjah too? Excellent! I thought I was only nitwit who ventured to the Dubai Museum via Sharjah.

      By the way, I came across your blog while doing a search for directions to the Dubai Central PO in Karama, because I too, have a parcel to be collected!! I've been there before but it was nearly two years ago and you know how the roads change every second day here! Thanks for a refresher on the directions. I, too, live in a "gated community" in Emirates Hills - we're probably neighbours :)

       
    • At 07/02/2008, 07:11, Blogger Qatar Cat said…

      Mel,

      Haha glad I could help! :P

      Although I am not the person to help others with directions, normally.

       
    • At 12/03/2008, 11:25, Blogger American Muslima Writer said…

      Hey I'm new to your blog and love it! :)

      Ohhh Dubai, how tricky you are to even the seasoned traveler. Even though I'm great with maps and know most areas by now (though i live in al-ain and only go to dubai every few months) We always give ourselves an extra 2 hours to get lost when we want to go somewhere. Glad you could find the post office!!!
      As for bloody Wafi Mall I'm so angry every time i try to get there the roads don't connect somehow! One time i was even staring at the mall on some forsaken side road and could see the glowing wafi mall sign yet there was a major highway between me and it so I gave up and went to jumaira. How do people live in Dubai?
      -thanks

       
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