Thursday, June 10, 2010

Zombie

That’s what I become when transiting Sharjah. It’s up-down-up-down-up-down on the pedal for the slow, painful creep along Emirates Rd. It is more relaxing to zone out than to get irritable and anxious about the lost time.

But even zombies have places to be and things to do. While in space mode I can't help but watch the minutes tallying up on the dashboard. The car inches more and more slowly, as the clock seems to advance more and more quickly. 10 minutes late for work, now 20, now 30…

Today I thought I’d beat the clock. The old highway connecting RAK with UAQ, Ajman and Sharjah is sometimes a nice alternative. Although undergoing roadworks—like everywhere in the UAE—it’s a nice relaxing drive from RAK until you hit the Ajman traffic lights. Here, they kindly display the time remaining for the signal to change. It is somewhat disconcerting, however, when the red digits on the display begin their countdown from 120 seconds.

Once in Sharjah, you can cross the whole width of the city (about 10 km), while encountering only 3 traffic lights. Starting from Ajman on the old RAK highway, you make a left at the massive Sharjah Airport Rd. roundabout (the first signal), then right at the first flyover. That puts you on the Dubai Airport tunnel road, so it’s straight into Dubai from there, with only two more signals to go.

But therein lies the catch. Each of those signals goes through a 3-minute cycle. My attempt to beat the clock today was thwarted with a 12-minute wait at the first and a 10-minute wait at the second. Once breathing a sigh of relief on crossing into Dubai there were still three more long signals to get through in Al Ghusais, before hitting smooth sailing at the Airport tunnel.

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The trouble with Sharjah is that it hasn’t bothered to invest much in infrastructure, unlike Dubai. I’m sure I am among many whose primary experience with Sharjah is traffic snarl on good days and horrendous traffic nightmares on bad ones.

The worst happens when it rains. Some people just lose their cars, forced to abandon them on the many roads without any drainage. But even on perfectly fine weather days a wrong turn in Sharjah can quickly dampen spirits. A major multilane road could without warning degenerate into a narrow path. Once you’ve tragically ended up on any such roadway to hell, you'll find there’s no turning back. At times like these, being a zombie on Emirates Rd. seems like the stuff of pleasant dreams.

2 comments:

Susan said...

Have you tried the new Al Wahda Street road? From RAK to Dubai come off the Emirates Road at Sharjah Airport Road and just follow the road through Sharjah - it sometimes gets a bit slow but it seems to flow even at rush hour.

Actually I don't know why I'm telling you this - the less people that know about it the better lol!

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