I have often thought that a place can be defined by its police force. The English bobby, for example, is a thoroughly good bloke who can be relied on to be fair and trustworthy. This is my image of England. The German is rather bossy and neatly dressed. The Italian is too busy drinking his Espresso to worry about what you’re up to, although I do remember once in Rimini seeing an Italian traffic officer approach a woman who seemed to have fallen asleep at the lights.
“Signora,” he said. “We only have three colours.”
Yesterday I met my first policeman here in Abu Dhabi. His name is Ahmed and he was there to witness my first car incident here. I say incident because you could hardly call it an accident. I had to stop to avoid hitting someone and another car drove into the back of me.
I immediately texted several friends, all of whom responded with the question “is the Volvo OK?”
The Volvo is fine, it is a sturdy old thing, and the other car, some cheap Toyota, was much the worse for wear. Added to which any damage incurred will be paid by the other driver’s insurance as it was “100 per cent his fault” Ahmed told me.
I am a bit scared of policemen. I think it might stem from the fact that my mother, throughout my life, whenever she sees one shouts “oh help, a policeman!” as if his sole purpose in life is to arrest her.
But happily Ahmed was charming and extremely civilised. And totally uninterested in arresting me. He even pretended to be surprised when I told him how old I am.
It was possibly the fact that I was able to give him half my phone number in Arabic that won him over…
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009