Okay, so it came about that I had inadvertently accrued a fine of DHS 1200 (approximately $400AU) for failing to apply for health insurance cards within seven days of getting a stamp on a pink piece of paper...yes, it doesn't make much sense to me either, who was obliviously unaware of this rule, however that aside, I just have to tell the saga of actually paying the fine...at least I think I've paid it - I'll leave that up to your judgement!
On the last day of term I found out that I had a fine of 1200DHS owing to DAMAN insurance and that I had to pay it ASAP to avoid incurring extra charges. My instructions were to take the receipt which was helpfully emailed to me to the DAMAN office. I had no idea where this was - luckily it's above the downtown post office and my friend Patti knew where that was. We were forewarned that the office was a very busy place and to expect to be there for some time.
I couldn't go straight there to pay it as I had to go home to print the email. Armed with the email, Patti kindly drove me, only to find that it had closed 15 minuted earlier. Happy that I am now able to find the place independently, I vowed to come back on Sunday (first day of the working week over here).
And so on Sunday, I presented myself with one thousand (slightly exaggerated) pieces of photocopied documentation - just in case, which was, as forewarned, full of men. Once in the place, I wandered around in what I can only describe as a gormless manner for about 5 minutes before presenting myself at a random counter and trying to pay my fine. I was given a form (in Arabic!) to fill in - bear in mind that I only recognise two letters despite my term at school...fortunately the kind clerk translated for me. To this form I needed to attach copies of passports and residency visas for all... thank you documentation. I am helpfully informed by another cleck to come back in a couple of hours to present the now completed documents and 100DHS, then kalais (finish) my fine would be gone.
Slightly puzzled I heed the advice and reappear with my documents and cash at 1pm. It is much quieter on my return and on seeing me the clerk kindly ushers me into a small room with three men working and six men waiting, sitting down. I follow suit , sit down and wait for about 15 minutes. During this time various other people came in and presented their documents. I was confused by the procotol and didn't want to appear rude by presenting myself ahead of others at the desk and am just beginning to worry at the amount of time I might be there when one of the workers took pity on me and called me over. I tried again to explain that I needed to pay my fine, but he took my documentation, no money and explained that I would get a text to go to HAAD Al Mawaijai -blah, didi, blah and did I know where that was...er, no. He assured me that the text this afternoon would confirm the details.
Slightly bemused that I still haven't been able to pay my fine, I head home, safe with the knowledge that I am at least on the right path...I think.
Did I get a text that afternoon? I sure did - could I read it? Erm, no. Sadly, as previously mentioned, my Arabic reading skills are quite atrocious. Not to be beaten, I bravely decided to enlist on the help of some unsuspecting Arabic-speaking mothers who assemble each evening at the playground outside our apartment. Happily this was a good move. After some discussion it was decided that my best course of action was to present myself at Al Ain Hospital and that HAAD should be in there. I was then invited to sit, eat, drink and chat. There was the loveliest milky-cinnamony drink I've ever tasted as well as sweet green tea and coffee. As they explained...we drink all day. I can quite cope with that. I am invited to come back each night to teach English in exchange for Arabic. What an arrangement...it suits me perfectly! I promised to bring my children the next evening (even though they are usually bundled up in bed.)
In the morning, I decided to ring Al AIn Hospital and explain my predicament. Fortunately I did as the man explained that it was the Health Authority of Abu Dhabi that I needed to visit. I extracted the number for the Al Ain branch off him (no mean feat) and gave them a ring to ascertain the location. In the UAE directions are found differently from Oz. If you are a local, this system seems to work quite smoothly...if not, however...it can prove a little challenging. There are no building numbers and are street names, but these tend not to be used. Instead, it is all on roundabout names and building shapes. Are you ready for the directions I was given, all while just trying to pay my accidental fine?
"Go to dee-one roundabout - you know it? (me thinking erm no, said okay) straight to the next roundabout called Maderas (erm...yes) straight to the next roundabout near Sheikh Mariam palace, then right to the Cooperative and hopsital Mawaijai...turn left and there is HAAD."
Well...by looking up the hospital on the internet (thank you internet) I managed to find something which resembled my phonetic spelling of 'mawaijai' and although it didn't have a location map, a newspaper article sighted it as being in the Al Manaseer area. This I located on our Al Ain map and we made our way there.
I tried again to pay my fine, but left with a receipt for 100DHS and a fine that has indeed vanished. My receipt does say 'for application form' and I was told to go to DAMAN and pay 200DHS to get the cards, but as these are supposed to be sent to ADEC I am going to present the receipt to ADEC.
The question is: Have I or have I not paid my illustrious fine? What do you, the reader think?