Thursday, 9 February 2012

Riyadh's Getting Organised.

Riyadh's getting organised.  A little while back I blogged that Riyahd is no longer a mystery because Google has updated its maps of the city and, more importantly, driving directions which should make it easier for residents to navigate Riyadh.

While out walking yesterday I noticed these on the walls that surround the homes in my neighbourhood:

They are address plates.  They have what I presume is the house or building number, the street name and the area name in both English and Arabic. 

It did cross my mind that posties would find this useful and then I remembered there are no posties in Riyadh.  In fact, for most homes there are no letter boxes.  The majority of Saudi's, so my friends tell me, have postal boxes at the post office and I gather that part of a man's daily activities is to clear the post box.

Why can't women clear the post box? Women can and I've spotted a few women collecting the mail on my jaunts to the post office to send postcards to the grandchildren but, as only men can drive, getting to the post office is easier for them, hence mail collection is largely their domain.

Other factors contributing to mail collection being a Man task could be the design of Mail Box lobbies with typicaly narrow aisles and restricted space where Man in close proximity to Woman would be frowned on.

Plus, Woman may ask Man too many questions about the mail if she were to collect it.   Who is it from? What's it about?  In this part of the world where Man is the provider and maintainer of Woman important matters that arrive in the mail are none of her business unless Man determines they should be.

As there is no postie service I did wonder why the Powers That Be have created address plates.  Perhaps there is going to be a postal service.   Perhaps there's a new dating service that wants to make it easy for fair maidens to give their addresses to eligible bachelors.  

Or perhaps the Ambulance service has decided it's time to implement a more effective way of improving response times instead of relying on people in crisis being able to describe their location accurately. 

Red Crescent, Saudi's Ambulance Service.
To give you an idea of exactly how one should describe their location, here is how the local courier service, until very recently, required addresses on parcels. 

TO: Mr So n So
Ahmed ibn Fahad St
Down The Way District
Directions - 500 metres down Abdul ibn Abdulla ibn Salman road there will be a shoe store, turn right and keep going till the green mosque then take a U-Turn. The house is third past the mini-mart, with the green gate.

You may think this is a joke.  Trust me, and Hubsters secretary, Sir Lord Rizaldo who often sends out courier parcels, it is not.  Hubster was tasked with addressing a parcel once, he refuses to do it again. 

The parcel will highly likely not be accepted by the courier company if the phone number of the receiver is not included with the instructions.  Company's ring the intended recipient prior to loading the parcel in the van to ensure someone will be home to accept delivery.  They ring again when outside the address, or near to it, to ensure they are in the right location because it is highly likely the house is fifth from the corner and the once green gate is brown from dust.

As it is not common practice for delivery men to knock on the front door with a cheery, "Gidday, Here's your parcle Mr So n So, please sign here", the call also requests that whoever is waiting for the parcel comes out and gets it.

We use DHL.
Address plates will undoubtedly make delivery and emergency service roles ever so much easier.  I'm guessing internet shopping will experience a major hike now that people can put real addresses on their purchases.

After realising, on my walk yesterday, that address plates were on the wall outside every home in the streets traversed, I was in two minds whether or not I like the latest developments to get Riyadh organised and, well, just like the rest of the world.

Sure, finding your way around the city can be a little exciting, or frustrating depending on your point of view, particularly if you are not in the habit of navigating via landmarks and counting streets which is how locals find their way around.

Signs with street names have only recently (in the last two years or so) made an appearance in Riyadh so people aren't in the habit of using them.  Hubster had no idea what the board with arabic script was that turned up on our street, so we asked Mr Noor and sure enough our street had a name!  Even so, we still tell people to turn right before the bank. 

That kind of navigation is one of the things that makes Riyadh so quirky, so different and interesting and so... Saudi.  One hopes that 'Saudiness' won't be lost lost while Riyadh's getting organised.

Ka Kite,

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