Erich Maria Remarque’s seminal novel about the First World War is mistranslated into English. “All Quiet on the Western Front” in German translates more as “Nothing much happened on the…”
There’s often a sense here of ‘nothing much happening’. It quite gets the juices flowing when something does. Last summer I lent my car to HandyMan, being one of the few apparently trustworthy drivers I know. He told me that he’d run out of gas when the gauge still read 80km left. I nodded and smiled, privately thinking that he had just been careless and it served him right. Until this evening. Wall-to wall correction of exam papers is a dispiriting exercise since one is left with the impression that if what one’s students write down is any guide, one might as well have been lecturing in Vietnamese, thus I thought a trip to the Motor Show in Mishref might be a pleasant diversion. Just as I left the complex to come home, the car coughed apologetically like a dyspeptic sheep, with 98km remaining in the gas tank, and I was left wondering how I and the car could make it home before midnight.
Those who live here will find this hard to believe. An American lady, early thirties, well-presented – you get the idea – driving a brand-new, white Porsche Carrera 911 GT3 (with black leather interior) pulled up, asked if she could help, drove me exhilaratingly fast to the gas station, haggled with an Indian coolie to provide a container for a few litres of gas, dropped me back at my car and I was on my way within half an hour. I was so pumped I exceeded the speed limit in my freshly fuelled vehicle and probably picked up a ticket.
Not much happens here. A couple of throbbing engines from the Motor Show.