Doo-wah oh those summer nights

big thermometer

Image by Bill McIntyre via Flickr

I loathe summer Dubai summers. I may have mentioned this before. And this probably won’t be the last time either. Whilst I’m sure it’s not news to anyone that summer in the desert can be pretty extreme – we’re talking daytime temperatures of 40 degrees plus, and not that much cooler at night – what most people don’t appreciate is that the worst bit isn’t the heat, it’s the humidity that comes with it. There is nothing, nothing worse than 40 degree heat and 60 percent humidity. If you happen to get caught outside for longer than it takes to lock the car door and make like a bat out of hell for the nearest source of air conditioning, then your throat will dry up, the sweating will start and just as the panic sets in your sunglasses will mist up and leave you thrashing about blindly for the nearest shopping mall. Cooling down can take upwards of half an hour depending on how far away you had to park the car. And of course eventually  you have to leave your freezing haven and get back in said vehicle, which if left in the sun will have reached temperatures high enough to roast a chicken within approximately 30 seconds of you leaving it. My favourite hobby of S/S 2011 is trying to battle with the heat, humidity and a 2 year old. Under normal circumstances him uttering ‘mummy’s hot’ repeatedly in public places might have been encouraged (I harbour an ambition to reach MILF status before I’m 50 but feel it’s best to start the campaign while I’m still in my 30s), but I think everyone gets the real picture when they witness me trying to get him from buggy to car seat through 2 inches of space left by the inconsiderate idiot parked next to me, sweating in places I didn’t know even had glands, sunglasses halfway down my face, and muttering through clenched teeth ‘yes, mummy’s hot’.

You can’t walk, or sit, or even breathe properly when it’s this hot and sticky. Life suddenly goes from being totally peachy: sun shining, wind in your hair, perfect beach-day kind of peachy…to hell. Indoors. All day and all night. No fresh air, just varying degrees of freezing depending on where you are in the house/mall/restaurant (delete as appropriate, these are the only three places to go in summer in Dubai). By early July it’s impossible to even consider going for a swim. Not because the water is too warm. Well, if you’re talking about the sea then actually, by then it’s like swimming in a warm bath and feels distinctly unsanitary for some reason. But the pools are chilled, so you would think it would be an absolute pleasure to shake off the day and jump in. However, particularly if you do ‘mum’ swimming and keep your head above the water at all times, it’s the weirdest sensation, because as your body carves through the cool water you generally forget to take into account the heat outside. A number of times I have realised far too late that my head is busy turning purple and my carefully preserved hair is sticking to it in a style reminiscent of Hitler as I sweat from the neck up like a fat man in a sauna. Of course the answer is to put your head under. Which is fine, until you get out, and realise that you have to get from the pool to the changing rooms via 30 metres of hot tiles and no shade, by which time you are sweating again. Add on 10 minutes of drying your hair followed by having to then get in the car you left in the sun while you went for that lovely refreshing swim…well you get the picture.

I simply loose the ability to function normally in these kind of conditions. And I’m not the only one. Sometime during the month of May, everyone assumes one of three personas which they keep and covet until sometime in the middle of September: Bad-tempered, Crazy, or Stupid. I am in the Bad-tempered camp, which will be no surprise to most people who know me. This unrelenting heat reduces me to a sort of red mist on legs. My sense of humour melts then evaporates into thin air and any decent, nice part of me that once existed (yes, it is in there somewhere) is replaced by a mean, nasty, bad tempered old witch. As part of Team Bad-tempered I automatically assume everyone else I know/meet/am driving behind is either in Camp Crazy or Camp Stupid. The Crazies are that weird but common breed of Dubai resident who seem to think it ‘isn’t that hot’ and wander round in jeans all summer with an emergency pashmina dangling out of their handbag, claiming everywhere shy of 25 degrees is ‘freezing’. I tried being a Crazy for a summer or two but gave up the year I spent my third trimester here. Being heavily pregnant in the desert is about as hardcore as you can get and once you’ve done it there really is no going back to pretending it isn’t unbelievably hot.

Which leaves the Stupids. A whole boatload of people fall into this category. The heat seems to make people extremely dumb. Stupid driving, stupid customer service, stupid people everywhere, walking at half-pace and 5-a breast or crossing roads without looking or riding golf buggies the wrong way on a public main road…I could go on forever about the Stupid people who appear to dominate Dubai at this time of year. They get everywhere. Stupid people who can’t park cars considerately, or queue, or say sorry for being late for an appointment or for damaging your house/car/furniture/whatever it was they were being paid to fix. Stupid people who insist that you ordered the wrong meal/dress size/coffee even though you know you didn’t. Their very existence serving as fuel to the fire of the Bad-tempereds while the Crazies just sit in the sun with a sweater on drinking their lattes.

But it doesn’t last forever. By September the red mist will begin to subside, the Crazies will put their jeans away and get out their maxi dresses and the Stupids will go back into hiding. Some time during October it will suddenly feel pleasant enough to BBQ for dinner without fear of melting the gas grill and I can wear mascara again without welding my eyelashes together if I blink in direct sunlight. By December everyone will have their Uggs out, summer will be a long forgotten nightmare, and we will have four or five glorious months of sunny and warm weather to frolic, cycle and swim in before the whole horror starts over. In the meantime…beam me up Scotty, before I completely lose my sanity, my dignity and my temper.

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