Sunday, May 29, 2005

Phew What a Scorcher!

I love living in the Emirates, except for the summer. We only have two seasons here, spring and autumn just do not exist.

It seems to me that this year's winter went on for longer than usual - summer usually starts with a vengeance at the beginning of May. Anyway, here we are at the end of May, and kaboom! summer is here. What it means for us mere mortals is first of all, it is very hot (probably about 45° C today), and in the hours around sunrise and sunset the humidity shoots up. When the humidity is high, your specs will steam up when you leave an air-conditioned building - exactly what happens in the frozen north when you enter a warm building in winter. And these are the ideal conditions for catching a cold.

I remember when I lived in England, and the temperature might be approaching 30° C. Tabloid newspapers would be full of headlines like 'Whew What a Scorcher!'. Hah! And foolishly, I used to long to live in a place that was warmer than that on a regular basis. Well, now I do, and I spend a lot of time running between air-conditioned buildings and the air-conditioned motorcar, because if you spend more than a couple of minutes in the sun when it is this hot, your brains boil and spill out of your ears, and it can make an awful mess of your suit.

One strange (and useful) by-product of the climate is that in summer everybody uses their hot taps to get cold water out of, and the cold taps deliver very hot water. All you do is switch off your water heaters. Your hot water tank is inside your air-conditioned dwelling where it cools down and stays cold, while your uninsulated cold water tank lives outside on the roof, where you do not need any special equipment to heat up the contents - the blazing sun does it all for you.

At the beginning of every summer you can guarantee that a Dubai newbie (maybe that's a dewbie), will write to the Gulf News imploring the concerned authorities to do something about this state of affairs. Nobody has told them that they should just forget about using their water heaters, and enjoy the benefits of free hot water.